II Chronicles 20

 

 

 

Of this chapter, with its thirty-seven verses, only the six verses (31-36)

find any duplicate or parallel in Kings (I Kings 22:41-49). The chapter

is occupied with a statement of the invasion of Judah by Moabites and

Ammonites and certain problematical others (vs. 1-2); with an account

of the way in which the king and people prepared to meet the crisis (vs. 3-13);

with the prophecy of Jahaziel the Levite as to how, under certain conditions,

things would go (vs. 14-19); and with the narration of the victory, and the

manner of it (vs. 20-30); while the remaining verses partly summarize and

then conclude the account of the life, character, and reign of Jehoshaphat.

 

1 “It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the

children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites,

came against Jehoshaphat to battle. The children of Moab. In II Kings 3:5-27

we read of a rebellion on the part of Moab, and of the victory of Israel’s king

Joram, together with Jehoshaphat and the King of Edom, over Moab, now

probably in quest of revenge. Beside the Ammonites. The reading of our

Authorized Version here cannot stand. The Septuagint gives us some

guidance in the name “the Minoei.” By the mere transposing of one

Hebrew character in the name Ammonites, we obtain the name Maonites

(read מֲעונִים for עַמּונִים),), i.e. the people of Maon, a town near Petra,

no doubt Edomitish (see vs. 10, 22-23), and possibly the same with the

Septuagint Minoei (see also here, ch. 26:7).

 

2 “Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh

a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side

Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi.”

Beyond the sea on this aide Aram (Syria); i.e. south-east of

the Salt Sea, and something west of Edom (the right reading in place of

Aram, where a resh had turned out a daleth), Hazon-tamarEngedi; i.e.

the place Engedi (Ain-jiddy), a living “spring of water” from a lime-cliff,

half-way up the west coast of the Salt Sea, “in the midst of palms”

(interpalmas), the compound word “Hazazon-tamar” meaning literally,

the division of the palm.”

 

3 “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and

proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”  Proclaimed a fast. This is the first

recorded occasion of a general fast by royal proclamation, and of individual

fasting it is remarkable that there is no record before the time and the act of

Moses (as e.g. Exodus 34:28); after which, for individual fasting, come occasions

like those of David (II Samuel 12:16) and Elijah (I Kings 19:8); for

general fasting, occasions like those of Joshua 7:6; Judges 20:26;

I Samuel 7:6; and for partial fasting, by semi-royal authority, that

proclaimed” by Jezebel (I Kings 21:9, 12).

 

4 “And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD:

even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.”

This verse expresses the response of all the kingdom to the proclamation of

Jehoshaphat.

 

 

An Alarm of War — an Invasion from the East (vs. 1-4)

 

  • A STARTLING REPORT. The safety of Jehoshaphat’s empire was

threatened by a formidable foe.

 

Ø      The composition of the enemy. (v. 1.)

 

o        The children of Moab. Descendants of Lot and his elder daughter

(Genesis 19:37). Their territory lay east of the Jordan and the Dead

Sea, and had for its northern boundary first the Jabbok (Deuteronomy

2:20), and afterwards the Amen (Numbers 21:13-26), the modem

Wddy Mojeb, opposite Engedi. After the conquest a large portion of

this region was occupied by the tribe of Reuben, which caused the

Moabites to put forth long-continued efforts to recover their lost

possessions. This they did soon after Joshua’s death, and even acquired

ascendancy over Israel until their yoke was broken by Ehud (Judges

3:12, etc.). In Saul’s time troublesome, they were by David completely

subdued (I Samuel 14:47; II Samuel 8:2). Under Solomon or the first

kings of Israel they must have again broken loose, for they were once

more reduced by Omri, who, according to the Moabite inscription,

took the land of Medeba, and occupied it in his days and his son’s

days forty years” (‘Records,’ etc., 11:166). On the accession of

Jehoram, Ahab’s son, to the Israelitish throne, Mesha, the son of

Chemoshgad, rebelled and successfully asserted his independence

(II Kings 3:5).

 

o        The children of Ammon. Likewise descendants of Lot (Genesis

19:38). These originally occupied the same region as their kinsmen,

the Moabites, but were eventually “obliged to retreat eastwards to

the watershed (Deuteronomy 2:37), where they remained in the

mountains, in a district not annexed by Israel, in which their name

is still preserved at Amman, the ancient Rabbath-Ammon (Numbers

21:24)” (Conder, ‘Handbook to the Bible,’ p. 237). The Ammonites

worshipped the supreme Being, under the name of Moloch or Milcom

(I Kings 11:7).

 

o        The Ammonites. Probably the Mennites, or Maonites (ch. 26:7) —

a tribe whose head-quarters were the city of Maan, in the

neighbourhood of Petra, to the east of the Wady Musa” (Keil); they

are afterwards described as “inhabitants of Mount Seir (vs. 22-23).

 

Ø      The number of their army. “A great multitude” (v. 2) had often before

assailed Israel (ch. 14:11; Judges 6:5; Joshua 11:4), and afterwards did

assail Judah (ch. 32:7). When Solomon spoke of Israel as a people like

the dust for multitude (ch. 1:9), it was rhetoric.

 

Ø      The place of their entrapment. Hazazon-tamar, or “the pruning of the

palm tree” (Genesis 14:7) — “a name probably preserved in that of the

tract called Hasasah, ‘pebbles’ near ‘Ain-Jidy” (Condor, p. 414) —

otherwise Engedi, or “fountain of the kid,” the modern ‘Ain-Jidy — was

situated on the west coast of the Dead Sea, about the middle and directly

opposite the mountains of Moab. “Few landscapes are more impressive

than the sudden unfolding of the Dead Sea basin and its eastern wall from

the top of the pass of Engedi” (Tristram, in ‘Picturesque Palestine,’ 3:191).

The allied forces had probably not crossed the lake (Josephus), but

rounded its southern extremity.

 

  • AN UNEASY APPREHENSION. The fear felt by Jehoshaphat was

justified by a variety of circumstances.

 

Ø      The character of the invasion. It was the first time Jehoshaphat’s

kingdom had been exposed to the horrors of war within its own borders.

Heretofore Judah’s campaigns had been beyond the limits of her own

territory, as at Ramoth-Gilead (ch. 18:28). Foreign wars are

apt to be invested with a spurious glory; war at home discovers its

repulsive features to all. When a land becomes a battle-field, then:

 

“All her husbandry doth lie on heaps,

Corrupting in its own fertility.

Her vine, the merry cheerer of the heart,

Unpruned dies,” etc.

(‘King Henry V.,’ act 5. scene 2.)

 

Ø      The combination of powers. It was three against one; yet Jehoshaphat

had no scruples in combining formerly with Ahab against Benhadad, or

afterwards with Israel and Edom against Moab (II Kings 3:7). “With

what measure ye mete,” etc. (Matthew 7:2), applies to kingdoms and

kings no less than to private individuals.

 

Ø      The prediction of Jehu. Hanani’s son had spoken of wrath upon

Jehoshaphat for helping Ahab: was this invasion a fulfillment of that

threatening? Jehoshaphat might well tremble as he turned his thoughts

southward to Engedi.

 

  • A PRUDENT RESOLVE. In the sudden and dangerous emergency

Jehoshaphat concluded to do three things.

 

Ø      To set himself to seek the Lord. So David had commanded Israel

(I Chronicles 16:10-12; Psalm 105:3-5) and Solomon (I Chronicles 22:19),

if they would prosper as people and sovereign. So had Oded’s son,

Azariah, directed Asa and his subjects if they would protect themselves

against all future assailants (ch. 15:2). So Asa and his subjects

did; and the Lord gave them rest round about. Jehoshaphat, perhaps

recalling these details of national history, possibly also remembering how

disastrously he had fared by going up against Benhadad without Jehovah’s

help, decided that the first thing to do was to draw more closely together

the alliance between himself and Jehovah, by a more diligent observance

of worship and a more faithful performance of duty. Like all sincere

reformers, whether in Church or state, Jehoshaphat began with himself

(Luke 4:23; Romans 2:21-23), and began in earnest, setting his

heart in it as a work he delighted in and intended to carry through.

