II Chronicles 19
The matter of this chapter is preserved for us by the writer of Chronicles
alone, and is of much significance. After glancing at the moment’s outward
“peace” (v. 1), which Jehoshaphat had on
his return to
narrative, leaving in deep oblivion all he must have thought and felt and
may have spoken of the end of his brother-king, and of his own late private
intimacy and public alliance with him, tells how he was reined up by Jehu,
the son of Hanani the seer (vs. 2-3); and thereupon how he wisely
revisited his kingdom, as it were through its length and breadth, sought to
“bring them back to the Lord God of their fathers,” remodeling and
reviling the various offices of the judges, priests, and Levites (vs. 4-11),
and earnestly exhorted them.
1“And Jehoshaphat the king of
of last chapter. The only peace in which it could be reasonably supposed
Jehoshaphat returned to his house and the metropolis was that of freedom
from war, and of present “assurance of his life.”
2 “And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and
said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and
love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from
before the LORD.” And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to
meet him. For Hanani, the faithful father of a faithful son, see ch.16:7-10,
where we read that he “came
to Asa King of
Jehu, see I Kings 16:1-4, where we read of his commission at the word
of the Lord to rebuke Baasha the King of Israel, at a date upwards of thirty
years before the present; and see ch. 20:34, which would lead
us to infer, though not with certainty, that he outlived Jehoshaphat. The
book called by his name, however, was not necessarily finished by him. It is
evident that neither the word of the Lord nor the messengers and prophets
of the Lord were bound by the orthodox limits of the divided kingdom.
The powerful character and the moral force of the true prophet is again
seen (compare ch. 15:1-8) in the way in which he was wont to
go out to meet the evil-doer, though he were a king. We are accustomed to
set the whole of this down to the account of the special inspiration of the
prophet of old; yet that was but typical of the intrinsic force that truth
faithfully spoken should wield in its own right in later times. Religion is
established in the nation and people that know and do this, by the
accredited teachers of it, viz. the plain rebuke of the wrong. Shouldest
thou… love them that hate the Lord? Strong suspicion must attend upon
Jehoshaphat, that he had been not a little misled by answering to some
personal fascination in Ahab. The prophet’s rebuke is not that Jehoshaphat
helped the ungodly, etc. Therefore wrath upon thee, etc. The significance
of this sentence was probably not merely retrospective, glancing at the fact
that Jehoshaphat returned to
bid, but was probably an intimation of troubles that should ripen, were
already ripening for Jehoshaphat, in the coming invasion of his own
kingdom (ch. 20:1-3).
Friendship with Man and Faithfulness to God (v. 2)
The Apostle John fleeing from the baths because he saw the enemy of
Christ entering, is a familiar picture.
There is a much beloved story (passed down from Polycarp to Irenaeus to us)
was inside a Roman bath house getting cleansed, as was the custom of his day.
However, through the hot steam he suddenly realized that the heretic Cerinthus
was sitting just across the room. John immediately jumped up and fled the
bathhouse, explaining that Cerinthus was inside and he didn’t want to be
killed when the building collapsed under the righteous judgment of God!
Why such a strong reaction? Cerinthus was one of the gospel’s chief opponents.
He was like a first century version of Bart Ehrman… wildly popular, followed
but in a few decades will be virtually forgotten. In contrast,
is still with us, still faithfully contending for the gospel. In fact, many scholars
believe that several of John’s epistles were written in direct response to the
teaching of the Gnostic Cerinthus. Cerinthus couldn’t accept the deity of
Jesus Christ or the Resurrection. John was a man transformed by Easter.
Jesus Christ is Risen! That was the faith of John. That was the faith of the
Apostles. That was the faith of the early church. That is the faith of all
Christians everywhere. (Taken from:
But how far are we to carry such unwillingness to be associated with the
ungodly or the unbelieving? Jehoshaphat is here strongly rebuked for
his intimacy with Ahab and the help he had been giving that wicked
monarch. Let us consider:
Ø The interchange of common courtesies. “Be courteous” is a maxim that
will apply to every one. “Civility brings no conclusions,” and may be
shown to all people, without implying any sanction of their heresies or
Ø Fidelity in service and equity in negotiation. It was once thought right to
take advantage of a man if he were a Jew or an infidel. But unrighteousness
can never be anything but hateful to God and injurious to man, and justice
and fair-dealing can never be otherwise than commendable. Moreover, the
Christian servant or slave was urged by the apostle to show a right spirit
“not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward” (I Peter 2:18).
