ABC:1 Kings 22

From BibleStrength

Verse 23, Should We Tell Lies?

Dan Barker of FFRF claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[1]

Strange as it might seem, God does allow dishonesty for the purpose of defeating wickedness, by using their own tactics against them. As it is written, "With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward." (Psalms 18:26) Job observes that "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." (Job 5:13) Jesus called Christians to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16) God sends punishments on the wicked for their sins. (Lamentations 3:38-41) God used lying spirits throughout the Bible to deceive those engaging in sin and idolatry that they might be punished. (cp. Ezekiel 14:7-10; Judges 9:23; 1 Kings 22:23; 2 Chronicles 18:19-22; Job 12:16-17; Isaiah 19:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:11)

Unfortunately righteous people cannot always be honest with the wicked, lest they be destroyed. Evil people do not play by the rules, and the righteous cannot always be open and honest with evil people, which is why even Jesus simply ignored evil people trying to entrap Him at times. (Matthew 26:63; 27:12; John 8:6) From a government standpoint, always speaking truthfully will result in betrayal by evil people who use espionage, allowing for the downfall of good governments unless they fight back through counter-espionage. Even righteous people in the Bible used lies and deception to avoid danger from those they considered wicked. (cp. Genesis 12:13-20; 20:1-13; 26:6-11; 34:13-26; Judges 4:19-21; 1 Samuel 21:13)

So how then can the two concepts be reconciled? False witness in Exodus 20:16 involved more than just dishonesty but distorting the truth when testifying legally (as in court of law) to harm the innocent and pervert justice. (cp. Deuteronomy 19:16-19; Exodus 23:1-8) The condemnation was not for occasional dishonesty, but using that dishonesty to destroy others without a cause. (Proverbs 3:30) As for Proverbs 12:22, lying lips are those which lie habitually to harm others without a cause, as contrasted with those that deal truthfully. (cp. Psalms 31:18,13; Proverbs 10:18; 17:7; Psalms 120:2-4) However, even righteous, ordinarily truthful people in the Bible had, at times, to use deception to avoid the traps of the wicked, as mentioned previously.


  1. Barker, D. (2019). "Bible Contradictions." FFRF.