 

Ø      To proclaim a fast throughout all Judah. Fasting a usual

accompaniment of religious exercises in Israel, especially in times of

anxiety and distress, whether individual or national. Witness the cases of

David (II Samuel 12:16, 21), Esther (Esther 4:16), Nehemiah

(Nehemiah 1:4), Daniel (Daniel 9:3), Darius (Daniel 6:18), and

of the Jews at Mizpeh (Judges 20:26; I Samuel 7:6), the returning

exiles at Ahava (Ezra 8:21), and the Ninevites (Jonah 3:5). It was

intended as a sign of self-humiliation, an expression of sorrow, and a

confession of guilt.

 

Ø      To hold a national convention at Jerusalem. Whether he actually

summoned the heads and representatives of the people, as Asa previously

did (ch.  15:9), is not stated; but the princes, chiefs of the fathers’ houses,

and principal men out of all the cities of Judah hastened to the capital to

 ask help of Jehovah in the crisis that had arisen.

 

  • LESSONS.

 

Ø      The place and value of fasting in religion.

Ø      The best defense for a nation in the time of peril — prayer and piety.

Ø      The duty and advantage of kings and peoples standing shoulder to

shoulder when their safety is threatened.

 

5 “And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and

Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,”

The new court (see ch. 4:9; 15:8).

 

6 “And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in

heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen?

and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able

to withstand thee?  7 Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the

inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the

seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?  8 And they dwelt therein, and

have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,

9  If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or

pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy

presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our

affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.  10 And now, behold, the

children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest

not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but

they turned from them, and destroyed them not;  11 Behold, I say,

how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which

thou hast given us to inherit.  12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them?

for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us;

neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.”

The recorded prayers of Scripture are indeed what they

might be expected to be, model prayers, and the present a model instance

of the same (see homiletics). The prayer before us invokes the one God “in

heaven;” claims Him the God “of our fathers;” recites His universal

authority above, below; pleads His former conduct of the “people Israel,”

in especial His establishing of that people in their present land; most

touchingly recalls His covenant of condescending, everlasting “friendship”

with Abraham, the grand original of the people (Genesis 18:17-19,33;

17:2; Exodus 33:11); makes mention of the consecration of the land by

the sanctuary, and in particular of the very service of consecration and the

special foreseeing provision in that service for a crisis like the present

(I Kings 8:33-45;   here, ch. 6:24-35; 7:1); and then (vs. 10-11) states

pointedly the case and complaint with its aggravations (Deuteronomy 2:4,

8-9, 19; Numbers 20:21; Judges 11:18), and with a parting appeal, confession

of their own weakness, ignorance, and dependence unfeigned, commits the

cause of the alarmed people to God. Our eyes are upon thee. So, with a

multitude of other passages, that supreme pattern one, Psalm 123:2.

 

 

Friendship with God (v. 7)

 

“Abraham thy friend.”

 

1.  Before Jesus came to reveal God to our race as He did reveal Him, the

Eternal One was known and worshipped chiefly as the Almighty One, or as

the Creator of all things, or as the Divine Sovereign, whose rule we are

bound to obey. Not exclusively; for he was known as the Father of men

(see Deuteronomy 32:6; I Chronicles 29:10; Isaiah 63:16; 64:8; Psalm 103:13).

Here also he is spoken of as a Friend (and see Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23).

But it is evident that it was only in a restricted sense, and by a very limited

number, that God was thus apprehended.

 

2. It was Jesus Christ that revealed the Father as the Father of souls; it was

He who taught us to address Him as such, to think and speak of Him as

such, to approach Him and to live before Him as such.

 

3. It is Jesus Christ also who has enabled us to think and to feel toward

God as our Friend. “I have called you friends,” He said to His disciples

(John 15:15). And He has so related Himself to us that in Him we can

recognize God as our Divine Friend; as One of whom we may rightly

speak, and toward whom we may venture to feel and to act as our Friend

indeed. But on what ground and in what respects? On the ground of:

 

Ø      RECIPROCATED LOVE; including, what all true love must include,

both affection and trust. God loves us. He loves us with parental affection,

as His children who were once indeed estranged from Him, but are now

reconciled unto Him; as those who have become endeared to Him, both by

His great sacrifice for their sake, and by their seeking after Him and

surrender of themselves to Him. And God trusts us. He does not treat us as

slaves, but as sons; He does not lay down a strict and severe code of rules

by which our daily conduct is to be regulated; He gives us a few broad

principles, and He trusts us to apply them to our own circumstances. We, in

return, LOVE AND TRUST HIM!  Not having seen Him, but having

understood His character and His disposition toward us in Jesus Christ,

having realized how great and all-surpassing was His kindness toward us

in Him (Titus 3:4),  we love Him in response (I John 4:19). And in Him,

in His faithfulness and in His wisdom and in His goodness, we have an

unfaltering trust. Thus we have the reciprocal love of friendship.

 

Ø      CLOSE RESEMBLANCE OF CHARACTER AND SYMPATHY.

There cannot be friendship worthy of the name where there is not this. Our

character and our sympathies must be essentially alike, must be

substantially the same. And so it is with the Divine Lord and those who

worthily bear His Name. His character is theirs; His principles are theirs; His

sympathies are theirs. What He loves and what He hates, they love and they

hate. Towards all that to which (and towards all those to whom) he is

drawn, they are drawn; that which repels Him repels them. Here is the true

basis of friendship, and even that distance of nature that separates the

Divine from the human is no barrier in the way. Being so essentially like

Christ as His true followers are, they are His friends and He is theirs.

 

Ø      ONENESS OF AIM AND ACTION. Friendship is established and

nourished by a common aim and by fellow-laboring. They who join heart

and hand in any noble enterprise become united together in strong bonds of

true companionship. It is so with our Master and ourselves. He is engaged

in the sublime task of recovering a lost world to:

 

o       the knowledge,

o       the love, and

o       the likeness of God;

 

so are we. He has labored and suffered to achieve that most glorious end;

so do we. We are “workers together with Him.”  (II Corinthians 6:1)

His cause is ours; He and we are bent on the fulfillment of the same great

purpose; and while He works through us and in us, He also works with us in

this greatest and noblest of all earthly aims. “We are laborers together

with God” (I Corinthians 3:9); “We then, as workers together with

him (II Corinthians 6:1). We are His friends. Let us:

 

o       Realize how high is the honor He has thus conferred upon us.

o       See that we walk worthily of such a lofty estate.

o       Take care that we never do that or become that which will make us

forfeit so great a heritage. Let us be found faithful as the friends of

GOD!

 

13 “And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their

wives, and their children.”  If the whole narration called for one more

touch, it has it in the pathetic, brief, telling graphicness of this verse.

Their little ones. The familiar Hebrew word (טַפָם) is expressive of the

quick, tripping step of the young and of women. Gesenius would regard it in

this passage as designating the whole family as distinguished from the head of it,

and as amplified by “wives” and “children” instanced afterward, quoting the

very insufficient support of Genesis 47:12. Our text occurs again in ch. 31:18.

 

 

The Source of Safety in the Hour of Peril (vs. 1-13)

 

Very suddenly does the scene change in these chronicles of the kingdom of

Judah. From the peaceful and pleasant duty of completing the arrangements

for securing justice throughout the land, Jehoshaphat was driven to consider

the alarming intelligence that a powerful combination of enemies was

threatening the independence of his kingdom. We learn from these facts:

 

  • THAT WE MAY SUDDENLY FIND OURSELVES IN MOST

SERIOUS PERIL. Judah does not seem to have done anything to provoke

this attack, or to have had any reason to expect it. It came upon them like a

clap of thunder in a clear sky. Such things do occur to nations, to

Churches, to families, to individual men. In some wholly unexpected

quarter a grave difficulty arises. That power which should have been an ally

suddenly becomes an enemy; that very institution which had been the

source of sustenance threatens to drag us down with itself into financial

ruin; the very men who promised to be, and who were, our best friends on

whom we could rely, turn into our opponents and thwart our purposes; the

bright, the brilliant morning has become a clouded noon, and a severe

storm impends. Unhappily all history, observation, and experience will

furnish abundant proof that this is not a remarkably exceptional, but an

occasional or even a frequent occurrence in human life. It is a possibility

that has so much of probability about it that we do well to be prepared for

it lest we should be called to face it.

 

  • THAT OUR TRUE REFUGE IS IN GOD.

