Just What You Wanted to Hear

Michael Beck

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3)

Guaranteed – you will always find someone will who tell you what you want to hear. The world has never lacked for “ear-itchers.” King Ahab was surrounded by them. Ahab wanted to go off to battle, and enlisted his neighboring king to go with him. “And Ahab king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Wilt thou go with me to Ramothgilead?” (2 Chron. 18:3a) At first, Jehoshaphat gave an unqualified yes. “And he answered him, I am as thou art, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war.” (2 Chron. 18:3b) But then he thought to slow down a bit and get the Lord’s approval. “And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the LORD to day.” (2 Chron. 18:4) And who did Ahab get to give them the “green light?” His “ear-itchers.” “Therefore the king of Israel gathered together of prophets four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall we go to Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for God will deliver it into the king’s hand.” (2 Chron. 18:5)

Beware of who you’re letting speak into your ear.

There are times when we have to question from whom we’re getting advice. This didn’t pass the smell test for Jehoshaphat. “But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him?” (2 Chron. 18:6) In other words, he wanted to know if there were any around who wouldn’t itch their ears. “And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla …” (2 Chron. 18:7a) Ahab, like so many others, was not inclined to hang out with those who would speak to him on behalf of the Lord. His past history with the true man of God had not gone well. Why? Because Micaiah told him what he needed to hear, not what he wanted to hear.

For his truth-telling the true prophet was carted off to jail. “Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I return in peace.” (2 Chron. 18:26) But that was not going to happen. The proof is always in the pudding, isn’t it? “And Micaiah said, If thou certainly return in peace, then hath not the LORD spoken by me.” (2 Chron. 18:27)

As it was in Ahab’s day, so it is today. Itching ears always find obliging tongues.

The ending to this story is like the ending to every story where people are determined to do what they want to do, despite the warning of conscience or godly counsel. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov. 14:12) “Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.” (Prov. 19:29) Ahab would die in the battle, and Jehoshaphat would return home in shame.

Beware of who you’re letting speak into your ear. God’s judgment is upon self-will and stubbornness. False prophets, teachers, and “friends,” are unwitting instruments of His judgment. He will even send a “lying spirit” into their mouths. As it was in Ahab’s day, so it is today. Itching ears always find obliging tongues.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.