2 Chronicles 20
We have here,
I. The great danger and distress that Jehoshaphat and his kingdom were
in from a foreign invasion,
2 Chronicles 20:1,2.
II. The pious course he took for their safety, by fasting, and praying,
and seeking God,
2 Chronicles 20:3-13.
III. The assurance which God, by a prophet, immediately gave them of
2 Chronicles 20:14-17.
IV. Their thankful believing reception of those assurances,
2 Chronicles 20:18-21.
V. The defeat which God gave to their enemies thereupon,
2 Chronicles 20:22-25.
VI. A solemn thanksgiving which they kept for their victory, and for a
happy consequences of it,
2 Chronicles 20:26-30.
VII. The conclusion of the reign of Jehoshaphat, not without some
2 Chronicles 20:31-37.
|Jehoshaphat's Prayer to God.
||B. C. 892.|
1 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.
2 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 Hazazon-tamar, which is
3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and
proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
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
5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and
Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,
6 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?
7 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?
8 And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary
therein for thy name, saying,
9 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.
10 And 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;
11 Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out
of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.
12 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.
13 And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones,
their wives, and their children.
We left Jehoshaphat, in the foregoing chapter, well employed in
reforming his kingdom and providing for the due administration of
justice and support of religion in it, and expected nothing but to hear
of the peace and prosperity of his reign; but here we have him in
distress, which distress, however, was followed by such a glorious
deliverance as was an abundant recompence for his piety. If we meet
with trouble in the way of duty, we may believe it is that God may have
an opportunity of showing us so much the more of his marvellous
loving-kindness. We have here,
I. A formidable invasion of Jehoshaphat's kingdom by the Moabites, and
Ammonites, and their auxiliaries,
2 Chronicles 20:1.
Jehoshaphat was surprised with the intelligence of it when the enemy
had already entered his country,
2 Chronicles 20:2.
What pretence they had to quarrel with Jehoshaphat does not appear;
they are said to come from beyond the sea, meaning the Dead
Sea, where Sodom had stood. It should seem, they marched through
those of the ten tribes that lay beyond Jordan, and they gave them
passage through their borders; so ungrateful were they to Jehoshaphat,
who had lately put his hand to help them in recovering Ramoth-Gilead.
Several nations joined in this confederacy, but especially the
children of Lot, whom the rest helped,
The neighbouring nations had feared Jehoshaphat
(2 Chronicles 17:10),
but perhaps his affinity with Ahab had lessened him in their esteem,
and they had some intimation that his God was displeased with him for
it, which they fancied would give them an opportunity to make a prey of
II. The preparation Jehoshaphat made against the invaders. No mention
is made of his mustering his forces, which yet it is most probable he
did, for God must be trusted in the use of means. But his great care
was to obtain the favour of God, and secure him on his side, which
perhaps he was the more solicitous about because he had been lately
told that there was wrath upon him from before the Lord,
2 Chronicles 19:2.
But he is of the mind of his father David. If we must be corrected, yet
let us not fall into the hands of man.
1. He feared. Consciousness of guilt made him fear. Those that have
least sin are the most sensible of it. The surprise added to the
fright. Holy fear is a spur to prayer and preparation,
2. He set himself to seek the Lord, and, in the first place, to
make him his friend. Those that would seek the Lord so as to find him,
and to find favour with him, must set themselves to seek him,
must do it with fixedness of thought, with sincerity of intention, and
with the utmost vigour and resolution to continue seeking him.
3. He proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah, appointed a day of
humiliation and prayer, that they might join together in confessing
their sins and asking help of the Lord. Fasting from bodily
refreshments, upon such extraordinary occasions, is a token of
self-judging for the sins we have committed (we own ourselves unworthy
of the bread we eat, and that God might justly withhold it from us),
and of self-denial for the future; fasting for sin implies a
resolution to fast from it, though it has been to us as a sweet
morsel. Magistrates are to call their people to the duty of fasting and
prayer upon such occasions, that it may be a national act, and so may
obtain national mercies.
