To the contents of this chapter, and to the reign of Jehoshaphat, which occupies this and the following three chapters, the Book of Kings furnishes as yet no parallel. All that it has to say of Jehoshaphat now is summed up in one sentence (1 Kings 15:24), "And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead," till we arrive at the ten verses of 1 Kings 22:41-51, with their very slender sketch (see also 2 Kings 3:1-14).
2 Chronicles 17:1
Jehoshaphat. In 2 Chronicles 20:31 and 1 Kings 22:41, 1 Kings 22:42 we are told that Jehoshaphat was now thirty-five years of age. He must, therefore, have been born when Asa was in the sixth year of his reign, and presumably not under sixteen years of age. His reign extended to twenty-five years, i.e. from B.C. 914 to B.C. 889. The name signifies "whom God judges," or "pleads for." Ahab is now in the fourth year of his reign, and the symptoms he manifests (1 Kings 16:30-33) are those that the rather urge Jehoshaphat to strengthen himself, i.e. strengthen the defences of his kingdom on the Israel side.
2 Chronicles 17:2
He placed forces; literally, he gave (Genesis 1:17) forces, or a force, or host, or army: חַיִל (Exodus 14:28; 2 Samuel 24:2). And set garrisons; again literally, he gave garrisons ( נְאִיבִים ); i.e. either the persons "set over," prefects or officers (1 Kings 4:19), or the military garrison itself "stationed" (1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Samuel 13:3). A village in Judah also had the name Nezeb (Joshua 15:45). In the cities of Ephraim (see 2 Chronicles 15:8).
2 Chronicles 17:3
The first ways of his father David. Although there would be no difficulty in reconciling this statement with history, yet probably the name David should not stand here. It is not in the Septuagint. The most natural and sufficient reference is to Asa. And sought not unto Ballim; literally, to the Baalim; i.e. to the various false gods of surrounding peoples ( 2:11), Baal-berith ( 8:33; 9:4, 9:46), Baal-zebub (2 Kings 1:2), Baal-peor (Numbers 23:28, etc.; Numbers 25:3), according to the places where the idolatrous worship was carried on. (For the preposition לְ, "to," after "sought," in this and following verse, see again 1 Chronicles 22:19 .)
2 Chronicles 17:4
After the doings of Israel. This expression probably marks the doings of the northern kingdom, as both the more typical throughout its whole history of the wrong, and also as the systematic beginning, "by a law," of idolatrous worship and images in the matter of the calves and so on.
2 Chronicles 17:5
All Judah brought presents to Jehoshaphat. These presents were, of course, voluntary gifts, though, like not a few others, custom may have taken off from them something of the bloom of spontaneousness (1 Samuel 10:27; 2 Samuel 8:2; 1 Kings 4:21; 1 Kings 10:25; Psalms 72:10).
2 Chronicles 17:6
And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord. Although the verb גָבַהּ often carries a bad sense with it, it quite as often carries with it a good one in the Old Testament, and the typical instance of the former (Psalms 131:1) is fully counterbalanced by Isaiah 52:13. The marginal "was enencouraged may be superseded with advantage by "took courage" (Isaiah 40:29-31). The groves. Supersede this incorrect rendering by the Asherim; and upon the seeming discrepancy, see again Isaiah 15:1-9 :17, and "Introduction to Chronicles" there quoted.
2 Chronicles 17:7-9
He sent; Hebrew, שָׁלַח . The Hebrew text distinctly says, he sent to his princes, not, "he sent his princes." The meaning is—he sent orders to his princes to see to it that Judah was taught (2 Chronicles 17:9) the book of the Law of the Lord (Le 2 Chronicles 10:11; Deuteronomy 4:9; Deuteronomy 17:18), not, indeed, without their own personal aid in whatever way able to be given, but systematically and with authority by the Levites and priests (Deuteronomy 33:10). This deeper fathoming of the needs of the time, and of what constituted its real safety, was greatly to the spiritual credit of Jehoshaphat. The references (2 Chronicles 15:3; 2 Chronicles 35:2-4, 2 Chronicles 35:10-12) are full of point. None of these princes, or Levites and priests, are elsewhere mentioned by name.
