II Chronicles 17
To the contents of this chapter, and to the reign of Jehoshaphat, which
occupies this and the following three chapters, the Book of Kings furnishes
as yet no parallel. All that it has to say of Jehoshaphat now is summed up
in one sentence (I Kings 15:24), “And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in
his stead,” till we arrive at the ten verses of I Kings 22:41-51, with
their very slender sketch (see also II Kings 3:1-14).
1 "And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and strengthened
are told that Jehoshaphat was now thirty-five years of age. He must,
therefore, have been born when Asa was in the sixth year of his reign, and
presumably not under sixteen years of age. His reign extended to twenty-five
years, i.e. from B.C. 914 to B.C. 889. The name signifies “whom God
judges,” or “pleads for.” Ahab is now in the fourth year of his reign, and
the symptoms he manifests (I Kings 16:30-33) are those that the rather
urge Jehoshaphat to strengthen himself, i.e. strengthen the defenses of his
kingdom on the
2 "And he placed forces in all the fenced cities of Judah, and set
garrisons in the
Asa his father had taken." He placed forces; literally, he gave (Genesis 1:17)
forces, or a force, or host, or army: חַיִל (Exodus 14:28; II Samuel 24:2).
And set garrisons; again literally, he gave garrisons (נְאִיבִים); i.e. either
the persons “set over,” prefects or officers (I Kings 4:19), or the
military garrison itself “stationed” (I Samuel 10:5; 13:3). A village in
Judah also had the name Nezeb (Joshua 15:45). In the cities of
Ephraim (see ch.15:8).
Spiritual Fortification (vs. 1-2)
Jehoshaphat did well to “strengthen himself against Israel.” One that ought
to be in the closest possible relationship to us but that is formally separated
from us and that is likely to be jealous of our power is most to be feared by
us. The avowed enemy is not so hostile as the envious rival, as the
unfriendly “neighbor.” And there was nothing of untrustfulness in this
procedure of the king’s. Had he gone to Syria as his father did (ch. 16:2)
rebuke as Asa was; but in keeping his own fortresses in good sound
condition, in seeing that they were well manned and fortified, he was
simply acting with that practical sagacity which is not condemned but
commended of God (Luke 16:9-10). The words suggest to us some
lessons concerning the wisdom of spiritual fortification.
strange land; or are we in our own true home? Are we in a state of spiritual
bondage or dependence, or are we enjoying true spiritual liberty? Is God
our only Sovereign, and are we rejoicing in His gracious, benignant sway?.
Are our souls right with Him, and, being right with Him, are they free from
the tyranny of all other lords? Is our spiritual estate one of honorable
loyalty to God and of honorable freedom from all servitude and subjection?
measures to "strengthen ourselves” against our natural or probable
enemies? It is most unwise to assume that, because it is well with us now,
it must always be well with us. “Final perseverance” as a sacred obligation
is an excellent doctrine, but not as a mere comforting assumption.
Ø The exhortations of the Divine Word (Romans 11:20; I Corinthians
9:27; 10:12; Revelation 3:2, 11);
Ø the numerous well-attested facts we have read and those we have
Ø the weakness of which we are conscious; — all these considerations
urge us to consider what we should do to “strengthen ourselves,”
what steps we should take that the neighboring enemy may not
encroach, that the estate which God has given us to guard may
be held inviolate. Of what kind shall be our:
fenced cities,” and “set garrisons in the land”? We shall do this:
Ø By forming wise habits of devotion.
o Of public and also (and more particularly) of private devotion;
o such habits as will encourage the greatest possible measure of
spontaneous and spiritual communion;
o such habits as will secure the twofold communication —
God speaking to us and our speaking to Him.
Ø By entering on a course of sacred usefulness. Nothing is so likely to
keep the flame of piety alight on the altar of our hearts, to preserve
our own moral and spiritual integrity, as doing, regularly and
methodically, some real service to other souls.
Ø Maintaining a right attitude of soul. The attitude of humility, and
therefore of conscious dependence on God; the attitude of wariness
and watchfulness against the first uprising of evil against us or
within us; the attitude of thoughtfulness; the disposition to let
our mind go toward those things which are highest and worthiest,
toward the truth of God, toward the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
With such “fenced cities" as these in the soul, we shall be strong
against the enemy whom we have most to fear.
