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

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