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 Jerusalem, the

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 Judah returned to his house in peace

to Jerusalem.”  In peace. Compare the use of the phrase in vs. 16 and 26-27

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 Judah,” etc. Also for

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 both Israel and therein Judah also against a common foe, but that he

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 Jerusalem minus the victory for which he had

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)

about St. John the Apostle. According to the story, John, the Apostle of love,

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

by many, but in a few decades will be virtually forgotten. In contrast, St. John

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: 

http://timothytennent.com/2013/04/08/why-did-st-john-flee-the-bath-house/ - CY – 2016)

 

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:

 

  • HOW FAR OUR FREEDOM EXTENDS. It surely extends to:

 

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

immoralities.

 

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.

 

Ø      Alliance for the promotion of a good common end. Here it may be

objected that this would justify Jehoshaphat in his “offensive alliance” with

Ahab, as they were seeking the lawful common object of crippling Syria.

But it must be remembered that by helping to sustain the kingdom of Israel

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

sacred truth, to the kingdom of God. We may lawfully associate with

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.”

 

  • WHERE THE LINE OF PROHIBITION IS DRAWN. We have clearly

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)

 

  • UNDESERVED MERCY TO THE SOVEREIGN. (v. 1.)

 

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

was absent.

 

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

to Samaria, dead; shot by an arrow from a Syrian bow like the King of

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).

 

  • DESERVED REBUKE FROM THE SEER (vs. 2-3.)

 

Ø      A severe reprimand. Charged by Hanani’s son Jehu with a twofold

offence:

 

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

Asia, with one exception never omits to notice in each case excellences

worthy of commendation (Revelation chapters 2 and 3).

 

  • LESSONS.

 

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 Jerusalem: and he went out again

through the people from Beersheba to mount Ephraim, and brought

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,

the undivided “Dan to Beersheba,” but Beersheba to Mount Ephraim

(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 with Israel and Israel’s kings (ch.20:35, 37;

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.

 

 

A Royal Mission which is a Heavenly One (v. 4)

 

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.

 

  • THE ROYAL MISSION. Possibly, as Matthew Henry suggests, the tie

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.

 

  • THE HEAVENLY MISSION of which it may be said to be a hint.

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

He:

 

Ø      stooped to creaturedom, to our poor humanity, to poverty, to utmost

humiliation;

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.

 

  • A MISSION WORTHY OF ALL IMITATION. This deliberate action

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

wandered into:

 

§         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

Beersheba to Mount Ephraim.” But they are where we can find them, and

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

nationreform 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 cities of Judah

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:

 

  • “fenced” or defensed twenty-two times,
  • “walled” twice,
  • “strong” once, and
  • mighty”once.

 

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 Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and of

the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the

judgment of the LORD, and for controversies, when they returned

to Jerusalem.  9 And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the

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 Israel; i.e. probably heads of the whole family that went

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 Jerusalem”), and,

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

Jerusalem,’ which would make a far mere coherent sense, and would mark the

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

of business:

 

  • UNTO THE LORD. They were to do all “in the fear of the Lord” (v. 9);

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 HIS FELT PRESENCE AND HIS DIVINE AID. The Lord “is

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

onerous; but:

 

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.

 

  • IN HIS OWN WAY. “For there is no iniquity with the Lord our God”

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

Jerusalem court. Note also the clear connection of the verse with

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

of Judah, for all the king’s matters: also the Levites shall be officers

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:

 

  • THERE IS SUCH A THING, MOST UNDENIABLY, AS THE

PEACE OF PRESENT SAFETY, WITHOUT THAT WHICH FLOWS

FROM:

 

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.

 

  • THERE IS THE SURELY STILL CONTINUING STREAM,

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!

 

  • THERE IS A STEADY, CONSISTENT PRESERVING OF THE

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.

 

  • GRIEVOUS FAULTS AND SINS OF THE SERVANTS OF GOD

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)

 

  • AN OLD WORK RESUMED. The reformation of religion (v. 4).

 

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

movement, as of the former, was Jehoshaphat; and for a sovereign of Judah

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 people from Beersheba to Mount Ephraim. The

king’s efforts, though doubtless beginning at, were not limited to

Jerusalem, but extended through the whole country from its southern to its

northern limit. So Christ commanded His apostles, though beginning at

Jerusalem (Luke 24:47), to go into all the world and preach the gospel

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.

 

  • A NEW WORK BEGUN. The establishment of courts of justice in the

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.

 

o        Its locality. Jerusalem, the capital of the country, the proper seat of

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      Levites,

ü      priests,

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

of the house of Judah, i.e. the tribal prince of Judah. Its assistants and servants, the Levites, i.e. such of them as had not been elected judges.

 

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:

 

§         reverentially,

§         faithfully,

§         with a perfect heart or sincerely, and

§         courageously,

 

four qualities indispensable for an ideal judge — in which case the Lord

would be with them to uphold their verdicts.

 

  • LEARN:

 

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

judged.

 

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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