Ahab’s final battle with Syria is fought in collaboration with Jehoshaphat of JudahJudah was the name of Jacob's fourth son and one of the 12 tribes. More. His encounter with Micaiah typifies the struggle between king and prophet that runs through the book of Kings.
Once again AhabKing of Israel who opposed Elijah More is involved in a battle with Syria (Aram) and a confrontation with yet another prophet, Micaiah son of Imlah, who announces Ahab’s death. The narrative (also found in 2 Chronicles 18) provides insight into the nature of prophecyProphecy is the gift, inspired by God, of speaking and interpreting the divine will. Prophets such as Amos, Isaiah, and Ezekiel spoke words of judgment and comfort to the people of Israel on behalf of God. More and the relations between kings and prophets in the period of the monarchy.
The biblical account skips the alliance of Israel and Syria and their combined defeat of the Assyrians at the historically significant battle of Qarqar in 853 B.C.E. and begins with the first recorded alliance between Israel and Judah (vv. 1-5). While kings generally consulted prophets before going to war, the prophets on the royal payroll generally predicted victory; if the king won, so did they, if the king lost… (vv. 6-7). Jehoshaphat was unimpressed with the pat answers of the 400 court prophets and sought the independent counsel of a “prophet of the LORD.” Ahab hated Micaiah for his prophesies of disaster (that is, his true prophecy), but he acquiesces and brings in Micaiah son of Imlah (vv. 8-12).
At first, Micaiah (facetiously?) announces victory but then poetically predicts the death of Ahab in battle (vv. 13-18). More significant is the description of the heavenly council as that place where God reveals to the prophets the divine intentionality (vv. 19-23). The heavenly council (sod) appears elsewhere in scripture:
- God is depicted as seated upon a throne surrounded by the hosts of heaven (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; 15:8; PsalmA psalm is a song of praise. In the Old Testament 150 psalms comprise the psalter, although some of the psalms are laments and thanksgivings. In the New Testament early Christians gathered to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. More 82:1; 89:5-7; 103:21).
- The “true” prophet is the one who has stood in this council and heard the word of the Lord (JeremiahProphet who condemned Judah's infidelity to God, warned of Babylonian conquest, and promised a new covenant More 23:18, 22).
- AmosProphet to the northern kingdom who condemned Israel's oppression of the poor, calling for justice to "roll down like waters." More claims that God does nothing without revealing his counsel (sod) to the prophets (Amos 3:7).
- A “lying spirit” is sent by the council to deceive Ahab through his prophets. The prophetic word is thus understood to be God’s word in action, but not in a deterministic way; for example, Ahab sees through the same advice when it is on the lips of Micaiah (vv. 15-16). The “lying spirit” does not force the prophets to act against their will; it encourages them to be who they are and to say what they will.