Ø Succor to those who are in need. Pity for those who are in distress, and
the helping hand stretched out to those that are “ready to perish,” can
never be contrary to the mind and the will of Jesus Christ.
objected that this would justify Jehoshaphat in his “offensive alliance” with
Ahab, as they
were seeking the lawful common object of crippling
But it must be
remembered that by helping to sustain the
Jehoshaphat was perpetuating the division between the twelve tribes, the
dismemberment of the country; and he was sustaining a power which was
recreant to its high mission, and was positively and seriously hostile to
truth, to the
ungodly men as fellow-citizens who are united in such rightful objects as
saving life, as promoting health, as providing food, as extending trade and
commerce. In so doing we are not in any way compromising principle or
sustaining wrong; we are not “helping the ungodly” or “loving them that
hate the Lord.”
no right to ally ourselves with sinful men when by so doing:
Ø We advance the cause of unrighteousness or ungodliness. Better
sacrifice anything we have at heart, better leave our personal preferences or
our temporal interests entirely disregarded, than do that which will give an
impetus to the cause of infidelity or immorality. In such a case we should
certainly draw down God’s displeasure; we need no prophet to say to us,
“Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord.”
Ø When we show ourselves indifferent to the honor of our Divine Saviour.
Jehoshaphat’s ostentatious companionship with such an enemy of
God as Ahab amounted to a tacit intimation that he could, when he wished
to do so, be forgetful whose servant he was; he laid by that consideration
to serve his momentary purpose. There may be some one who is a very
pronounced enemy of Jesus Christ who seeks our friendship. To be very
intimate with him is to put a slight upon our attachment to our Lord; it is
to put Him in the second place. Then fidelity to Christ will keep us at home;
will lead us to seek other intimacies, to find our friendships with those who
do not “hate the Lord.”
Ø When we expose our own character to serious risk. For one who is of a
weaker mind and will to be associated intimately and for any length of time
with an enemy of the Lord, can have but one result. It must issue in
spiritual degeneracy; it may, indeed, end in spiritual ruin. Let those who
contemplate the formation of a lifelong friendship beware how they trust
their souls to any one who can be called “ungodly,” how they “love them
that hate the Lord.” A sensitive, yielding spirit had better be “drowned in
the midst of the sea” than be immersed in an atmosphere of WORLDLINESS
or of UNBELIEF where all true piety and all living faith are daily being
weakened and are constantly WITHERING AWAY!
3 “Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast
taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart
to seek God.” Nevertheless; Hebrew, אֲכָל one of the few particles that were
affirmative in the earlier Hebrew (Genesis 42:21), but adversative in
the later (here, ch. 1:4; Daniel 10:7, 21). It may be well rendered, “on the
other hand.” The expression here recalls the less favourable “notwithstanding”
of Revelation 2:20. There are good things found in thee (see ch. 17:1-9).
The Sovereign and the Seer (vs. 1-3)
Ø Jehoshaphat returns from Ramoth-Gilead. Having gone thither without
the Divine sanction — indeed, against the Divine will — he might have
been left there and not permitted to return. But God preserves the going
out and coming in of his people (Psalm 121:8), even when they walk
not in His ways.
Ø Jehoshaphat returns to Jerusalem. Having left his capital and kingdom
on an errand to which he was not called, he might have found both taken
from him and barred against him on his return. But Jehovah, always better
to His people than they deserve, had watched over both while Jehoshaphat
Ø Jehoshaphat returns to his house in peace. Very different might his
home-coming have been (Isaiah 59:8); not alive and in safety, as
Micaiah had predicted (ch.18:20), but as Ahab was brought
Israel, or smitten by the Syrian charioteers as himself nearly was, and
certainly would have been had Jehovah not interposed. But, again, God is
faithful to His covenant, even when His people are not faithful to their duty
(Psalm 111:5; II Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 10:23).