3 "And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the
first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim;'
The first ways of his father David. Although there would be
no difficulty in reconciling this statement with history, yet probably the
name David should not stand here. It is not in the Septuagint. The most
natural and sufficient reference is to Asa. And sought not unto Baalim;
literally, to the Baalim; i.e. to the various false gods of surrounding
peoples (Judges 2:11), Baal-berith (Judges 8:33; 9:4, 46), Baalzebub
(II Kings 1:2), Baal-peor (Numbers 23:28, etc.; 25:3), according to the
places where the idolatrous worship was carried on. (For the preposition לְ,
“to,” after “sought,” in this and following verse, see again I Chronicles 22:19.)
4 "But sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in His
commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.'
After the doings of Israel. This expression probably marks the
doings of the northern kingdom, as both the more typical throughout its
whole history of the wrong, and also as the systematic beginning, “by a
law,” of idolatrous worship and images in the matter of the calves and so
5 "Therefore the LORD stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all
Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honor
in abundance." All Judah brought presents to Jehoshaphat. These presents
were, of course, voluntary gifts, though, like not a few others, custom may
have taken off from them something of the bloom of spontaneousness
(I Samuel 10:27; II Samuel 8:2; I Kings 4:21; 10:25; Psalm 72:10).
6 "And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he
took away the high places and groves out of
up in the ways of the Lord. Although the verb גָבַהּ, often carries a bad sense
with it, it quite as often carries with it a good one in the Old Testament, and the
typical instance of the former (Psalm 131:1) is fully counterbalanced by
Isaiah 52:13. The marginal “was enencouraged" may be superseded with
advantage by “took courage” (Isaiah 40:29-31). The groves. Supersede this
incorrect rendering by the Asherim; and upon the seeming discrepancy, see
again ch. 15:17, and “Introduction to Chronicles” there quoted.
The Accession of Jehoshaphat (vs. 1-6)
Ø The thirty-fifth year of his age. He was thus born in the sixth year of
Asa’s reign, during the ten years of quiet. His mother was Azubah,
the daughter of Shilhi (I Kings 22:42). A man of mature years
when he ascended the throne, he was better qualified to bear the load
of responsibility his father’s decease had, in God’s providence,
cast upon him.
fourth year of Ahab King of
was fortunate in getting such a sovereign as Jehoshaphat, Jeshoshaphat
was unfortunate in having such a neighbor as Ahab (I Kings 16:30-33).
Man is always more or less influenced by his surroundings, and
especially by his neighbors. These, when good, are a blessing; when evil,
a curse. In the latter case, if he cannot improve them, they will deteriorate
Ø Of a prosperous kingdom.
Under the preceding reign it had achieved brilliant feats in battle, and
advanced considerably on the path of religious reform.
Ø Of a good father. With all his imperfections, Asa was one of the best of
descended from and succeeded such a parent. Noblesse oblige: it entailed
on Jehoshaphat the duty of walking in his father’s footsteps as man and
Ø Of a famous ancestor. The throne he ascended had come down from
second king of united
the throne of
the worse (I Kings 15:27; 16:10, 22).
Ø Of a great God. The throne Jehoshaphat obtained was Jehovah’s, and
Jehoshaphat was merely His viceroy and representative.
Ø He considered
not likely to be more peacefully inclined. Cautious men should understand
the situations in which they are placed. No good can come from mistaking
enemies for friends.
Ø He strengthened himself against
Baasha (ch. 15:8), and located forces in all the fenced cities of
pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3; 27:12). “The prudent man
looketh well to his going” (ibid. ch. 14:15), especially when Ahabs are
Benhadad of Syria (ch.16:2): Jehoshaphat preferred a league
with Jehovah (here, v.3). An ally:
Ø All-powerful, as his father Asa once believed (ch. 14:11), as David had often
sung (Psalm 66:3; 76:6-7; 89:8), as Moses had long ago taught (Deuteronomy
7:21), as Miriam had chanted on the seashore (Exodus 15:8), and as Jehovah
Himself had once reminded Abraham (Genesis 18:14).
