I (Don’t) Want to Hear It
1 Kings 22:1–53; Mark 12:35–13:23; Proverbs 5:11–23
My attempts to find guidance are often flawed. I long for honest appraisal of my actions, but I can sometimes be sneaky about choosing my appraiser. When those who know me present a real, raw look at my life and offer hard, helping words, I can become defensive and angry. I might pick a fresh voice instead—someone who doesn’t know my weaknesses and tendencies. “They’re not biased,” I tell myself.
When Ahab and Jehoshaphat combine forces to recapture Ramoth-gilead from the Syrians, they want divine assurance. However, they aren’t necessarily willing to receive divine direction. Ahab, king of Israel, inquires of his 400 prophets, and they assure him of victory. Jehoshaphat isn’t convinced, so he asks for “a prophet of Yahweh.”
Ahab’s response isn’t so far from my own: “Then the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one man to inquire from Yahweh, but I despise him, for he never prophesies anything good concerning me, but only bad: Micaiah the son of Imlah’ ” (1 Kgs 22:8).
Micaiah can’t really win when it comes to Ahab. When he responds sarcastically to Ahab’s request—telling him he’ll conquer and win—Ahab demands he tell the truth. When Micaiah reveals what Ahab doesn’t want to hear—imminent defeat—Ahab complains that Micaiah never prophesies anything good about him.
When we hear hard words, we often take out our aggression out on the messenger. We regard them as the one at fault. “You always respond this way,” we’ll say. “You don’t really understand me.” Soon, we avoid these truth-tellers because their words of truth expose our sin. And if our sin remains concealed, we won’t have to admit it exists. If we don’t admit it, we won’t have to confess it. And if we don’t confess it, we won’t have to turn from it.
It’s all too easy to avoid necessary reform. But if we truly seek to follow God, we can’t avoid the hard truth. When we truly need guidance, we must be willing to face the truth-tellers—even when it hurts.
Who are the people you go to for guidance? Why? Whose guidance are you really rebelling against?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.