II Chronicles 17

 

 

 

 

To the contents of this chapter, and to the reign of Jehoshaphat, which

occupies this and the following three chapters, the Book of Kings furnishes

as yet no parallel. All that it has to say of Jehoshaphat now is summed up

in one sentence (I Kings 15:24), “And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in

his stead,” till we arrive at the ten verses of I Kings 22:41-51, with

their very slender sketch (see also II Kings 3:1-14).

 

1 "And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and strengthened

himself against Israel.  Jehoshaphat. In ch. 20:31 and I Kings 22:41- 42 we

are told that Jehoshaphat was now thirty-five years of age. He must,

therefore, have been born when Asa was in the sixth year of his reign, and

presumably not under sixteen years of age. His reign extended to twenty-five

years, i.e. from B.C. 914 to B.C. 889. The name signifies “whom God

judges,” or “pleads for.” Ahab is now in the fourth year of his reign, and

the symptoms he manifests (I Kings 16:30-33) are those that the rather

urge Jehoshaphat to strengthen himself, i.e. strengthen the defenses of his

kingdom on the Israel side.

 

2 "And he placed forces in all the fenced cities of Judah, and set

garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim, which

Asa his father had taken."  He placed forces; literally, he gave (Genesis 1:17)

forces, or a force, or host, or army: חַיִל (Exodus 14:28; II Samuel 24:2).

And set garrisons; again literally, he gave garrisons (נְאִיבִים); i.e. either

the persons “set over,” prefects or officers (I Kings 4:19), or the

military garrison itself “stationed” (I Samuel 10:5; 13:3). A village in

Judah also had the name Nezeb (Joshua 15:45). In the cities of

Ephraim (see ch.15:8).

 

 

Spiritual Fortification (vs. 1-2)

 

Jehoshaphat did well to “strengthen himself against Israel.” One that ought

to be in the closest possible relationship to us but that is formally separated

from us and that is likely to be jealous of our power is most to be feared by

us. The avowed enemy is not so hostile as the envious rival, as the

unfriendly “neighbor.” And there was nothing of untrustfulness in this

procedure of the king’s. Had he gone to Syria as his father did (ch. 16:2)

for help against Israel, he would have been open to just

rebuke as Asa was; but in keeping his own fortresses in good sound

condition, in seeing that they were well manned and fortified, he was

simply acting with that practical sagacity which is not condemned but

commended of God (Luke 16:9-10). The words suggest to us some

lessons concerning the wisdom of spiritual fortification.

 

  • THE SUPREME QUESTION. Are we in the enemy’s country, in a

strange land; or are we in our own true home? Are we in a state of spiritual

bondage or dependence, or are we enjoying true spiritual liberty? Is God

our only Sovereign, and are we rejoicing in His gracious, benignant sway?.

Are our souls right with Him, and, being right with Him, are they free from

the tyranny of all other lords? Is our spiritual estate one of honorable

loyalty to God and of honorable freedom from all servitude and subjection?

 

  • THE NEXT VITAL CONSIDERATION. Are we taking wise

measures to "strengthen ourselves” against our natural or probable

enemies? It is most unwise to assume that, because it is well with us now,

it must always be well with us. “Final perseverance” as a sacred obligation

is an excellent doctrine, but not as a mere comforting assumption.

 

Ø      The exhortations of the Divine Word (Romans 11:20; I Corinthians

9:27; 10:12; Revelation 3:2, 11);

Ø      the numerous well-attested facts we have read and those we have

witnessed;

Ø      the weakness of which we are conscious; — all these considerations

urge us to consider what we should do to “strengthen ourselves,”

what steps we should take that the neighboring enemy may not

encroach, that the estate which God has given us to guard may

be held inviolate. Of what kind shall be our:

 

  • SPIRITUAL FORTIFICATION. HOW shall we “place forces in our

fenced cities,” and “set garrisons in the land”? We shall do this:

 

Ø      By forming wise habits of devotion.

 

o       Of public and also (and more particularly) of private devotion;

o       such habits as will encourage the greatest possible measure of

spontaneous and spiritual communion;

o       such habits as will secure the twofold communication —

God speaking to us and our speaking to Him.

 

Ø      By entering on a course of sacred usefulness. Nothing is so likely to

keep the flame of piety alight on the altar of our hearts, to preserve

our own moral and spiritual integrity, as doing, regularly and

methodically, some real service to other souls.

 

Ø      Maintaining a right attitude of soul. The attitude of humility, and

therefore of conscious dependence on God; the attitude of wariness

and watchfulness against the first uprising of evil against us or

within us; the attitude of thoughtfulness; the disposition to let

our mind go toward those things which are highest and worthiest,

toward the truth of God, toward the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

With such “fenced cities" as these in the soul, we shall be strong

against the enemy whom we have most to fear.