Ø Omniscient, as Hanani the seer had on a memorable occasion told his
father (ch. 16:9), and as he perhaps remembered, having been then a boy of
ten years of age; an ally who could assist in every strait for which His aid
was wanted (Proverbs 15:3) — yea, who could detect straits and emergencies
in which His aid would be wanted before the individual himself should see
them, and who would be forward with reinforcements even before their need
Ø Unchanging. Benhadad broke his league with Baasha (ch. 16:4), as doubtless
he would have done with Asa had more powerful inducements been offered
him by Baasha or another. When Jehovah covenants with His people,
HE CHANGES NOT! (I Samuel 15:29; Psalm 111:5; Isaiah 54:10;
Jeremiah 33:20-21; Malachi 3:6).
Ø Gracious. Benhadad required to be bribed. Jehovah grants His friendship
and aid free, stipulating only that they whose ally He becomes shall be true
(ch.15:2). Motley, somewhere in his ‘
when William of Orange was advised to seek the help of European
sovereigns in his struggle with Philip of Spain, he replied that he had
formed a league with the King of kings.
Ø Personal. Jehoshaphat as a man, not merely as a monarch, was pious.
He, and not only his temple officials, sought Jehovah. Religion is nothing,
if not personal. Kings as well as subjects are under law to God.
Ø Practical. Jehoshaphat’s piety was not limited to state proclamations, or
official acts of homage to Jehovah in the temple, but extended to the
domain of his own individual walk.
Ø Ancestral. It had been the religion of his father Asa and of his renowned
ancestor David in their best days, of Asa before he took the first false step
in leaving Jehovah for Benhadad, of David before and after he sinned in
connection with Bathsheba.
Ø Scriptural. It was the worship of Jehovah as prescribed by the Law of
Moses, and not the service of idols as practiced by the northern kingdom;
in particular not the adoration of golden calves like those at Dan and
Ø Reformatory. Not content with abstaining from idolatrous worship,
Jehoshaphat abandoned the position of neutrality and compromise his
father had occupied (ch. 15:17); he “took away the high
places and groves out of
impossibility (Joshua 24:15), is less a possibility now than ever
Ø Jehovah established the kingdom in his hand. Jehovah had done so to
David (II Samuel 5:12) and to Solomon (I Kings 2:46), according
to His promise (II Samuel 7:12-13; I Kings 9:5). In continuation of
promise, He now confirms the government of
their descendant. The only real King-maker and Throne-establisher is God
(Proverbs 8:15; Psalm 2:6; 61:6; Hosea 13:11). No monarch can keep his
crown when God wishes to uncrown him; no throne can be upset until God
grants permission to throw it down.
Ø His subjects did him homage by presenting gifts. (v. 5.) Hardly taxes,
but free-will offerings over and above, in expression of loyalty and good
will, as appears to have been customary on the accession of a king
(I Samuel 10:27). It augurs well for a reign when it begins with God’s
blessing and the people’s favor. No ruler’s title is complete, wanting
either of these seals.
Ø He had riches and honor in abundance. This accorded with the
promise given to the good man (Psalm 112:1-3). God never fails to
honor them who honor him (I Samuel 2:30), or to enrich, if not with
material yet with spiritual treasures, such as serve him with fidelity and
fear (Proverbs 3:16; 22:4). See this illustrated in the lives of David
I Chronicles 29:28), Solomon (I Kings 10:24-25, 27; here ch. 9:23-24),
and Hezekiah (ch. 32:7).
of the Lord” (v. 6), not with pride, but:
Ø With inward satisfaction. True religion diffuses such a feeling through
the heart (Psalm 119:165; Proverbs 3:17; Isaiah 32:17; 48:18).
Ø With earnest resolution. The elevation of spirit he experienced impelled
him to labor for the reformation of his country and the improvement of
his people. Sincere piety ever seeks to extend itself. Genuine goodness
always aims at doing good to others. Christ commands His followers
to do good and communicate (Matthew 10:8).
Ø The responsibility of high station.
Ø The duty of earnestness in religion.
Ø The profit of true piety.
Ø The joy of godliness.
The Wise Choice and the Happy Course (vs. 3-6)
We have before us here the king who made the wise choice, and who
consequently ran through a very happy course. In him we have an example;
in it a promise for ourselves.
Ø Preferred the true God to the false deities; he “sought to the Lord God
of his father,” and he “sought not unto Baalim.” Moreover, he set before
him, as that which he should copy:
Ø The best part of the best man’s life. Not the life of the less perfect Abijah
or Rehoboam, or even Solomon, but David; and of his life, not the latter
part, which was more luxurious and less pure, but “the first ways of his
father David,” which were lees luxurious and more pure than the last.
