to the throne at the age of thirty-five, Jehoshaphat had before him the
example of good King Asa, who in nearly every crisis had done "that
which was right in the eyes of the Lord." 1 Kings 15:11. During a
prosperous reign of twenty-five years, Jehoshaphat sought to walk "in
all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside."
efforts to rule wisely, Jehoshaphat endeavored to persuade his subjects to
take a firm stand against idolatrous practices. Many of the people in his
realm "offered and burnt incense yet in the high places." 1
Kings 22:43. The king did not at once destroy these shrines; but from the
beginning he tried to safeguard Judah from the sins characterizing the
northern kingdom under the rule of Ahab, of whom he was a contemporary for
many years. Jehoshaphat himself was loyal to God. He "sought not unto
but sought to
the Lord God of his father, and walked in His commandments, and not after
the doings of Israel." Because of his integrity, the Lord was with
him, and "stablished the kingdom in his hand." 2 Chronicles
Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honor in
abundance. And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord." As
time passed and reformations were wrought, the king "took away the
high places and groves out of Judah." Verses 5, 6. "And the
remnant of the Sodomites, which remained in the days of his father Asa, he
took out of the land." 1 Kings 22:46. Thus gradually the inhabitants
of Judah were freed from many of the perils that had been threatening to
retard seriously their spiritual development.
the kingdom the people were in need of instruction in the law of God. In
an understanding of this law lay their safety; by conforming their lives
to its requirements they would become loyal both to God and to man.
Knowing this, Jehoshaphat took steps to ensure to his people thorough
instruction in the Holy Scriptures. The princes in charge of the different
portions of his realm were directed to arrange for the faithful ministry
of teaching priests. By royal appointment these instructors, working under
the direct supervision of the princes, "went about throughout all the
cities of Judah, and taught the people." 2 Chronicles 17:7-9. And as
many endeavored to understand God's requirements and to put away sin, a
revival was effected.
To this wise
provision for the spiritual needs of his subjects, Jehoshaphat owed much
of his prosperity as a ruler. In obedience to God's law there is great
gain. In conformity to the divine requirements there is a transforming
power that brings peace and good will among men. If the teachings of God's
word were made the controlling influence in the life of every man and
woman, if mind and heart were brought under its restraining power, the
evils that now exist in national and in social life would find no place.
From every home would go forth an influence that would make men and women
strong in spiritual insight and in moral power, and thus nations and
individuals would be placed on vantage ground.
years Jehoshaphat lived in peace, unmolested by surrounding nations.
"The fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that
were round about Judah." Verse 10. From Philistia he received tribute
money and presents; from Arabia, large flocks of sheep and goats. "Jehoshaphat
waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of
stores. . . . Men of war, mighty men of valor, . . . waited on the king,
beside those whom the king put in the fenced cities throughout all
Judah." Verses 12-19. Blessed abundantly with "riches and
honor," he was enabled to wield a mighty influence for truth and
righteousness. 2 Chronicles 18:1
after coming to the throne, Jehoshaphat, now in the height of his
prosperity, consented to the marriage of his son, Jehoram, to Athaliah,
daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. By this union there was formed between the
of Judah and
Israel an alliance which was not in the order of God and which in a time
of crisis brought disaster to the king and to many of his subjects.
occasion Jehoshaphat visited the king of Israel at Samaria. Special honor
was shown the royal guest from Jerusalem, and before the close of his
visit he was persuaded to unite with the king of Israel in war against the
Syrians. Ahab hoped that by joining his forces with those of Judah he
might regain Ramoth, one of the old cities of refuge, which, he contended,
rightfully belonged to the Israelites.
Jehoshaphat in a moment of weakness had rashly promised to join the king
of Israel in his war against the Syrians, yet his better judgment led him
to seek to learn the will of God concerning the undertaking.
"Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord today," he
suggested to Ahab. In response, Ahab called together four hundred of the
false prophets of Samaria, and asked of them, "Shall we go to
Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear?" And they answered,
"Go up; for God will deliver it into the kings's hand." Verses
Jehoshaphat sought to learn for a certainty the will of God. "Is
there not here a prophet of the Lord," he asked, "that we might
inquire of him?" Verse 6. "There is yet one man, Micaiah to son
of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord," Ahab answered;
"but I hate him" for he doth not prophesy good concerning me,
but evil." 1 Kings 22:8. Jehoshaphat was firm in his request that the
man of God be called; and upon appearing before them and being adjured by
Ahab to tell "nothing but that which
is true in
the name of the Lord," Micaiah said: "I saw all Israel scattered
upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the Lord said,
These have no master: let them return every man to his house in
peace." Verses 16, 17.
The words of
the prophet should have been enough to show the kings that their project
was not favored by Heaven, but neither ruler felt inclined to heed the
warning. Ahab had marked out his course, and he was determined to follow
it. Jehoshaphat had given his word of honor, "We will be with thee in
the war;" and after making such a promise, he was reluctant to
withdraw his forces. 2 Chronicles 18:3. "So the king of Israel and
Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramothgilead." 1 Kings
battle that followed, Ahab was shot by an arrow, and at eventide he died.
"About the going down of the sun," "there went a
proclamation throughout the host," "Every man to his city, and
every man to his own country." Verse 36. Thus was fulfilled the word
of the prophet.
disastrous battle Jehoshaphat returned to Jerusalem. As he approached the
city, the prophet Jehu met him with the reproof: "Shouldest thou help
the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon
thee from before the Lord. Nevertheless there are good things found in
thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast
prepared thine heart to seek God." 2 Chronicles 19:2, 3.
years of Jehoshaphat's reign were largely spent in strengthening the
national and spiritual defenses of Judah.
out again through the people from Beersheba to Mount Ephraim, and brought
them back unto the Lord God of their fathers." Verse 4.
One of the
important steps taken by the king was the establishment and maintenance of
efficient courts of justice. He "set judges in the land throughout
all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city;" and in the charge
given them he urged: "Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man,
but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore now let the
fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no
iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of
gifts." Verses 5-7.
system was perfected by the founding of a court of appeal at Jerusalem,
where Jehoshaphat "set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the
chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgement of the Lord, and for
controversies." Verse 8.
exhorted these judges to be faithful. "Thus shall ye do in the fear
of the Lord, faithfully, and with a perfect heart," he charged them.
"And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell
in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment,
statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not
against the Lord, and so wrath come upon you, and upon your brethren: this
do, and ye shall not trespass.
behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the Lord;
and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the
ruler of the
house of Judah, for all the king's matters: also the Levites shall be
officers before you.
courageously, and the Lord shall be with the good." Verses 9-11.
careful safeguarding of the rights and liberties of his subjects,
Jehoshaphat emphasized the consideration that every member of the human
family receives from the God of justice, who rules over all. "God
standeth in the congregation of the mighty; He judgeth among the
gods." And those who are appointed to act as judges under Him, are to
"defend the poor and fatherless;" they are to "do justice
to the afflicted and needy," and "rid them out of the hand of
the wicked." Psalm 82:1, 3, 4.
close of Jehoshaphat's reign the kingdom of Judah was invaded by an army
before whose approach the inhabitants of the land had reason to tremble.
"The children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other
beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle." Tidings of
this invasion reached the king through a messenger, who appeared with the
startling word, "There cometh a great multitude against thee from
beyond the sea on this side Syria: and, behold, they be in Hazazon-tamar,
which is Engedi." 2 Chronicles 20:1, 2.
was a man of courage and valor. For years he had been strengthening his
armies and his fortified cities. He was well prepared to meet almost any
foe; yet in this crisis he put not his trust in the arm of flesh. Not by
disciplined armies and fenced cities, but by a living faith in the God of
Israel, could he hope to gain the victory over these
boasted of their power to humble Judah in the eyes of the nations.
feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout
all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the
Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the
the temple court before his people, Jehoshaphat poured out his soul in
prayer, pleading God's promises, with confession of Israel's helplessness.
