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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
2 Chronicles 20

 

 

Verses 1-30

2 Chronicles 20:1-3. It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi. And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

An angry God is to be sought. Even though he smite us, we must turn to him. It is from the hand that wields the rod that we are to expect deliverance, if it ever come at all.

2 Chronicles 20:4. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.

The host of enemies were so enormous that they threatened to eat up all the land. The men of Judah could not keep them out. They would soak and storm and burn and destroy right and left. You see the great peril. What a heavy chastisement it must have been to the king to see his land thus in danger of being destroyed. But they had begun to pray.

2 Chronicles 20:5-12. And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, and said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? Art not thou our God who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help. And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom they wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.

What a prayer it is! How argumentative! How it pleads his case as an advocate in a court of law, appealing to the mercy of God as logically as if it were to be argued out of the divine heart. Oh, how good it would be if we learnt to pray like this, — in this earnest, importunate fashion! Say the Lord teach us to pray as he taught his disciples!

2 Chronicles 20:13. And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.

It must have been a wonderful eight — the vast crowd — the pleading king — his voice heard afar, and the men and the women; but, to my mind, the most touching thing of all is the little children standing there, making their silent appeal to God that he would not let the babes be destroyed — that he would not suffer the young children to be slain by the cruel hosts that now threatened the land. Young children’s prayers are powerful. Little ones, may God teach you how to pray.

2 Chronicles 20:14. Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation;

Perhaps he had never delivered a prophecy before. This is his first sermon; but the Spirit of God was with him, and he could not hold his tongue.

2 Chronicles 20:15-17. And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.

Oh, how those words must have fallen on the weary ears of those who were in such trouble! And how glad those ears must have been to hear such a message of wondrous mercy, and so near at hand, too! “To morrow.” Imminent danger brings eminent mercy, and when the lion is about to leap upon his prey, then comes the lionslayer and breaks his teeth, and delivers his lamb even from between his jaws. Glory be to God for such promises as he gives to his people in times of trouble, even such promises as he gave here.

2 Chronicles 20:18. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.

What a sight! That is the kind of ritualism one likes — when the posture is suggested by the feelings — when the man feels that there is nothing else to do but to bow before the Lord. The king could not speak, he was too full of gratitude — too joyous at the thought that God had so appeared for him. And he felt that the only thing he could do was in silence to bow his head, and prostrate himself before God. Have not you sometimes felt so full of gratitude that you could not express yourself? “A sacred silence checks our songs and praise sits silent on our tongues.” Now, while they were worshipping, and just as they had finished that silent adoration, the joy-strains were heard. They had taken breath.

2 Chronicles 20:19. And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high.

Here, again, we seem to be carried by great waves of excitement and devotion. One moment we are sinking down in adoration, now all rising up to listen to the loud voice of God’s priests and Levites. But they have to wait for the morrow.

2 Chronicles 20:20-21. And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD for his mercy endureth for ever.

So you can see them marching out of the city gate with the king at their head, and, as they go out, the army is marching with banners and with songs and hosannas. This is their style of going out to meet the foe.

2 Chronicles 20:22-23. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and where they had made an end of the inhabitants of mount Seir, every one helped to destroy another.

There were three or four nations, and some jealousy or mistrust must have manifested itself, or some mistake had been made, and the motley host divided itself into self-destroying bands. The Israelites had nothing to do but to sing. Perhaps their very singing was the cause of that disruption among the bands. They could not make it out. They had seen the people rush to battle with discordant cries; but these were marching along as if they were coming to a wedding-feast, singing hymns and chants. That was a new style of fighting. So the Moabites and the Ammonites thought that there must be something wrong. “Surely there must be some confederates in the camp,” they would say. They suspected each other, as bad men very soon do, and so they fell foul of one another and spared the Israelites all the trouble of killing them.

2 Chronicles 20:24-26. And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped. And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much. And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.

This is the Valley of Blessing: surely an appropriate name worthy of long remembrance.

2 Chronicles 20:27. Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy;

Another march of hosannas. What a wonderful sight it must have been! We have read of the Battle of the Spurs; but here is the Battle of the Song — the battle of praise. How wondrously it was won! Jehoshaphat is now in the forefront of those who go back singing. He feels he must sing the loudest who has had such signal mercy after his sin.

2 Chronicles 20:27-30. For the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies. And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the LORD. And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about.

Now, it is a long piece we have read, but I think it would not be complete if I did not read you the song which they sang. In all probability it was the 47th Psalm. You can almost hear them singing it as they march back.

This exposition consisted of readings from 2 Chronicles 20:1-30; and Psalms 47.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 20:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/2-chronicles-20.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 14th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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