And why, exactly, are there no great paintings of this story from I Kings? False prophets frothing at the mouth and wearing viking helmets, kings gorgeously arrayed in armor, a single true prophet sulking in chains in the corner. It’s a scene made for TV, friends!
Here’s the heart of the story: if you only want to hear what you want to hear, you’ll surround yourself with people who tell it to you. And then, you’ll resent those who say otherwise–and forget that, sometimes at least, they may be the only ones telling you the truth. Like the ‘rulers of this age’ in I Corinthians, you’ll miss out on the wisdom that sometimes comes with a harsh edge out of the mouth of some guys who’s not even remotely a member of your fan club. When what you hear is only what you want to hear, only what makes you feel good about yourself, you’re setting yourself up for a major, Ahab-level tumble. Because no one’s brain is an echo-chamber of 100% absolute truth: we’re all misinformed, we’ve all jumped to the wrong conclusion, we’ve all misread the tea leaves. And just because your fawning sycophants are wearing bigger horns than anyone else doesn’t make them honest, or trustworthy: it only makes them fawning sycophants, the kind of people who tell you what you want to hear so that you do for them what they want you to do. Keep me employed, cry the helmeted false prophets, and I’ll tell you whatever it is you want to hear!