16 May 2020
A Godly King - King Jehoshaphat
(Scripture Reference: 2 Chronicles 17-18)
The study of the Old Testament books needs a lot of patience and time. It was a long history, there were many names and places. But we will be rewarded by painstaking efforts in due time. Precious lessons will be discovered.
Jehoshaphat was the son of King Asa. The name of Jehoshaphat means the Lord is judge. His father was a godly man. King Asa made up his mind to do God's will like King David. During Asa’s rule of 41 years (910869 BC), he cleansed the kingdom of Judah of idolatry. Asa commanded the people to seek the Lord and obey the law of God. There was a time of rest granted by the Lord. After the death of Asa, Jehoshaphat took over the throne of the Southern kingdom of Judah. He strengthened himself against the apostate northern kingdom of Israel.
The northern kingdom consisted of ten tribes while the southern kingdom has two tribes only. The temple of the Lord was in the Southern kingdom. The kings in the northern kingdoms got involved in idolatry since they were formed. There were constant unrest in the north. The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he walked in the way of the Lord and did not seek the idols. Therefore the Lord stabilised the kingdom in his hand. We can see the covenant God chastised disobedience and blessed obedience to His law. Like his father Asa, Jehoshaphat tried to remove high places and wooden images from his kingdom but not totally successful. The idolatry in the previous generations was deep seated (2 Chronicles 20:33). The spiritual battle against the idolatry was long and hard.
Jehoshaphat sent his leaders to teach the law of Moses in the cities of Judah together with the Levites and the priests. This was in accordance with Leviticus 10:10. The Lord bless such efforts. The fear of the Lord fell on the nations that surrounded Judah and they lived peaceably with Judah. He had a million-strong army personnel. That would make an ordinary monarch proud but Jehoshaphat never put his trust in his army. He put his trust in the Lord. Psalm 20:7 says “Some trust in chariots and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”
He committed a serious error by having his son Jehoram marry the daughter of King Ahab of the Nothern Kingdom. The daughter of King Ahab, Athaliah's mother was Jezebel. What good will come out by having the wicked royal couple as in-laws? Nothing good but evils. King Ahab was wicked, he did not fear the Lord. He was led to further the sin of idolatry by his pagan wife (1 Kings 16-22). God raised up Elijah to rebuke them for their evils and warned them of serious judgments. Jehoshaphat’s wrong decision later dragged him into war. God had mercy on him and spared his life.
The entrance of the wicked daughter-in-law into the palace of Judah proved to be a curse. Athaliah was such a bloodthirsty woman like her mother. She was responsible for influencing her husband to kill all his brothers and walk in idolatry of her father’s house. King Jehoram was judged by the Lord in the end. The Lord struck him with an incurable disease and he died in severe pain. When Jehoram's son Ahaziah came into power, he was influenced in the evil ways, thanks to Athaliah’s wickedness. The Lord killed Ahaziah through Jehu.
When Athaliah saw that her son was dead, she destroyed all the royal descendants of the house of Judah. Thank the Lord for His mercy for He used the daughter of the King Jehoram to save a son of Ahaziah. Athaliah began her rule in Judah for six years before she was overthrown and executed (2 Chronicles 2122). Then the house of Judah was restored to order. What kind of tragic consequences by the error of Jehoshaphat. How many lives were lost by having an unbelieving daughter-in-law? Deuteronomy 7:3-4 should have been heeded and saved a lot of lives and damages. It is easy to bring in idolatry to the house but it is not easy to be gotten rid of.
Jehoshaphat was a godly king who stood out to be God-fearing in contrast with the wicked king of Israel, Ahab. He had tried his best to guide the covenant people of God back to the biblical ways. He had made twice of nationwide Bible education by teaching in the cities of Judah. Such godly efforts had helped to check the advance of idolatry that came from the north and surrounding nations. God raised up His vessel in due time to fight the spiritual battles. To God be the glory.
Rev. Lee Kim Shong