Ø A severe reprimand. Charged by Hanani’s son Jehu with a twofold
o Helping the ungodly. Aiding the wicked in their necessities or
enterprises, when these are not sinful, never was a crime against
Jehovah in Old Testament times (Leviticus 19:18, 34; Deuteronomy 22:1; Job 22:29; Zechariah 7:9), and is not prohibited but commanded
in the gospel (Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8); but then,
as now, sympathizing with them in their wicked thoughts, joining with
them in their wicked ways, and assisting them in their wicked projects,
is interdicted to all who profess to be followers of God and of Christ
(Psalm 1:1; 24:4; 141:4; Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:11; II Timothy 2:19,21-22; I Peter. 2:11-12).
o Loving them that hate God. This also permissible in the sense in
which God Himself and Christ loved and still loves sinners:
§ pitying their misery,
§ compassionating their frailty,
§ grieving over their iniquity, and
§ seeking their recovery and salvation.
But in the sense of extending affection and confidence, sympathy
and support, to such as are private and public enemies of God:
§ despisers of His religion,
§ deserters from His worship,
§ violators of His commandments,
§ oppressors of His people, and
§ opponents of His cause,
is a stretch of charity which neither then was nor now is allowable.
Rather among Hebrew saints to hate Jehovah’s enemies was accounted the supreme virtue (Psalm 139:21- 22). If Christian saints may not
hate the persons, they are still enjoined to hate the works and ways
of the Lord’s enemies (II Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 4:26;
Philippians 3:18-21). (On Hanani, see ch. 16:7.)
Ø An alarming sentence. “Wrath from before Jehovah” should come upon
Jehoshaphat certainly and speedily. This was inevitable, since Jehovah, as a
jealous God (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24), could by no means
allow such declension to pass without some manifestation of displeasure.
Besides, Jehovah, by covenant engagement with David, had expressly
bound himself to chastise with rods any defection on the part of David’s
successors (II Samuel 7:14; Psalm 139:20). In the same way,
though God, for Christ’s sake, forgives the transgressions of believers, so
that they shall not come into ultimate condemnation, He does not in every
instance exempt them from suffering on account of their offences, but
rather, as a rule, causes them, when they go astray, to feel such inward
rebukes upon their consciences, and such outward inflictions upon their
persons or estates, as to make them sensible of His holy anger, if not
against their souls, against their sins (Acts 14:22; Romans 5:3;
I Corinthians 11:32; Hebrews 12:11). Already at Ramoth-Gilead
Jehoshaphat had experienced a foretaste of Jehovah’s wrath (ch.18:31). Additional evidence thereof was soon to follow, in a Moabitish invasion
(ch. 20:1, etc.).
Ø A merciful mitigation. While condemning the king’s sins, Jehu did not
forget to make candid acknowledgment of the king’s virtues. To praise
another for good qualities is not so easy as to blame another for bad ones.
In others, faults are more readily discerned than favorable points; in
ourselves, the latter more quickly than the former. Happily, the great
Heart-searcher, while noting His people’s shortcomings, overlooks not their
well-doings. If Jehoshaphat’s conduct in contracting alliance with Ahab
was denounced, his behavior in removing the groves from his land and
preparing his heart to seek Jehovah was not forgotten. So of Christians,
“God is not unrighteous to forget their work and labor of love”
(Hebrews 6:10), even though obliged to correct them for doing wrong
(ibid. ch. 12:10); while Christ, sending His messages to the Churches in
worthy of commendation (Revelation chapters 2 and 3).
Ø Gratitude for mercy.
Ø Submission to rebuke.
Ø Repentance for sin.
Ø Watchfulness in duty.
Ø Charity in judging others.