Herein he showed an excellent judgment. He could not have done a wiser
thing, as he certainly could not have done anything more solemnly and
stringently binding upon him, than resolve to cleave to the “God of his
fathers” — the God who had called both king and kingdom into existence,
to whom he and his people owed all that they were and had. There were
certain fascinations connected with the worship of Baalim appealing to
their lower nature; but what were these to the weighty and overwhelming
considerations that bound him to Jehovah? ("While we look not at the
things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the
things that are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen
are eternal!" (II Corinthians 4:18) And he could not have done
better than choose for his exemplar the devout and faithful David; and,
choosing him, to select the earlier and worthier part of his very checkered
and somewhat uneven life. Before us is a similar choice, and we must make
up our mind what we will decide upon.
o We have to choose what God we will serve; whether the Lord God
of our fathers, whether the heavenly Father, the Divine Saviour
and Friend of our souls, or whether this passing world with its
lower interests, its fading honors, its transient joys.
o We have to determine in whose steps we will follow; whether
those of the ambitious, or of the pleasure-seeking, or of the
aimless man, or those of the reverent and earnest man; and again,
if we choose the last, whether we will direct our eye to those
elements in his character and to those portions of his life which
are not the second-best, but the noblest and worthiest of all.
· THE HAPPY COURSE, WHICH IS A PROMISE FOR US.
Jehoshaphat had all that a king could well wish for.
Ø A sense of God’s favoring presence (v. 3).
Ø A sense of growing security throughout his kingdom (v. 5).
Ø 3. The testimony of his people’s attachment to his person (v. 5).
Ø Honor as well as abundance (v. 5).
Ø Elation of heart, great and continuous gladness in the service of Jehovah
Ø The expenditure of his power in further cleansing usefulness (v. 6).
What rewards of the king’s fidelity were due to his royal position we, of
course, cannot look for. But if we make the wiser choice we may reckon
upon a life of true and real blessedness. To us there will be secured
o all needful temporal good (Psalm 37:25; 34:22; Matthew 6:33;
I Timothy 4:8);
o the conscious and abiding presence of God (John 14:23; 15:4;
o the peace which, not as the world gives, Christ gives to His own,
and the joy which no man taketh from us;
o the spiritual conditions of holy usefulness, the means and
opportunity of exerting a pure and elevating influence on
many hearts, and thus of uplifting and ennobling many lives;
o the hope that maketh not ashamed. (Romans 5:5)
7 "Also in the third year of his reign he sent to his princes, even to
Benhail, and to Obadiah, and to Zechariah, and to Nethaneel, and
to Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah. 8 And with them he sent Levites,
even Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth,
and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tobadonijah, Levites; and
with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests. 9 And they taught in Judah, and
had the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout
all the cities of Judah, and taught the people." He sent; Hebrew, שָׁלַח. The
Hebrew text distinctly says, he sent to his princes, not, “he sent his princes.”
The meaning is — he sent orders to his princes to see to it that Judah was
taught (v. 9) the book of the Law of the Lord (Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy
4:9; 17:18), not, indeed, without their own personal aid in whatever way able
to be given, but systematically and with authority by the Levites and priests
(Deuteronomy 33:10). This deeper fathoming of the needs of the time,
and of what constituted its real safety, was greatly to the spiritual credit of
Jehoshaphat. The references (ch. 15:3; 35:2-4, 10-12) are full of point. None
of these princes, or Levites and priests, are elsewhere mentioned by name.
The First Chapter of Jehoshaphat’s Career (vs. 1-9)
Although to the end Jehoshaphat was neither an unfaithful king nor an
unfaithful man, and certainly no apostate, yet the first chapter of his career
reads the best. The mounting of the sun was fine, but clouds hung about
the noonday sun, and the setting was not a sky of perfect western glory.
