And Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?” So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” (1 Kings 22:7-8)

Jehoshaphat, king of Judah went to see Ahab, king of Israel. Jehoshaphat wanted Ahab to join him in attacking the armies of Syria. Ahab agreed. Jehoshaphat first wanted to know if God wanted him to go fight, so he asked about 400 prophets if he should go fight. As good “yes men,” they all said that they should go to battle and would be victorious. The problem was that Ahab only wanted to hear what he wanted to hear. He had not inquired from true prophets of God, but from his nice religious yes men. Isn’t that like many of our church leaders today? They want nice yes men on their elder boards. They do not really want to seek God, but simply want their ideas approved; so, they ask their “men of God,” who say, “Yes, pastor. Your plan is good. Your sermons are good. The church is great.” Our politicians do the same. They surround themselves by advisors who tell them what they want to hear, and then get irritated when they think that the common people are out of touch with reality.

Jehoshaphat, though, seemed to realize that the 400 supposed men of God were not really of God, and so he asked if there was a prophet of the Lord around. Ahab told him that there was, but said that he hated him. Why did Ahab hate the prophet Micaiah? Because he did not always tell him what he wanted to hear. Instead, he actually told him what God said. How many pastors and other Christians love to hear from yes men and women? They love to be told, “Great sermon, pastor,” even if the sermon was dry and empty. We naturally love praise more than criticism, yet we are not being honest if we reject all criticism as negative.

A messenger was sent to go get Micaiah so that they could ask him if they should go to war. The messenger knew what Ahab wanted to hear, and so he gave the prophet some advice.

Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, “Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Please, let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement” (I Kings 22:13).

Micaiah told the king what he wanted to hear at first, but Ahab knew there was more that the prophet had to say. The king asked Micaiah for the whole truth, and Micaiah told him that they would be defeated. Ahab then proceeded to have Micaiah arrested and put into prison, and Ahab ended up dying in that battle, as the prophet had said.

Is that not, though, like many of our church leaders and others? They say that they want to seek God and desire truth, but if they do not hear what they want to hear, they get mad and attack the person who gave the advice. Not all pastors are like that, of course, but many are. We want to hear encouragement no matter what, as we condemn those who have anything else to say other than encouragement. We often end up deceiving ourselves because we did not really seek God and His truth, but only wanted religious affirmation of our own plans and ideas. Sometimes, though, truth is not pleasant. Sometimes reality is not what we want to hear. So, when we seek God or ask others for advice and do not hear what we wanted to hear, be thankful, anyway, and see if there is any truth in what was said. Those who are wise listen to truth and seek what is right, even if it is not what we wanted to hear.

Are you wise? Are you merely a yes man or woman? Are you more concerned in pleasing the leader than in being honest? Do you want to hear truth from others, or do you just want to be encouraged—even if you are headed in the wrong direction?

Seek God and His wisdom and word—but listen to Him, too.