4 “And Jehoshaphat dwelt at
through the people from
them back unto the LORD God of their fathers.” From Beershsba to
Mount Ephraim. The length of the good land is not to be quoted, as of old,
undivided “Dan to
(ch. 13:16-19). Jehoshaphat makes another conscientious and vigorous endeavor
to reform his own kingdom, to keep it steadfast in the worship of God, and
free from idolatry. It is to be noticed that he does not turn away his ear from
the rebuke which had been given him, but turns his heart to it. As it does not
appear that he broke
II Kings 3:7, 14, 24), it is possible, especially in view of v. 37 in our ch. 20.,
that the severity of the Divine rebuke was understood to apply to the
occasions which found Jehoshaphat in alliance with a king notably bad, and
for some supposed chance of advantage to himself. This last element of
consideration will difference sufficiently the two cases just cited, to wit, the
case in which Jehoshaphat joined himself with Azariah, and is sternly
“prophesied against,” and that in which he helped Jehoram, and through
Elisha’s intervention gained him the day.
Of the many things said in favor of Jehoshaphat, perhaps nothing is more
highly commendatory than this, that “he went out again through the
people… and brought them back unto the Lord God of their fathers.” He
could not have done anything worthier of himself, or more likely to result
in permanent good to the people over whom he reigned.
which bound the people to Jehovah had been somewhat relaxed by their
observance of the familiarity between their sovereign and the idolatrous
court at Jezreel; if this were so, Jehoshaphat, after Jehu’s rebuke (v. 2),
would feel constrained to do everything in his power to strengthen the
attachment of his subjects to the living God. But whatever may have
prompted him, he did well to:
Ø interest himself personally in this vital subject;
Ø to take vigorous practical measures to effect his purpose; and
Ø to go through his self-appointed task with the energy and the
thoroughness which command success. He “brought back,” etc. It was a
royal mission that reflected great honor on the later years of his reign.
Jesus Christ “came to seek and to save that which was lost” He saw
mankind separated by a sad spiritual distance from the heavenly Father,
from the living God; he laid upon himself the holy and heavenly task of
“bringing him back unto the Lord.” For this noblest, Divinest purpose
Ø stooped to creaturedom, to our poor humanity, to poverty, to utmost
Ø “endured amazing loss,” pain, sorrow, spiritual agony;
Ø died upon the cross. By so doing He:
o made the way open for man’s return;
o provided the spiritual force which is lifting a degraded nature to
heights of holiness and wisdom.
In this heavenly mission is He now engaged, bringing back to God the race
that has left His side and lost His likeness and forfeited His favor.
of leading men back to God was royal; it is heavenly, Divine; it may be
common to every Christian man.
Ø Around us are those who have left the God of their fathers. It may be
that they are of those who:
o have been long estranged and have determinately refused to hear
His fatherly invitation to return; or
o have sought and found reconciliation with Him and have
§ half-hearted service, or
§ indifference, or
§ some positive transgression.
Ø These are within our knowledge and our reach. They may be beneath the
roof under which we dwell, or worshippers in the sanctuary where we bend
the knee in prayer, or nominal workers in the field where we are laboring;
or they may be where we shall find them if we seek them, as Jehoshaphat
found the objects of his royal care as he “went out through the people from
can lay the kind, arresting hand of holy love upon them.
Ø To such we can render an inestimable service.
o We can bring to bear upon them a gracious, winning influence.
o We can make an earnest, brotherly appeal to them.
o We can urge them to return to the Lord God of their fathers on every ground; on the ground:
§ that He, their Father and their Friend, is grieved with their obduracy or their defection, and is longing for their return;
§ that they are remaining where their life is a long disobedience,
a continued sin and wrong;
§ that their return will issue in a peace and a joy, in a spiritual
blessedness, the depth and duration of which they cannot measure or imagine (there is joy in heaven of one sinner that
repents – Luke 15:7);
§ that if they do thus return they will give boundless satisfaction
to the fathers whose God they have forsaken or neglected,
to all those human friends and kindred whose love is true and deep, who will welcome them with fullest joy to the fold of Christ, to the kingdom of heaven.