 

3 "And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the

first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim;'

The first ways of his father David. Although there would be

no difficulty in reconciling this statement with history, yet probably the

name David should not stand here. It is not in the Septuagint. The most

natural and sufficient reference is to Asa. And sought not unto Baalim;

literally, to the Baalim; i.e. to the various false gods of surrounding

peoples (Judges 2:11), Baal-berith (Judges 8:33; 9:4, 46), Baalzebub

(II Kings 1:2), Baal-peor (Numbers 23:28, etc.; 25:3), according to the

places where the idolatrous worship was carried on. (For the preposition לְ,

“to,” after “sought,” in this and following verse, see again I Chronicles 22:19.)

 

4 "But sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in His

commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.'

After the doings of Israel. This expression probably marks the

doings of the northern kingdom, as both the more typical throughout its

whole history of the wrong, and also as the systematic beginning, “by a

law,” of idolatrous worship and images in the matter of the calves and so

on.

 

5 "Therefore the LORD stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all

Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honor

in abundance."  All Judah brought presents to Jehoshaphat. These presents

were, of course, voluntary gifts, though, like not a few others, custom may

have taken off from them something of the bloom of spontaneousness

(I Samuel 10:27; II Samuel 8:2; I Kings 4:21; 10:25; Psalm 72:10).

 

6 "And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he

took away the high places and groves out of Judah." And his heart was lifted

up in the ways of the Lord.  Although the verb גָבַהּ, often carries a bad sense

with it, it quite as often carries with it a good one in the Old Testament, and the

typical instance of the former (Psalm 131:1) is fully counterbalanced by

Isaiah 52:13.  The marginal “was enencouraged" may be superseded with

advantage by “took courage” (Isaiah 40:29-31). The groves. Supersede this

incorrect rendering by the Asherim; and upon the seeming discrepancy, see

again ch. 15:17, and “Introduction to Chronicles” there quoted.

 

 

The Accession of Jehoshaphat (vs. 1-6)

 

  • THE DATE OF HIS CORONATION.

 

Ø      The thirty-fifth year of his age. He was thus born in the sixth year of

Asa’s reign, during the ten years of quiet. His mother was Azubah,

the daughter of Shilhi (I Kings 22:42). A man of mature years

when he ascended the throne, he was better qualified to bear the load

of responsibility his father’s decease had, in God’s providence,

cast upon him.

 

Ø      The fourth year of Ahab King of Israel (I Kings 22:41). If Judah

was fortunate in getting such a sovereign as Jehoshaphat, Jeshoshaphat

was unfortunate in having such a neighbor as Ahab (I Kings 16:30-33).

Man is always more or less influenced by his surroundings, and

especially by his neighbors. These, when good, are a blessing; when evil,

a curse. In the latter case, if he cannot improve them, they will deteriorate

him (ch.18:1).

 

  • THE RENOWN OF HIS THRONE. The throne:

 

Ø      Of a prosperous kingdom. Judah, if small, was valiant and religious.

Under the preceding reign it had achieved brilliant feats in battle, and

advanced considerably on the path of religious reform.

 

Ø      Of a good father. With all his imperfections, Asa was one of the best of

Judah’s kings, and it was no slight honor that Jehoshaphat should have

descended from and succeeded such a parent. Noblesse oblige: it entailed

on Jehoshaphat the duty of walking in his father’s footsteps as man and

king.

 

Ø      Of a famous ancestor. The throne he ascended had come down from

David, the second king of united Israel, in direct and unbroken succession,

whereas the throne of Israel had thrice changed dynasties and always for

the worse (I Kings 15:27; 16:10, 22).

 

Ø      Of a great God. The throne Jehoshaphat obtained was Jehovah’s, and

Jehoshaphat was merely His viceroy and representative.

 

  • THE PRUDENCE OF HIS RULE.

 

Ø      He considered Israel as an enemy. This was wise. If Baasha had been

hostilely disposed towards Judah all the days of his father Asa, Ahab was

not likely to be more peacefully inclined. Cautious men should understand

the situations in which they are placed. No good can come from mistaking

enemies for friends.

 

Ø      He strengthened himself against Israel. He planted garrisons throughout

Judah and in the cities of Mount Ephraim his father had captured from

Baasha (ch. 15:8), and located forces in all the fenced cities of

Judah. “The prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; the simple

pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3; 27:12). “The prudent man

looketh well to his going” (ibid. ch. 14:15), especially when Ahabs are

abroad.

 

  • THE GREATNESS OF HIS ALLY. Asa had sought a league with

Benhadad of Syria (ch.16:2):  Jehoshaphat preferred a league

with Jehovah (here, v.3).  An ally:

 

Ø      All-powerful, as his father Asa once believed (ch. 14:11), as David had often

sung (Psalm 66:3; 76:6-7; 89:8), as Moses had long ago taught (Deuteronomy

7:21), as Miriam had chanted on the seashore (Exodus 15:8), and as Jehovah

Himself had once reminded Abraham (Genesis 18:14).

