Asa and Jehoshaphat

2 Chronicles 16:1‑10; 2 Chronicles 20:1‑30  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 5
2 Chronicles 16:1-10; 20:1-301In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. 2Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the Lord and of the king's house, and sent to Ben-hadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, 3There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me. 4And Ben-hadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abel-maim, and all the store cities of Naphtali. 5And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease. 6Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah. 7And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. 8Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the Lord, he delivered them into thine hand. 9For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars. 10Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time. (2 Chronicles 16:1‑10)
1It 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. 2Then 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 Hazazon-tamar, which is En-gedi. 3And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord. 5And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6And 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? 7Art 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? 8And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, 9If, 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. 10And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; 11Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. 12O 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. 13And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. 14Then 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; 15And 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. 16To 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. 17Ye 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. 18And 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. 19And 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. 20And 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. 21And 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. 22And 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. 23For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another. 24And 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. 25And 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. 26And 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. 27Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies. 28And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the Lord. 29And 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. 30So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about. (2 Chronicles 20:1‑30)
One hardly knows anything more sad than this account of Asa. No doubt he was the Lord's, but he was out of communion, and relied on his own resources. And he begins by robbing God. Then he asked a worldly man to do a distinctly dishonorable thing: “Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of Jehovah and of the king's house, and sent to Ben-hadad, king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me” (vers. 2, 3). If we get out of communion there is no saying what we may do. It is sad to think that the flesh has more scope in a believer than in the unconverted.
Asa gets his way with Ben-hadad, but Jehovah sends a messenger who tells him he is only a sufferer by getting his own way. Then he adds: “For the eyes of Jehovah run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong in the behalf of those whose heart is perfect towards him” (ver. 9). Those whose hearts are perfect are not those perfect in flesh, but those who know there is nothing good in them. “Cease ye from man,” and begin with yourself.
We need mercy, we need wisdom. Let us ask of God, Who giveth liberally and upbraideth not. We have had here a word of warning, Now let us turn to chap. 20:1-3.
Oh, how blessed! There is nothing finer than this. David, and rightly, “inquired of Jehovah,” but Jehoshaphat “set himself to seek Jehovah,” and then proclaimed a fast-setting aside the flesh. Oh, how delightful to see the people of God realizing their weakness, and gathering together to seek the Lord as in ver. 5! Mark Jehoshaphat's reasoning: he makes it a question of God, to Whom all power belongs. Clearing the ground altogether, he makes it a question of God, and God's ability.
What a delicious verse is ver. 6! But he is taking the very highest ground in ver. 7. “Abraham, thy friend"! Twice do we get the father of the faithful spoken of as the “Friend” of God! Here for the first time, then in Isaiah (41.), and lastly in James (2.). Doubtless, the people had behaved very badly, and Jehoshaphat is ready to own it; but if grace gives us high ground it is the merest pride to reject it. Some think it wrong to know the forgiveness of sins; but no, God says it, and the believer ought to occupy the high ground His grace gives.
Mark how he piles it up in vers. 8, 9. It is very beautiful. There is no boasting, but telling God how they have rested in Him, and now they are doing exactly what God would have them do, answering to Solomon's prayer, and relying on His promise, and He cannot deny Himself.
“And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Sier, whom thou wouldst 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.” How blessed! He pleads with God all that His grace has given, and asks if God is going to allow the enemy to triumph. He would have us trust in all He has given us. But he makes no preparation—no war loan—no fresh taxes! No; “our eyes are upon Thee.”
Then “All Judah stood before Jehovah,” and the little ones are given first. You know what parade is. Here the little ones come first. The Lord Jesus was much displeased with those who would keep the little ones from Him. Here the little ones stand first before Jehovah, then the wives—not the warriors.
The sons of Asaph were singers, and of them, says ver. 15: “Hearken ye, all Judah and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith Jehovah unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God's,” etc. And God owns to it. They had owned God, and He answers to it. God knew exactly the place where the enemy was; they might go to their beds, for He that keepeth Israel was watching over them, and “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still and see the salvation of the Lord with you” —a remarkable expression. Not salvation for you as at the Red Sea, but with you—with the little ones, the wives and the children. “Go out... for Jehovah is with you.”
Ver. 18: What a lovely scene! Here are these people, with the foe to be dealt with to-morrow, worshipping the LORD. There was no nonsense about it (ver. 19). Why should they not stand up to praise the LORD with a loud voice on high?
“So shall ye be established” (ver. 20) —that was the point. “I commend you to God,” said the apostle. “We want implicit trust in our God and Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Believe His prophets” —yes, always the word of God for all. Our sorrows arise because we have acted without the sanction of the word.
Ver. 21 “Beauty of holiness,” rather “In holy splendor.” They were not going to do it in tinpot style but “in holy splendor.” They were rather previous, but they were all right. It is a very good receipt to praise beforehand! If God has promised, may we not give thanks? They began the song of triumph, and Jehovah set ambushments.
“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.” How lovely! Israel never shot an arrow; this war never cost them a farthing; no one got a scratch. God said He would fight for them and this is how He did it. To me, this is most delightful. The enemies all slay one another. Judah had said, “Our eyes are upon Thee,” now they get another sight—all dead bodies.
“They were three days gathering the spoil” (vers. 25). Can we think of these three days without thinking of that Blessed One Who won the victory for us? And on the fourth day they blessed the LORD (ver. 26). On their side it was a perfectly bloodless battle! not one soldier missing!
I am looking at it in a practical way for ourselves, but when He comes as the rightful Conqueror, we shall come with Him. They started from the house of Jehovah, and they returned there (ver. 28).
It is a true thing to look to Him. In the early days of our short little history they had not much trouble with those who wanted to come into communion—the fear of the Lord was over them. If we fail, always at once confess it; keep short accounts, and rely on Him, and be obedient to the word of His grace.
W. N. T.