1 Kings 18.16-18It's a minor moment in the story, but a little debate breaks out between king and prophet about who is the true "troubler" of Israel. The Hebrew word for "troubler" here means to disturb or stir up.
Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”
“I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have."
The king thinks the prophet is the troubler. The prophet is the one who is stirring things up, disturbing the peace.
The prophet disagrees and retorts that it's the king who is troubling Israel.
This is a debate we still have. Prophets are routinely accused of stirring things up, making us uncomfortable and disturbing our peace.
And yet, the bible routinely sides with the prophet over against the king, over against the political status quo, over against the principalities and powers.
There is violence, injustice and bloodshed in the city. The city is already troubled. The prophet simply points this out, telling us hard truths that we'd rather not be reminded or made aware of. And for this work the prophet is blamed for troubling us.
But the trouble is actually coming from the king, from our current political and economic arrangements.
The trouble is not being created by the prophet. The trouble is being hidden from us.
We have become anesthetized to the trouble, confused by propaganda and distracted by entertainments. And the prophet is trying to wake us from our spiritual and moral slumbers.
As the prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah exclaim:
They cry out "Peace, peace."
But there is no peace.