 

Ø      Omniscient, as Hanani the seer had on a memorable occasion told his

father (ch. 16:9), and as he perhaps remembered, having been then a boy of

ten years of age; an ally who could assist in every strait for which His aid

was wanted (Proverbs 15:3) — yea, who could detect straits and emergencies

in which His aid would be wanted before the individual himself should see

them, and who would be forward with reinforcements even before their need

was discerned.

 

Ø      Unchanging. Benhadad broke his league with Baasha (ch. 16:4), as doubtless

he would have done with Asa had more powerful inducements been offered

him by Baasha or another. When Jehovah covenants with His people,

HE CHANGES NOT!  (I Samuel 15:29; Psalm 111:5; Isaiah 54:10;

Jeremiah 33:20-21; Malachi 3:6).

 

Ø      Gracious. Benhadad required to be bribed. Jehovah grants His friendship

and aid free, stipulating only that they whose ally He becomes shall be true

to Him (ch.15:2). Motley, somewhere in his ‘Dutch Republic,’ says that

when William of Orange was advised to seek the help of European

sovereigns in his struggle with Philip of Spain, he replied that he had

formed a league with the King of kings.

 

  • THE QUALITY OF HIS RELIGION.

 

Ø      Personal. Jehoshaphat as a man, not merely as a monarch, was pious.

He, and not only his temple officials, sought Jehovah. Religion is nothing,

if not personal. Kings as well as subjects are under law to God.

 

Ø      Practical. Jehoshaphat’s piety was not limited to state proclamations, or

official acts of homage to Jehovah in the temple, but extended to the

domain of his own individual walk.

 

Ø      Ancestral. It had been the religion of his father Asa and of his renowned

ancestor David in their best days, of Asa before he took the first false step

in leaving Jehovah for Benhadad, of David before and after he sinned in

connection with Bathsheba.

 

Ø      Scriptural. It was the worship of Jehovah as prescribed by the Law of

Moses, and not the service of idols as practiced by the northern kingdom;

in particular not the adoration of golden calves like those at Dan and

Bethel (I Kings 12:28). Scripture is the only directory of worship for the

New Testament Church.

 

Ø      Reformatory. Not content with abstaining from idolatrous worship,

Jehoshaphat abandoned the position of neutrality and compromise his

father had occupied (ch. 15:17); he “took away the high

places and groves out of Judah.” Neutrality in religion is always an

impossibility (Joshua 24:15), is less a possibility now than ever

(Matthew 12:30).

 

  • THE REWARD OF HIS PIETY.

 

Ø      Jehovah established the kingdom in his hand. Jehovah had done so to

David (II Samuel 5:12) and to Solomon (I Kings 2:46), according

to His promise (II Samuel 7:12-13; I Kings 9:5). In continuation of

that promise, He now confirms the government of Judah in the hands of

their descendant. The only real King-maker and Throne-establisher is God

(Proverbs 8:15; Psalm 2:6; 61:6; Hosea 13:11). No monarch can keep his

crown when God wishes to uncrown him; no throne can be upset until God

grants permission to throw it down.

 

Ø      His subjects did him homage by presenting gifts. (v. 5.) Hardly taxes,

but free-will offerings over and above, in expression of loyalty and good

will, as appears to have been customary on the accession of a king

(I Samuel 10:27). It augurs well for a reign when it begins with God’s

blessing and the people’s favor. No ruler’s title is complete, wanting

either of these seals.

 

Ø      He had riches and honor in abundance. This accorded with the

promise given to the good man (Psalm 112:1-3). God never fails to

honor them who honor him (I Samuel 2:30), or to enrich, if not with

material yet with spiritual treasures, such as serve him with fidelity and

fear (Proverbs 3:16; 22:4). See this illustrated in the lives of David

I Chronicles 29:28), Solomon (I Kings 10:24-25, 27; here ch. 9:23-24),

and Hezekiah (ch. 32:7).

 

  • THE HAPPINESS OF HIS HEART. This was “lifted up in the ways

of the Lord” (v. 6), not with pride, but:

 

Ø      With inward satisfaction. True religion diffuses such a feeling through

the heart (Psalm 119:165; Proverbs 3:17; Isaiah 32:17; 48:18).

 

Ø      With earnest resolution. The elevation of spirit he experienced impelled

him to labor for the reformation of his country and the improvement of

his people. Sincere piety ever seeks to extend itself. Genuine goodness

always aims at doing good to others. Christ commands His followers

to do good and communicate (Matthew 10:8).

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The responsibility of high station.

Ø      The duty of earnestness in religion.

Ø      The profit of true piety.

Ø      The joy of godliness.

 

 

The Wise Choice and the Happy Course (vs. 3-6)

 

We have before us here the king who made the wise choice, and who

consequently ran through a very happy course. In him we have an example;

in it a promise for ourselves.

 

  • THE WISE CHOICE, WHICH IS AN EXAMPLE TO US.