2 Chronicles 17:10
The moral effect of this peaceful war of Jehoshaphat is manifestly great.
2 Chronicles 17:11
The presents were probably enough in the nature of tribute, the "fixed rate" of which is sometimes alluded to (1 Kings 4:21; 1 Kings 10:25; 2 Samuel 8:2), but it is doubtful whether the word מַשָּׁא purports to say this. The word means "bearing" or "carrying," and then "a burden, load, or weight." The expression (2 Chronicles 20:25), "more than they could carry away," where this word is used, favours the idea that the meaning here is "silver of great weight." Probably the moral significance and historical interest, whether of this statement respecting the Philistines, or the following respecting the Arabians, lies in the fact that both of them brought, without more ado, their payments, and did not seek to slip out of their engagements with Judah and Judah's king. Note, for confirmation of this view, 2 Kings 3:4, 2 Kings 3:5.
2 Chronicles 17:12
Castles. This rendering, better than "palaces" (margin), wound bear improving to the rather stronger word "fortresses," Hebrew, בִּירָנִיּוֹת, found only here and in 2 Chronicles 27:4, plur. of בִּירָנִית connected with the Chaldee and later Hebrew, בִּירָה, of Ezra 6:2 ; Nehemiah 1:1; Esther 1:2; Daniel 8:2, Cities of store (see note under 2 Chronicles 8:4; see also 1 Kings 9:19; Exodus 1:11).
2 Chronicles 17:13
Much business; Hebrew, מְלָאכָה . The meaning of the word is "service?' "labour bestowed;" and the verse reads, "And there was to him much labour in the cities of Judah, and men of war, mighty men of valour, in Jerusalem;" i.e. He bestoweth much pains on the cities of Judah, and had, etc. The word "were," Authorized Version italics, is incorrectly inserted. The former half of this verse would better constitute the end of 2 Chronicles 17:12. Keil, however, maintains the rendering "substance;" "property," for מְלָאכָה : (Exodus 22:7, Exodus 22:10).
2 Chronicles 17:14
This verse, with the following four, gives us the names of five captains, chiefs, princes, or military officers for the kingdom's service, with the numbers of the troops they severally commanded. The numbers of them (see note under 1 Chronicles 23:11); Hebrew, פקֻדָּתָם . The better English rendering to carry at once the signification would be, The muster of them, etc. The captains … the chief, In both cases the Hebrew is the familiar word for" prince" ( שָׂר ); in the former without article, in the latter with article. The numbers of this and following four verses are not only absolutely unreliable, but in themselves impossible. According to the house of their fathers; i.e. the quotation is drawn from an army catalogue, arranged carefully by fathers' houses (Numbers 1:18, Numbers 1:22, etc.).
2 Chronicles 17:15
The captain. So again read, the prince.
2 Chronicles 17:16
Amaziah, the son of Zichri. This man is not titled at all. The description of him as one who had willingly offered himself unto the Lord, not elucidated by the context or any effective parallel, will mark something honorable in his history. Possibly he comes from an unexpected quarter, and is a man of approved skill. Nothing further is known of these three men. Meantime it has been suggested (Professor Dr. J. Murphy, of Belfast, ' Handbook to Chronicles ') that the first of the three was for Judah proper the second for that contingent of Judah that hailed from Dan and the Philistines; and the third for that of Simeon and the Arabs.
2 Chronicles 17:17
Of Benjamin … armed men with bow and shield (see 2 Chronicles 14:8, and note thereunder).
2 Chronicles 17:18
While Eliada of last verse was for Benjamin, Professor Dr. Murphy supposes that Jehozabad was for the annexed part of Ephraim. But no suppositions of this kind can avail to explain the numbers in the text, which is no doubt corrupt.
2 Chronicles 17:19
These waited; Hebrew, הַמְשָׁרְתִים, plur. piel part. of שָׁרַת . The verse states that this enormous fivefold army, with its five princes (counting, in our corrupt text, one million one hundred and sixty thousand), was the king's Jerusalem standing army, while other separate regiments or bands of troops were spread through all Judah, where they might be most needed for defence.
