still life from Old Woman Praying Maes

Wise Up

Is this the Bible warning us not to listen to “yes men”? Or, “alternative facts”?


An Old Woman Reading the Bible
The daily lectionary for July 26 includes 2 Chronicles 18.

The story is in 2 Chronicles 18 (and 1 Kings 22). King Jehoshaphat of Judah (one of the “good kings”) says “That’s not the way a king should talk! Let’s hear what he has to say” (New Living Translation).

“He” is the prophet Micaiah, a prophet of YHWH.

“Not the way a king should talk” is what King Ahab of Israel has just said: “I hate him, because he never prophesies anything but trouble for me.”

Ahab would rather listen to the 400 prophets who are telling him what he wants to hear: “Sure, go ahead, pick a fight with the Arameans, you’ll totally win and everything will work out GREAT!”

Ahab is so determined to listen to the favorable advice that he has Micaiah thrown in jail – as if he can give orders to the facts.

It doesn’t work. When the kings go to war, Ahab is shot with an arrow, and dies.

Should have listened.

[For that matter, the Bible’s historical narrative has at least a few other episodes of good counsel ignored, with disastrous consequences: Absalom doesn’t listen to Ahitophel and loses his rebellion against David (2 Samuel 15:31-37, 16:15-17:23, 18; Chronicles doesn’t tell this story); Rehoboam rejects the advice of the old advisors, goes with the young hardliners, and starts a secession movement (1 Kings 12:1-19, 2 Chronicles 10:1-19); Jehoiakim burns Jeremiah’s scroll, even against the urging of his advisors (Jeremiah 36:20-26).]

Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice.
Proverbs 12:15

still life from Old Woman Praying Maes

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