5 “And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of
Judah, city by city,” Judges… fenced cities. Jehoshaphat proceeds from direct
religious reforms to that which is of importance only second in the life of a
nation — reform in the matter of civil administration of justice. The
skeleton here given of what should be the character of a judge, and why,
harmonizes well with the uniform stress laid in Scripture upon “justice and
judgment.” It is hard indeed to see, rather impossible, upon what
foundation a sure structure of civil growth and stability can be laid, except
on that of positive religion. Note the positions and the succinct arguments
of vs. 6-7; and how unequivocally they are based upon faith in
A PERSONAL GOD and upon HIS REVEALED CHARACTER! It can
scarcely be that this was the first time of judges being set in the
but possibly the meaning intended to be conveyed with emphasis is, that now,
looking well round his kingdom, he took care that all the cities should be properly
provided with the necessary judges, while of late some had been, and some had
not, and some, though they had been officered with judges, had found them not
what judges ought to be. The immense majority of the “six thousand”
Levite “officers and judges” of David’s regulation (1 Chronicles 23:4)
had, with their superiors, kings and prophets, gone astray. (This
must be a characteristic human flaw since we find this sin repeated in
Jeremiah 5:31 – CY – 2016) With our present passage may be compared
Deuteronomy 16:18-20, where the original enactment of judges and officers
is narrated. Fenced cities. Hebrew for “fenced,” בְּצֻרות; kal passive
participle plural, The word occurs twenty-six times from the Book of Numbers
to the Book of the Prophet Zechariah, and is rendered in the Authorized Version:
The “gates” of the original institution in Deuteronomy are now
(probably still the gates of) fenced cities.
6 “And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for
man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. 7 Wherefore now
let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no
iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.”
The statement of the Divine principles laid down in these verses for the foundations
of the “kingdom of heaven” on earth, and the doing of God’s “will on earth, even
as it is in heaven,” stretch from Moses and Job (Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17;
10:17; 16:19; Job 34:19) to Paul and Peter (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; I Peter 1:17).
8 “Moreover in
the priests, and of the
chief of the fathers of
judgment of the LORD, and for controversies, when they returned
fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart.”
This and the following three verses close the immediate subject
by stating with some emphasis the reform in the metropolis itself, of the
“supreme tribunal,” as it has been called (Exodus 18:19-20, 26;
Deuteronomy 17:9-10, 12), composed of Levites, priests, and chief
of the fathers of
by the same name. Of course every father was head of his own family, but
only one (such as in modern times by primogeniture the eldest son) the
representative head of the entire family, and under this expression is no
doubt naturally set forth only those families that were of some relative
consideration or distinction. For the judgment of the Lord, and for
controversies. Considering the plainer distinction in the language of v.11,
there can be no doubt that the words, “for the judgment of the Lord,”
do not intend simply to describe godly judgment, but point to dues payable
to the Lord in some religious aspect: “Render to Caesar… and to God the
things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25); while
the words, “and for controversies,” point to the mutual strifes of the people.
When they returned; Hebrew, “and they returned.” It has been proposed to
remove this clause so as to begin the next verse with it (and so the Revised
Version shows as a clause by itself, “And they returned to
to make this fit the better, the word did in the first line of the verse is changed
into “had.” It is, however, possible to render the clause, “And they dwelt in
permanence and stationariness of this chief court.
Ennobling the Earthly, or Making Sacred the Secular vs. (5-9)
Jehoshaphat made his reign over Judah a continuous act of Divine service.
For while that reign was not without blemish and mistake, the king was
evidently ruling “in the fear of the Lord,” and was trying to bring his
people into willing and loyal subjection to their Divine Sovereign. In taking
the measure he now took he acted with great intelligence. For nothing
would be so likely to lead the people to discontentment and rebellion
against the existing order as a sense of prevailing injustice, of wrongs
unredressed, of rights that could not be realized; nothing, on the other
hand, was so fitted to infuse a spirit of loyalty to the administration and to
Jehovah Himself as a well-regulated system of justice, extending over the
whole land. The piety which Jehoshaphat was thus illustrating he
exemplified in detail by giving the instructions he delivered to the judges
(vs. 6-7, 9-10). In these he showed that the ordinary act of judgment in
secular matters might and should be made a true and sacred service
rendered unto God, an act of piety. For he charged them to do everything
in their courts, as we should do everything in our homes and in our houses
they were to judge “not for man, but for the Lord” (v. 6). This is an
anticipation of the instruction given by Paul in his letter to the Church at
Colosse, where he bids the slaves serve their masters “not with eye-service,
as men-pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;” whatsoever they
do, doing it “heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians
3:22-23). There is nothing in which we are engaged, of the humblest kind
and in the lowliest sphere, which we may not do and which we should not
do “for the Lord” or “unto the Lord,” by acting “faithfully and with a
perfect heart,” in such wise as we are assured He will approve, and with the
distinct view of pleasing and honoring Him; thus doing we “make
drudgery Divine,” as George Herbert tells us.
with you in the judgment” (v. 6); “the Lord shall be with the good” (v.11).