Jehoshaphat:

 

Ø      Preferred the true God to the false deities; he “sought to the Lord God

of his father,” and he “sought not unto Baalim.” Moreover, he set before

him, as that which he should copy:

 

Ø      The best part of the best man’s life. Not the life of the less perfect Abijah

or Rehoboam, or even Solomon, but David; and of his life, not the latter

part, which was more luxurious and less pure, but the first ways of his

father David,” which were lees luxurious and more pure than the last.

Herein he showed an excellent judgment. He could not have done a wiser

thing, as he certainly could not have done anything more solemnly and

stringently binding upon him, than resolve to cleave to the “God of his

fathers — the God who had called both king and kingdom into existence,

to whom he and his people owed all that they were and had. There were

certain fascinations connected with the worship of Baalim appealing to

their lower nature; but what were these to the weighty and overwhelming

considerations that bound him to Jehovah? ("While we look not at the

things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen:  for the

things that are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen

are eternal!"  (II Corinthians 4:18)  And he could not have done

better than choose for his exemplar the devout and faithful David; and,

choosing him, to select the earlier and worthier part of his very checkered

and somewhat uneven life. Before us is a similar choice, and we must make

up our mind what we will decide upon.

 

o        We have to choose what God we will serve; whether the Lord God

of our fathers, whether the heavenly Father, the Divine Saviour

and Friend of our souls, or whether this passing world with its

lower interests, its fading honors, its transient joys.

 

o        We have to determine in whose steps we will follow; whether

those of the ambitious, or of the pleasure-seeking, or of the

aimless man, or those of the reverent and earnest man; and again,

if we choose the last, whether we will direct our eye to those

elements in his character and to those portions of his life which

are not the second-best, but the noblest and worthiest of all.

 

·         THE HAPPY COURSE, WHICH IS A PROMISE FOR US.

Jehoshaphat had all that a king could well wish for.

 

Ø      A sense of God’s favoring presence (v. 3).

Ø      A sense of growing security throughout his kingdom (v. 5).

Ø      3. The testimony of his people’s attachment to his person (v. 5).

Ø      Honor as well as abundance (v. 5).

Ø      Elation of heart, great and continuous gladness in the service of Jehovah

(v. 6).

Ø      The expenditure of his power in further cleansing usefulness (v. 6).

What rewards of the king’s fidelity were due to his royal position we, of

course, cannot look for. But if we make the wiser choice we may reckon

upon a life of true and real blessedness. To us there will be secured

 

o        all needful temporal good (Psalm 37:25; 34:22; Matthew 6:33;

I Timothy 4:8);

o        the conscious and abiding presence of God (John 14:23; 15:4;

Revelation 3:20);

o        the peace which, not as the world gives, Christ gives to His own,

and the joy which no man taketh from us;

o        the spiritual conditions of holy usefulness, the means and

opportunity of exerting a pure and elevating influence on

many hearts, and thus of uplifting and ennobling many lives;

o       the hope that maketh not ashamed.  (Romans 5:5)

 

7 "Also in the third year of his reign he sent to his princes, even to

Benhail, and to Obadiah, and to Zechariah, and to Nethaneel, and

to Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah.  8 And with them he sent Levites,

even Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth,

and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tobadonijah, Levites; and

with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests.  9 And they taught in Judah, and

had the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout

all the cities of Judah, and taught the people."  He sent; Hebrew, שָׁלַח. The

Hebrew text distinctly says, he sent to his princes, not, “he sent his princes.”

The meaning is — he sent orders to his princes to see to it that Judah was

taught (v. 9) the book of the Law of the Lord (Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy

4:9; 17:18), not, indeed, without their own personal aid in whatever way able

to be given, but systematically and with authority by the Levites and priests

(Deuteronomy 33:10). This deeper fathoming of the needs of the time,

and of what constituted its real safety, was greatly to the spiritual credit of

Jehoshaphat. The references (ch. 15:3; 35:2-4, 10-12) are full of point. None

of these princes, or Levites and priests, are elsewhere mentioned by name.

 

 

     The First Chapter of Jehoshaphat’s Career (vs. 1-9)

 

Although to the end Jehoshaphat was neither an unfaithful king nor an

unfaithful man, and certainly no apostate, yet the first chapter of his career

reads the best. The mounting of the sun was fine, but clouds hung about

the noonday sun, and the setting was not a sky of perfect western glory.

The unfolding of the bud looked towards a perfect flower, but some blight

seemed to visit it, and some worm was in the fruit. The three chief features

of this beginning of Jehoshaphat’s reign show most healthfully, as follows:

 

  • HIS VARIED DETERMINED ATTENTION AND DEVOTION TO

HOME. Policy would dictate it, kindness and love would urge it, in all the

wide range of its analogies; wisdom would smile upon it; but duty, with

solemn, dignified voice, commands it. The Christian of youngest earliest

faith is taught to provide for his own household; the apostles are to begin

at Jerusalem; the man of business belies the name and forfeits his character,

and brings himself to the ground, if he do not follow a similar rule; and

certainly the king and the man in authority, be the nature of his rule what it

may, can make himself no exception. We see with satisfaction King

Jehoshaphat make his footing sure in this essential way. These all rehearse

the principle that every man must rule first the domain of his own

innermost kingdom, his own heart and life, where none may rule, nay, none

|can, except himself and GOD!