The unfolding of the bud looked towards a perfect flower, but some blight
seemed to visit it, and some worm was in the fruit. The three chief features
of this beginning of Jehoshaphat’s reign show most healthfully, as follows:
HOME. Policy would dictate it, kindness and love would urge it, in all the
wide range of its analogies; wisdom would smile upon it; but duty, with
solemn, dignified voice, commands it. The Christian of youngest earliest
faith is taught to provide for his own household; the apostles are to begin
and brings himself to the ground, if he do not follow a similar rule; and
certainly the king and the man in authority, be the nature of his rule what it
may, can make himself no exception. We see with satisfaction King
Jehoshaphat make his footing sure in this essential way. These all rehearse
the principle that every man must rule first the domain of his own
innermost kingdom, his own heart and life, where none may rule, nay, none
|can, except himself and GOD!
EDUCATION OF THE PEOPLE, AND HIS CARRYING OF THE
SAME INTO EFFECT. Ignorance is no safety, though knowledge is
responsibility. Mere knowledge, mental gift, mental activity, mental
acquisition, mental store, and store of experience, even, — these are no
reliable sources of real safety, neither guide nor refuge for the real life.
For these, religious education IS NECESSARY! Religious education rests
on religious knowledge. Religious knowledge rests on religious teaching
and teachers, and these mean the teaching and the teachers of revelation.
So the right principles of action get reached, and motive dormant or even
unborn springs into life and action. Nor is it immaterial to observe — the
very opposite, indeed, of immaterial — that, in so complex and multitudinous
A LIFE as that OF A NATION, it must be more than ever hopeless, that:
Ø any principle can motivate its life,
Ø any mechanism regulate it, or
Ø any influence elevate and purify it,
EXCEPT such as work just as religion does, on every individual equally,
on the innermost thought and feeling of every individual,
and with no secondary force, but with sovereign authoritative command
met by willingly conceded obedience from the heart. In nothing throughout
all his reign was Jehoshaphat so right as in restoring and paying all
attention to the restoring of religious education.
DESIRED HARVEST REAPED. The greatness of that harvest was seen
in the fact that it was so general, so widespread. “All the lands round about
Judah” (elsewhere we learn or may gather that this description embraced
who had silver, brought silver; and they who had flocks, flocks. The
exceptional character of it lay in the fact that it was so largely due to moral
sources. Jehoshaphat had not as yet waged a war nor fought a battle. But
the fame of him round about was as of the coming man. And it may most
justly be pronounced a harvest that was to be desired, in that it is more
pointedly described, most precisely described as the result of this, that it
was, behind and above all else, “the fear of the Lord” that “fell on all.”
There is no so honorable reward, title, “present,” that can be conferred on
mortal man, as that which comes to that man by virtue of "the fear of the
Lord” falling on those around him, and yet somehow linking him with it. It
looks as though he had been very right himself, unusually right; yet in
nothing more right, nothing more happy, than in the impression which it
would appear he has honestly and successfully given, that it is and has been
as the servant and minister of the Lord, that he has been acting, under Him,
for Him, and with the smile of His prospering blessing resting on him, and
his seed-sowing and growing.
A Strong because Instructed People (vs. 7-9)
Jehoshaphat had not been long on the throne before he took a step
admirably adapted to benefit and, indeed, to bless the nation. Better than
“strengthening himself against
the enlightenment of “all the cities
people” (v. 9) from “the book of the Law of the Lord.”
unassailable fortresses, its well-garrisoned towns, its frontier of steep
mountain or of precipitous rock. But the strength of a nation does not
reside in such defenses as these; it lies in the:
Ø courage, and
of its people. All material munitions will fail to keep out the enemy when
“the people” are corrupt and enfeebled. Without any remarkable fortifications
constructed by human art and labor, a free, brave, and godly nation will be
respected and preserved. And such a nation will be only found where there is
knowledge and consequent intelligence. You cannot build anything durable
on IGNORANCE! Ignorance means:
Ø indulgence in the lower pleasures,
“Knowledge is power” in more ways than one.
guided; misguided, it is the source of greatest evil. Everything depends on
the way in which intelligence is directed. Genius, working towards an evil
end, is a force that is simply terrible. The world can suffer no sadder
infliction than a man or a community possessed of the power of highly
cultivated intelligence, but unregulated by righteous principles, abandoning
itself to unworthy impulses. Therefore was it of the first importance that
those who went “throughout all the cities of
people” from “the book of the Law of the Lord.” Thence they would gain
those directing truths, those commanding principles which would lead in
the ways of holiness and heavenly wisdom. Therefore is it of the first
importance, here and everywhere, that throughout all our cities and all our
towns and villages we should not only have “the schoolmaster abroad,” but
have the Christian teacher also, busily, earnestly, faithfully making known:
Ø the will of God,
Ø the truth and grace of Jesus Christ,
basing all character on sound morality, and basing all morals on their
only sound foundation, Christian truth.
