Speak Favorably

    In 1 Kings 22 you read the account of Ahab and Jehoshaphat considering going out to battle with Syria at Ramoth-gilead.  Jehoshaphat wants to inquire of the Lord before taking on this expedition and asks Ahab to do so.

    Ahab, it seems, wasn’t too concerned with inquiring the Lord’s counsel but because he needs Jehoshaphat accommodates his request and brings before them 400 prophets.  They all say in one accord to “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” (1 Kings 22:6)

    Something about what these prophets were saying or how they were saying it caused Jehoshaphat to question their accuracy and legitimacy and asked “Is there not here another prophet of the Lord of whom we may inquire?” (1 Kings 22:7)

    Ahab doesn’t really want to answer this question because he knows Micaiah but he needs Jehoshaphat for this battle and so he answers him “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.”  (1 Kings 22:8)

    A messenger is sent to summon Micaiah to come prophecy to the kings who are waiting to hear what he has to say from the Lord.  The messenger who went to summon him said “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king.  Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” (1 Kings 22:13)

    Listening to and reading about the church and religious world at large I’ve learned there were days that debates were scheduled and attended by the masses in regards to religious doctrine and faith.  While there may have been sharp disagreement on many issues people weren’t afraid to boldly take a stand for their faith and belief.       There’s the challenge that Micaiah faced and a challenge that every child of God faces still today isn’t it?  The request is to speak only that which is favorable in all areas of life, particularly religiously.  We live in a world that at one time debated and even persecuted differences in beliefs and practices religiously.  Today differing beliefs are encouraged and applauded.

    In today’s society to hold a strong belief and conviction and to debate such things in a public or outspoken manner you’d be considered an extremist.  The political correct thing to do is to keep all personal opinion to yourself if it disagrees with anyone else’s beliefs.  To say that someone’s beliefs are incorrect or not consistent with God’s word is heresy and repulsive.

    Micaiah’s response in 1 Kings 22:14 was “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak.”  Wow that’s a powerful and yet simple answer isn’t it?  Micaiah immediately understood what the expectation of these men and kings were but he wasn’t concerned with their expectation but understood what the Lord’s expectation was.

    This is a challenge that goes hand in hand with the previous challenge.  I have to be completely transparent with you, I don’t always like what the word of the Lord has to say about some matters.  I struggle with forgiving those that have wronged me.  I struggle with loving my enemies.  I struggle with showing compassion and mercy.  I struggle with…the list goes on and on.

    The truth is that there are a lot of things in God’s word that are hard to swallow.  There are things that are emotionally hard in God’s word.  There are things that are intellectually hard in God’s word.  There are things that are hard in terms of application.  There are things that are hard for me to understand and digest myself which makes them hard to say to other people.

    Don’t misunderstand me by what I’m saying about things being hard to digest in God’s word.  I love the word of God and Him that breathed it out to us.  I would be eternally lost and without hope if not for the word of God.  I am amazed each day by its power and wisdom and awesomeness.

    We have to understand though that God’s ways are not our ways.  His thoughts are not our thoughts. (ref Isa.55:8-9)  Things in God’s word are hard for us at times because it goes against our way of thinking and our way of doing.  

    The Godly example of Micaiah is being fully committed to speaking what the Lord has revealed to us no matter the circumstance, audience, or consequences.  Micaiah hadn’t even officially heard the question yet from the king.  Maybe the messenger filled him in on the way but ultimately it didn’t matter to Micaiah because his heart was set on doing the will of the Lord no matter the consequence.

    It saddens me to think of the times when I have been more like the 400 prophets when questioned about my faith and belief on different things from God’s word.  Times when instead of speaking what I know to be the truth from God’s word I spoke things that tickled the ear and satisfied those asking.  It saddens me still to hear of Christian men and women and young people who at places such as school and work and within the community say things that pacify the hearers and avoid speaking what they know is the truth because of fear of negative consequences.

    Elijah stood up against 400 something prophets of Baal and in that occasion it was the Lord’s will that he be victorious and triumph over them.  Micaiah stood before some 400 prophets who claimed to be of the Lord and in this occasion it was the Lord’s will that he suffer hardship (1 Kings 22:26-28).   There will be times that speaking the truth in love with gentleness and patience will win the hearts of those we speak to.  There will be times when speaking the truth in love with gentleness and patience will bring hardships.

    Speaking the truth in love doesn’t mean that as children of God we get pleasure out of causing a scene and controversy with those we talk to.  I get concerned when listening to brethren talk about how big of an uproar they caused when they said one thing from God’s word.  They caused shock and awe when they boldly refused to agree with or participate in some activity.  They sure put them in their place when they quoted 50 scriptures telling them how lost in sin they were.  All this done with a tone and presence of pride in their firm stand.

    Must we make a consistent and firm stand for the truth and as Micaiah said and did “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak.”?  Of course we must and I pray we do.  My point though is that while we must speak the truth in all things and in all ways, taking pleasure in causing the controversy and hurt feelings isn’t the right attitude.

    Our Lord said that those who are peacemakers will be blessed.  The apostle Paul said “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18)  It is possible to seek those things and speak the truth at the same time.  Will the word of the Lord cause controversy in this present age?  It always has because God will always be opposite of darkness and the world is in the power of the evil one.  Will some reject and persecute us for standing for the truth?  Jesus said in Matthew 7 that the majority will reject it and Paul told Timothy that all that desire to live godly will suffer persecution.

    Like Ahab the world around us wants to hear only the things that are favorable and pleasant.  (By the way there are innumerable things about Jesus Christ and what He has done for us that are favorable and pleasant and just because that may be all they want to hear doesn’t mean that we never share any of those things with them.  The gospel is the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ after all.)  We must strive to be like Micaiah and commit to not only follow the word of the Lord ourselves but be convicted enough to speak only what the Lord has said to us. 

    1 Kings 22 ends with Ahab and Jehoshaphat being defeated in battle.  Ahab would die just as God had said he would.  The king of Syria sent 32 captains of chariots whose sole mission was to find Ahab and kill him.  The glory would not belong to the king of Syria that day though but rather to the Lord as that man that drew his bow at random struck Ahab and killed him.

    When we speak only what the Lord has said to us through His word our Father will be glorified.   There will be times when doing so will impact the heart of the hearers and at other times be rejected by the hardness of their hearts.  In either case our calling is to “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)