 

  • HIS LEGISLATION FOR THE REVIVAL OF THE RELIGIOUS

EDUCATION OF THE PEOPLE, AND HIS CARRYING OF THE

SAME INTO EFFECT. Ignorance is no safety, though knowledge is

responsibility. Mere knowledge, mental gift, mental activity, mental

acquisition, mental store, and store of experience, even, — these are no

reliable sources of real safety, neither guide nor refuge for the real life.

For these, religious education IS NECESSARY! Religious education rests

on religious knowledge. Religious knowledge rests on religious teaching

and teachers, and these mean the teaching and the teachers of revelation.

So the right principles of action get reached, and motive dormant or even

unborn springs into life and action. Nor is it immaterial to observe — the

very opposite, indeed, of immaterial — that, in so complex and multitudinous

A LIFE as that OF A NATION, it must be more than ever hopeless, that:

 

Ø      any principle can motivate its life,

Ø      any mechanism regulate it, or

Ø      any influence elevate and purify it,

 

            EXCEPT such as work just as religion does, on every individual equally,

             on the innermost thought and feeling of every individual,

and with no secondary force, but with sovereign authoritative command

met by willingly conceded obedience from the heart. In nothing throughout

all his reign was Jehoshaphat so right as in restoring and paying all

attention to the restoring of religious education.

 

  • THE GREAT, MOST EXCEPTIONAL, AND MOST TO BE

DESIRED HARVEST REAPED. The greatness of that harvest was seen

in the fact that it was so general, so widespread. “All the lands round about

Judah” (elsewhere we learn or may gather that this description embraced

Israel also to a large extent) and Philistia and “Arabia” swelled it. They

who had silver, brought silver; and they who had flocks, flocks. The

exceptional character of it lay in the fact that it was so largely due to moral

sources. Jehoshaphat had not as yet waged a war nor fought a battle. But

the fame of him round about was as of the coming man. And it may most

justly be pronounced a harvest that was to be desired, in that it is more

pointedly described, most precisely described as the result of this, that it

was, behind and above all else, “the fear of the Lord” that “fell on all.”

There is no so honorable reward, title, “present,” that can be conferred on

mortal man, as that which comes to that man by virtue of "the fear of the

Lord” falling on those around him, and yet somehow linking him with it. It

looks as though he had been very right himself, unusually right; yet in

nothing more right, nothing more happy, than in the impression which it

would appear he has honestly and successfully given, that it is and has been

as the servant and minister of the Lord, that he has been acting, under Him,

for Him, and with the smile of His prospering blessing resting on him, and

his seed-sowing and growing.

 

 

                A Strong because Instructed People (vs. 7-9)

 

Jehoshaphat had not been long on the throne before he took a step

admirably adapted to benefit and, indeed, to bless the nation. Better than

strengthening himself against Israel by increasing his garrisons (vs. 1-2)

was the enlightenment of “all the cities of Judah,” the teaching of “the

people (v. 9) from “the book of the Law of the Lord.”

 

  • STRENGTH IN INSTRUCTION. It is well for a land to have its strong,

unassailable fortresses, its well-garrisoned towns, its frontier of steep

mountain or of precipitous rock. But the strength of a nation does not

reside in such defenses as these; it lies in the:

 

Ø      intelligence,

Ø      vigor,

Ø      courage, and

Ø      patriotism,

 

of its people. All material munitions will fail to keep out the enemy when

the people” are corrupt and enfeebled. Without any remarkable fortifications

constructed by human art and labor, a free, brave, and godly nation will be

respected and preserved. And such a nation will be only found where there is

knowledge and consequent intelligence. You cannot build anything durable

on IGNORANCE!   Ignorance means:

 

Ø      folly,

Ø      indulgence in the lower pleasures,

Ø      feebleness,

Ø      decline.

 

“Knowledge is power” in more ways than one.

 

  • INSTRUCTION IN SACRED TRUTH. Power needs to be rightly

guided; misguided, it is the source of greatest evil. Everything depends on

the way in which intelligence is directed. Genius, working towards an evil

end, is a force that is simply terrible. The world can suffer no sadder

infliction than a man or a community possessed of the power of highly

cultivated intelligence, but unregulated by righteous principles, abandoning

itself to unworthy impulses. Therefore was it of the first importance that

those who went “throughout all the cities of Judahshould “teach the

peoplefrom “the book of the Law of the Lord.” Thence they would gain

those directing truths, those commanding principles which would lead in

the ways of holiness and heavenly wisdom. Therefore is it of the first

importance, here and everywhere, that throughout all our cities and all our

towns and villages we should not only have “the schoolmaster abroad,” but

have the Christian teacher also, busily, earnestly, faithfully making known:

 

Ø      the will of God,

Ø      the truth and grace of Jesus Christ,

 

basing all character on sound morality, and basing all morals on their

only sound foundation, Christian truth.