 

Ø      But if that is to be so, we must be in a right relation to Him. We must be

able to say, with a deep significance, not only “O Lord God of our fathers,”

but also “Art not thou our God?” (vs. 6-7). We must be true children of

Abraham, who was himself the “friend of God” (v. 7). We must be

distinctly and definitely on the Lord’s side; we must be with Christ and not

against Him (Matthew 12:30). We cannot look for the delivering grace

of God if we have not been reconciled unto him through Jesus Christ, if we

have remained amongst those whose “sin has separated between them and

their God.”  (Isaiah 59:2)

 

Ø      Then there must be a consciousness of rectitude under the special

circumstances. Jehoshaphat could plead that he and his people were in the

land as rightful possessors of the soil; they inherited from God Himself

(v. 11), and these invaders were wholly in the wrong; their attack was utterly

indefensible (v. 10). The king could plead that the cause of Judah was

just and right. This consciousness of integrity we also must have, if we

would fall back on God. “If our heart condemn us not, then we have

confidence toward God” (I John 3:21); but otherwise we cannot raise

our hopes. We cannot ask him to intervene on behalf of a cause which is

one of unrighteousness, or one in which we have been acting quite

unworthily of our Lord and Leader.

 

Ø      We must bring to God the attitude of conscious dependence. “Our eyes

are upon thee,” we must be able to say, sincerely (Psalm 27:1; 46:1;

62:5-6).

 

Ø      We should be united in our attitude and action. “All Judah stood before

the Lord, with their wives and little ones” (v. 13). It is not only the

leaders or the representatives that should make their appeal to God. Let all

the people, let the “little ones,” whose presence and whose prayer might

not seem to be so essential, appear before God and join in seeking His help.

 

  • THAT WE MUST MAKE DIRECT AND EARNEST APPEAL TO

HIM. Jehoshaphat took active measures to enlist the intervention of

Jehovah; he “set himself to seek the Lord” etc. (vs. 3-6). It behoves us, in

the day of our trial and our peril, to take active measures to secure the

merciful and mighty succor of our God. We must make our earnest and

our persevering appeal to Him, and be waiting upon while we wait for Him.

And our appeal will, at any rate, be threefold. We shall plead:

 

Ø      Our utter helplessness apart from His effectuating power. “We have no

might,” etc. (v. 12). We shall, of course, be alert, diligent, energetic; we

shall put forth all our skill and strength; but we shall feel that all will be

wholly unavailing except our God works with us and through us.

 

Ø      His almighty power. (vs. 6-7.)

 

Ø      His Divine faithfulness. (vs. 6-9.) We also, like the King of Judah,

can plead the inviolable word of our Lord. He has promised to be with us,

to provide for us, to guide us through all our journey, to give us the victory

over our enemies, to reward our faithful labor with a blessed increase;

“And none shall find his promise vain.”

 

 

 

14 “Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the

son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph,

came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation;”

Jahaziel. This Jahaziel, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, is not

mentioned elsewhere. His genealogy is traced to Mat-taniah, i.e.

Nethaniah (I Chronicles 25:2), who is parallel with Amariah of

(ibid. ch. 6:11. It is very possible that Psalm 83., which is a psalm of

Asaph, and which mentions the enmity of Moab, Ammon, and Edom, may

be synchronous with this history.

 

15 “And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of

Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto

you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude;

for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”  The battle is not yours, but God’s;

i.e. God will do the fighting (see v. 17, first and third clauses); so also

I Samuel 17:47.

 

16 “To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the

cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before

the wilderness of Jeruel.”  The cliff of Ziz. Read with Revised Version,

the ascent of Ziz (or probably Hazziz), a place named only here. The Hebrew

word here rendered “cliff ‘ is the familiar מַעֲלֵה, meaning “an ascent,” or “a rising

ground.” It is replaced in the Septuagint by both ἀνάβασιςanabasis -and

πρόσβασις - prosbasis . Stanley, in an interesting note on the word (‘Sinai and

Palestine,’ p. 500, edit. 1866), says it is applied to several localities in

Palestine, viz.:

 

  • The “Ascent of Akrabbim,” i.e. scorpions (Numbers 34:4; Judges 1:36;

Joshua 15:3), on the south border of Judah and probably the same as the

Pass of Safeh.

  • “The going up to (or of) Adummim,i.e. the “ascent of the Red,” near

Gilgal, on border of Judah and Benjamin (Joshua 15:7; 18:17),

probably the same with the “Pass of Jericho.”

  • The” going up to Gut” (II Kings 9:27).
  • Our present text.
  • The “mounting up of Luhith” in Moab (Isaiah 15:5; Jeremiah 48:5).

 

The word is also applied to the steep pass from Gibeon to Bethheron

(Joshua 10:10; I Maccabees 3:16); to the road up the Mount of Olives

(II Samuel 15:30); and to the approach to the city in which

Samuel anointed Saul (I Samuel 9:11), i.e. “the hill up to the city.” The

passage, Judges 8:13, Authorized Version “before the sun was up,”

Revised Version “from the ascent of Heres,” possibly designates a rising

ground, named . ‘the Ascent of the Sun,” or, “of Heres.” The following

extract from Keil, with its quotations from Robinson, is interesting. “The

wilderness Jezreel was without doubt the name of a part of the great

stretch of flat country bounded on the south by the Waddy El Ghar, and

extending from the Dead Sea to the neighborhood of Tekoa, which is

now called El Hassasah, after a waddy on its northern side. The whole

country on the west side of the Dead Sea,” where it does not consist of

mountain ridges or deep valleys, is high table-land sloping gradually

towards the east, wholly waste, merely covered here and there by a few

bushes and without the slightest trace of having ever been cultivated’

(Robinson’s ‘Palest.,sub voce). Our present ascent of Ziz, or Hazziz, has

perhaps remained in the Waddy El Hassasah.   Robinson takes it to be the

pass, which at present leads from Ain-jiddy to the table-land. Yet it is

described by him as a ‘fearful pass,’ and it can hardly be thought of here

even if the enemy like the Bedouins, now when on their forays, may be

supposed to have marched along the shore of the sea, and ascended to the

tableland only at Engedi; for the Israelites did not meet the enemy in this

ascent, but above upon the table-land.” Josephus translates הַצִּיצ by

by ἑξοχῆςhexochaes - , but with no legitimate justification. The end of

 the brook; i.e. rather the end of the brook-way, or course of the brook when

there was water to make one.

 

17 “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye

still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and

Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against

them: for the LORD will be with you.”  Stand… and see the salvation

of the Lord with you. The grand original of these words (Exodus 14:13)

would be known to both Jahaziel and Jehoshaphat.

 

18 “And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and

all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD,

worshipping the LORD.”  The infinite relief to the mind of Jehoshaphat and

his people finds now fit expression in simple adoration. Would that such first

gratitude were but sustained to the end more frequently than it is common to

find the case!

 

19 “And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children

of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud

voice on high.” Of the children of the Korhites; i.e., with Revised Version,

of the Korahites, who were the best of the Kohathite family I Chronicles 6:22;

also at head of Psalms 42-49., Authorized Version and Revised Version).

Keil would translate, “Of the sons of Kohath, yea, of the Korahites.”

 

 

The Prayer of Jehoshaphat (vs. 5-19)

 

  • THE SCENE.

 

Ø      The place.

 

o        Jerusalem, the metropolis of the land, whose safety was imperiled.

o        The house of Jehovah, the sanctuary on Mount Moriah, erected by

Solomon as a dwelling-place for the God of Israel.

o        The new court, the outer or great court of the temple (I Kings 7:12).

A quadrangle, this was probably called “new,” because of having

been restored or repaired by either Asa or Jehoshaphat.

 

Ø      The assembly.

 

o        The inhabitants of Jerusalem with their wives and children.

o        The representatives of Judah from all the cities of the land — whether

accompanied with their wives and children uncertain.

 

Ø      The suppliant. Jehoshaphat acted as the mouthpiece for himself and his

people. Standing forth in the center of the congregation, he offered

without form or any premeditation (?) one of the most sensible, pious,

correct, and, as to its composition, one of the most elegant prayers ever

offered under the Old Testament dispensation” (Adam Clarke).

 

  • THE PRAYER.

 

Ø      The Being addressed — Jehovah. Adored as:

 

o        Personal and present. The God of Jehoshaphat and his people (vs. 7, 12).

