Can You Handle the Truth?

That scene in A Few Good Men, that one line spat out by Jack Nicholson has spawned a thousand memes and jokes.

“I want the truth?”

“You can’t handle the truth.” 

Long before the scene above a king of Israel couldn’t handle the truth. Ahab asked the prophets of the Lord for guidance about an upcoming fight. If you know Ahab (this is what 1 Kings says about him) you might wonder how he had the sheer gall to do so but he was trying to impress Jehosaphat and he had a set of pet prophets ready to say what he wanted to hear.

But Ahab wasn’t completely unaware of God. He had a conscience and he knew the true prophet of the Lord would tell the truth. So we end with a scene in 1 Kings 22 where Micaiah is brought before the Ahab and Jehoshaphat and asked about the battle.

Ahab (as Micaiah approached him): 15 Micaiah, should we or should we not wage war against Ramoth-gilead? We need your final say either way.

Micaiah: Do as you say, and be successful. The Eternal One will give it to the king.

Ahab: 16 How many times are you going to make me ask you to give me a true message from the Eternal?

Micaiah: 17 I saw a vision of Israel. In it, Israel was spread all throughout the mountains, wandering aimlessly. They were like lost sheep without a shepherd to guide them. In the vision, the Eternal said, “These sheep have no shepherd. May they all go back to their own homes and live in peace.”

Ahab (to Jehoshaphat): 18 Didn’t I warn you? Didn’t I say that he would give unfavorable prophecies toward me?

1 Kings 22:15-18

Micaiah gets slapped by a false prophet and imprisoned on bread and water. Ahab fights and dies. The thing that puzzles me is if Ahab wanted the truth and knew that Micaiah would give him the truth why did he not believe it and act on it? Of course, that leads to the question why did he marry Jezebel and follow her influence in the first place. These kings knew the power of God first hand. They didn’t just have the histories of the patriarchs and the Exodus they saw miracles and had full-on prophets all around them.

It made me consider my own life. I wrote in my journal that it was time to do the 6 monthly take stock and I knew there were a few things that God wanted to address, and a couple I didn’t want to think about. If I don’t want to think about them then what is the point of taking stock in the first place? It’s like sweeping dust under the carpet or only dusting one-half of the table or wiping one-half of the counter or only working out with your right arm and leg.

Why would I refuse the work God wants to do? Pride, comfort, selfishness, wishy-washiness all of which are better known as sin. I wrote last week about biting the bullet. This is another aspect of it, a coming back and recentering to check I am on the road. It doesn’t just happen once or twice a year – or shouldn’t, although twice a year is better than never… It’s a daily ongoing check which is why I know that there’re things to deal with. But isn’t that God’s grace? He waits patiently until the right time, the right place, the right season.

The Eternal will finish what He started in me.
    Your faithful love, O Eternal One, lasts forever;
    do not give up on what Your hands have made.

Psalm 138:8

He won’t.



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