Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles chapters 17 to 21)

So far, we have investigated the lives of the first three kings after Solomon. We have applied the test of the ‘Triangle of Convictions’:

  1. The word of God.
  2. The house of God.
  3. The people of God.

In the kings so far we have seen that:

  1. Rehoboam lacked any conviction.
  2. Abijah had conviction but no courage.
  3. Asa had courage but couldn’t handle correction.

What about Jehoshaphat? He lacked consistency.

Jerusalem must have been an amazing place to live with the wealth of the king’s family and the abundant worship of God. What a blessing to be born into a godly family! I will be forever grateful for parents who took the Bible and the church seriously, allowing me to build my own convictions and relationship with the Lord. Sadly, Jehoshaphat saw his father’s deterioration into bitterness and rejection of the word of God, and he made sure he wouldn’t do the same.

At thirty-five, Jehoshaphat became king. From 2 Chronicles chapter 17 verse 1, a key word of his reign is ‘strength’.

  • He strengthened Judah against Israel militarily (the people of God), vv. 1-3.
  • He sought the God of his father and walked in His commandments (the word of God), vv. 3, 4.
  • He took the high places away, forcing the people of Jerusalem to worship (the house of God), v. 6.

Therefore the Lord blessed Jehoshaphat and the people brought him tribute, v. 5.

Jehoshaphat determined that God’s word would be known throughout Judah. He sent teachers out for that purpose, vv. 7-9. They didn’t go with their own ideas, they had ‘the book of the law of the Lord’, v. 9. It is important that all our teaching and practice is supported by the word of God. Anyone that claims otherwise should not be trusted.

The Lord blessed Jehoshaphat further, v. 10; Judah experienced peace. His enemies brought tribute. Jehoshaphat became incredibly wealthy, with outstanding military power and a well-defended people. What could possibly go wrong?

Ahab was the king of Israel whom Jehoshaphat had strengthened himself against. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord than any king before him, 1 Kgs. 16. 33. Instead of keeping away, Jehosaphat entered a marriage alliance with Ahab. From relying on the Lord to prosper him, his son married Ahab’s daughter and the two kings became family and friends. 2 Chronicles chapter 18 demonstrates the spiritual inequality between them. Instead of fleeing when he had the opportunity, Jehoshaphat accepted Ahab’s invitation to go to war together and said, ‘I am as you are, my people as your people. We will be with you in the war’, v. 3 ESV Jehoshaphat’s folly nearly caused his death, v. 31. When he cried out the Lord helped him and, unlike Ahab, he escaped with his life. Friendship with the ungodly will never improve us or draw us closer to the Lord; we must be careful who our friends are. Safely home, he was visited by Jehu the son of Hanani the seer. Jehu must have been anxious. His father criticized Asa and ended up in prison! Jehu had similar news for Jehoshaphat. How would Jehoshaphat react?

2 Chronicles chapter 19:

  • He brought the people back to the Lord, v. 4. He appointed judges to apply the law of the Lord, vv. 5-7.
  • He acknowledged the absolute justice of God, v. 7.
  • He appointed Levites and priests to deal with hard cases, vv. 8-11.

Jehoshaphat determined not to repeat his father’s mistakes. He accepted criticism and adjusted his own behaviour. What an example!

Sadly, his failure caused the peace he had enjoyed to break, and he came under enemy attack in 2 Chronicles chapter 20. His response? He set his face to seek the Lord, v. 3; Judah sought help from the Lord, v. 4. Jehoshaphat acknowledged God’s sovereignty, his past behaviour with Judah, and outlined the need he now faced. Our prayers should acknowledge God’s person, His past help, and include specific requests. The answer was that ‘the Lord will be with you’, v. 17. He was! The battle was a complete victory and Jehoshaphat expressed sincere thanks, v. 21.

Jehoshaphat’s reign was hugely successful. He was faithful to the Lord and was mightily blessed by Him.

‘Those who honor me I will honor’, 1 Sam. 2. 30 ESV.

2 Chronicles chapter 20: Jehoshaphat made a business alliance with Ahaziah (son of Ahab), vv. 35, 36, and the whole venture met with disaster - the Lord destroyed what they had made, v. 37. He was a wonderful king but lacked consistency, repeating past failure.

What lessons can we learn from Jehoshaphat?

  1. Repeat what is good about the past.
  2. Learn from the mistakes of others.
  3. Don’t get too involved with the ungodly.
  4. Don’t repeat the mistakes that got us in trouble in the first place.

Let’s be men and women having conviction about:

  1. The word of God.
  2. The house of God.
  3. The people of God.