“He that cometh to God must believe that He is” (Hebrews 11:6).

o        Ancestral and faithful. The God of their fathers (v. 6), who had

covenanted with these fathers (Deuteronomy 5:2), and would remain

true to the engagements then undertaken (ch. 6:14; I Kings 8:57).

o        Celestial and mundane. The God of heaven as well as of earth, who

dwelt among the armies of light and ruled among the kingdoms of the

heathen (Daniel 4:35).

o        Universal and local. Not the God of Israel and Judah alone, but the

God to whom all empires and sovereigns owed allegiance (Psalm

103:19; 135:5-6; I Chronicles 29:11; Daniel 4:17; Malachi 1:14;

Revelation 11:4).

o        Omnipresent and omnipotent. Possessed of resistless power and might

which no one could withstand (v. 6).

 

Ø      The pleas offered.

 

o        The covenant mercies of Jehovah in:

§         first gifting the land to His friend, their father Abraham, and to his

seed for ever (Genesis 12:1; 13:17);

§         second, driving out the inhabitants of the land before them (Exodus

33:2; 34:11; Deuteronomy 11:23; Psalm 44:2); and

§         third, inestablishing them in possession of the vacated territory, so

that for centuries they had dwelt in it (Leviticus 25:18; Deuteronomy

12:10).

o        The expectation of Judah, that Jehovah would hear and keep them

when in danger they called upon His Name (v. 9). In this hope the temple

had been built, and in the belief that this hope would be realized they now

stood before Jehovah’s presence (Psalm 146:5).

o        The ingratitude of the enemy, whom Israel on her way from Egypt had

not been suffered to invade (Deuteronomy 2:4, 9, 19), and who now

repaid her clemency by attempting to drive her from her land. Such

ingratitude on the part of nations and individuals is by no means

infrequent.  The only things men find it easy to remember are insults

and injuries; kindnesses remain with difficulty in the human memory

(Genesis 40:23; I Samuel 23:5-12; Ecclesiastes 9:14-16; here, ch. 24:22).

o        The helplessness of Judah. Jehoshaphat and his people were without

strength to contend with so great a company. Neither knew they in what

direction to turn or what to do. No better plea can be laid before Heaven

than a confession of human weakness (Psalm 6:2; 22:11), since God’s

strength is perfected in weakness (II Corinthians 12:9).

o        The attitude in which they then stood. Their eyes were waiting upon

Jehovah (Psalm 25:15; 121:1-2; 123:1-2), trusting, desiring,

expecting. They had placed their hope in and anticipated their help from

Him, as in a similar crisis Asa had done (ch. 14:11; Psalm 121:1).

 

Ø      The petitions urged. That Jehovah would:

 

o        judge and defeat their enemies;

o        hear and help them, the petitioners. The two requests were inseparable.

 

      Deliverance to Judah could only come through destruction of her

      adversaries. The Church of God may still conjoin the two petitions.

 

  • THE ANSWER.

 

Ø      From whom it proceeded. Jehovah (v. 15), or the Spirit of Jehovah

(v. 14). No answers to prayer except from Him. Human lips can reply for

God only in so far as God puts His words into them (Isaiah 51:16;

Ezekiel 3:17; Jeremiah 5:14).

 

Ø      Through whom communicated. Jahaziel, the son of Zechariah, the son of

Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of

Asaph; a man of:

 

o        honorable pedigree, being the fifth in descent, not from the Hemanite,

Mattaniah, a contemporary of David (I Chronicles 25:4, 16), but from

Nethaniah the Asaphite (ibid. vs. 2, 12); the letter n having

been accidentally changed into an (Movers, Keil, Bertheau);

o        honourable rank, being a Levite, and therefore of priestly station; and

o        honourable calling, being, as a son of Asaph, a leader of psalmody in

the temple worship, and now suddenly invested with the dignity of the

prophetic office. God can find prophets anywhere when He wants

them, not being bound to prophetical any more than to apostolical

succession:

§         Elisha at the plough (I King 19:19),

§         Amos among the herdsmen (Amos 1:1).

 

Ø      To whom it was addressed. To all Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem

and to Jehoshaphat, the persons in whose name and on whose behalf the

prayer had been offered.

 

Ø      Of what it consisted.

 

o        A dissuasive against fear. “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this

great multitude,’’ similar to that given by Moses to the fleeing Israelites

(Exodus 14:13), and for a similar reason, that the battle was Jehovah’s

more than theirs, and He would fight with and for them (ibid. v. 14;

I Samuel 17:47). The same is true of the battle the Christian Church is

summoned to maintain against the three powers of evil, known as:

§         the world,

§         the flesh, and

§         the devil (Matthew 10:28).

o        A command to advance. “Go ye down against them” (v. 16), exactly

as Moses was instructed to speak unto the children of Israel that they

should go forward (Exodus 14:15). Little as God’s people can or could

do if left to themselves, they are not at liberty to play the coward in face

of the foe (Deuteronomy 31:6; II Samuel 10:12; Mark 15:43; Acts 9:27;

II Peter 1:5), to subside into despair or take to their heels. Their duty is:

§         to stand fast,

§         quit themselves like men,

§         be strong, and

§         persevere.

o        A direction where to find the enemy. “Behold, they come up by the cliff

[or, ‘ascent’] of Ziz, and ye shall find them at the end of the valley, before

the wilderness of Jeruel (v. 16). This a part of the flat country extending

from the Dead Sea to the neighborhood of Tekoa, and called El Husasah,

from a wady on its northern side (Robinson, vol. 2. p. 243). The ascent or

mountain-road, Hazziz, led towards it from Engedi.

o        An instruction what to do on meeting them. To set themselves in battle

array — stand still and see the salvation of God (v. 17). They would not

require to fight. Jehovah would do the rest. Compare again the orders of

Moses to the Israelites (Exodus 14:13). The instruction here given has

its counterpart in that given by the gospel to sinners: “To him that worketh

not, but believeth,” etc. (Romans 4:5)

o        An encouragement to hope for victory. “The Lord would be with

them (v. 17) and fight for them as He did for Israel at the Red Sea

(Exodus 14:13) and at Gibeon (Joshua 10:14), as Moses promised

He would do every time they faced their enemies (Deuteronomy 20:4),

and as Nehemiah (Nehemiah 4:20) afterwards believed He did. The

same presence is enjoyed by the Church of God still.

 

  • THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT.

 

Ø      By the king. Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground”

(v. 18), in token of humility and reverence, as well as of adoration and

submission (ch. 29:30; Genesis 18:2; 24:26; Exodus 4:31; 34:8; Joshua 23:7).

 

Ø      By the people. “All Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the

Lord,” in a solemn act of worship.

 

Ø      By the Levites. Those belonging to the children of the Kohathites and

the children of the Korahites “stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel

with an exceeding loud voice,” adding notes of thanksgiving and rejoicing

to those of adoration and self-humiliation which Jehovah’s gracious answer

inspired.

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The sorest need of mana God to flee to in the hour of trouble and

day of calamity.

 

Ø      The highest glory of Godthat He can hear prayer and rescue the

perishing.

 

Ø      The greatest peril of the Church’s enemiesthe fact that Jehovah

fights against them.

 

Ø      The surest guarantee of victory for the Church of Jesus Christthe

fact that the battle is the Lord’s.

 

Ø      The brightest hope for an anxious sinnerthat he only needs to stand

still and see THE SALVATION OF GOD!

 

 

Before the Battle: Lessons (vs. 14-19)

 

Having made their appeal to the Lord God of their fathers, Judah now

waited for God. Nor had the king and his subjects to wait long. We have

here an instance of:

 

  • GOD’S READINESS TO ANSWER THE PRAYER OF HIS PEOPLE.

“In the midst of the congregation,” while they were still before the Lord, in

the very act and attitude of prayer, an answer was vouchsafed to them.

While they were yet speaking, God heard (Isaiah 65:24). Though He

does not constantly grant us so speedy a response, yet we may be quite

sure that He always hearkens and heeds; and if there be such reverence and

faith as there were on this occasion, we may be sure that God always

purposes at once to send us the best kind of deliverance, even if He does

not at once start the train of events or forces that will bring it to pass.

 

  • THAT WE NEED NOT BE GREATLY AFFECTED BY MERE

MAGNITUDE. “Be not afraid by reason of this great multitude” (v. 15).

We are in no little danger of overestimating the worth of numbers, whether

they be on our side or against us. It is a great mistake to imagine we are

safe because we are in a large majority. There is no king and there is no

cause “saved by the multitude of an host” (Psalm 33:16). History has

shown again and again that the presence of a vast number of people

(soldiers or supporters) often begets confidence, and confidence begets

carelessness and negligence, and these lead down to defeat and ruin.

