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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 20

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-12

2 Chronicles 20:1

Second Chronicles - Chapter 20

Enemies Threaten - Verses 1-12

Though Jehoshaphat was blessed of the Lord in escaping an invasion of the Syrians, there were other enemies who seized the advantage to attack him. They raised a huge army and invaded from the southern, wilderness lands, and were well within the kingdom’s bounds before they were discovered. They represented peoples beyond the eastern and southeastern boundaries of Israel, extending northward to the land of Syria. Foremost among them were the people of Moab and Ammon, descendants of Lot. Verse 10 also notes that many came from Mount Seir, the land of Edom, or Esau’s descendants. When news of the invading forces reached Jehoshaphat they had already advanced to Hazazon-tamar This is the ancient name of En-gedi, used in the days of Abraham (see Genesis 14:7). En-gedi was about half the distance up the western coast of the Dead Sea.

Jehoshaphat was dismayed and fearful at the news. This massive force was already upon him, and he had no physical might to withstand them. The great armies he had raised and equipped (2 Chronicles 17:12-19) had evidently disintegrated through the unwise campaign of defeat with Ahab at Ramoth-gilead. The king knew that Judah’s only hope was in the Lord, whom he now sought diligently. He proclaimed a fast throughout Judah and called for a gathering of the people of the cities to come together and seek the Lord. They met in Jerusalem at the temple, and Jehoshaphat addressed them with an appeal by public prayer to the Lord.

King Jehoshaphat first glorified God as the God of their fathers,

God in heaven, Ruler in the kingdoms of the heathen (such as those’ threatening him). God was lauded as of such power and might that none was able to withstand Him. From this praise the king continued to accredit the Lord as He who delivered the land into the hands of Israel, the ;d of Abraham, God’s friend (cf. Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). As proof of god’s gift of the land to Israel Jehoshaphat cited the situation of the temple, God’s dwelling place, among them.

Jehoshaphat recalled the dedicatory prayer of Solomon wherein he had asked the Lord to hear the prayers, from this sanctuary, of His people in distress (2 Chronicles 6:12 ff) and God had confirmed it (2 Chronicles 7:1-3). They were now faced with just the circumstances for which Solomon had asked the Lord to intervene on behalf of His repentant people. These kindred nations of Moab, Ammon, and Edom bore a long­time enmity for Israel, but the Lord had given them lands and refused to allow Israel to molest them when they were coming out of Egypt (Numbers 20:14-21; De 2:4-5,9). So while the Lord was destroying all other nations before Israel, these were spared. Now they came to repay that goodness by driving Israel from the land the Lord had given them.

The king prayed humbly that the Lord would judge these enemies for Israel. He confessed that he had no physical power to resist them, and that all his hope was in God. He knew nothing more to do than turn to the Lord, but he relied wholly on the Lord, for, said he, "Our eyes are upon thee." This is a wonderful lesson to God’s people at all times. When men’s abilities fail, they may look to the Lord and wait on Him with confidence.

Verses 13-19

2 Chronicles 20:13

Prophetic Answer - Verses 13-19

There was an assemblage in Jerusalem in response to Jehoshaphat’s command, representative of all the people of the kingdom. People had come with their wives and their children to join in the fast to seek the mercy of God, to deliver them from the advancing hordes of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites. It bespoke the sincerity of the people in repentance and desire to be in the Lord’s will. In such a case, God, by His merciful character, must respond favorably to them which He very promptly did.

The answer came through the mouth of Jahaziel, a member of the Asaphite musicians and singers of the temple. He had a notable lineage in the tribe of Levi, which is traced here. The Lord put His Spirit on Jahaziel, who revealed to the king and assembled people what God would do on their behalf with regard to the invaders. Jahaziel’s message was stated in words from their history. It opens reminiscent of God’s charge to Joshua when he assumed command of Israel following the death of Moses (Joshua 1:9). They are not to fear nor be dismayed. To be dismayed is to be agitated and distressed because there seems to be no solution to a problem.

This prompt answer of the Lord greatly humbled Jehoshaphat and the people. The king did not merely bow his head, but got right down on the ground with his face in the dust. The people followed him in thus worshipping and thanking the Lord for His promise of deliverance. This was a great feat to be accomplished, and required a great faith to accept it. The godliness of Jehoshaphat and his good influence on his people is manifested in this response of theirs. The Levite singers, represented by the families of the Kohathites and Korhites (descendants of Korah), broke into spontaneous praise of the Lord. The people believed the Lord’s word.