4. The people readily assembled out of all the cities of Judah in the
court of the temple to join in prayer
(2 Chronicles 20:4),
and they stood before the Lord, as beggars at his door, with
their wives and children; they and their families were in danger, and
therefore they bring their families with them to seek the Lord. "Lord,
we are indeed a provoking people, that deserve to be abandoned to ruin;
but here are little ones that are innocent, let not them perish in the
storm." Nineveh was spared for the sake of the little ones,
The place they met in was the house of the Lord, before the
new court, which was perhaps lately added to the former courts
(that, as some think, which was called the court of the women);
thus they came within reach of that gracious promise which God had
made, in answer to Solomon's prayer,
2 Chronicles 7:15.
My ears shall be attentive to the prayer that is made in this
5. Jehoshaphat himself was the mouth of the congregation to God, and
did not devolve the work upon his chaplains. Though the kings were
forbidden to burn incense, they were allowed to pray and preach; as
Solomon and Jehoshaphat here. The prayer Jehoshaphat prayed, upon this
occasion, is here recorded, or part of it; and an excellent prayer it
(1.) He acknowledges the sovereign dominion of the divine Providence,
gives to God the glory of it and takes to himself the comfort of it
(2 Chronicles 20:6):
"Art not thou God in heaven? No doubt thou art, which none of
the gods of the heathen are; make it to appear then. Is not thy
dominion, supreme over kingdoms themselves, and universal, over all
kingdoms, even those of the heathen that know thee not? Control these
heathen then; set bounds to their daring threatening insults. Is there
not in thy hand the power and might which none is able
to withstand? Lord, exert it on our behalf. Glorify thy own
(2.) He lays hold on their covenant-relation to God and interest in
him. "Thou that art God in heaven art the God of our
(2 Chronicles 20:6)
and our God,
2 Chronicles 20:7.
Whom should we seek to, whom should we trust to, for relief, but to the
God we have chosen and served?"
(3.) He shows the title they had to this good land they were now in
possession of; an indisputable title it was: "Thou gavest it to the
seed of Abraham thy friend. He was thy friend (this is referred to,
to show the honour of Abraham, that he was called the friend of
God); we are his seed, and hope to be beloved for the
"We hold this land by grant from thee. Lord, maintain thy own grant,
and warrant it against all unjust claims. Suffer us not to be cast
out of they possession. We are tenants; thou art our landlord; wilt
thou not hold thy own?"
2 Chronicles 20:11.
Those that use what they have for God may comfortably hope that he will
secure it to them.
(4.) He makes mention of the sanctuary, the temple they had built for
(2 Chronicles 20:8),
not as if that merited any thing at God's hand, for of his own they
gave him, but it was such a token of God's favourable presence with
them that they had promised themselves he would hear and help them
when, in their distress, they cried to him before that house,
2 Chronicles 20:8,9.
"Lord, when it was built it was intended for the encouragement of our
faith at such a time as this. Here thy name is; here we are. Lord, help
us, for the glory of thy name."
(5.) He pleads the ingratitude and injustice of his enemies: "We are
such as it will be thy glory to appear for; they are such as it
will be thy glory to appear against; for,
[1.] They ill requite our ancient kindnesses. Thou wouldst not let
Israel invade them, nor give them any disturbance."
Meddle not with the Edomites, distress not the Moabites, come not
nigh the children of Ammon, no not though they provoke you. "Yet
now see how they invade us." We may comfortably appear to God against
those that render us evil for good.
[2.] "They break in upon our ancient rights. They come to cast us
out of our possessions, and seize our land for themselves. O!
our God, wilt thou not judge them?
2 Chronicles 20:12.
Wilt thou not give sentence against them, and execute it upon them?"
The justice of God is the refuge of those that are wronged.
(6.) He professes his entire dependence upon God for deliverance.