2 Chronicles 17:1-9
The first chapter of Jehoshaphat's career.
Although to the end Jehoshaphat was neither an unfaithful king nor an unfaithful man, and certainly no apostate, yet the first chapter of his career reads the best. The mounting of the sun was fine, but clouds hung about the noonday sun, and the setting was not a sky of perfect western glory. The unfolding of the bud looked towards a perfect flower, but some blight seemed to visit it, and some worm was in the fruit. The three chief features of this beginning of Jehoshaphat's reign show most healthfully, as follows:—
I. HIS VARIED DETERMINED ATTENTION AND DEVOTION TO HOME. Policy would dictate it, kindness and love would urge it, in all the wide range of its analogies; wisdom would smile upon it; hut duty, with solemn, dignified voice, commands it. The Christian of youngest earliest faith is taught to provide for his own household; the apostles are to begin at Jerusalem; the man of business belies the name and forfeits his character, and brings himself to the ground, if he do not follow a similar rule; and certainly the king and the man in authority, be the nature of his rule what it may, can make himself no exception. We see with satisfaction King Jehoshaphat make his footing sure in this essential way. These all rehearse the principle that every man must rule first the domain of his own innermost kingdom, his own heart and life, where none may rule, nay, none can, except himself—or himself and God!
II. HIS LEGISLATION FOR THE REVIVAL OF THE RELIGIOUS EDUCATION OF THE PEOPLE, AND HIS CARRYING OF THE SAME INTO EFFECT. Ignorance is no safety, though knowledge is responsibility. Mere knowledge, mental gift, mental activity, mental acquisition, mental store, and store of experience, even,—these are no reliable sources of real safety, neither guide nor refuge for the real life. For these, religious education is necessary. Religious education rests on religious knowledge. Religious knowledge rests on religious teaching and teachers, and these mean the teaching and the teachers of revelation. So the right principles of action get reached, and motive dormant or even unborn springs into life and action. Nor is it immaterial to observe—the very opposite, indeed, of immaterial—that, in so complex and multitudinous a life as that of a nation, it must be more than ever hopeless, that any principle can motive its life, any mechanism regulate it, any influence elevate and purify it, except such as work just as religion does, on every individual equally, on the innermost thought and feeling of every individual, and with no secondary force, but with sovereign authoritative command met by willingly conceded obedience from the heart. In nothing throughout all his reign was Jehoshaphat so right as in restoring and paying all attention to the restoring of religious education.
III. THE GREAT, MOST EXCEPTIONAL, AND MOST TO BE DESIRED HARVEST REAPED. The greatness of that harvest was seen in the fact that it was so general, so widespread. "All the lands round about Judah" and "Philistia" and "Arabia" swelled it. They who had silver, brought silver; and they who had flocks, flocks. The exceptional character of it lay in the fact that it was so largely due to moral sources. Jehoshaphat had not as yet waged a war nor fought a battle. But the fame of him round about was as of the coming man. And it may most justly be pronounced a harvest that was to be desired, in that it is more pointedly described, most precisely described as the result of this, that it was, behind and above all else, "the fear of the Lord" that "fell on all." There is no so honourable reward, title, "present," that can be conferred on mortal man, as that which comes to that man by virtue of" the fear of the Lord" falling on those around him, and yet somehow linking him with it. It looks as though he had been very right himself, unusually right; yet in nothing more right, nothing more happy, than in the impression which it would appear he has honestly and successfully given, that it is and has been as the servant and minister of the Lord, that he has been acting, under him, for him, and with the smile of his prospering blessing resting on him, and his seed-sowing and growing.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
2 Chronicles 17:1, 2 Chronicles 17:2
Jehoshaphat did well to "strengthen himself against Israel." One that ought to be in the closest possible relationship to us but that is formally separated from us and that is likely to be jealous of our power is most to be feared by us. The avowed enemy is not so hostile as the envious rival, as the unfriendly "neighbour." And there was nothing of untrustfulness in this procedure of the king's. Had he gone to Syria as his father did (2 Chronicles 16:2) for help against Israel, he would have been open to just rebuke as Asa was; but in keeping his own fortresses in good sound condition, in seeing that they were well manned and fortified, he was simply acting with that practical sagacity which is not condemned but commended of God (Luke 16:9, Luke 16:10). The words suggest to us some lessons concerning the wisdom of spiritual fortification.
