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And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria ; and the dogs licked up his blood; and they washed his armour ; according unto the word of the LORD which he spake.
So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
It is probable that Jehoshaphat, when he went to visit Ahab, supposed him to have been reformed, and thought that it would be to the advantage of the kingdom of Judah, if he made an alliance with the king of Israel, as a means of producing harmony amongst those tribes who had been for some time estranged from each other; and he planned a scheme for strengthening the connection by a marriage between his son and Ahab's daughter ; in this instance Jehoshaphat proceeded according to the rules of worldly policy, without consulting the will of the Lord, as he ought to have done; but as he did it inconsiderately, and not presumptuously, be was only reproved for it, as we read afterwards.
When Ahab obtained his memorable victory over the Syrians, as related in a former Section, Ben-hadad ertered into a covenant to restore all the cities which his father had formerly taken from the Israelites. Whether he performed any part of this engagement or not, is uncertain, but it is evident he did not completely fulfil it; for Ramoth-gilead originally belonged to the tribe of Gad. Jehoshaphat too easily gave way to the benevolence of his disposition. We find, however; that he would not go out to battle till he had enquired the will of the LORD; neither would he hearken to the false prophets, who assured Ahab of success. Zedekiah was a leading man amongst them, and to give force to his predictions, he made use of a sign in imi. tation of the practice of true prophets. By the horns of iron le meant to represent, that the Israelites should defeat the Syrians with irresistible force. Jehoshaphat was apprehensive of fallacy in these pretended prophets, and required more satisfactory encouragement before he would proceed to battle.
force * See Essay for a New Translation.
Micaiah's prophecy is not to be understood in a lite. ral sense. The beginning of it is certainly ironical : “Go, and prosper, &c." (as much as to say, if you will suffer yourself to be deluded, you must take the consequences, for God will not restrain you by arbitrary means; and Ahab understood it so.) What followed were undoubtedly the words of Divine inspiration, and contained the prophet's commission from the Lord to foretel Ahab's death: “ I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills,&c." the remainder appears to have been a kind of parable spoken by the prophet, for the admonition of Ahab and his people, for we must not suppose that he had an actual view of the ALMIGHTY on the throne of heaven. . But in respect to such difficult pas. sages as these, we can go no farther than conjecture, which should always be formed on some clear texts of Scripture. Now it may be proved *, from many places in the Bible, that God hates liars, and has declared he will eut them off; and that he has also commanded, that all false prophets should be put to death; so we may venture to conclude, that Micaiah, knowing by Divine inspiration that the LORD would make these lying priests instruments of punishment to Ahab for refusing to hear his servants, only endeavoured to give force to his exhortation by this familiar representation ; which seems to have been suited to the conceptions which Ahab and his people entertained of the SUPREME BEING.
It is not necessary for us to puzzle ourselves with attempting a farther explication of Micaiah's prophecy, as no christian will infer from it that the Lord caused these prophets to tell lies, and then justified them in it: neither could the Israelites have imagined so, if they had properly considered the ways of the LORD, whose justice was remarkably displayed even in the present instance, Had Ahab lent a willing ear to the Divine warning, he would not have gone on an expedition that was likely to prove fatal to him; as he despised it, the Lord left him to the consequences of his presumption and impiety.
It is rather surprising that Jehoshaphat should go with Ahab, notwithstanding Micaiah's predictions ; perhaps he might think it right to keep his engagement, as the prophet had not forbidden him, and Ahab's fall only was predicted. Ahab seems to have gone into the field of battle with great apprehensions, and he strove to avoid his fate by disguising his person. Jehoshaphat's too easy compliance would in all proba. bility have cost him his life, had he not in the instant of danger cried unto the Lord for help; who knowing the good disposition of his heart, pardoned his errors and protected him from the destroying sword.
Micaiah's prophecy was now in a great measure fulfilled; for
Ahab's death the Israelites were scuttered on the mountains of Gilead, like sheep having no shepherd: we find Elijah's prediction accomplished also respecting the dogs licking the blood of this impious king.
The history of Ahab affords a variety of instruction concerning a particular providence, and the justice of God's dealings with mankind : we may infer, from many passages in it, that no events happen by chance ; blessings are undoubtedly directed by the will of God, and
misfortunes can never happen without Divine permission. To the Supreme Disposer of all things we should be thankful for every circumstance of our felicity ; and to Him should we address our prayers for deliverance from danger, and for support in affliction.
THE CONTINUATION OF THE REIGN OF JEHOSHA.
PHAT KING OF JUDAH.
From 2 Chron. Chap. xix. And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house at Jerusalem in peace.
And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD?
Nevertheless, there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.
And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem : and he went out again through the people, from Beer-sheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the LORD GOD of their fathers.
And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city.
And said to the judges, Take lieed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lorn, who is with you in the judgment.
Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed, and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts. Moreover, in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphát set of the
Levites, Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the LORD, and for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem.
And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the Lord, faithfully, and with a perfect heart.
And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the Lord, and so wrath come upon you, and your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass.
And behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the Lordand Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king's matters: £o the Levites shall be officers before you. Deal courageously, and the Lord shall be with the good.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
be considered as a great instance of the mercy of God, that Jehoshaphat returned to his house in peace, from an expedition which he had so inconsiderately undertaken; but we understand, that he did not entertain the least inclination for idolatry ; on the contrary, in the day of battle he put his whole trust and confidence in the LORD, and earnestly implored Divine assistance: he was, however, deserving of rebuke, and the prophet Jehu was graciously sent to shew him how he had ex. posed himself to the Divine displeasure.
Jehoshaphat did not, like Ahab, return to his house heavy and displeased at the admonition of the LORD; he received it with becoming humility, and resolved to visit every part of his dominions, that he might personally exhort his subjects to live agreeably to the commands of Gov. Jehoshaphat had formerly sent preachers to in