Though he had a great army on foot, and well disciplined; yet he said,
"We have no might against this great company, none without thee,
none that we can expect any thing from without thy special presence and
blessing, none to boast of, none to trust to; but our eyes are upon
thee. We rely upon thee, and from thee is all our expectation. The
disease seems desperate: we know not what to do, are quite at a
loss, in a great strait. But this is a sovereign remedy, our eyes
are upon thee, an eye of acknowledgment and humble submission, an
eye of faith and entire dependence, an eye of desire and hearty prayer,
an eye of hope and patient expectation. In thee, O God! do we put
our trust; our souls wait on thee."
|God's Promise of Victory.
||B. C. 892.|
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
15 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.
16 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.
17 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.
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.
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.
We have here God's gracious answer to Jehoshaphat's prayer; and it was
a speedy answer. While he was yet speaking God heard: before the
congregation was dismissed they had assurance given them that they
should be victorious; for it is never in vain to seek God.
1. The spirit of prophecy came upon a Levite that was present, not in
any place of eminency, but in the midst of the congregation,
2 Chronicles 20:14.
The Spirit, like the wind, blows where and on whom he
listeth. He was of the sons of Asaph, and therefore one of the
singers; on that office God would put an honour. Whether he was a
prophet before this or no is uncertain, most probably he was, which
would make him the more regarded. There needed no sign, the thing
itself was to be performed the very next day, and that would be
confirmation enough to his prophecy.
2. He encouraged them to trust in God, though the danger was very
(2 Chronicles 20:15):
"Be not afraid; you have admitted fear enough to bring you to
God, do not now admit that which will drive you to God, do not now
admit that which will drive you from him again. The battle is not
yours; it is not in your own strength, not for your own cause, that
you engage; the battle is God's: he does and will, as you have
desired, interest himself in the cause."
3. He gives them intelligence of the motions of the enemy, and orders
them to march towards them, with particular directions where they
should find them. To-morrow (the day after the fast) go you
down against them,
2 Chronicles 20:16,17.
It is fit that he who commands the deliverance should command those for
whom the deliverance is to be wrought, and give the necessary orders,
both for time and place.
4. He assures them that they should be, not the glorious instruments,
but the joyful spectators, of the total defeat of the enemy: "You shall
not need to strike a stroke; the work shall be done to your hands; only
stand still and see it,"
2 Chronicles 20:17.
As Moses said to Israel at the Red Sea
"God is with you, who is able to do his work himself, and will
do it. If the battle be his, the victory shall be his too." Let but the
Christian soldier go out against his spiritual enemies, and the God of
peace will tread them under his feet and make him more than a
5. Jehoshaphat and his people received these assurances with faith,
reverence, and thankfulness.
(1.) They bowed their heads, Jehoshaphat first, and then all the
people, fell before the Lord, and worshipped, receiving with a
holy awe and fear of God this token of his favour, and saying with
faith, Be it unto us according to thy word.
(2.) They lifted up their voices in praise to God,
2 Chronicles 20:19.
An active faith can give thanks for a promise though it be not yet
performed, knowing that God's bonds are as good as ready money. God
hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice,
|Ammon or Moab Destroyed.
||B. C. 892.|
20 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.
21 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.
22 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.
23 For 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.
24 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.
25 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.
26 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.
27 Then 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
28 And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and
trumpets unto the house of the LORD.
29 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.
30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him
rest round about.
We have here the foregoing prayer answered and the foregoing promise
performed, in the total overthrow of the enemies' forces and the
triumph (for so it was rather than a victory) of Jehoshaphat's forces
I. Never was army drawn out to the field of battle as Jehoshaphat's
was. He had soldiers ready prepared for war
(2 Chronicles 17:18),
but here is no notice taken of their military equipment, their swords
or spears, their shields or bows. But Jehoshaphat took care,
1. That faith should be their armour. As they went forth, instead of
calling them to handle their arms, and stand to them, to keep ranks,
observe orders, and fight valiantly, he bade them believe in the
Lord God and give credit to his word in the mouth of his prophets,
and assured them that they should prosper and be
2 Chronicles 20:20.
That is true courage which faith inspires a man with; nor will any
thing contribute more to the establishing of the heart in shaking times
than a firm belief of the power, and mercy, and promise of God. The
heart is fixed that thus trusteth in the Lord, and is
kept in perfect peace. In our spiritual conflicts, this is the victory,
this is the prosperity, even our faith.
