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We have here Jehoshaphat in trouble. War is threatened him: he proclaimeth a fast: he offers up prayer: the Lord hears, and answers in mercy: his enemies are overthrown. The close of his reign.
This formidable attempt, planned by the enemies of Jehoshaphat, it should seem, had been carried on so secretly, that they had already invaded his country, before he was apprized of it. How subtle is the enemy of souls! What secret methods he hath, by means of his invisible agency, on the hearts of the Lord's people, before that they are aware of his approaches!
Reader! do remark with me, how this pious soldier began his defence: not in mustering his soldiers; not in raising his army; but in humbling himself and his people before the Lord. Do, my Brother, put it down for certain, whatever begins with prayer, will find cause to end in praise. Jehoshaphat had his fears for sin and guilt breed fear. But he adopted the best method to overcome them. He sought the Lord. Where shall a sinner go in his distresses, but to the great and gracious Saviour? Observe how all Judah took part with their king. No doubt Jehoshaphat had endeared himself by his gentleness to his subjects, and therefore they were all united, as the heart of one man, to seek the Lord.
This is a beautiful prayer, and both the manner of address, with the appearance of the king and his people make it striking. All Judah it is said, with their little ones, and wives and children, stood before the Lord, as if to join in the entreaty. Surely it must have had a most interesting effect. And observe the argument of the prayer. First, Jehoshaphat pleads God's sovereignty; next, God's relationship in the covenant engagements he had condescended to put himself into, as Abraham's God, and to his seed in Israel; next, the dedication of the people to God according to Solomon's address; with an eye to the temple, by which they had a claim to God's favour. After stating these things as the foundation of an assurance in God's protection, Jehoshaphat brings forward the present affliction as the time for the Lord to work in their rescue. He then shows the baseness of Moab and the confederate army, in that the Lord would not suffer his people to molest them when they came out of Egypt. And, lastly, Jehoshaphat concludes with throwing himself and his people upon the sovereignty of their God, as those that could not but be certain of success in the divine favour. There is a vast degree of sound faith and confidence, with fervent piety, in this prayer, and it is not difficult to trace the leadings of grace through the several parts of it. But, methinks, if the Reader considers it spiritually, and with an eye to the gospel, it ariseth to an infinitely higher point of sublimity. Salvation by Jesus is founded in the sovereignty of Jehovah. Here we discover the everlasting love and wisdom of God in the ordination. Here also God hath put himself in the closest covenant-relationship, in the person of his dear Son; for God in Christ is truly the God of our fathers. And as Jehoshaphat pointed to the temple as the sanctuary of defence, to which the distressed Israelite was to look; was not this typical of Jesus? How beautiful then is it to behold gospel mercies in the finished redemption of Jesus, thus shadowed forth in an age so remote from the time of the gospel, when the open display of mercy was to be made known in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Observe the astonishing grace of the Lord manifested upon this occasion. It was instant, it was immediate; similar to that of Daniel's vision. At the beginning of the supplication, the commandment then came forth to Daniel. And here, while Jehoshaphat was speaking, the Lord answered. Daniel 9:19-21 ; Isaiah 65:24 . And observe further, by whom did God vouchsafe to speak? - Even by a poor Levite, Jahaziel. The humblest instrument is sufficient, when the Lord is pleased to work. And remark further, how sure the promise is, Tomorrow shall bring forward their deliverance. And to decide from whom, and by whom the blessing comes; God himself will fight the battle for them; like another Moses, the direction is, Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. Exodus 14:13 .
It is not within the compass of language to convey to the Reader, what must have been the feelings of the whole assembly on this occasion. What an holy awe, mingled with holy joy, must have thrilled through every heart. But, Reader! think, if the imagination be able to picture it, what will be the feelings of that vast assembly of the redeemed, when Jesus will own them before Jehovah, and a congregated world, as the purchase of his blood, the trophies of his grace, and the gift of his Father.
Observe, the weapons of Jehoshaphat were faith, and dependence on the Lord. Whether the company with the king had other weapons with them is not said: but he went forth depending upon the Lord; and he begun the preparation for battle with a song of victory. So should all the soldiers of Jesus go forth. For it is in his strength they fight: and the issue is not doubtful. The fight is in fact already over; Christ hath conquered: and his people overcome by his blood.
How decidedly did the event testify that Judah should have no hand in the victory. How fully hath Jesus shown in his gospel, that salvation is wholly his own, and his right arm hath gotten himself the victory!
The valley of Berachah, which signifies blessing, was probably a large convenient spot for the people to assemble in to join their praises. And, no doubt, as they went home they sung victory and praises to the Lord all the way. Such a deliverance, and so wrought, called for thanksgiving all their lives. And here was a subject for every day to be rehearsed in every family of Judah, that the memory of it might be preserved throughout all generations, that the children which had not known anything, might hear and fear the Lord their God as long as they lived. Deuteronomy 31:13 .
We arrive to the close of Jehoshaphat's reign and life together. The length of it was not equal to many of the kings of Judah, though such honourable testimony is given of him. Perhaps the records concerning him, said here to be in the writings of the book of Jehu, might have been extant for a long space after his death; but not being of sacred authority, they were not made a part of the Canon of Scripture.
This affinity with the house of Ahab, had cost Jehoshaphat his life, but for divine interposition before. But yet we find a renewed instance of that folly, so as to call forth the reproof again of a prophet. Alas! it is impossible to keep company with, or to be in the society of the carnal; and the precept is unaccommodating, Come out from among them, and touch not the unclean thing. 2 Corinthians 6:17 .
WHERE shall believing souls fly in their trouble, but to a covenant God in Christ! Like Jehoshaphat, we are told, and from the unquestionable authority of God's word, that the children of Ammon, and the children of Moab, even the host of foes arising out of the world, from our own corrupt nature, and from the powers of darkness, all come forth against us, day by day, to battle. But if, like Jehoshaphat, instead of mustering human strength, and human skill, we take refuge in the God of our salvation; if we go forth, dearest Jesus, in thy name, and in thy righteousness make our boast, we shall be more than conquerors, through thy grace helping us. And we shall assuredly find the valley of Berachah: every place indeed will open room for blessing, for every event will furnish cause for it. But learn, my soul, in the midst of all the precious things which this chapter contains, of God's covenant love and mercy to his people, what corruptions still remain in our old nature. Is it not now, as it was with Jehoshaphat and Judah, amidst all the reform set up? Are there not the sad effects still to be found, of what the human heart is with believers now, as with Judah then? It is said that the high places were not taken away; for as yet the people had, not prepared their hearts. Oh! precious Jesus! do I not know, do I not feel the daily workings of a corrupt nature? And though thou hast wrought out, thou blessed Finisher of salvation, a complete deliverance for me in thy blood and righteousness, yet, as if to keep me daily, hourly sensible that the work is all of grace; and what I once needed in bringing me out of nature's darkness, I daily need to keep me from falling back to it again; art thou not showing me that the high places of vanity, pride, self-righteousness, and the breakings out of sin, all contradictory as they are to one another, yet annoy my poor soul, and manifest what a poor creature I am continually. Lord! overrule these things to thy glory! Give me to see thy preciousness! Enable me to improve mine interest in thee from day to day, that being stript of everything, I may lean wholly upon thee and seek comfort only in thy finished work. Oh! for grace thus to live a life of faith upon the Son of God, and to make mention of thy righteousness, even thine only.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 20". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/