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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

2 Chronicles 20

Verses 1-37

D. Jehoshaphat chs. 17-20

This account of Jehoshaphat’s rule reveals that God was then actively leading His people. These were the years of alliance with Israel, and Ahab was on the throne of the Northern Kingdom.

The Chronicler deliberately presented Jehoshaphat’s record very similarly to the way he recounted Asa’s experiences. In chapters 17-20, as in 14-16, we have a series of contrasts that teach the same lessons. These lessons are the importance of depending on Yahweh and being loyal to Him by obeying His Word and seeking His help.

Both Asa and Jehoshaphat followed similar patterns of reform, experienced victory in battle, and transgressed. Both of them suppressed and failed to suppress the high places (cf. 2 Chronicles 14:2-5; 2 Chronicles 17:6). Both enjoyed prosperity, conducted great building programs, and experienced victory in battle because of their obedience. Both made foreign alliances, and both are mentioned together as the standard of piety to which Jehoram failed to attain. [Note: Raymond B. Dillard, "The Chronicler’s Jehoshaphat," Trinity Journal 7NS:1 (Spring 1986):17-22.]

Verses 1-30

5. Victory over the Moabite-Ammonite alliance 20:1-30

This chapter does not appear in Kings. It illustrates well that "the Lord will rule (judge)," the meaning of Jehoshaphat’s name and the truth that characterized his reign. The motif of retribution is very strong here. God gave victory because Jehoshaphat and Judah trusted and obeyed Him (2 Chronicles 20:17).

Jehoshaphat’s prayer (2 Chronicles 20:6-12) was very similar to Solomon’s at the temple dedication (cf. 2 Chronicles 6:12-42). Jehoshaphat based his petition for deliverance on God’s promises (2 Chronicles 20:5-9). 2 Chronicles 20:12 is another classic expression of trust in the Lord (cf. 1 Samuel 17:47).

"There is no excuse for Christian hopelessness. The Christian’s response in the blackest hour must be: ’My eyes are upon thee.’" [Note: Ibid., p. 194.]

God revealed what the king was to do. Essentially he was just to observe the victory God would give him (2 Chronicles 20:15). The expression, "Do not fear," (2 Chronicles 20:17) occurs 365 times in the Bible, one for every day of the year. [Note: Allen, p. 306.] Other blessings God brought to Judah as a result of Jehoshaphat’s faith were spoil from the nations (2 Chronicles 20:25), her enemies’ fear of Judah that restricted other attacks (2 Chronicles 20:29), and peace (2 Chronicles 20:30).

The Meunites (2 Chronicles 20:1) were an Arabian tribe that lived in Edom and elsewhere east and south of the Salt (Dead) Sea (cf. 2 Chronicles 26:7; 1 Chronicles 4:41). The wilderness of Tekoa (2 Chronicles 20:20) was the Judean wilderness near the town of Tekoa that stood 10 miles south of Jerusalem.

Verses 31-37

6. Jehoshaphat’s failures 20:31-37

The reference to Jehoshaphat not removing the high places (2 Chronicles 20:33) seems to contradict what the writer said in 2 Chronicles 17:6. Perhaps when the people rebuilt the high places that Jehoshaphat destroyed earlier in his reign, he failed to tear them down again. In this, the king fell short of the complete obedience required for God to establish his throne forever (1 Chronicles 17:11-14). Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Ahaziah, king of Israel, was another instance in which he failed to trust and obey God as he should have (2 Chronicles 20:35-37).

". . . however much a person’s life might be characterized by obedience to God, the possibility of lapse and compromise is forever present." [Note: McConville, p. 196.]

"Jehoshaphat’s weakness-and this the chronicler sets before us as a peril of pastoral leadership-was his inability to say no." [Note: Wilcock, p. 191.]

"The weakness of Jehoshaphat, then, is a perilous thing. It is actually related to his excellence as a shepherd. He cares; if he is to be a good pastor, he cannot afford to be hard-hearted. His troubles begin when he is not sufficiently hard-hearted." [Note: Ibid., p. 193.]

Jehoshaphat was another of Judah’s best kings who followed David’s example. Nevertheless he was not the Son of David whom God would establish forever. [Note: For a study of the chronicler’s portrayal of Jehoshaphat in contrast to that of the writer of Kings, see Dillard, "The Chronicler’s Jehoshaphat," pp. 17-22.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 20". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/2-chronicles-20.html. 2012.