2. That praise and thanksgiving should be their vanguard,
2 Chronicles 20:21.
Jehoshaphat called a council of war, and it was resolved to appoint
singers to go out before the army, to charge in the front, who
had nothing else to do but to praise God, to praise his holiness, which
is his beauty, to praise him as they did in the temple (that beauty of
holiness) with that ancient and good doxology which eternity itself
will not wear thread-bare, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth
for ever. By this strange advance towards the field of battle,
Jehoshaphat intended to express his firm reliance upon the word of God
(which enabled him to triumph before the battle), to animate his own
soldiers, to confound the enemy, and to engage God on their side; for
praise pleases God better than all burnt offering and
II. Never was army so unaccountably destroyed as that of the enemy; not
by thunder, or hail, or the sword of an angel, not by dint of sword, or
strength of arm, or any surprising alarm, like that which Gideon gave
the Midianites; but the Lord set ambushments against them, either hosts
of angels, or, as bishop Patrick thinks, their own ambushments, whom
God struck with such confusion that they fell upon their own friends as
if they had been enemies, and every one helped to destroy
another, so that none escaped. This God did when his
people began to sing and to praise
(2 Chronicles 20:22),
for he delights to furnish those with matter for praise that
have hearts for it. We read of his being angry at the prayers
of his people
but never at their praises. When they did but begin the work of
praise God perfected the work of their deliverance. What ground there
was for their jealousies one of another does not appear, perhaps there
was none; but so it was that the Ammonites and the Moabites fell foul
upon the Edomites and cut them off, and then they fell out with one
another and cut one another off,
2 Chronicles 20:23.
Thus God often makes wicked people instruments of destruction to one
another; and what alliances can be so firm as to keep those together
whom God designs to dash in pieces one against another? See the
mischievous consequences of divisions which neither of the contending
parties can give any good account of the reason of. Those are
wretchedly infatuated, to their ruin, that fall foul upon their friends
as if they were enemies.
III. Never was spoil so cheerfully divided, for Jehoshaphat's army had
nothing to do besides; the rest was done for them. When they came to
the view of this vast army, instead of finding living men to fight
with, they found them all dead men, and their carcases spread as dung
upon the face of the earth,
2 Chronicles 20:24.
See how rich God is in mercy to those that call upon him in truth, and
how often he out-does him in truth, and how often he out-does the
prayers and expectations of his people. Jehoshaphat and his people
prayed to be delivered from being spoiled by the enemy; and God not
only delivered them, but enriched them with the spoil of the enemy. The
plunder of the field was very great and very rich. They found precious
jewels with the dead bodies, which yet could not save them from being
loathsome carcases. The spoil was more than they could carry
away at once, and they were three days in gathering it,
2 Chronicles 20:25.
Now it appeared what was God's end in bringing this great army against
Judah; it was to humble them and prove them, that he might do them
good in their latter end. It seemed at first a disturbance to their
reformation, but it proved a recompence of it.
IV. Never was victory celebrated with more solemn and enlarged
1. They kept a day of praise in the camp, before they drew their forces
out of the field. Many thanksgivings, no doubt, were offered up to God
immediately; but on the fourth day they assembled in a valley, where
they blessed God with so much zeal and fervency that that day's work
gave a name to the place, the valley of Berachah, that is, of
2 Chronicles 20:26.
The remembrance of this work of wonder was hereby perpetuated, for the
encouragement of succeeding generations to trust in God.