Jehoshaphat did not think it enough to leave things to be done by existing
institutions. Like a wise and an earnest man, he east about for additional
methods, he looked in all directions for competent men to effect his pious
purpose. And he called out:
Ø The man who brought the weight of his social position — the prince (v. 7).
Ø The man who carried the influence of his sacred office — the priest (v.8).
Ø The man who contributed the strength of special training — the Levite (v. 8).
Thus wisely and effectively are we to work. In our country there is:
o Scope for much Christian instruction throughout the land.
§ the young coming up to be taught;
§ the neglected and spiritually ignorant multitudes
crowded in our great cities;
§ uninstructed numbers needing to be taught
the way of life, scattered through the rural
districts of the land.
There is ample room yet for the work of the teacher.
o Ample teaching material from which to draw. Those who can
contribute social rank, or intellectual power, or special religious
training, or exceptional spiritual fervor, or even the ordinary
and common zeal of the members of our
Churches. There is available on every hand a very large measure
of capacity for religious instruction; and this the Christian Church
should, like the King of Judah, enlist on behalf of the country.
Then may we look for:
o the most excellent results; for a country covered with Christian
teachers, and saturated with heavenly truth, will be a nation
walking in the fear of God and resting under His smile.
An Old Education Act (vs. 7-9)
Ø By whom? Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa and King of Judah. Kings and
parliaments should care for the education of the people. No better means
of promoting social order.
Ø When? In the third year of his reign. Jehoshaphat postponed not a work
so excellent, but assigned it a precedence, answering to its importance. Of
greater consequence was it for the prosperity of his dominions and the
peace of his reign that his subjects should be instructed, than that his
armies should be drilled or his garrisons strengthened.
Ø For what end? The religious improvement of the people.
o Under the Old Testament economy that formed part of the
duty of the Hebrew state, because state and Church were then
o Under the New Testament economy, when state and Church are not
coextensive, the obligation to provide religious education for both
old and young rests exclusively upon the Church; the furtherance
of secular instruction being the department that properly belongs to
the state. If, however, the state is not required to directly furnish
teaching in religion, it is not at liberty to hinder the Church,
but is bound to afford her free scope for discharging the special
work committed to her care.
Ø Three orders of teachers.
o Laymen of high rank — princes, of whom the names were Ben-hail,
Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethaneel, and Michaiah, but of whom nothing
more is known. If they were “princes” in the sense of being related
to the royal family, then to none could the work be more fittingly
assigned; if heads of families or fathers’ houses, the propriety of
appointing them was still more evident; if governors of districts,
it was not dimmed.
o Levites, nine in number — Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel,
Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah,
all now equally unknown.
o Priests, two in number — Elishama and Jehoram.
Ø Three kinds of instruction. This at least probable from the appointing
of three classes of teachers.
o Civil law, and the constitution of the kingdom, were presumably
taught by the laymen.
o Ritual law, and what pertained to the worship of the temple, by
o Moral law, with the nature and obligation of religion, by the priests.
Thus the nation became thoroughly instructed in their duty to:
§ the king, and
§ each other.
Ø Immediately. Good resolutions cannot be too soon carried out, or good
schemes too quickly set on foot. Quite as many noble projects are ruined
by procrastination as by undue haste.
Ø Universally. The teaching deputies went through the land, visited the
cities and villages, and left no part unblessed by their labours.
Ø Earnestly. They taught the people; not simply opened schools, and read dry
and uninteresting lectures on civil, ecclesiastical, and religious history, but
saw that the people understood and practiced what was taught. (Think the
role in American history of:
o the Bible,
o McGuffey’s Readers, etc. (CY – 2016)
Ø The true glory of a king — to care for the welfare of his subjects.
Ø The value of secular, but especially of religious, instruction.
Ø The best spring of prosperity for a people - knowledge of
the Law of the Lord.
Ø The true function of a teacher — to cause the people to understand.