Besides, it is never quantity but quality, never size but spirit, never

numbers but character, that decides the day. Better the small band of

fearless men under Gideon’s command, than the large numbers of the

fainthearted who were left behind, or even than the innumerable host

of the Midianites. We may not trust in the number of our friends, and

we need not fear the hosts of our enemies. If the “battle is not to the strong”

(Ecclesiastes 9:11), it certainly is not to the multitudinous.

 

  • THAT IT IS EVERYTHING TO HAVE GOD ON OUR SIDE. We

may be sure that when the people of Judah had this assurance from

Jahaziel, they were not only calmed and comforted, but they had a sense

that all would be well with them.

 

Ø      That God had made their cause His own. “The battle is not yours, but

God’s” (v. 15).

 

Ø      That God’s presence would be granted to them. “The Lord will be with

you (v. 17).

 

Ø      That God had promised them His salvation, and would therefore work

on their behalf. “The salvation of the Lord” (v. 17). This was enough

even for the timid and the fearful-hearted. This should be enough for us.

Conscious that the battle we fight is that of the Lord Himself, and is not

ours only or chiefly; knowing that He will be with us, and assured that He

will work out a blessed issue, we may be calm, and even confident, though

the enemy is advancing.

 

  • THAT WE MUST BE READY TO TAKE OUR PART AND TO DO

OUR WORK, WHATEVER THAT MAY BE. “Go ye down against them”

(v. 16);  Set yourselves, stand ye still” (v. 17). To do this may have been too

much for the inclination of the cowardly or the indulgent; it may have been

too little for the active and the militant among the people; but it was

enough for the obedient and the trustful. God will have us bring our

contribution of activity as well as devotion to the great spiritual campaign.

But it may not be just that kind or just that measure which we should

select if we had our choice. We must let Him choose our service as well as

our inheritance (Psalm 47:4) for us; and whether that be high or

humble, greater or smaller, we should be more than content that He is

calling us to the field in which CHRIST IS OUR CAPTAIN!

 

  • THAT A SPIRIT OF REVERENT GRATITUDE IS ALWAYS

BECOMING. (vs. 18-19.) Before the shouts of victory are in the air,

while we are going forth to the battle in which God is leading us, while we

are serving under a Divine Saviour, while we are anticipating the issue, so

long as we are trustful in Him and not confident in ourselves, we do well to

let our hearts be filled and to let our songs be heard with reverent joy.

 

20 “And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the

wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood

and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem;

Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe

His prophets, so shall ye prosper.” The wilderness of Tekoa. The king

and people, army and prophet and Levite singers, start early for the wilderness

of Tekoa, not less than ten miles’ distance south of Jerusalem, and from it a

waddy running to the Dead Sea. So shall ye be established. (So Isaiah 7:9.)

Jehoshaphat’s own faith and zeal make him nervously anxious that his

people should not fall behind him, and fall short of their duty and the

grandeur of the occasion.

 

21 “And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers

unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as

they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for His

mercy endureth for ever.”  And when he had consulted with the people;

i.e. possibly simply “conferred with” those who were over the singers, as to

who should be the most prominent in leading the service of praise, or as to

what should be the words sung and other like matters of detail; or more

probably, considering the exact form of language used, the reference is to

what we are told Jehoshaphat had just done, to wit, counseled well the

people and given good advice to them. Praise the beauty of holiness. The

rendering should no doubt be in the beauty of holiness, i.e. in garments of

beauty (I Chronicles 16:29; Psalm 29:2; Revised Version margin,

in holy array”). Praise the Lord; Revised Version, give thanks to the

Lord (ch. 5:13; 7:3,6; Psalms 106.; 136.).

 

22 “And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set

ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount

Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.

Set ambushments. The Hebrew is נָתַן מְאָרְבִים, i.e. “set

persons lying in wait,” or “in ambush” (piel participle plural of אָרַב). So

Judges 9:25, but kal participle with apparently future equivalent

meaning occurs eighteen times in Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Ezra, Jeremiah,

and Lamentations. Who the persons were, supernatural or not, or what

their mode of operation, is not told, and is not plain. The effects are quite

plain — that first the two confederates, Moab and Ammon, thought they

saw reason to fall on them “of Mount Seir,” and secondly, having this

done, to fall on one another to the end of mutual extermination. They were

smitten. The marginal, “they smote one another,” may be better, but it is

not at all necessary, the meaning being that collectively they became the

smitten instead of the smiters!

 

23 “For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the

inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and

when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one

helped to destroy another.”  This verse proceeds to explain how this

resulted in a kind of triangular duel on large scale.

 

24 “And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness,

they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies

fallen to the earth, and none escaped.”  The watch-tower. See ch. 26:10, where,

however, the ordinary מִגְדָּל, and not the present word (only found, except

as a proper name, here and Isaiah 21:8), is employed. It is scarcely

likely that a built watch-tower is intended even here, but rather a lofty site

and point of view from which a large number of people could see. The

proper names Mitzpeh (Mizpeh) and Mitzpah (Mizpah) are of course

familiar. They looked unto the multitude. Judah and its army and

heralding Levite singers would see now in new significance the thing said

by Jahaziel in our v. 16, “Ye shall find them at the end of the brook course,

before the wilderness of Jeruel.” And none escaped; i.e. “without

an exception.

 

25 “And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil

of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the

dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for

themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three

days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.” Both riches with the dead bodies.

The Hebrew text reads literally, both riches and dead bodies (no article). The

וּפְגָרִים of the text, however, appears in several (“old authorities,” Revised Version)

manuscripts, as וּפְגָרִים (“garments”), and the versions of both Septuagint

and Vulgate lend their authority to this reading. Jewels. The Hebrew term

is כְלֵי, the most frequent rendering of which is “vessels,” so rendered, that

is, a hundred and sixty times out of about three hundred and eight times in

all of its occurrence. It is, however, a word of very generic quality, and is

rendered as here “jewels” about twenty-five other times. It would seem

nugatory to tell us that there were “dead bodies,” in the bald rendering of

and dead bodies.” Our Authorized Version rendering, “riches with the

dead bodies,” of course both ingeniously glosses the difficulty and makes a

sufficiently good meaning.

 

26 “And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of

Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of

the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.

the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.

Berachah. This is just the Hebrew feminine substantive, from a verb. It

is used in I Chronicles 12:3 as the name of a man. The present name of

the valley survives in the Waddy Bereikat on the Hebron road, beyond,

therefore, the date unto this day of the writer.

 

27 “Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and

Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with

joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies.

28 And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets

unto the house of the LORD.”  The Lord had made them to rejoice. Note

the extremely similar and almost identical language of Ezra 6:22 and

Nehemiah 12:43, and add also to the comparison the last sentence of our v. 29.

 

29 “And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries,

when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of

Israel.”  With this verse compare particularly vs. 10-11 of ch. 17.

 

30 “So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest

round about.”  His God gave him rest (so see ch. 15:15).

 

 

 

A Victory Without a Blow (vs. 20-30)

 

  • THE MARCH TO TEKOA (vs. 20-21)

 

Ø      The composition of the army.

 

o        The king commanded in person (vs. 25, 27). Modern monarchs stay

at home when their soldiers go to war, and even when they do not, seldom

place themselves like Jehoshaphat in the forefront of their troops. Perhaps

discretion is the better part of valour;” but the arrangement commends

itself as reasonable that kings and captains should share the perils of their

subjects and followers.

 

o        The inhabitants of Jerusalem contributed their contingent to the force.

Probably the flower of the nation’s troops, these may have served as the

king’s body-guard.

 

o        The warriors of Judah completed the armament. The entire army

mustered at and took its departure from Jerusalem.

 

Ø      The time of its setting forth. “Early in the morning,” i.e. the next after

Jahaziel’s assurance. An indication of:

 

o        faith, since without this they had hesitated and delayed, if not sat still

and trembled (Psalm 27:13);

 

o        zeal, discovering the eagerness with which they entered on the path of

duty once it had been pointed out (Psalm 119:33);

 

o        courage, as being afraid of nothing with Jehovah as Leader and

Commander (Psalm 27:1).

 

Ø      The address of its king. Standing in the city gate as regiment after

regiment filed into line and sallied forth, Jehoshaphat exhorted them

(successively) to calm confidence in the ultimate success of the campaign

upon which they were entering.

 

o        Two things he recommended:

 

§         absolute faith in Jehovah as their covenant God, and

§         perfect trust in His prophets as the bearers of His message.