I. THE SUPREME QUESTION. Are we in the enemy's country, in a strange land; or are we in our own true home? Are we in a state of spiritual bondage or dependence, or are we enjoying true spiritual liberty? Is God our only Sovereign, and are we rejoicing in his gracious, benignant sway?. Are our souls right with him, and, being right with him, are they free from the tyranny of all other lords? Is our spiritual estate one of honourable loyalty to God and of honourable freedom from all servitude and subjection?
II. THE NEXT VITAL CONSIDERATION. Are we taking wise measures to" strengthen ourselves" against our natural or probable enemies? It is most unwise to assume that, because it is well with us now, it must always be well with us. "Final perseverance" as a sacred obligation is an excellent doctrine, but not as a mere comforting assumption.
III. SPIRITUAL FORTIFICATION. HOW shall we "place forces in our fenced cities," and "set garrisons in the land"? We shall do this:
1. By forming wise habits of devotion.
2. By entering on a course of sacred usefulness. Nothing is so likely to keep the flame of piety alight on the altar of our hearts, to preserve our own moral and spiritual integrity, as doing, regularly and methodically, some real service to other souls.
3. Maintaining a right attitude of soul. The attitude of humility, and therefore of conscious dependence on God; the attitude of wariness and watchfulness against the first uprising of evil against us or within us; the attitude of thoughtfulness; the disposition to let our mind go toward those things which are highest and worthiest, toward the truth of God, toward the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. With such "fenced cities ' as these in the soul, we shall be strong against the enemy whom we have most to fear.—C.
2 Chronicles 17:3-6
The wise choice and the happy course.
We have before us here the king who made the wise choice, and who consequently ran through a very happy course. In him we have an example; in it a promise for ourselves.
I. THE WISE CHOICE, WHICH IS AN EXAMPLE TO US. Jehoshaphat:
1. Preferred the true God to the false deities; he "sought to the Lord God of his father," and he "sought not unto Baalim." Moreover, he set before him, as that which he should copy:
2. The best part of the best man's life. Not the life of the less perfect Abijah or Rehoboam, or even Solomon, but David; and of his life, not the latter part, which was more luxurious and less pure, but "the first ways of his father David," which were lees luxurious and more pure than the last. Herein he showed an excellent judgment. He could not have done a wiser thing, as he certainly could not have done anything more solemnly and stringently binding upon him, than resolve to cleave to the "God of his fathers"—the God who had called both king and kingdom into existence, to whom he and his people owed all that they were and had. There were certain fascinations connected with the worship of Baalim appealing to their lower nature; but what were these to the weighty and overwhelming considerations that bound him to Jehovah? And he could not have done better than choose for his exemplar the devout and faithful David; and, choosing him, to select the earlier and worthier part of his very checkered and somewhat uneven life. Before us is a similar choice, and we must make up our mind what we will decide upon.
II. THE HAPPY COURSE, WHICH IS A PROMISE FOR US. Jehoshaphat had all that a king could well wish for.
1. A sense of God's favouring presence (2 Chronicles 17:3).
2. A sense of growing security throughout his kingdom (2 Chronicles 17:5).
3. The testimony of his people's attachment to his person (2 Chronicles 17:5). 4- Honour as well as abundance (2 Chronicles 17:5).
5. Elation of heart, great and continuous gladness in the service of Jehovah (2 Chronicles 17:6).
6. The expenditure of his power m further cleansing usefulness (2 Chronicles 17:6). What rewards of the king's fidelity were due to his royal position we, of course, cannot look for. But if we make the wiser choice we may reckon upon a life of true and real blessedness. To us there will be secured
2 Chronicles 17:7-9
A strong because instructed people.