If we can but feel that God is “with us,” that our Divine Master is by
our side, with His sympathizing and sustaining presence, then we are
satisfied, then we are strong. The position we occupy may be very humble,
the situation may be a lonely or a perilous one, the opponents may be
numerous and their opposition may be severe, the duties may be very
Ø Christ is with us,
Ø His smile is upon us,
Ø His arm is working with us and for us, and
Ø His reward is in His hand;
we will go happily and cheerily on our way.
etc. (v. 7). They were to judge even as God Himself did, in the same spirit
and on the same principles; as impartially, as righteously, as He did. And
our Lord calls upon us to elevate our earthly life, to make every part of it
sacred and noble, by introducing into everything the spirit and the
principles which are Divine. “Be ye perfect,” He says, “even as your Father
in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48); “Be ye holy, for I am holy”
(Leviticus 11:45); “As I have loved you, that ye also love one another”
(John 13:34), “Follow thou me.” It is, indeed, a very excellent
and positively invaluable enlargement and ennoblement of this human life
that every hour and every act of it may be spent and wrought as God is
spending His eternity and is ruling in His Divine domain. The very same
principles of purity, righteousness, and equity, the very same spirit of
unselfishness and love, of gentleness and considerateness, which He
displays in His government of the universe, we may be manifesting in the
lowliest paths in which we walk from day to day. As He is, so may we be.
His life we may be living. There need be nothing mean or small about us,
for we may be everywhere and in everything “the children of our Father
who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:45). In every walk of life we may be
closely following CHRIST!
10 “And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that
dwell in your cities, between blood and blood, between law and
commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them
that they trespass not against the LORD, and so wrath come upon
you, and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass.”
Come… of your brethren… in their cities. These words
confirm our foregoing note, and point to the appeal character of the
Deuteronomy 17:8, 10-11; Exodus 21:12-27. Law …commandment, statutes…
judgments. It might sometimes need to be shown how the particular
commandment flowed from main and essential law; and the written statute
is easily distinguishable from those judgments, which were more like
“judge-made” law. Ye shall not trespass; Revised Version, more correctly,
ye shall not be guilty.
11 “And, behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of
the LORD; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house
before you. Deal courageously, and the LORD shall be with the good.”
Amariah. Probably the Amariah of I Chronicles 6:11. To the priest plainly
the sacred causes are entrusted. Zebadiah is not known elsewhere. Officers
(see Exodus 5:10). The Lord shall be with the good (see ch. 15:3-4).
The Third Chapter in Jehoshaphat’s Career (vs. 1-11)
In this chapter, regarded for the time in the light of a third chapter in the
biography of Jehoshaphat, we are enabled to gauge, not altogether
unsatisfactorily, his character as respects the measure of right and wrong in
it, and of good and evil in himself. And we are reminded that:
PEACE OF PRESENT SAFETY, WITHOUT THAT WHICH FLOWS
Ø CONSISTENT RECTITUDE,
Ø UNFALTERING INTEGRITY,
Ø THE INNER APPROVAL OF CONSCIENCE, AND
Ø THE CONVICTION OF GOD’S OWN APPROVAL.
· THERE WAS ONE REDEEMING FEATURE IN THE CONDUCT
OF JEHOSHAPHAT, A SLENDER TRIBUTARY THAT MAY COUNT
FOR SOMETHING IN THE WHOLE SCENE, VIZ. THE ABSENCE OF
ALL PRETENCE OF SELF-DEFENCE, OF EXCUSE, OF
EXTENUATION OF WHAT WAS WRONG, AND EVEN OF REPLY.