 

o        Two things he promised:

 

§         the permanent establishment of their kingdom in spite of all

attacks from without; and

§         its certain prosperity through being exempt from unbelief,

a sure but fatal source of weakness and division.

 

Ø      The arrangements for its march. Jehoshaphat made special preparations

for encountering the foe.

 

o        A consultation was held with the people. Besides exhorting them as

above recorded (Bertheau, Keil), he took them into counsel with himself,

in the disposition next made. This conference occurred before the army

left Jerusalem rather than on its reaching Tekoa.

 

o        Singers were appointed to march in front of the troops. Arrayed in

sacred vestments, Levitical musicians were to praise the beauty of

holiness, or to praise the Lord in the beauty of holiness, saying,

“Praise the Lord; for His mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 136.).

Their singing and praising most likely began as they left the capital,

was discontinued on the way to Tekoa, and was again resumed on

reaching the vicinity of the enemy (v. 22).

 

Ø      The advance towards the foe. A singular method of warfare it must have

seemed — as ridiculous as the march of Joshua’s warriors round the walls

of Jericho and the music of their rams’ horns must have appeared to the

inhabitants of that old Canaanitish fortress (Joshua 6:12-16).

 

  • THE SCENE FROM THE WATCHTOWER. (v. 24.) This “watchtower,”

a height in the wilderness of Tekoa which overlooked the desert of

Jeruel, where the invading host lay encamped (v. 16), was probably the

conical hill Jebel Fureidis, or the Frank Mountain, from which a view can

be obtained of the Dead Sea and the mountains of Moab (‘Picturesque

Palestine,’ 1:137). From this elevation Jehoshaphat and his soldiers beheld

the whole ground strewn with corpses, and not the vestige of a living foe

to be seen. The enemy had been:

 

Ø      Completely slaughtered. The dead bodies were so numerous that “to all

appearance none had escaped” (Keil); but the Chronicler manifestly

intended to describe a case of not apparent, but real extermination. Not

merely all whom the men of Judah beheld prostrate on the field were dead,

but of all who had come up against Judah none had escaped.

 

Ø      Self-destroyed. They had fallen on and annihilated one another. That

perhaps was not remarkable; thieves, robbers, and wicked men in general

often fall out and destroy one another. The pity is they do not always do so

before attacking other people. In this case two things were remarkable —

the time when and the mode in which it happened.

 

o        It occurred when the army began to march and the Levites to sing and

to praise the Lord in the beauty of holiness (v. 22). Exactly, then, when

God’s people were manifesting forth their obedience, faith, zeal, and

holiness, their enemies were destroying one another. The same thing would

happen in the experience of the New Testament Church were she in a

similar fashion to confront her adversaries:

 

§         first arraying herself in the sacred garments of holiness,

§         next trusting in God for the victories HE HAD PROMISED

 in fact, praising Him beforehand on account of them, and then

going forth to behold them and gather up their fruits; her enemies,

too, would destroy themselves.

 

o        It occurred through THE DIRECT INSTRUMENTALITY OF GOD!

 Jehovah set against the children of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir (v. 22)

liers in wait,” supposed to have been angels or heavenly powers

sent by God,  and called insidiatores (secret emmissaries) because of the

work they did against the enemy (Bertheau, Ewald), but more probably

Seirites, greedy of spoil, who from an ambush made an attack upon the

Ammonites and Moabites” (Keil)  These, becoming alarmed for their

safety, not only repelled the liers in wait,” but turned with fury upon

the Seirites marching with them, and absolutely exterminated them;

after which, growing suspicious of one another, they flew at each

other’s throats and rested not until they had completely destroyed

one another.

 

  • THE GATHERING OF THE SPOIL (v. 25)

 

Ø      The articles.

 

o        Riches — movable property, such as cattle, tents, etc., the usual wealth

of nomads.

 

o        Dead bodies, i.e. corpses of men and carcasses of animals; the former

with clothing and jewelery, the latter with harness and accoutrements.

The reading “garments” (Bertheau, Clarke), though not unsuitable

(Judges 8:26), is probably incorrect.

 

o        Precious jewels, “vessels of desire,” gold and silver ornaments like

those Gideon’s soldiers took from the Midianites (Judges 8:25).

 

Ø      The quantity. So abundant that three days were occupied in collecting it,

and when collected it was found to be more than they could carry. The earrings

taken by Gideon’s warriors from the Midianites weighed seventeen

hundred shekels of gold (Judges 8:26); that obtained by Hannibal’s

soldiers at the battle of Cannae was so great “ut tres modios aureorum

annulornm Carthaginem mitteret, quos e manibus equitum Romanorum,

senatorum et militum detraxerat” (‘Eutropii Historia Romana,’ 41.).

 

  • THE MUSTERING AT BERACHAH (v. 26.)

 

Ø      The place. The valley, afterwards named from the incident of which it

was the scene, must have adjoined the battlefield. A trace of it has been

recovered in the Wady Bereikut, to the west of Tekoa, near the road from

Hebron to Jerusalem (Robinson, vol. 2. p. 189). There is no ground for

identifying it (Thenius) with the upper part of the valley of Kidron,

afterwards called the valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2, 12).

 

Ø      The time. On the fourth day after their arrival at Tekoa, the three

intervening days having been employed in collecting the spoil.

 

Ø      The business.

 

o        To render thanks to Jehovah. National mercies should receive national

acknowledgment, just as national sins require national confession. Full

of gratitude for the marvelous deliverance they had experienced,

Jehoshaphat and his people blessed Jehovah on the spot He had

consecrated by so wondrous an interposition on their behalf. From this

circumstance the valley afterwards came to be designated Emek-Berachah,

or “the valley of blessing.”

 

o       To prepare for returning to Jerusalem, which they forthwith did.

 

  • THE RETURN TO JERUSALEM (vs. 27-28)

 

Ø      Without delay. After causing the wilderness to echo with anthems to Him

who had smitten great and famous kings (Psalm 136:17-20), they had

nothing to detain them from their homes.

 

Ø      Without loss. Though they had gained a glorious victory, not one of

their company was left upon the battle-field. “Every man of Judah and

Jerusalemthat marched to Tekoa returned to the capital.

 

Ø      Without disorder. The same solemn and orderly procession that had

characterized their going forth now distinguished their coming back.

 

Ø      Without sorrow. Few returns from the battle-field are without saddening

recollections; theirs was marked by unmixed joy, to which they gave formal

expression with psalteries and harps and trumpets in the house of the Lord.

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The best evidence of faith prompt and cheerful obedience.

Ø      The true secret of national as of individual prosperitybelief in God

and in God’s Word.

Ø      The value of sacred song as a means of exciting religious feeling and

sustaining religious fortitude.

Ø      The necessity of HOLINESS in them who would command or lead

the Lord’s host.

Ø      THE EASE with which God could make the enemies of His people

annihilate one another.

Ø      The rich spoil that belongs to faith.

Ø      THE JOYOUS HOMECOMING OF ALL God’s spiritual warriors!

 

31 “And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty and five years

old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five years in

Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.

32 “And he walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from

it, doing that which was right in the sight of the LORD.”  With this verse

recommences the parallel of I Kings 22:41-50. In this verse we find the addition

in the parallel very naturally to be accounted for, of “began to reign in the fourth

year of Ahab King of Israel.” Otherwise the verses are almost identical.

Of Azubah nothing more is heard.

 

33 “Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people

had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.”

Howbeit the high places… the people had not prepared.

The statements so precisely made in this verse evidently serve the purpose

of distinguishing between the wishes and orders of the king and the

unequal conduct of his people.

 

34 “Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they

are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, who is mentioned in the

book of the kings of Israel.”  The rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, etc. These

acts of Jehoshaphat are said in this verse to find their record in the book of

Jehu… mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel. The parallel has,

in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah.” For our “mentioned,”

note margin, literal, made to ascend and Revised Version “inserted.” The

book of the kings of Israel” may (note also the remarkable apparent

misnomers of our writer, as illustrated by ch. 12:6; 21:2, 4)

very possibly be one with the parallel, “book of the chronicles of the kings

of Judah.”  Of this larger collected cyclopaedia of royal biography, Jehu’s

account (דִּבְרֵי) of Jehoshaphat was one component part. Though Jehu’s

(דִבְרֵי) book is not mentioned elsewhere, he himself is particularly in

I Kings 16:1, as well as in our ch. 19:2.