Jehoshaphat had not been long on the throne before he took a step admirably adapted to benefit and, indeed, to bless the nation. Better than "strengthening himself against Israel" by increasing his garrisons (2 Chronicles 17:1, 2 Chronicles 17:2) was the enlightenment of "all the cities of Judah," the teaching of "the people" (2 Chronicles 17:9) from "the book of the Law of the Lord."
I. STRENGTH IN INSTRUCTION. It is well for a land to have its strong, unassailable fortresses, its well-garrisoned towns, its frontier of steep mountain or of precipitous rock. But the strength of a nation does not reside in such defences as these; it lies in the intelligence, the vigour, the courage, the patriotism, of its people. All material munitions will fail to keep out the enemy when "the people" are corrupt and enfeebled. Without any remarkable fortifications constructed by human art and labour, a free, brave, godly nation will be respected and preserved. And such a nation will be only found where there is knowledge and consequent intelligence. You cannot build anything durable on ignorance. Ignorance means folly, indulgence in the lower pleasures, feebleness, decline. "Knowledge is power" in more ways than one.
II. INSTRUCTION IN SACRED TRUTH. Power needs to be rightly guided; misguided, it is the source of greatest evil. Everything depends on the way in which intelligence is directed. Genius, working towards an evil end, is a force that is simply terrible. The world can suffer no sadder infliction than a man or a community possessed of the power of highly cultivated intelligence, but unregulated by righteous principles, abandoning itself to unworthy impulses. Therefore was it of the first importance that those who went "throughout all the cities of Judah" should "teach the people" from "the book of the Law of the Lord." Thence they would gain those directing truths, those commanding principles which would lead in the ways of holiness and heavenly wisdom. Therefore is it of the first importance, here and everywhere, that throughout all our cities and all our towns and villages we should not only have "the schoolmaster abroad," but have the Christian teacher also, busily, earnestly, faithfully making known the will of God, the truth and grace of Jesus Christ, basing all character on sound morality, and basing all morals on their only sound foundation, Christian truth.
III. SACRED TRUTH SUPPLIED IN EVERY OPEN WAY. Jehoshaphat did not think it enough to leave things to be done by existing institutions. Like a wise and an earnest man, he east about for additional methods, he looked in all directions for competent men to effect his pious purpose. And he called out:
1. The man who brought the weight of his social position—the prince (2 Chronicles 17:7).
2. The man who carried the influence of his sacred office—the priest (2 Chronicles 17:8).
3. The man who contributed the strength of special training—the Levite (2 Chronicles 17:8). Thus wisely and effectively are we to work. In our country there is:
2 Chronicles 17:16
When it is said of Amasiah that he "willingly offered himself unto the Lord," we have a thought conveyed to us respecting the character of a Hebrew general's life, and we have a form of words strikingly suggestive of the true nature of all sacred service. We look at both.
I. THE CHARACTER OF AMASIAH'S SERVICE. By the phrase here employed it was probably meant that he entered upon his work as a captain of Jehoshaphat's army in a spirit of religious devotedness. We need not be surprised at that. The idea of the essential wrongness of war is modern, is Christian. It would not occur to the mind, and would not therefore trouble the conscience, of any man living in that age. There would be no reason, in his mind, why he should not give himself up to the soldier's profession, and go through all military duties of every kind in the spirit of self-surrender to the service of God. And whatever we may think on this subject, we should certainly conclude, and act upon the conviction, that, in determining our course of life, we should seek and find that to which we can give ourselves with religious earnestness. There is no reason why any profession should not be a vocation; that to which a man feels himself called of God; that in which he may be continually serving God and honouring his Name; that in which he will make every effort to illustrate the essential graces which Jesus Christ has commended to us, both by his words and by his example.
II. AN ESSENTIAL FEATURE OF ALL ACCEPTABLE SERVICE. It must surely be recorded in the "book of life" concerning every heir of heaven, that he "offered himself willingly unto the Lord." For what other service than that is worthy of acceptance?
