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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Chronicles 20

Verse 1

2 Chronicles 20:1. And with them other beside the Ammonites And the Edomites. Houbigant. See 2 Chronicles 20:10; 2 Chronicles 20:22-23. In the second verse, instead of Syria, he reads Edom, agreeable to a correction of Calmet's.

Verse 6

2 Chronicles 20:6. And said, O Lord God, &c.— This prayer of Jehoshaphat is deservedly accounted one of the most excellent that we meet with in sacred history. He begins with an acknowledgment of God's supreme and irresistible power, which extends itself every where, over all creatures in heaven and earth, which are every one subject to his authority. Then he remembers the peculiar relation which the people of Israel have to him; the promise that he made to Abraham, as a reward of his fidelity; and the deed of gift which he made to him and his posterity, of this country for ever, 2 Chronicles 20:7. He then reminds them of the long possession they had had of the country, and of the temple which Solomon built for his worship; to whom, at the consecration, (and therefore he refers to Solomon's words at the consecration, 1 Kings 8:0.) he promised a gracious regard to all the prayers that should be offered there, 2 Chronicles 20:8-9. In the next place, he represents the foul ingratitude of their enemies, in invading a country to which they had no manner of title, even though the Israelites did them not the least harm when they came to take possession of it, but took the pains to march a long way about to get to it, rather than give them any molestation; and, in aggravation of their wickedness in this regard, he suggests, that, by this invasion, they made an attempt, not only upon the rights of the Israelites, but of God himself, who was the great Lord and proprietor, from whom they held the land: 2 Chronicles 20:10-11. Then he appeals to the justice of God, the righteous judge, who helps those that suffer wrong, especially when they have no other helper; for this is the last argument he makes use of to conciliate the divine assistance, even the weak condition wherein he and his people were, which made them the objects of the divine pity, especially since they placed their hope and confidence in him alone, 2 Chronicles 20:12.

Verse 12

2 Chronicles 20:12. Wilt thou not judge them That is, inflict judgments upon them, or punish them. When Jehoshaphat speaks of having no might against this great company, we must understand that they came upon him unprovided and unawares; for we have seen before, that he had more than eleven hundred thousand fighting men.

Verse 15

2 Chronicles 20:15. For the battle is not your's, but God's For the battle will not be your's, but God's. Houbigant.

Verse 22

2 Chronicles 20:22. The Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, &c.— The Lord set against the children of Ammon and Moab ambushments of those who came from mount Seir against Judah; and the children of Ammon and Moab were smitten: 2 Chronicles 20:23. But they afterwards rose up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, and utterly destroyed them; who being destroyed, they rose up one against another, and mutually destroyed each other. Houbigant.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Little did Jehoshaphat apprehend, in the midst of the pious and useful establishments in which he was engaged, the threatening storm that hung over him. Note; When we are most faithful, we may be involved in uncommon difficulties, God permitting our faith to be tried, that it may appear to praise, and honour, and glory.

1. The Moabites, Ammonites, and their confederates, assemble their forces, and march to the borders of Judah, before intelligence is brought of their designs; so sudden and unexpected was the attack. Note; While we are on this side the grave, we are never safe.

2. Terrified at the danger; and fearing, lest the wrath he had deserved, chap. 2Ch 19:2 was about to overtake him, in deep humiliation the king set himself earnestly to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout Judah, that they might together mourn over the sins which had provoked their God: and, at his command, all Judah assembled; not so much as warriors, to oppose their enemies, but as penitents, to avert the divine displeasure, without which every effort would be vain; and with their wives and children, as in deep distress, appeared at the temple, before the new court, probably the court of the priests lately repaired, to ask help of the Lord. Note; (1.) In national calamities, national fasts are highly expedient, that a sinful people, humbled before a holy God, may find mercy in his sight. (2.) The danger which drives us to God, will not destroy us. (3.) While we have a God of mercy to flee to, let us never despair. (4.) The cries of the distressed will enter into the ears of the righteous Judge. Woe to those who provoke him. (5.) The more entirely we are taken off from every self-dependance in the view of our wants and wretchedness, the surer we are to find mercy in every time of need. (6.) While the eye of faith and hope looks upwards, underneath us will be the everlasting arms.

