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THE REIGN OF JEHOSHAPHAT
Asa's son Jehoshaphat, at the beginning of his reign, strengthened himself against Israel (v.1). This was a wise move because Israel was still in a state of idolatrous departure from the Lord. Sad to say, he did not maintain such strength, for in Chapter 18.1 it is reported that he made an alliance with Ahab, king of Israel.
But as Asa had done, Jehoshaphat prepared for war by placing troops in all the fortified cities of Judah and the cities of Ephraim that Asa had conquered. Again, this is a reminder to us that, while we have time we should prepare for the conflict that must be met sometime, by storing up the Word of God in our hearts.
Because Asa walked in the ways of David, avoiding the idolatrous worship of Baal, the Lord was with him. He sought the God of his fathers in obedience to His commandments, in contrast to the ways of the ten tribes (v.4). Therefore the Lord established the kingdom under him, and Judah was influenced to bring him presents, for they recognised the value of his honourable example. The Lord greatly increased his wealth. Though Christians cannot count on material wealth because of their devotion to the Lord, yet this will give them true spiritual wealth, which is far better.
Finding true delight in the Lord's ways, Jehoshaphat removed the high places and wooden images from Judah. Asa had done this early in his reign (ch.14:3), so it seems that at least some of these idolatrous objects had been brought back in the latter part of his reign, when he became lax in honouring God. Of course, many people will revive such evils without even consulting the authorities.
Jehoshaphat also did the positive, good work of sending five leaders, seven Levites and two priests to teach the Book of the Law in all the cities of Judah (vv.7-8). This of course includes the five books of Moses. There are many efforts today to revive interest in spiritual things, but the emphasis is on personal goodness rather than on teaching the Word of God, which is of the greatest importance, the only guide to spiritual blessing. God blessed the faith of Jehoshaphat by restraining any enemies from attacking him, for He impressed them with the fear of the Lord (v.10). Thus, during the time of peace he was able to strengthen his kingdom.
Jehoshaphat's character was such that even some of the Philistines recognised the value of his reign, and willingly brought presents to him as a tribute, and the Arabians brought flocks of rams and goats. Thus is illustrated the scripture, "When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him" (Proverbs 10:7).
Becoming increasingly powerful, Jehoshaphat built fortresses and store cities in Judah (v.12). How good for Christians too, in times of peace, to prepare for the conflict that requires a good defence, such as the fortress of the truth of God and the storing up of the truth in our hearts.
Jehoshaphat's administration was well organised, and the total of his armed men was 1,160,000, as well as soldiers the king put in the fortified cities (vv.14-19). This is really an amazing standing army for a time of peace! But it pictures the fact that all believers should be fully prepared for conflict which will come to us in some way. Thus the Lord presents us first with all those things that were a credit to the faith of King Jehoshaphat, for He loves to commend all that is commendable.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 17". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29