Ø The ultimate end of education — obedience. (Compare this with
the rebelliousness and disobedience of the culture of the United
States today! - CY – 2016)
10 "And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands
that were round about
Jehoshaphat." The moral effect of this peaceful war of Jehoshaphat is
11 "Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and
tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand
and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he
goats." The presents were probably enough in the nature of tribute,
the “fixed rate” of which is sometimes alluded to (I Kings 4:21; 10:25;
II Samuel 8:2), but it is doubtful whether the word מַשָּׂא purports to say
this. The word means “bearing” or “carrying,” and then “a burden, load, or
weight.” The expression (ch. 20:25), “more than they could carry away,”
where this word is used, favors the idea that the meaning
here is “silver of great weight.” Probably the moral significance and
historical interest, whether of this statement respecting the Philistines, or
the following respecting the Arabians, lies in the fact that both of them
brought, without more ado, their payments, and did not seek to slip out of
their engagements with Judah and
this view, II Kings 3:4-5.
12 "And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah
castles, and cities of store." Castles. This rendering, better than “palaces”
(margin), would bear improving to the rather stronger word “fortresses,” Hebrew,
בִּירָנִיּות, found only here and in ch. 27:4, plural of בִּירָנִית connected with the
Chaldee and later Hebrew, בִּירָה, of Ezra 6:2; Nehemiah 1:1; Esther 1:2;
Daniel 8:2, Cities of store (see note under ch. 8:4; see also I Kings 9:19;
13 "And he had much business in the cities of Judah: and the men of
war, mighty men of valor, were in
מְלָאכָה. The meaning of the word is “service?’ “labor bestowed;” and the
verse reads, “And there was to him much labor in the cities of Judah, and men
war, mighty men of valor, in
the cities of Judah, and had, etc. The word “were,” Authorized Version italics,
is incorrectly inserted. The former half of this verse would better constitute
the end of v. 12. Keil, however, maintains the rendering “substance;” “property,”
for מְלָאכָה (Exodus 22:7, 10).
14 "And these are the numbers of them according to the house of their
with him mighty men of valor three hundred thousand."
This verse, with the following four, gives us the names of five
captains, chiefs, princes, or military officers for the kingdom’s service, with
the numbers of the troops they severally commanded. The numbers of
them (see note under I Chronicles 23:11); Hebrew, פקֻדָּתָם. The
better English rendering to carry at once the signification would be, The
muster of them, etc. The captains… the chief, In both cases the Hebrew
is the familiar word for” prince” (שָׂר); in the former without article, in the
latter with article. The numbers of this and following four verses are not
only absolutely unreliable, but in themselves impossible. According to the
house of their fathers; i.e. the quotation is drawn from an army catalogue,
arranged carefully by fathers’ houses (Numbers 1:18, 22, etc.).
15 "And next him was Jehohanan the captain, and with him two
hundred and fourscore thousand." The captain. So again read, the prince.
16 "And next to him was Amasiah the son of Zichri, who willingly
offered himself unto the LORD; and with him two hundred
thousand mighty men of valor." Amaziah, the son of Zichri. This man is
not titled at all. The description of him as one who had willingly offered
himself unto the Lord, not elucidated by the context or any effective parallel,
will mark something honorable in his history. Possibly he comes from an
unexpected quarter, and is a man of approved skill. Nothing further is known
of these three men. (For those of us who are unknown, and living in like times
of the 21st century, this would be a great epitaph, when we come to the end
of our way! CY - 2016) Meantime it has been suggested (Professor Dr. J.
and the Philistines; and the third for that of Simeon and the Arabs.
Willing Service (v. 16)
When it is said of Amasiah that he “willingly offered himself unto the
Lord,” we have a thought conveyed to us respecting the character of a
Hebrew general’s life, and we have a form of words strikingly suggestive
of the true nature of all sacred service. We look at both.
employed it was probably meant that he entered upon his work as a captain
of Jehoshaphat’s army in a spirit of religious devotedness. We need not be
surprised at that. The idea of the essential wrongness of war is modern, is
Christian. It would not occur to the mind, and would not therefore trouble
the conscience, of any man living in that age. There would be no reason, in
his mind, why he should not give himself up to the soldier’s profession, and
go through all military duties of every kind in the spirit of self-surrender to
the service of God. And whatever we may think on this subject, we should
certainly conclude, and act upon the conviction, that, in determining our
course of life, we should seek and find that to which we can give ourselves
with religious earnestness. There is no reason why any profession should
not be a vocation; that to which a man feels himself called of God; that in
which he may be continually serving God and honoring His Name; that in
which he will make every effort to illustrate the essential graces which
Jesus Christ has commended to us, both by his words and by his example.
must surely be recorded in the “book of life” concerning every heir of
heaven, that he “offered himself willingly unto the Lord.” For what other
service than that is worthy of acceptance?