2nd, Swift is the answer sent from God. Jahaziel, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, filled with the spirit of prophesy, in the midst of the congregation foretels the approaching victory.
1. He bids them lift their drooping heads, and not be afraid: the cause is God's, and he will appear for them. He fixes the time and place when and where they should meet the enemy, not to fight, but to be spectators of the glorious victory that God would give them. Note; (1.) Unbelieving fear must be suppressed and opposed, as dishonourable to God. (2.) They who go forth at the word of God against their spiritual enemies, shall see the salvation of God.

2. The message was received by the king and people with humble thankfulness and adoration. They doubted not the promise; and shouted, as sure of victory. Note;

Faith realizes the unseen things, and can enable us to rejoice in future promises, as equally secure with present possessions.
3rdly, The order of battle bespoke the temper of the combatants, and their confidence in God.
1. Jehoshaphat, as the army passed in review before him, encourages their trust in God, and the word of his prophet, with assurance of success; and, with the advice of his council, instead of the mighty men of valour, they appointed the singers to lead the van, and charged their foes, not with the arm of flesh, but with the sharp two-edged sword of God's praises in their mouths, as if the victory was already gotten, and the triumphant song begun. Note; (1.) Unshaken faith is certain victory. (2.) Praise is a mighty weapon to overcome our spiritual foes.

2. The event exceeded their expectations. No sooner was the song of praise begun, than the Lord set ambushments; either the angelic hosts his ministers, say some; or their own ambushments, say others, who, infatuated of God, fell upon their army; which created such confusion, and apprehension of treachery, that each man's sword was against his fellow; the Moabites and Ammonites against the Edomites, and then against each other. Note; (1.) Though the enemies of God's people assemble themselves, they shall be broken to pieces. (2.) God can make those the instruments of mutual destruction, who are leagued against his people. (3.) Division produces ruin, wherever it arises.

3. On the approach of Jehoshaphat's army towards the watch-tower, which probably stood on the cliff of Ziz, and overlooked the plain beneath, behold, it was covered with carcases, and not a living foe remained. Immense spoils loaded the people: three days they were employed in collecting them; on the fourth, the whole army assembled, with the king at their head, and kept a day of solemn thanksgiving on the field of victory, giving it a name to perpetuate the memorial of the mercy; and returned to Jerusalem, as they had come from thence, with increasing joy, and with louder songs of praise, for the amazing interposition of God which they had experienced. Note: (1.) Praise is all the tribute that we poor worms can pay; and God accepts our gratitude as a more welcome sacrifice than a hecatomb. (2.) The memory of past mercies ought to be preserved for the encouragement of future generations.

4. The effect of this glorious victory was, peace in their borders. Their neighbours heard and trembled, nor dared provoke those for whom God so eminently appeared; and all was quiet at home, under Jehoshaphat's happy government. Note; They who have God for their protector, will be kept in peace, and no evil shall come nigh their dwellings.

4thly, Jehoshaphat's conduct in general was excellent and exemplary; but the sacred historian spares not his faults: two of them are here recorded.

1. The suffering the high places to remain, where sacrifices to God had been offered before the temple was built, and to which the people still resorted, in opposition to the divine command, Deuteronomy 12:5-7.

2. That, after the danger he had run, and the reproof he had received for his connection with Ahab, he joined in league with Ahaziah his son, taking him in as a partner in a voyage to Tarshish. But he suffered for it. A prophet was sent to rebuke him for his folly and perverseness, and to predict the storm which destroyed their navy in the port. We find, 1Ki 22:49 that these warnings had their desired effect, and broke off the evil alliance. Note; (1.) They who are connected with the wicked, will certainly fare the worse for them. (2.) It is a great gain, when our providential losses turn us from the path of evil.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 20". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/2-chronicles-20.html. 1801-1803.