 

35 “And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with

Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly:  And after this. The

historical episode of these three verses (35-37) is evidently misplaced.

As Ahaziah succeeded his father Ahab in Jehoshaphat’s seventeenth year,

we of course are at no loss to fix the time of Jehoshaphat’s “joining himself

with Ahaziah.” He had “joined himself” with Ahab, and had smarted for it,

and yet “after” that, he “joined himself” with his son Ahaziah. We do not

doubt that the “who” of this verse refers to Ahaziah, not, as some think, to

Jehoshaphat.

 

36 “And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish:

and they made the ships in Eziongaber.”  This verse tells us the object with

which Jehoshaphat had joined himself with Ahaziah, and I Kings 22:49 tells

us how at last, by a point-blank refusal to Ahaziah, he withdrew from the very

brief commercial alliance after he had not merely been witnessed against by the

Prophet Eliezer spoken of in our next verse, but more decisively witnessed

against by the shattering of his ships. To go to Tarshish. This clause, even

if the text is not corrupt, yet cannot mean what it seems to say; but in the

word “to go” (Hebrew, לָלֶכֶת) must mean, of the sort that were wont to

go to Tarshish, i.e. that were used for the Tarshish trade. We are guided to

some such explanation by I Kings 22:48, where it is said the ships were

ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir (ibid. ch. 10:22; here, ch. 8:18). That the ships

could not be to go to Tarshish is plain from the fact of the place, Ezion-geber

(ch. 8:17-18; I Kings 9:26), on the Red Sea, where they were built. Some,

however, have suggested that some other Tarshish (e.g. in the Gulf of Persia)

than that of Spain (Tartessus) may conceivably be meant. The clear statement

of the parallel saves the necessity of any such supposition, however.

 

37 “Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against

Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with

Ahaziah, the LORD hath broken thy works. And the ships were

broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish.” Eliezer the son

of Dodavah of Mareshah.  Nothing beside is known of this prophet. For

Mareshah, see ch. 11:8, and note there. The ships were broken; i.e.

presumably by some storm. One general remark may be made upon these

verses (34-37), together with I Kings 22:45-50, viz. that the dislocation of

both manner and matter, observable in both, of them, probably betrays

something out of order for whatever reason or accident, in the more original

source, from which both drew, the apparently disjointed mixture of matter

in the parallel being the more patent of the two.

 

 

The Last Chapter in Jehoshaphat’s Career (vs. 1-37)

 

The aspects in which the character of Jehoshaphat offers itself to our view,

in the last seen of him, are now to be considered. Few men there are who

bear themselves well in prosperity, especially if the prosperity be great; and

many there are who fail to submit well to the discipline of adversity. Of this

latter weakness of human nature it can scarcely be said that Jehoshaphat

was an illustration. The punishment that had been foretold, that solemn

consequence, at any rate, of “helping the ungodly, and loving them that

hate the Lord; therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord” (ch.19:2),

now impended; and almost the entirety of what remains to be recorded respecting

Jehoshaphat is occupied with the subject in this chapter, of the manner in which

Jehoshaphat met his evil days. He did not defy them, he did not aggravate them,

he did not make them a case of hopeless repining; he met them in a calm, brave,

religious spirit. The indications and the proofs of this are noticeable as follows.

 

  • THE ALARM OF WHAT WAS COMING IS ATTENDED TO AT

ONCE, AND IS AT ONCE PREPARED FOR. (vs. 1-4.)

 

  • THE IMMEDIATE FIRST PREPARATION IS THE RESORT TO

PRAYER. In the presence of all “the congregation of Judah and Benjamin,

in the house of the Lord,” when “all Judah stood before the Lord, with

their little ones, their wives, and their children” (vs. 5, 13), prayer is

made to God — prayer that recounts His great attributes; that claims His

Fatherhood as vouchsafed by promise and covenant of old; that rehearses

His mighty works; that lays faith’s clinging hold upon the comparatively

recently built and consecrated and dedicated temple, with all that it

involved; that finds an argument, even, in the specially ungrateful depravity

of the foe, who now is the attacking party; and that closes with an

unreserved and a beautiful expression of confidence in God and utter self

distrust  (vs. 5-12).

 

  • THE PROMISE, BY WHICH THAT PRAYER IS ANSWERED, IS

TAKEN HOLD OF, IS GRATEFULLY GRASPED, IS

UNFALTERINGLY BELIEVED. The promise is a very gracious one, a

most liberal one, conveyed in a very inspiriting and encouraging manner,

and Jehoshaphat is overwhelmed with the impression of it (v. 18).

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT AND THE PEOPLE AND THE LEVITES, ALL

WITH ONE ACCORD ACCEPT IT WITH SUCH FAITH, THAT JOY

AND PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING ARE ALL RENDERED BY

ANTICIPATION. (Vs. 14-19.) The inspired Levite had communicated

the promise, and had added to it all encouragement and exhortation, in the

first place; but we read that Jehoshaphat himself took up after him both

these ministries in the presence of the people, and in his great desire to

keep them thoroughly up to the mark (vs. 20-21).

 

  • WHEN THE PROMISE IS FULFILLED TO THE MOST SIGNAL

EXTENT, THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF IT, AND DUE

THANKSGIVING FOR IT, ARE NOT FORGOTTEN, AND ARE NOT

STINTED; BUT TO THE MEASURE OF HUMAN ABILITY

CORRESPOND WITH IT. The testimony of this is explicit and repeated,

while the description of it is exceedingly graphic (vs. 26-28).

 

  • THE FINAL TESTIMONY TO THE CONSISTENT, HONEST

ENDEAVOR OF THE LIFE OF JEHOSHAPHAT, THE SOLIDITY

OF HIS WORK, AND THE BLESSING THAT RESTED UPON IT

FROM ABOVE. It is most true that the work of Jehoshaphat had not been

absolutely perfect, inasmuch as he had not absolutely succeeded (v. 33)

in what nevertheless he had earnestly and conscientiously endeavored

(ch. 17:6). And it is most true that his character and life and

work had not been absolutely perfect, inasmuch as his defection in regard

of his intimacy with Ahab — now strangely repeated in the lesser instance

of Ahaziah and “the ships of Tarshish (vs. 35-37) — stands against him.

This latter also met with its punishment (v. 37); but we may judge that it

was acknowledged and repented of in the best way, by being forsaken

(I Kings 22:49). Yet we cannot be wrong to follow, with the tenor of

the testimony of the mingled faithfulness and graciousness of Scripture

biography, and say that, like its ultimate Inspirer and Author, it loves to

forgive transgression,” and to “cover sin,” and that the last note of

Jehoshaphat is that his heart was right, that he “did that which was right,”

and that he and his work were graciously accepted of God.

 

 

 

At and After the Battle: Lessons (vs. 27-37)

 

Armed with a holy trust in God, the king and his people advanced to meet

their multitudinous enemies with bounding heart and tuneful lip. Nor were

they unwarranted in so doing; the event completely justified their hopes.

We learn:

 

  • THAT OUR ENEMIES SOMETIMES DISPOSE OF ONE

ANOTHER. (v. 23.) We sometimes find that the enemy is best “left well

alone.” Let Shimei “cast stones” at us; even though they be words of false

accusation, they will do him much more harm than they will do us. Let the

enemy blaspheme; his profanities will be a dead weight in his own balances.

Let men make virulent attacks on our holy religion; they will answer one

another; we can better spend our time (as a rule) in positive endeavors to

build up the kingdom of God.

 

  • That, under God’s hand, THE EVIL WE FEAR IS MORE THAN

BALANCED BY THE GOOD WE GAIN. When the Jewish army

returned from the wilderness of Tekoa, richly laden with spoil (v. 25),

they would doubtless have said that it was much better for them to have

had their agitation followed by their success than not to have had any

invasion of the enemy. They certainly congratulated themselves upon the

entire incident, and, in their hearts, blessed those Moabites and Ammonites

for giving them such an opportunity of enrichment. When God is on our

side we may expect that our dangers will disappear, and that from the

things that threaten us we shall ultimately derive blessing. Such is now and

ever “the end of the Lord” (John 5:11; Job 42:10). Only we must

make quite sure that God is on our side; and this we can only do by making

a full surrender of ourselves to Him and to His service, and by seeing to it

that we choose the side of righteousness and of humanity, and not that of

selfishness and of guilty pride.

