Seeking the Word of the Lord

In 1 Kings 22, the kings of Israel and Judah wanted to battle against the king of Syria. Much of the story is typical of the warring of this period. But there is an interesting twist regarding the discerning of the will of God.


The king of Judah asked that the leaders seek out the will of God regarding their battle. Should they fight? Would they be successful? The king of Israel summoned many “prophets,” and all of them told him what he wanted to hear. All these men promised the kings that God was with them, that the battle would be a success, and that there would be a great victory over Syria.


The problem is, the prophets were speaking falsehoods. They were lying to the kings. They were claiming to have heard something from the Lord that they had not actually heard from the Lord.


The funny thing is, Ahab, king of Israel, knew that there was one other prophet out there. But Ahab did not want to summon Micaiah, because the true prophet of God often said things that Ahab did not want to hear.


When Micaiah was summoned, he first pretended to go along with the false prophets, but King Ahab knew that he was not speaking the word of God. So Ahab charged Micaiah to tell him the truth.


1 Kings 22:17 –And he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.’ ”


Once this word was out, the two kings promptly decided to ignore it. They had a room full of people telling them what they wanted to hear. Why would they let one prophet get in the way? Even though the kings clearly knew that Micaiah was different from the false prophets, the kings decided that they were more interested in having someone agree with their desires than they were interested in actually knowing the word of the Lord.


What was the result? When the kings went into battle, Syria won and King Ahab received a mortal wound.


What shall we learn? One lesson for us today is that the word of God is worth far more than man-made opinions. When we need to know how to live or what choices to make about life, we need the genuine word of God to guide us. We cannot allow ourselves to simply listen for the message we want to hear. We need God’s word.


One thing that I have seen as a pastor over the years is a common practice of modern Christians asking what God wants them to do. These believers pray, and they ask the counsel of others. However, some of these folks ask and do not hear the answers that they want. Instead of humbly searching the Scripture to see the truth, they simply turn and ask another believer and another and another until they hear the answer they want to hear. At that point, the questioning Christian decides they have now heard the will of God, and they move forward with the plans they had all along.


Would that illustration be better with an actual story attached? A couple wants to get married in a church. They call and talk to Pastor #1. Pastor #1 examines the couple and finds that they should not be married for biblical reasons (perhaps one is a believer while the other is not). What does the couple do? Rather than examine the Scripture or try to learn from Pastor #1, they pick up the phone and call Pastor #2, and Pastor #3, and Pastor #4. Eventually, they will find a pastor who does not hold to the biblical standards that are getting in their way, and so they get their church wedding regardless of the counsel of others.


Quite often, in the wedding illustration I just gave, the believer in the couple will declare that they know that God wants them to marry this other person. They will not allow the use of the Bible to prevent them from doing the thing that they are sure God is telling them they are supposed to do. But, like the kings hearing from the false prophets in Israel, the believer is refusing to allow the solid and infallible word of God to be their authority. Instead, the believer allows fickle human emotions and very fallible urges, perhaps even “promptings,” to be their guide.


May we not fall into this trap. Christians, the word of God is the only sure way to know the will of God. God has told us in his word what is required of us. God’s word and only his word properly handled and interpreted is the only sure way for us to know that our choices honor the Lord. Impressions are confusing. Our emotions lead us astray. We are given to allowing our desires to rule us even when we are not following Scripture. But the Lord has given us what we need to please him. May we be a biblically led people for the glory of God.