War with Surrounding Nations
1 After this, the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites declared war on Jehoshaphat. 2Messengers came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army from Edom is marching against you from beyond the Dead Sea. They are already at Hazazon-tamar.” (This was another name for En-gedi.)
This great multitude was a significant threat against Jehoshaphat, whose last experience on the field of battle was a narrow escape from death.
3 Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. 4 So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the Lord’s help.
Our son Devlin McGuire, currently in his final year at Princeton Theological Seminary (above), put this video clip together, using a bit of a sermon by David Platt (author of the best-selling book Radical) and the music “Untitled 3” by Sigur Ros. The subject of the two minute message HERE is prayer.
There is a conviction in Jehoshaphat’s prayer of God’s power to change any situation utterly, without the need of human cooperation. This is still the essence of Christian prayer. When people’s temporal hopes are gone—and dreams of perfect happiness on earth inevitably prove illusory—the best secular answer is an acquiescent, perhaps bitter, resignation. Where there is faith in God, in glorious contrast, the “we do not know what to do” merely leads into “but our eyes are upon thee.” There is no excuse for Christian hopelessness.
–J. G. McConville
5 Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the Temple of the Lord. 6 He prayed, “O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you! 7 O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people Israel arrived? And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham? 8 Your people settled here and built this Temple to honor your name. 9 They said, ‘Whenever we are faced with any calamity such as war, plague, or famine, we can come to stand in your presence before this Temple where your name is honored. We can cry out to you to save us, and you will hear us and rescue us.’
10 “And now see what the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir are doing. You would not let our ancestors invade those nations when Israel left Egypt, so they went around them and did not destroy them. 11 Now see how they reward us! For they have come to throw us out of your land, which you gave us as an inheritance. 12 O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.”
Adam Clarke called this “One of the most sensible, pious, correct, and as to its composition one of the most elegant prayers ever offered under the Old Testament dispensation.”
I have often prayed this last verse! Lord, I do not know what to do next, so my eyes are on You. And somehow the next step is made clear.
The Oracle and Response
Jahaziel the Levite declares that this victory will, in a special way, be God’s alone. Jehoshaphat and his army will have the role of onlookers on this occasion. The Lord will prove himself trustworthy to those who are wholly committed to God, to those who are staking wealth and welfare on the outcome and leaning entirely on the strength of the Lord.
13 As all the men of Judah stood before the Lord with their little ones, wives, and children, 14 the Spirit of the Lord came upon one of the men standing there. His name was Jahaziel son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite who was a descendant of Asaph.
15 He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.
16 Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”
18 Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord. 19 Then the Levites from the clans of Kohath and Korah stood to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud shout.
20 Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.”
J. B. Rotherham’s translation (Emphasized Bible, 1902) of 2 Chronicles 20:20 has a word of joy for us all: Trust ye in the Lord your God and ye shall be trusted. We shall be trusted with answers to prayer which are not what we desired, as well as with those which are. Isn’t it wonderful to be trusted like that, with just anything God wants and sees is best?
21 After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:
“Give thanks to the Lord;
his faithful love endures forever!”
They did not rest on their own merits or even the merits of Abraham, Moses, or David. They trusted and rested on the enduring mercy of God.
The nation is restored to a state of blessing, characterized by riches, possession of her land, the inspiration of fear in her enemies, and joyful worship in the Temple.
22 At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. 23 The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other. 24 So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped.
25 King Jehoshaphat and his men went out to gather the plunder. They found vast amounts of equipment, clothing, and other valuables—more than they could carry. There was so much plunder that it took them three days just to collect it all! 26 On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the Lord there. It is still called the Valley of Blessing today.
Psalm 60:12 (NIV)
With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies.
27 Then all the men returned to Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat leading them, overjoyed that the Lord had given them victory over their enemies. 28 They marched into Jerusalem to the music of harps, lyres, and trumpets, and they proceeded to the Temple of the Lord.
29 When all the surrounding kingdoms heard that the Lord himself had fought against the enemies of Israel, the fear of God came over them. 30 So Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.
Could God do it? Yes, God could! What a great story! And what a fun song! “Can He? Could He? Would He? Did He? (Yes, He can, He could, He would, and He did!)” performed for you HERE with all good cheer by the Ernie Haase Signature Sound!
Summary of Jehoshaphat’s Reign
31So Jehoshaphat ruled over the land of Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years. His mother was Azubah, the daughter of Shilhi.
32 Jehoshaphat was a good king, following the ways of his father, Asa. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. 33 During his reign, however, he failed to remove all the pagan shrines, and the people never fully committed themselves to follow the God of their ancestors.
34 The rest of the events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Record of Jehu Son of Hanani, which is included in The Book of the Kings of Israel.
35 Some time later King Jehoshaphat of Judah made an alliance with King Ahaziah of Israel, who was very wicked. 36 Together they built a fleet of trading ships at the port of Ezion-geber. 37 Then Eliezer son of Dodavahu from Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat. He said, “Because you have allied yourself with King Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy your work.” So the ships met with disaster and never put out to sea.
The Chronicler makes an explicit link between the foundering of Jehoshaphat’s ships, before they earned him a penny, and this unholy alliance with another wicked king of Israel. And so a reign that was in many ways glorious, ends on this sad and unsatisfying note.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.