 

  • THAT GOODNESS OF HEART SHOULD FIRST TAKE THE

FORM OF GRATITUDE. Whither but to “the house of the Lord” should

that jubilant procession move? (v. 28). Gladness finds its best utterance

in sacred song, its best home in the sanctuary of God. Thus and there it will

be chastened; it will be pure, it will be moderated, it will leave no sting of

guilty memories behind. Moreover, if we are not first grateful to God for

our mercies, but rather gratulatory of ourselves, we shall nurse a spirit of

complacency that is likely to lead us astray from the humility which is our

rectitude and our wisdom.

 

  • THAT IT IS WELL WHEN OUR TRIUMPH IS LOST IN THE

FURTHERANCE OF THE CAUSE OF GOD. It was much that Jerusalem

was safe; but it was more that “the fear of God was on all the kingdoms”

(v. 29). We may heartily rejoice that our own person, our own family,

our own country, has been preserved; we may much more rejoice when the

cause and kingdom of Christ has been greatly advanced. This should be the

object of our solicitude and of our rejoicing.

 

  • THAT REST IS THE RIGHTFUL PURCHASE OF LABOR AND

OF STRIFE. (v. 30.) The country that has won its religious liberty by

heroic suffering and strife (as with Holland) may well settle down to a long

period of rest and peace. The man who has gone through several decades

of anxious and laborious activity may well enjoy a long evening of life

when the burden is laid down and the sword is sheathed. The quieter

service of the later years of life seems a fitting prelude to the peaceful and

untiring activities which constitute the rest of immortality.

 

  • THAT THE WORTHIEST HUMAN LIVES DO NOT

CORRESPOND TO OUR IDEAL. If we were to construct an ideal human

life, we should not introduce another unwise combination (v. 37) add a

disastrous expedition to cast a shadow on its closing years. Yet this was

the case with Jehoshaphat. Our lives, even at their best, do not answer to

our conceptions of what is perfectly beautiful and complete. We must not

look for this, for we shall very seldom find even the appearance of it. We

must take the good man as God gives him to us, with:

 

Ø      a true soul,

Ø      a brave spirit,

Ø      a kind and faithful heart,

Ø      a character that is very fair and perhaps very fine,

 

but that leaves something to be desired; with a life that is very useful

and perhaps very noble, but that bears marks of blemish even to the end.

 

 

 

 

The Biography of Jehoshaphat (vs. 31-37)

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT’S PARENTAGE.

 

Ø      His father. Asa, a good king who enjoyed a long and honored reign.

Though good fathers have sometimes bad sons, as in the case of

Jehoshaphat himself, yet there is a presumption in favor of a parent’s piety

being reproduced in the son. “Lord! I find the genealogy of my Saviour

strangely checkered with four remarkable changes in four immediate

generations.

 

o        Roboam begat Abia; i.e. a bad father begat a bad son.

o        Abia begat Asa; i.e. a bad father a good son.

o        Asa begat Josaphat; i.e. a good father a good son.

o        Josaphat begat Joram; i.e. a good father a bad son.  (Matthew 1:7-8)

 

I see, Lord, from hence that my father’s piety cannot be entailed: that is

bad news for me. But I see also that actual impiety is not always

hereditary: that is good news for my son” (Thomas Fuller, ‘ Good

Thoughts in Bad Times,’ p. 43).

 

Ø      His mother. Azubah, the daughter of Shilhi. Otherwise unknown, she

was, nevertheless, the wife of a good man, the consort of a pious king —

alas! also the mother of a wicked son. She was probably herself a woman

of worth, and to her credit her name has been transmitted to posterity

rather as her father’s daughter and her husband’s spouse than as her son’s

mother. In her case the hand of Providence has drawn a veil over her

misfortune.

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT’S REIGN.

 

Ø      When it began. When he was thirty-five years old. There was no room

in this case for the royal preacher’s woe (Ecclesiastes 10:16).

 

Ø      How long it continued. Twenty-five years — a quarter of a century;

during which time he and his people experienced much of the Divine

favor and blessing.

 

Ø      When it ended. When he was sixty years of age; i.e. before he reached

the allotted space of three score years and ten (Psalm 90:10), and after

a shorter life than was afterwards enjoyed by some of his less worthy

successors, e.g. Uzziah (ch. 26:3) and Manasseh (ch. 33:1) — a proof that

the promise of long life as a reward for piety was not intended, even under

the Old Testament, to be accepted universally and without exception.

 

  • JEHOSAPHAT’S REALM.

 

Ø      Its extent. He reigned over Judah, the southern kingdom.

Ø      Its condition. Quiet. With the exception just mentioned it had suffered

no invasion. It was disturbed by no destructive feud or civil strife.

Ø      Its Protector. Jehovah. “God gave him rest round about.”

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT’S NEIGHBORS.

 

Ø      Their attitude. They stood in awe of Jehoshaphat and his people.

Compare the terror of the peoples through the midst of whom Jacob

passed on his flight from Shechem to Hebron (Genesis 35:5), and the

fear which fell upon the city of Jerusalem on beholding the miracle of

Pentecost (Acts 2:43).

 

Ø      The reason of it. They heard that the Lord fought against the enemies of

Israel (v. 29). So Miriam expected the report of Jehovah’s victory over

Pharaoh would paralyze the surrounding peoples through whom the

ransomed host had to pass (Exodus 15:14-16).

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT’S CHARACTER.

 

Ø      Pious. Like his father Asa, he walked in the way of the Lord.

 

Ø      Persevering. He departed not from doing right in the sight of Jehovah,

i.e. in the matter of worship.

 

Ø      Defective. Not perfect in the sense of being faultless, he allowed the high

places dedicated to Jehovah to remain, though other similar high places

dedicated to idols were removed (ch. 17:6); and though he was better than

his people, whose hearts were not prepared for A THOROUGH-GOING

REFORMATION, he yet in a blameworthy spirit of complaisance yielded

to their demands and permitted the unhallowed altars to stand.

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT’S ACTS.

 

Ø      Those recorded by the Chronicler.

 

o        The establishment of garrisons throughout the land (ch.17:2).

o        The appointment of an itinerant ministry for the religious

education of the people (ibid. vs.7-9).

o        The fostering of commerce in the cities of Judah (ibid. v.13).

o        The creation of courts of justice (ch. 19:5).

o        The reformation of religion (ch.17:6; 19:4).

o        The marriage of his son with Ahab’s daughter (ch. 18:1; ch. 21:6).

o        The war at Ramoth-Gilead (ibid. v. 28).

 

Ø      Those written in the book of Jehu, Hananis son. (ch. 19:2.) These deeds

of Judah’s king are lost. How much of every life drops into oblivion, even

though set down in a biography! Only that history WHICH GOD WRITES

LIVES FOREVER!  Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away but

my words shall not pass away!”  (Matthew 24:35)

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT’S FAULTS.

 

Ø      Plentiful. Good as Jehoshaphat was, both as man and sovereign, he

committed grievous blunders, and indeed fell into aggravated sins. The

three worst were:

 

o        The marriage of his son Jehoram with Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab

the mating of a lamb with the cub of a tigress.

o        The war with Benhadad which he entered on to please Ahab, without

thinking whether he would thereby please God.

o        The joining of Ahaziah, Ahab’s successor, in making a fleet to go to

Tarshish, or a fleet of Tarshish ships in Ezion-geber.

 

Ø      Punished. None of these offenses were overlooked by Jehovah. The

alliance of Jehoram with Athaliah avenged itself in the depravation of

Jehoram’s character. The Syrian war, besides exposing him to imminent

peril, brought upon him the Moabitish invasion. The fleet which he and

Ahaziah made was wrecked in the Red Sea, and never went to Tarshish. So

Eliezer, the son of Dodavah of Mareshah, predicted it would happen —

because Jehoshaphat had a second time joined himself with the house of

Omri.

 

Ø      Pardoned. Though chastised for his errors, Jehoshaphat was not

abandoned to wrath. A child of the covenant and an heir of the promise, he

was rebuked but not rejected, corrected but not condemned. So God deals

with believers when they err (I Corinthians 11:32).

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT’S END.

 

Ø      His death was peaceful. He slept with his fathers (ch. 21:1).

 

Ø      His burial was honorable. He was entombed in the city of David, in

the sepulcher of the kings of Judah.

 

Ø      His throne was confirmed. His son Jehoram reigned in his stead.

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The fallibility of good men.

Ø      The infallibility of God’s Word.

 

 

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