We do not hear of penitence, of confession, or of repentance in so many
words, but this last we certainly do argue from the fresh devotion of
Jehoshaphat to the right, and to the religious teaching of his people; and
the former two we may in/or in turn from this.
FLOWING CALM, FULL, DEEP, OF THAT “MERCY WITH GOD”
WHICH SUSTAINS AND FEEDS “THE FEAR” OF HIM IN PLACE
OF DESTROYING IT. There are, perhaps, few greater or more striking
contrasts between Divine and human methods than that herein to be noted.
If hope is wrecked, practically all in any man’s life and character is too
certainly wrecked also. The threats, denunciations, immediate and
peremptory proceedings of men towards offending fellow-men, even in the
clearest cases of wrong possible, work too often either callousness or
recklessness. But God’s forbearing methods, his pitying compassion, his
patient long-suffering, and sweet disposition of “mercy enduring for ever,”
preserve and just save the continuity of (what is sometimes a very brittle
thread) human hope. How much of human life, of reason itself, and of
encouragement to moral reformation, depends on this one feature of the
Divine administration, this one GRAND ATTRIBUTE OF GOD!
PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE AND OF MORAL GOVERNMENT ON
THE PART OF GOD. The guilty is not treated as the innocent —
“therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord” (v. 2) — or as
though innocent. Sometimes there is one solution of the crucial difficulty
involved in this, sometimes another. Sometimes the penalty, whatever it
may be, is paid, suffering endured, and punishment gone through;
sometimes the “way of escape is found, and under the pressing of the
case is distinctly provided for the guilty, but under safeguards which both
indicate and sufficiently guarantee the moral aspects necessary.
ARE INDEED GRIEVOUS BLOTS ON THEIR ESCUTCHEON; BUT
SO FAR FROM SHUTTING UP THEIR WORK FOR GOD, AND
SHUTTING OUT HOPE FROM THEMSELVES, THEY MAY BE
MADE, BY WARNING AND REPENTANCE, THE VERY DATE OF A
NEW DEPARTURE OF REDOUBLED DEVOTION. It was manifestly
so with Jehoshaphat (vs. 4-11). Except on some such suggestion as is
offered above, we must remain in much uncertainty as to why there is no
word recorded of the working of the inner thoughts of Jehoshaphat, either
as he went wrong, or as he was restored to the ways of righteousness.
Very different measure is given us in the disclosures of Scripture in other
instances, such as that of David and a host besides. But instead of most
painful uncertainty (as in the history, for instance, of Solomon and many
another man) as to the facts succeeding a fall, the case of Jehoshaphat is
not less clear than that of St. Peter, though in matter so different.
Jehoshaphat’s tears, self-upbraiding, confession, and vows are not told. It
would have been interesting to know them, and our curiosity is no doubt
stimulated by the taciturnity and remarkable reticence of the historian
respecting them. But what is most to the point is communicated in
Scripture’s own best way. The king left off to do evil; did not repeat it;
learned to do well “again” (v. 4) himself; with redoubled energy urged
the same on the people (vs. 6-7, 9, 11); and kept a good record, as may
be seen in the next and last chapter of his life, to that life’s end.
A Royal Reformer (vs. 4-11)
Ø The reformer. Jehoshaphat. Whether the work was done by special
plenipotentiaries, as in the former instance (ch. 17:7-9), or by
the king in person, or, as is most probable, by both, the mainspring of this
as of the former, was Jehoshaphat; and for a
it was certainly much more becoming occupation than:
o feasting with Ahab or
o fighting with Benhadad.
Such as are kings and priests unto God should study to walk worthy of their
name and vocation (Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:27), and, for them, furthering
the interests of religion amongst themselves and others, at home and abroad,
is nobler employment (I Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:9; Titus 3:1;
III John 1:8) than reveling and drunkenness, chambering and wantonness,
strife and jealousy (Romans 13:13-14), after the example of the world.
Ø The reformed. The
king’s efforts, though doubtless beginning at, were not limited to
northern limit. So Christ commanded His apostles, though beginning at
unto every creature (Mark 16:15).