1. The submission and surrender of our will is the act of entrance upon the life which is Divine. It is not knowledge, it is not feeling, it is not compulsory action, or action wrought for recompense, that constitutes true childhood; all of these may exist, and yet there may remain estrangement from God. But however slight be the knowledge, and though emotion be but small, and before any deeds of service have become possible, if a man bows his will to the will of God and resolves to surrender himself to the service of his Saviour, then he has entered the kingdom; he is one of the redeemed of the Lord; his feet are found in the path of life eternal; he has only to go on in the way in which he is walking.
2. Our daily service is excellent and acceptable in proportion to its cheerful willingness. To do the right thing with indeed the consent of our will, but only with a reluctant and struggling acquiescence, places the servant at one end of the scale. To do the right thing with alacrity, with cheerfulness, with earnestness of spirit, with an animating eagerness and abounding joy, places the servant at the other end of the scale of Divine acceptableness, commendation, and reward. "God loves the cheerful giver; "not only the giver of his money, but of his time, of his strength, of his intellectual resources, of all the forces of his soul, of all the opportunities of his life.—C.
HOMILIES BY T. WHITELAW
2 Chronicles 17:1-6
The accession of Jehoshaphat.
I. THE DATE OF HIS CORONATION.
1. The thirty-fifth year of his age. He was thus born in the sixth year of Asa's reign (2 Chronicles 16:14), during the ten years of quiet. His mother was Azubah, the daughter of Shilhi (1 Kings 22:42). A man of mature years when he ascended the throne, he was better qualified to bear the load of responsibility his father's decease had, in God's providence, cast upon him.
2. The fourth year of Ahab King of Israel (1 Kings 22:41). If Judah was fortunate in getting such a sovereign as Jehoshaphat, Jeshoshaphat was unfortunate in having such a neighbour as Ahab (1 Kings 16:30-33). Man is always more or less influenced by his surroundings, and especially by his neighbours. These, when good, are a blessing; when evil, a curse. In the latter case, if he cannot improve them, they will deteriorate him (2 Chronicles 18:1).
II. THE RENOWN OF HIS THRONE. The throne:
1. Of a prosperous kingdom. Judah, if small, was valiant and religious. Under the preceding reign it had achieved brilliant feats in battle, and advanced considerably on the path of religious reform.
2. Of a good father. With all his imperfections, Ass was one of the best of Judah's kings, and it was no slight honour that Jehoshaphat should have descended from and succeeded such a parent. Noblesse oblige: it entailed on Jehoshaphat the duty of walking in his father's footsteps as man and king.
3. Of a famous ancestor. The throne he ascended had come down from David, the second king of united Israel, in direct and unbroken succession, whereas the throne of Israel had thrice changed dynasties and always for the worse (1 Kings 15:27; 1 Kings 16:10, 1 Kings 16:22).
4. Of a great God. The throne Jehoshaphat obtained was Jehovah's, and Jehoshaphat was merely his viceroy and representative.
III. THE PRUDENCE OF HIS RULE.
1. He considered Israel as an enemy. This was wise. If Baasha had been hostilely disposed towards Judah all the days of his father Asa, Ahab was not likely to be more peacefully inclined. Cautious men should understand the situations in which they are placed. No good can come from mistaking enemies for friends.
2. He strengthened himself against Israel. He planted garrisons throughout Judah and in the cities of Mount Ephraim his father had captured from Baasha (2 Chronicles 15:8), and located forces in all the fenced cities of Judah. "The prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; the simple pass on, and are punished" (Proverbs 22:3; Proverbs 27:12). "The prudent man looketh well to his going" (Proverbs 14:15), especially when Ahabs are abroad.
IV. THE GREATNESS OF HIS ALLY. Asa had sought a league with Benhadad of Syria (2 Chronicles 16:2).:Jehoshaphat preferred a league with Jehovah (2 Chronicles 17:8). An ally:
1. All-powerful, as his father Asa once believed (2 Chronicles 14:11), as David had often sung (Psalms 66:3; Psalms 76:6, Psalms 76:7; Psalms 89:8), as Moses had long ago taught (Deuteronomy 7:21), as Miriam had chanted on the sea-shore (Exodus 15:8), and as Jehovah himself had once reminded Abraham (Genesis 18:14).