 

  • SACRED TRUTH SUPPLIED IN EVERY OPEN WAY.

 

Jehoshaphat did not think it enough to leave things to be done by existing

institutions. Like a wise and an earnest man, he east about for additional

methods, he looked in all directions for competent men to effect his pious

purpose. And he called out:

 

Ø      The man who brought the weight of his social position — the prince (v. 7).

Ø      The man who carried the influence of his sacred office — the priest (v.8).

Ø      The man who contributed the strength of special training — the Levite (v. 8).

 

Thus wisely and effectively are we to work. In our country there is:

 

o        Scope for much Christian instruction throughout the land.

There are:

 

§         the young coming up to be taught;

§         the neglected and spiritually ignorant multitudes

crowded in our great cities;

§         uninstructed numbers needing to be taught

the way of life, scattered through the rural

districts of the land.

 

There is ample room yet for the work of the teacher.

 

o        Ample teaching material from which to draw. Those who can

contribute social rank, or intellectual power, or special religious

training, or exceptional spiritual fervor, or even the ordinary

knowledge and common zeal of the members of our Christian

Churches. There is available on every hand a very large measure

of capacity for religious instruction; and this the Christian Church

should, like the King of Judah, enlist on behalf of the country.

Then may we look for:

 

o        the most excellent results; for a country covered with Christian

teachers, and saturated with heavenly truth, will be a nation

walking in the fear of God and resting under His smile.

 

 

 

An Old Education Act (vs. 7-9)

 

  • ITS PROMULGATION.

 

Ø      By whom? Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa and King of Judah. Kings and

parliaments should care for the education of the people. No better means

of promoting social order.

 

Ø      When? In the third year of his reign. Jehoshaphat postponed not a work

so excellent, but assigned it a precedence, answering to its importance. Of

greater consequence was it for the prosperity of his dominions and the

peace of his reign that his subjects should be instructed, than that his

armies should be drilled or his garrisons strengthened.

 

Ø      For what end? The religious improvement of the people.

 

o        Under the Old Testament economy that formed part of the

duty of the Hebrew state, because state and Church were then

one.

 

o        Under the New Testament economy, when state and Church are not

coextensive, the obligation to provide religious education for both

old and young rests exclusively upon the Church; the furtherance

of secular instruction being the department that properly belongs to

the state. If, however, the state is not required to directly furnish

teaching in religion, it is not at liberty to hinder the Church,

but is bound to afford her free scope for discharging the special

work committed to her care.

 

  • ITS CONSTITUTION.

 

Ø      Three orders of teachers.

 

o        Laymen of high rank — princes, of whom the names were Ben-hail,

Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethaneel, and Michaiah, but of whom nothing

more is known. If they were “princes” in the sense of being related

to the royal family, then to none could the work be more fittingly

assigned; if heads of families or fathers’ houses, the propriety of

appointing them was still more evident; if governors of districts,

it was not dimmed.

o        Levites, nine in numberShemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel,

Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah,

all now equally unknown.

o        Priests, two in number — Elishama and Jehoram.

 

Ø      Three kinds of instruction. This at least probable from the appointing

of three classes of teachers.

 

o        Civil law, and the constitution of the kingdom, were presumably

taught by the laymen.

o        Ritual law, and what pertained to the worship of the temple, by

the Levites.

o        Moral law, with the nature and obligation of religion, by the priests.

Thus the nation became thoroughly instructed in their duty to:

§         God,

§         the king, and

§         each other.

 

  • ITS OPERATION. It was put in force:

 

Ø      Immediately. Good resolutions cannot be too soon carried out, or good

schemes too quickly set on foot. Quite as many noble projects are ruined

by procrastination as by undue haste.

Ø      Universally. The teaching deputies went through the land, visited the

cities and villages, and left no part unblessed by their labours.

Ø      Earnestly. They taught the people; not simply opened schools, and read dry

and uninteresting lectures on civil, ecclesiastical, and religious history, but

saw that the people understood and practiced what was taught. (Think the

role in American history of:

o        the Bible,

o        New England Primer,

o        McGuffey’s Readers, etc. (CY – 2016)

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The true glory of a king — to care for the welfare of his subjects.

Ø      The value of secular, but especially of religious, instruction.

Ø      The best spring of prosperity for a people - knowledge of

the Law of the Lord.

Ø      The true function of a teacherto cause the people to understand.

Ø      The ultimate end of education — obedience. (Compare this with

the rebelliousness and disobedience of the culture of the United

States today! - CY – 2016)

 

10 "And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands

that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against

Jehoshaphat."  The moral effect of this peaceful war of Jehoshaphat is

manifestly great.

