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
occupied with a statement of the invasion of
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
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
read of a rebellion on the part of
Joram, together with Jehoshaphat and the
King of Edom, over
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
for עַמּונִים),), i.e. the people of Maon,
a town near
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
the place Engedi (Ain-jiddy), a living “spring of water” from a lime-cliff,
half-way up the west coast of the
(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
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).
even out of all the cities of
This verse expresses the response of all the kingdom to the proclamation of
An Alarm of War — an Invasion from the East (vs. 1-4)
threatened by a formidable foe.
Ø The composition of the enemy. (v. 1.)
(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
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
more reduced by Omri, who, according to the Moabite inscription,
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).
children of Ammon. Likewise descendants of
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
in a district not annexed by
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
afterwards described as “inhabitants of
Ø The number of their army. “A great multitude” (v. 2) had often before
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
on the west coast of the
the mountains of
sudden unfolding of the
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.
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.
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
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.
Jehoshaphat concluded to do three things.
Ø To set
himself to seek the Lord. So David
(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
accompaniment of religious exercises in
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
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,
principal men out of all the cities of
ask help of Jehovah in the crisis that had arisen.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
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.
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
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;
Ø We should be united in
our attitude and action. “All
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.
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
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 ἀνάβασις – anabasis -and
πρόσβασις - prosbasis .
Joshua 15:3), on the south
Pass of Safeh.
Gilgal, on border of Judah and Benjamin (Joshua 15:7; 18:17),
probably the same with the “
The word is also applied to the steep pass from
(Joshua 10:10; I Maccabees 3:16);
to the road up the
(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
now called El Hassasah, after a waddy on its northern side. The whole
country on the west side of the
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 ἑξοχῆς – hexochaes - , 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
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
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
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)
Ø The place.
house of Jehovah, the
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).
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;
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
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).
ingratitude of the enemy, whom
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).
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.
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
§ Elisha at the plough (I King 19:19),
§ Amos among the herdsmen (Amos 1:1).
Ø To whom it was addressed. To
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
was instructed to speak unto the children of
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
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 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
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
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
Lord,” in a solemn act of worship.
Ø By the Levites. Those belonging to the children of the Kohathites and
children of the Korahites “stood up to praise the Lord God
with an exceeding loud voice,” adding notes of thanksgiving and rejoicing
to those of adoration and self-humiliation which Jehovah’s gracious answer
Ø The sorest need of man — a God to flee to in the hour of trouble and
day of calamity.
Ø The highest glory of God — that He can hear prayer and rescue the
Ø The greatest peril of the Church’s enemies — the fact that Jehovah
fights against them.
Ø The surest guarantee of victory for the Church of Jesus Christ — the
fact that the battle is the Lord’s.
Ø The brightest hope for an anxious sinner — that he only needs to stand
still and see THE SALVATION OF GOD!
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:
“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.
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.
may be sure that when the people of
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.
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!
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
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
Tekoa, not less than ten miles’ distance south of
waddy running to the
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
Seir, which were come against
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,
reason to fall on them “of
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!
the children of Ammon 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.
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
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
the same place was called, The
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
valley survives in the Waddy Bereikat
therefore, the date unto this day of the writer.
they returned, every man of
Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to
joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies.
they came to
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
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)
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.
Probably the flower of the nation’s troops, these may have served as the
at and took its departure from
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
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
inhabitants of that old Canaanitish fortress (Joshua 6:12-16).
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
be obtained of the Dead Sea and the mountains of
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
all whom the men of
all who had come up against
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
“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
Ø The articles.
o Riches — movable property, such as cattle, tents, etc., the usual wealth
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
shekels of gold (Judges 8:26); that obtained by
at the battle of
annulornm Carthaginem mitteret, quos e manibus equitum Romanorum,
senatorum et militum detraxerat” (‘Eutropii Historia Romana,’ 41.).
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
it (Thenius) with the upper part of the
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.”
prepare for returning to
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
company was left upon the battle-field. “Every man of
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.
Ø The best evidence of faith — prompt and cheerful obedience.
Ø The true secret of national as of individual prosperity — belief 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
old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five years in
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
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
“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
“in the book of the chronicles of the
note margin, literal, made to ascend and Revised Version “inserted.” The
“book of the kings of
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
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.
after this did Jehoshaphat king of
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
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
however, have suggested that some other Tarshish
(e.g. in the
than that of
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.
ONCE, AND IS AT ONCE PREPARED FOR. (vs. 1-4.)
PRAYER. In the presence of all “the congregation of Judah and Benjamin,
in the house of the Lord,” when “all
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).
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).
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).
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).
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
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.
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
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.
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.
FURTHERANCE OF THE CAUSE OF GOD. It was much that
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
object of our solicitude and of our rejoicing.
OF STRIFE. (v. 30.) The country that has won its religious liberty by
heroic suffering and strife (as with
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.
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)
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
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
In her case the hand of
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.
Ø Its extent.
He reigned over
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.”
Ø Their attitude. They stood in awe of Jehoshaphat and his people.
Compare the terror of the peoples through the midst of whom Jacob
his flight from Shechem to
which fell upon the city of
Pentecost (Acts 2:43).
Ø The reason of it. They heard that the Lord fought against the enemies of
Pharaoh would paralyze the surrounding peoples through whom the
ransomed host had to pass (Exodus 15:14-16).
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.
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).
fostering of commerce in the cities of
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, Hanani’s son. (ch. 19:2.) These deeds
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)
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
made was wrecked in the
Eliezer, the son of Dodavah of Mareshah, predicted it would happen —
because Jehoshaphat had a second time joined himself with the house of
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).
Ø His death was peaceful. “He slept with his fathers” (ch. 21:1).
His burial was honorable. He was entombed in
the city of
the sepulcher of the kings of
Ø His throne was confirmed. His son Jehoram reigned in his stead.
Ø The fallibility of good men.
Ø The infallibility of God’s Word.
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