2. Yet they did not think this enough, but came in solemn procession,
all in a body, and Jehoshaphat at the head of them, to Jerusalem, that
the country, as they passed along, might join with them in their
praises, and that they might give thanks for the mercy where they had
by prayer obtained it, in the house of the Lord,
2 Chronicles 20:27,28.
Praising God must not be the work of a day only; but our praises, when
we have received mercy, must be often repeated, as our prayers were
when we were in the pursuit of it. Every day we must bless God; as long
as we live, and while we have any being, we must praise him, spending
our time in that work in which we hope to spend our eternity. Public
mercies call for public acknowledgments in the courts of the Lord's
V. Never did victory turn to a better account than this; for,
1. Jehoshaphat's kingdom was hereby made to look very great and
2 Chronicles 20:29.
When they heard that God fought thus for Israel, they could not but
say, There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, and Happy
art thou, O Israel! It begat in the neighbours a reverence of God
and a cautious fear of doing any injury to his people. It is dangerous
fighting against those who have God with them.
2. It was made very easy and quiet at home,
2 Chronicles 20:30.
(1.) They were quiet among themselves. Those that were displeased at
the destroying of the images and groves were now satisfied, and obliged
to own that since the God of Israel could deliver after this sort he
only is to be worshipped, in that way only which he himself has
(2.) They were quiet from the fear of insults from their neighbours,
God having given them rest round about. And, if he give rest, who can
|Jehoshaphat's Navy Wrecked.
||B. C. 892.|
31 And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty and five
years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five
years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the
daughter of Shilhi.
32 And he walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not
from it, doing that which was right in the sight of the LORD.
33 Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the
people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their
34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last,
behold, they are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani,
who is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel.
35 And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself
with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly:
36 And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to
Tarshish: and they made the ships in Ezion-geber.
37 Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied
against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself
with Ahaziah, the LORD hath broken thy works. And the ships were
broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish.
We are now drawing towards the close of the history of Jehoshaphat's
reign, for a further account of which those who lived when this book
was published were referred to an authentic history of it, written by
Jehu the prophet
(2 Chronicles 19:2),
which was then extant,
2 Chronicles 20:34.
This was the general character of his reign, that he did that which was
right in the sight of the Lord, kept close to the worship of God
himself and did what he could to keep his people close to it. But two
things are here to be lamented:--
1. The people still retained a partiality for the high places,
2 Chronicles 20:33.
Those that were erected to the honour of strange gods were taken away
(2 Chronicles 17:6);
but those where the true God was worshipped, being less culpable, were
thought allowable, and Jehoshaphat was loth to disoblige the people so
far as to take them away, for as yet they had not prepared their hearts
to serve the God of their fathers. They complied with Jehoshaphat's
reformation because they could not for shame do otherwise, but they
were not hearty in it, did not direct their hearts to God in it, did
not act in it from any good principle nor with any zeal or resolution:
and the best magistrates cannot bring to pass what they would, in
reformation, when the people are cool in it.
2. Jehoshaphat himself still retained a partiality for the house of
Ahab, because he had married his son to a daughter of that family,
though he had been plainly reproved for it and had like to have smarted
for it. He saw and knew that Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, did very
wickedly, and therefore could not expect to prosper; yet he joined
himself with him, not in war, as with his father, but in trade, became
his partner in an East India fleet bound for Ophir,
2 Chronicles 20:35,36.
There is an emphasis laid upon the time--after this, after God
had done such great things for him, without any such scandalous and
pernicious confederacies, given him not only victory, but wealth, yet
after this to go and join himself with a wicked king was very
ungrateful. After God had given him such a deliverance as this
should he again break God's commandments, and join in affinity with the
people of these abominations? What could he expect but that God
should be angry with him?
Yet he sends to him, to show him his error and bring him to repentance,
(1.) By a prophet, who foretold the blasting of his project,
2 Chronicles 20:37.
(2.) By a storm, which broke the ships in the port before they set
sail, by which he was warned to break off his alliance with Ahaziah;
and it seems he took the warning, for, when Ahaziah afterwards pressed
him to join with him, he would not,
1 Kings 22:49.
See how pernicious a thing it is to join in friendship and society with
evil-doers. It is a hard matter to break off from it. A man may much
better keep himself from being taken in the snare than recover himself
out of it.