Ø The submission and surrender of our will is the act of entrance upon the
life which is Divine. It is not knowledge, it is not feeling, it is not
compulsory action, or action wrought for recompense, that constitutes true
childhood; all of these may exist, and yet there may remain estrangement
from God. But however slight be the knowledge, and though emotion be
but small, and before any deeds of service have become possible, if a man
bows his will to the will of God and resolves to surrender himself to the
service of his Saviour, then he has entered the kingdom; he is one of the
redeemed of the Lord; his feet are found in the path of life eternal; he has
only to go on in the way in which he is walking.
2. Our daily service is excellent and acceptable in proportion to its cheerful
willingness. To do the right thing with indeed the consent of our will, but
only with a reluctant and struggling acquiescence, places the servant at one
end of the scale. To do the right thing with alacrity, with cheerfulness, with
earnestness of spirit, with an animating eagerness and abounding joy,
places the servant at the other end of the scale of Divine acceptableness,
commendation, and reward. “God loves the cheerful giver” (II Corinthians
7:9); not only the giver of his money, but of his time, of his strength, of his
intellectual resources, of all the forces of his soul, of all the opportunities
of his life.
17 "And of Benjamin; Eliada a mighty man of valor, and with him
armed men with bow and shield two hundred thousand." Of Benjamin…
armed men with bow and shield (see ch.14:8, and note there).
18 "And next him was Jehozabad, and with him an hundred and
fourscore thousand ready prepared for the war."
While Eliada of last verse was for Benjamin, Professor Dr.
Murphy supposes that Jehozabad was for the annexed part of Ephraim.
But no suppositions of this kind can avail to explain the numbers in the
text, which is no doubt corrupt.
19 "These waited on the king, beside those whom the king put in the
fenced cities throughout all
plural piel part. of שָׁרַת. The verse states that this enormous fivefold army,
with its five princes (counting, in our corrupt text, one million one hundred
sixty thousand), was the king’s
separate regiments or bands of troops were spread through all
they might be most needed for defense.
The Greatness of Jehoshaphat (vs. 10-19)
Ø Afraid of his greatness. As on the cities round Jacob and his sons when
they fled from Shecham (Genesis 35:5), the terror of Jehovah was on
Jehoshaphat’s neighbors. Regarding Jehoshaphat as under the protection
of Heaven, they hesitated to try conclusions with him on the field of war.
Ø Solicitous of his favor. This some sought by means of gifts. The
Philistines brought presents and silver of tribute, or “silver a burden,” i.e. a
great quantity (Bertheau, Keil); the Arabians offered flocks — 7700 he-goats,
and 7700 rams.
Ø Castles, or palaces. Oriental kings commonly attested their
magnificence by temple and palace building; e.g. Solomon (ch. 8:1-2.).
Ø Store-cities. Arsenals or magazines for supplying the garrisons. In them
Jehoshaphat had much property
Ø Those who
battalions, five —
three belonging to
and Amasiah the son of Zichri, “who had willingly given or offered
himself to the Lord,” perhaps in the performance of some mighty
deed. Of Benjamin, “Eliada a mighty man of valor,” and Jehozabad.
280,000; under Amasiah, 200,000; in all, 780,000 men. Of Benjamin,
200,000 with Eliada, and 180,000 with Jehozahad; in all, 380,000. For
the kingdom 1,160,000, upwards of one million and a half of able-
bodied soldiers — a huge incubus for so small a kingdom.
o Their duties. They waited on the king, i.e. were disposable forces
at his command, ready to take the field when he should give the
who served in
throughout the different garrisons in the land.
Ø The influence of true religion even on the wicked. (I can remember
how that, in revivals, the unsaved would tremble, while under
conviction of sin – CY – 2016)
Ø The dignity implied in being a soldier of Jesus Christ.
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