 

11 "Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and

tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand

and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he

goats."  The presents were probably enough in the nature of tribute,

the “fixed rate” of which is sometimes alluded to (I Kings 4:21; 10:25;

II Samuel 8:2), but it is doubtful whether the word מַשָּׂא purports to say

this. The word means “bearing” or “carrying,” and then “a burden, load, or

weight.” The expression (ch. 20:25), “more than they could carry away,”

where this word is used, favors the idea that the meaning

here is “silver of great weight.” Probably the moral significance and

historical interest, whether of this statement respecting the Philistines, or

the following respecting the Arabians, lies in the fact that both of them

brought, without more ado, their payments, and did not seek to slip out of

their engagements with Judah and Judah’s king. Note, for confirmation of

this view, II Kings 3:4-5.

 

12 "And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah

castles, and cities of store." Castles. This rendering, better than palaces

(margin), would bear improving to the rather stronger word “fortresses,” Hebrew,

בִּירָנִיּות, found only here and in ch. 27:4, plural of בִּירָנִית connected with the

Chaldee and later Hebrew, בִּירָה, of Ezra 6:2; Nehemiah 1:1; Esther 1:2;

Daniel 8:2, Cities of store (see note under ch. 8:4; see also I Kings 9:19;

Exodus 1:11).

 

13 "And he had much business in the cities of Judah: and the men of

war, mighty men of valor, were in Jerusalem."  Much business; Hebrew,

מְלָאכָה. The meaning of the word is “service?’ “labor bestowed;” and the

verse reads, “And there was to him much labor in the cities of Judah, and men

of war, mighty men of valor, in Jerusalem;” i.e. He bestoweth much pains on

the cities of Judah, and had, etc. The word “were,” Authorized Version italics,

 is incorrectly inserted. The former half of this verse would better constitute

the end of v. 12. Keil, however, maintains the rendering “substance;” “property,”

for מְלָאכָה (Exodus 22:7, 10).

 

14 "And these are the numbers of them according to the house of their

fathers: Of Judah, the captains of thousands; Adnah the chief, and

with him mighty men of valor three hundred thousand."

This verse, with the following four, gives us the names of five

captains, chiefs, princes, or military officers for the kingdom’s service, with

the numbers of the troops they severally commanded. The numbers of

them (see note under I Chronicles 23:11); Hebrew, פקֻדָּתָם. The

better English rendering to carry at once the signification would be, The

muster of them, etc. The captains… the chief, In both cases the Hebrew

is the familiar word for” prince” (שָׂר); in the former without article, in the

latter with article. The numbers of this and following four verses are not

only absolutely unreliable, but in themselves impossible. According to the

house of their fathers; i.e. the quotation is drawn from an army catalogue,

arranged carefully by fathers’ houses (Numbers 1:18, 22, etc.).

 

15 "And next him was Jehohanan the captain, and with him two

hundred and fourscore thousand."  The captain. So again read, the prince.

 

16 "And next to him was Amasiah the son of Zichri, who willingly

offered himself unto the LORD; and with him two hundred

thousand mighty men of valor."  Amaziah, the son of Zichri. This man is

not titled at all. The description of him as one who had willingly offered

himself unto the Lord, not elucidated by the context or any effective parallel,

will mark something honorable in his history. Possibly he comes from an

unexpected quarter, and is a man of approved skill. Nothing further is known

of these three men. (For those of us who are unknown, and living in like times

of  the 21st century, this would be a great epitaph, when we come to the end

of our way!  CY - 2016)  Meantime it has been suggested (Professor Dr. J.

Murphy, of Belfast, ‘ Handbook to Chronicles ‘) that the first of the three was

for Judah proper the second for that contingent of Judah that hailed from Dan

and the Philistines; and the third for that of Simeon and the Arabs.

 

 

Willing Service (v. 16)

 

When it is said of Amasiah that he “willingly offered himself unto the

Lord,” we have a thought conveyed to us respecting the character of a

Hebrew general’s life, and we have a form of words strikingly suggestive

of the true nature of all sacred service. We look at both.

 

  • THE CHARACTER OF AMASIAH’S SERVICE. By the phrase here

employed it was probably meant that he entered upon his work as a captain

of Jehoshaphat’s army in a spirit of religious devotedness. We need not be

surprised at that. The idea of the essential wrongness of war is modern, is

Christian. It would not occur to the mind, and would not therefore trouble

the conscience, of any man living in that age. There would be no reason, in

his mind, why he should not give himself up to the soldier’s profession, and

go through all military duties of every kind in the spirit of self-surrender to

the service of God. And whatever we may think on this subject, we should

certainly conclude, and act upon the conviction, that, in determining our

course of life, we should seek and find that to which we can give ourselves

with religious earnestness. There is no reason why any profession should

not be a vocation; that to which a man feels himself called of God; that in

which he may be continually serving God and honoring His Name; that in

which he will make every effort to illustrate the essential graces which

Jesus Christ has commended to us, both by his words and by his example.