Verses 20-30

2 Chronicles 20:20

Enemies Vanquished - Verses 20-30

The town of Tekoa has been located earlier in this commentary as being about twelve miles south of Jerusalem, on the invasion route of the enemies as they came up by Ziz, through the wilderness of Jeruel. The wilderness around Tekoa was called by the name of that town. Jehoshaphat and people accompanying him passed through that wilderness. As they set forth the king encouraged them, calling on them to, "Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper." They were to have ultimate confidence in the Lord and believe what they were told by His prophets.

Jehoshaphat organized the procession out of Jerusalem to praise the beauty and holiness of the Lord by the singers he appointed. The refrain of their song as they went through the wilderness was, "Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever." Many of the Psalms incorporate these words in their message (e.g., Psalms 106; Psalms 107; Psalms 118; Psalms 136). When this praise of the Lord began to sound the Lord began to move to deliver the enemy army into the hands of His people.

The Scriptures say the Lord set ambushments against the Moabites, Ammonites and Edomites. This implies the use of His invisible heavenly host in some way which caused the brother nations of Moab and Ammon to turn against their allies from Mount Seir (the Edomites) and begin to slay them. When these had decimated the Edomites the animosity extended to one another, and they proceeded to slay themselves. All this was happening as the people from Jerusalem were approaching, so that when they reached the watchtower, or outpost on the wilderness frontier, they looked upon a battle scene literally filled with the dead bodies of their enemies. Those who defy God and go against Him will always be smitten (see Acts 12:23). There was not a survivor to be found.

The spoil of the armies which they had brought with them fell into the hands of Judah. There were great riches and precious jewels on the fallen bodies. The Judahites began to strip the bodies, and there was so much it took three days to gather it and carry it away. Finally on the fourth day they assembled in the nearby valley and blessed the Lord for the great victory He had given them. The valley lies between Bethlehem and Hebron and got its name, Berachah, meaning "blessing", form this event.

The people then returned to Jerusalem, with the king, Jehoshaphat, in the forefront of the procession. They were filled with joy and rejoicing as they moved along. The musicians played on the psalteries, harps, and trumpets in celebration of the Lord’s victory in their behalf. The people back in the countries, hearing what had happened to their armies, were filled with such fear of the Lord they no longer molested Jehoshaphat. God gave him rest from war on every side.

Verses 31-37

2 Chronicles 20:31

Naval Plans Frustrated - Verses 31-37

With the incident just studied the Books of Chronicles come to the conclusion of the record of Jehoshaphat’s reign. One other incident is recorded in the Kings, which will be studied below. The inspired writer now sums up the reign of this good king of Judah. He was older than some when he began his reign, which lasted twenty-five years, coming out to an entire age for him of just sixty years. Nothing more is known of his mother than her name and that of her father. Jehoshaphat is commended as faithfully following the good example of his father, Asa, and not departing from it in all his life.

In earlier comments (on 2 Chronicles 17:6; 1 Kings 22:43) it was suggested that the high places appear to have been removed in the later years of Jehoshaphat’s reign, following the great moral reformation he sponsored. An account of Jehoshaphat’s reign was kept by Jehu the prophet, but it does not appear to have been the inspired account of the Scriptures. The Lord may have inspired the actual author to choose from such writings, however, and record them in an infallible account.

Brief notice of Jehoshaphat’s attempted naval venture concludes the Chronicles record. It was noticed earlier in comments on 1 Kings 22:48-49, but there is a little more detail here in Chronicles. Putting the two accounts together it may be surmised that 1) Jehoshaphat willingly joined in the naval venture with wicked Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, though it was his navy he sought to build; 2) God sent an otherwise unknown prophet, Eliezer, to warn Jehoshaphat about renewing affinity with the family of Ahab; 3) the ships were destroyed by an act of God; 4) Jehoshaphat refused to enter into any more agreements with Ahaziah. God warns against seeking strength without Him (; Isaiah 30:1-2).

Lessons from chapter 20: 1) the Lord may allow distressing things in the lives of His children to strengthen their faith in Him; 2) many good examples of God’s blessings on earlier generations may be a means of reassurance and comfort when trials come; 3) God has His spokesmen to show His repentant people what they ought to do; 4) blessing is always the result of reliant faith in the Lord’s word; 5) following the godly example of parents brings blessing on the children.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 20". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-chronicles-20.html. 1985.
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