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Tammy Real-McKeighan

, Spiritual Spinach

It’s early Sunday evening when I run my fingers across the smooth surface of the cream-colored guitar.

I turn over the guitar and can barely see the mended hairline crack in the neck.

To most people, the guitar with the gold-colored hardware would seem ordinary.

Yet to me, it’s a reminder of something that happened years ago.

I think our youngest son, Zach, was still living at home when he accidentally tripped on a cord and knocked the guitar off its stand.

The neck of one of his dad’s favorite guitars broke and Zach didn’t want to be around when his father heard the news.

“You have to tell him,” I told Zach, who did stick around, albeit a little nervously, until Chuck got home.

Instead of being angry, my husband gave our son a big hug and said how proud he was that Zach owned up to the mistake and told him face to face — instead of taking off and not telling his dad what happened.

Chuck, a good-natured guy, got the guitar fixed and kept it in a case.

Years after Chuck died, I opened the guitar case and found papers with choruses we sing at church like, “Your Love Never Fails,” “Everlasting God” and “Trading My Sorrows.”

Chuck loved playing on the worship team at Full Life Church and more than one friend talked about that at his funeral, but I think only a couple of us knew about the damaged guitar.

Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about the guitar and how Zach faced up to the responsibility of telling the truth.

It reminds me of a Bible story.

Now you can find various Bible stories where people told lies and suffered big-time consequences or when they told the truth and were blessed.

But there’s one story where a guy told the truth which wasn’t received well at all.

We find his story in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings, chapter 22.

At this point in Bible history, God’s people have split their country in two. King Ahab is a wicked ruler in Israel and King Jehoshaphat is a good leader in Judah.

Israel is at war with Syria and Jehoshaphat agrees to come to Ahab’s aid — but wants to consult the Lord first.

So King Ahab gathers about 400 false prophets and asks them if the two countries should go to battle against Syria.

All the false ministers say God will let Ahab win.

Jehoshaphat must have sensed something was wrong.

He asks if there’s another prophet they can consult.

King Ahab has only one alternative.

“There is one man,” Ahab says, “but I hate him because he never prophesies good about me, but evil.”

King Jehoshaphat says Ahab shouldn’t talk like that about a prophet.

The next thing we know, Ahab is sending someone to fetch a prophet named Micaiah.

The messenger, who goes to get Micaiah, tells him to speak favorably to Ahab.

But Micaiah is determined to speak only what the Lord tells him.

Once Micaiah arrives before the two kings — who are sitting on their thrones and dressed in their royal robes — Ahab asks if they should go to battle.

Micaiah spreads the sarcasm as thick as the cream cheese frosting on your Aunt Martha’s carrot cake — but there’s nothing sweet in his words.

You can almost hear the mockery as Micaiah mimics the false prophets.

“Go up and triumph; the Lord will give (the battle) into the hand of the king,” Micaiah says.

King Ahab knows Micaiah is just being sarcastic.

“How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” the king asks.

So Micaiah lets it fly.

“I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains as sheep that have no shepherd,” Micaiah says. “And the Lord said, ‘These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.’”

In other words, Ahab was going to die and his army would just go home.

“See, didn’t I tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?” Ahab says to Jehoshaphat.

But Micaiah isn’t done.

Micaiah says he saw the Lord sitting on a throne with the host of heaven beside him.

The Lord asks who will entice Ahab to go up to the battle site where he will fall.

A spirit comes forth with an idea: “I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouths of all (Ahab’s) prophets.”

What?

Why would God let a spirit put lies in people’s mouths?

Commentary in the Fire Bible* says the Spirit is one of Satan’s agents, whom God can use to accomplish his purposes. The hearts of Ahab and his false prophets were so hardened against God (and Ahab had done some really bad stuff) that God finally let them be caught in a fatal lie for their unrepentant sins.

As you might expect, the false prophets don’t take Micaiah’s report very well and one strikes him on the cheek.

Ahab is not pleased either. He has Micaiah thrown into prison and orders that he only be given meager rations of bread and water until the king returns.

“If you return, then the Lord hasn’t spoken by me,” Micaiah says.

But Micaiah is right after all.

I’m amazed by what happens next. Ahab plans to disguise himself, but tells Jehoshaphat to go into battle while still wearing his royal robes.

What kind of a plan was that? Did Ahab intend to sneak away from the battle unharmed while the enemy clearly saw — and maybe even killed — Jehoshaphat, who was all decked out in his royal attire?

Sure enough, when the enemy army sees Jehoshaphat they take off after him.

But Jehoshaphat cries out.

And I really believe God protected the good king who trusted in him and tried to do what was right.

When the captains of the enemy army’s chariots see that Jehoshaphat isn’t Ahab, they quit pursuing him.

Then a man draws his bow at random and hits Ahab in between his scale armor and breastplate.

“Carry me out of the battle for I am wounded,” Ahab tells his chariot’s driver.

The battle continues with Ahab propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians until he dies in the evening.

At sunset, a cry goes up and the Israelites go home.

Micaiah’s prophesy was dead on — no pun intended.

So what happened to Micaiah?

I don’t know, but I sure do appreciate his honesty and determination to follow God — even if it meant a bread-and-water diet in a prison.

Micaiah was ready to tell the truth, face the worst and not back down.

Many centuries after Micaiah’s bold stand, I pick up a guitar and think my son made a bold stand, too.

Granted, it may not have been against an angry king, but it was a stand for honesty nonetheless.

And that can make a mom pretty proud.

*Fire Bible, ESV, copyright 2001 Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC.

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