 

  • AN ESSENTIAL FEATURE OF ALL ACCEPTABLE SERVICE. It

must surely be recorded in the “book of life” concerning every heir of

heaven, that he “offered himself willingly unto the Lord.” For what other

service than that is worthy of acceptance?

 

Ø      The submission and surrender of our will is the act of entrance upon the

life which is Divine. It is not knowledge, it is not feeling, it is not

compulsory action, or action wrought for recompense, that constitutes true

childhood; all of these may exist, and yet there may remain estrangement

from God. But however slight be the knowledge, and though emotion be

but small, and before any deeds of service have become possible, if a man

bows his will to the will of God and resolves to surrender himself to the

service of his Saviour, then he has entered the kingdom; he is one of the

redeemed of the Lord; his feet are found in the path of life eternal; he has

only to go on in the way in which he is walking.

 

2. Our daily service is excellent and acceptable in proportion to its cheerful

willingness. To do the right thing with indeed the consent of our will, but

only with a reluctant and struggling acquiescence, places the servant at one

end of the scale. To do the right thing with alacrity, with cheerfulness, with

earnestness of spirit, with an animating eagerness and abounding joy,

places the servant at the other end of the scale of Divine acceptableness,

commendation, and reward. “God loves the cheerful giver” (II Corinthians

7:9); not only the giver of his money, but of his time, of his strength, of his

intellectual resources, of all the forces of his soul, of all the opportunities

of his life.

 

17 "And of Benjamin; Eliada a mighty man of valor, and with him

armed men with bow and shield two hundred thousand."  Of Benjamin…

armed men with bow and shield (see ch.14:8, and note there).

 

18 "And next him was Jehozabad, and with him an hundred and

fourscore thousand ready prepared for the war."

While Eliada of last verse was for Benjamin, Professor Dr.

Murphy supposes that Jehozabad was for the annexed part of Ephraim.

But no suppositions of this kind can avail to explain the numbers in the

text, which is no doubt corrupt.

 

19 "These waited on the king, beside those whom the king put in the

fenced cities throughout all Judah."These waited; Hebrew, הַמְשָׁרְתִים,

plural piel part. of שָׁרַת.  The verse states that this enormous fivefold army,

with its five princes (counting, in our corrupt text, one million one hundred

and sixty thousand), was the king’s Jerusalem standing army, while other

separate regiments or bands of troops were spread through all Judah, where

they might be most needed for defense.

 

 

 

The Greatness of Jehoshaphat (vs. 10-19)

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT’S NEIGHBORS.

 

Ø      Afraid of his greatness. As on the cities round Jacob and his sons when

they fled from Shecham (Genesis 35:5), the terror of Jehovah was on

Jehoshaphat’s neighbors. Regarding Jehoshaphat as under the protection

of Heaven, they hesitated to try conclusions with him on the field of war.

 

Ø      Solicitous of his favor. This some sought by means of gifts. The

Philistines brought presents and silver of tribute, or “silver a burden,” i.e. a

great quantity (Bertheau, Keil); the Arabians offered flocks — 7700 he-goats,

and 7700 rams.

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT’S BUILDINGS.

 

Ø      Castles, or palaces. Oriental kings commonly attested their

magnificence by temple and palace building; e.g. Solomon (ch. 8:1-2.).

Ø      Store-cities. Arsenals or magazines for supplying the garrisons. In them

Jehoshaphat had much property

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT’S WARRIORS.

 

Ø      Those who served in Jerusalem.

 

o        Their battalions, five — three belonging to Judah, two to Benjamin.

o        Their captains. Of Judah’s divisions, Adnah the chief, Jehohanan,

and Amasiah the son of Zichri, “who had willingly given or offered

himself to the Lord,” perhaps in the performance of some mighty

deed. Of Benjamin, Eliada a mighty man of valor,” and Jehozabad.

o        Their numbers. Of Judah, under Adnah, 300,000; under Jehohanan,

280,000; under Amasiah, 200,000; in all, 780,000 men. Of Benjamin,

200,000 with Eliada, and 180,000 with Jehozahad; in all, 380,000. For

the kingdom 1,160,000, upwards of one million and a half of able-

bodied soldiers — a huge incubus for so small a kingdom.

o        Their duties. They waited on the king, i.e. were disposable forces

at his command, ready to take the field when he should give the

word.

 

Ø      Those who served in Judah. The officers and companies distributed

throughout the different garrisons in the land.

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The influence of true religion even on the wicked.  (I can remember

how that, in revivals, the unsaved would tremble, while under

conviction of sin – CY – 2016)

Ø      The dignity implied in being a soldier of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.

Materials are reproduced by permission."

 

This material can be found at:

http://www.adultbibleclass.com

 

If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.