"O Lord God of our fathers" he petitioned, "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? Art not Thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants
of this land before Thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of
Abraham Thy friend forever? And they dwelt therein, and have built Thee a
sanctuary therein for Thy name, saying, 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.
now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom Thou
wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt,
but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; behold, I say, how they
reward us, to come to cast us out of Thy possession, which Thou hast given
us to inherit. O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? for we have no might
against this great
cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon
Thee." Verses 3-21.
confidence Jehoshaphat could say to the Lord, "Our eyes are upon
thee." For years he had taught the people to trust in the One who in
past ages had so often interposed to save His chosen ones from utter
destruction; and now, when the kingdom was in peril, Jehoshaphat did not
stand alone; "all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little
ones, their wives, and their children." Verse 13. Unitedly they
fasted and prayed; unitedly they besought the Lord to put their enemies to
confusion, that the name of Jehovah might be glorified.
not Thou silence, O God:
Hold not Thy
peace, and be not still, O God.
Thine enemies make a tumult:
And they that
hate Thee have lifted up the head.
taken crafty counsel against Thy people,
against Thy hidden ones.
said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a
That the name
of Israel may be no more in remembrance.
For they have
consulted together with one consent:
confederate against Thee:
tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites;
Of Moab, and
Ammon, and Amalek. . . .
Do unto them
as unto the Midianites;
As to Sisera,
as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: . . .
Let them be
confounded and troubled forever;
Yea, let them
be put to shame, and perish:
That men may
know that Thou, whose name alone is Jehovah,
Art the Most
High over all the earth."
As the people
joined with their king in humbling themselves before God, and asking Him
for help, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel, "a Levite of the
sons of Asaph," and he said:
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. Tomorrow 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. Ye
shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still,
and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear
not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be
bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the
inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. And
the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the
Korhites, stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with a loud voice on
Early in the
morning they rose and went into the wilderness of Tekoa. As they advanced
to the battle, Jehoshaphat said, "Hear me, O Judah, and ye
inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be
established: believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper." "And
when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord,
and that should praise the beauty of holiness." 2 Chronicles
20:14-21. These singers went before the army, lifting their voices in
praise to God for the promise of victory.
It was a
singular way of going to battle against the enemy's army--praising the
Lord with singing, and exalting the God of Israel. This was their battle
song. They possessed the beauty of holiness. If more praising of God were
engaged in now, hope and courage and faith would steadily increase. And
would not this strengthen the hands of the valiant soldiers who today are
standing in defense of truth?
Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir,
which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. For the children of
Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, utterly to
slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of
Seir, everyone helped to destroy another.
when Judah came toward the watchtower in the wilderness, they looked unto
the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and
none escaped." Verses 22-24.
God was the
strength of Judah in this crisis, and He is the strength of His people
today. We are not to trust in princes, or to set men in the place of God.
We are to remember that human beings are fallible and erring, and that He
who has all power is our strong tower of defense. In every emergency we
are to feel that the battle is His. His resources are limitless, and
apparent impossibilities will make the victory all the greater.
us, O God of our salvation,
And gather us
us from the heathen,
That we may
give thanks to Thy holy name,
And glory in
spoil, the armies of Judah returned "with joy; for the Lord had made
them to rejoice over their enemies. And they came to Jerusalem with
psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the Lord." 2
Chronicles 20:27, 28. Great was their cause for rejoicing. In obedience to
the command, "Stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord: . .
. fear not, nor be dismayed," they had put their trust wholly in God,
and He had proved to be their fortress and their deliverer. Verse 17. Now
they could sing with understanding the inspired hymns of David:
our refuge and strength,
present help in trouble. . . .
the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder;
the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and
know that I am God:
I will be
exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord of
hosts is with us;
The God of
Jacob is our refuge."
to Thy name, O God,
So is Thy
praise unto the ends of the earth:
hand is full of righteousness.
daughters of Judah be glad,
Thy judgments. . . .
God is our God for ever and ever:
He will be
our guide even unto death."
faith of Judah's ruler and of his armies "the fear of God was on all
the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the Lord fought
against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for
his God gave him rest." 2 Chronicles 20:29, 30.