Ø The reformation. A return to the worship of Jehovah, the God of their
fathers. This work, auspiciously begun some time before (ch. 17:3-9),
but interrupted by the Ramoth-Gilead expedition, was now
resumed by the humbled, presumably also enlightened and repentant,
monarch. A good work in itself, it was likewise a right work, since he and
his people were pledged by covenant to worship Jehovah (ch. 15:12);
a necessary work, if the kingdom was to be established and prosper;
and a work which should neither be interrupted nor delayed, but
completed with convenient speed.
land (vs. 5-11).
Ø Provincial courts.
o The seats of the judges. The fortified cities throughout the land,
because these were “the central points for the traffic of the districts in
which they were situated” (Bertheau).
o The work of the judges. To administer justice, not for man, but for
Jehovah, i.e. to dispense not merely what man might reckon equity, but
what was truly such IN GOD'S SIGHT — cases submitted to them to decide, not at man’s dictation, or in compliance with man’s wishes, but
“in the name and according to the will of the Lord” (Keil).
o The duty of the judges. To act conscientiously, as in Jehovah’s sight,
having the fear of Jehovah and the dread of offending Him constantly
upon their spirits (Exodus 18:21; II Samuel 23:3), especially shunning
injustice and corruption, remembering that with Jehovah is no respect of
persons or taking of bribes (Deuteronomy 10:17; Job 8:3; 34:19;
Ephesians 6:9; I Peter 1:17).
o The Keeper of the judges. Jehovah. As the judgment they should give
should be practically His judgment (Proverbs 29:26), it must be beyond
suspicion, commend itself to all who heard it as righteous (Psalm
119:137), and be accepted by them to whom it was delivered as final
(Romans 3:4; 9:14; Revelation 16:5; 19:2). Hence, if they entered
on their duties in a right spirit, JEHOVAH WOULD BE THERE
WITH THEM TO GUIDE THEM:
§ in forming,
§ speaking, and
§ maintaining their judgments (Psalm 25:9; 46:5; Proverbs 2:8; 3:6).
Ø A supreme tribunal.
such a court.
o Its object. For the judgment of the Lord and for controversies (v. 8),
or for “all matters of Jehovah,” and “for all the king’s matters” (v. 11);
i.e. for the hearing of appeals, and the settlement of disputes referred to it
from the lower courts concerning religious or ecclesiastical affairs, as e.g.
causes depending on decisions “between law and commandment, statutes
and judgments,” or on the interpretation and application of the laws of
Moses; and, again, for similar verdicts in purely civil cases, as e.g. cases of
murder and manslaughter, of consanguinity (kinship) and inheritance, etc.,
all of which may be included in the phrase “between blood and blood.”
o Its constitution.
§ Three orders of members:
ü heads of fathers’ houses.
§ Its courts two:
ü an ecclesiastical, or religious, and
ü a civil.
§ Its presidents two:
ü in the ecclesiastical court, Amariah the high priest,
described in I Chronicles 6:11 as the fifth high priest from Zadok, the contemporary of David” (Bertheau), though this
is doubtful (Keil);
ü in the civil court, Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the prince
house of Judah, i.e. the tribal prince of
o Its working. When a cause came before the judges, these were to warn
the litigants not to trespass against Jehovah (which would practically be the
same thing as putting them on oath to tell the truth), lest by sinning against
Jehovah they should bring wrath upon themselves and their brethren; whilst
the judges were themselves to dispense judgment in the fear of the Lord, or:
§ with a perfect heart or sincerely, and
four qualities indispensable for an ideal judge — in which case the Lord
would be with them to uphold their verdicts.
Ø The precedence that belongs to religion even in a commonwealth.
Jehoshaphat cuts down idol-groves before he erects courts of law.
Ø No administration of justice can be trusted that is not based on religion
and the fear of God. (It is vain to expect mercy from someone who
will not do justice!)
Ø He that sits in a judicial chair should be sage, saint, and soldier, learned,
devout, and courageous, all in one.
Ø No system of dispensing equity can command confidence that does not
admit of appeal from inferior to superior courts.
Ø Judges should remember that they themselves also must one day be
Ø How much the jurisprudence of modem times is indebted to the Bible!
(The United States Supreme Court Building has the Ten Commandments
written on it! – CY - 2016)
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