2. Omniscient, as Hanani the seer had on a memorable occasion told his father (2 Chronicles 16:9), and as he perhaps remembered, having been then a boy of ten years of age; an ally who could assist in every strait for which his aid was wanted (Proverbs 15:3)—yea, who could detect straits and emergencies in which his aid would be wanted before the individual himself should see them, and who would be forward with reinforcements even before their need was discerned.
3. Unchanging. Benhadad broke his league with Baasha (2 Chronicles 16:4), as doubtless he would have done with Asa had more powerful inducements been offered him by Baasha or another. When Jehovah covenants with his people, he changes not (1 Samuel 15:29; Psalms 111:5; Isaiah 54:10; Jeremiah 33:20, Jeremiah 33:21; Malachi 3:6).
4. Gracious. Benhadad required to be bribed. Jehovah grants his friendship and aid free, stipulating only that they whose ally he becomes shall be true to him (2 Chronicles 15:2). Motley, somewhere in his 'Dutch Republic,' says that when William of Orange was advised to seek the help of European sovereigns in his struggle with Philip of Spain, he replied that he had formed a league with the King of kings.
V. THE QUALITY OF HIS RELIGION.
1. Personal. Jehoshaphat as a man, not merely as a monarch, was pious. He, and not only his temple officials, sought Jehovah. Religion nothing, if not personal. Kings as well as subjects are under law to God.
2. Practical. Jehoshaphat's piety was not limited to state proclamations, or official acts of homage to Jehovah in the temple, but extended to the domain of his own individual walk.
3. Ancestral. It had been the religion of his father Asa and of his renowned ancestor David in their best days, of Asa before he took the first false step in leaving Jehovah for Benhadad, of David before and after he sinned in connection with Bathsheba.
4. Scriptural. It was the worship of Jehovah as prescribed by the Law of Moses, and not the service of idols as practised by the northern kingdom; in particular not the adoration of golden calves like those at Dan and Bethel (1 Kings 12:28). Scripture the only directory of worship for the New Testament Church.
5. Reformatory. Not content with abstaining from idolatrous worship, Jehoshaphat abandoned the position of neutrality and compromise his father had occupied (2 Chronicles 15:17); he "took away the high places and groves out of Judah." Neutrality in religion always an impossibility (Joshua 24:15), is less a possibility now than ever (Matthew 12:30).
VI. THE REWARD OF HIS PIETY.
1. Jehovah established the kingdom in his hand. Jehovah had done so to David (2 Samuel 5:12) and to Solomon (1 Kings 2:46), according to his promise (2 Samuel 7:12, 2 Samuel 7:13; 1 Kings 9:5). In continuation of that promise, he now confirms the government of Judah in the hands of their descendant. The only real King-maker and Throne-establisher is God (Proverbs 8:15; Psalms 2:6; Psalms 61:6; Hosea 13:11). No monarch can keep his crown when God wishes to uncrown him; no throne can be upset until God grants permission to throw it down.
2. His subjects did him homage by presenting gifts. (2 Chronicles 17:5.) Hardly taxes, but free-will offerings over and above, in expression of loyalty and good will, as appears to have been customary on the accession of a king (1 Samuel 10:27). It augurs well for a reign when it begins with God's blessing and the people's favour. No ruler's title is complete, wanting either of these seals.
3. He had riches and honour in abundance. This accorded with the promise given to the good man (Psalms 112:1-3). God never fails to honour them who honour him (1 Samuel 2:30), or to enrich, if not with material yet with spiritual treasures, such as serve him with fidelity and fear (Proverbs 3:16; Proverbs 22:4). See this illustrated in the lives of David (1 Chronicles 29:28), Solomon (1 Kings 10:24, 1 Kings 10:25, 1 Kings 10:27; 2 Chronicles 9:23, 2 Chronicles 9:24), and Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:7).
VII. THE HAPPINESS OF HIS HEART. This was "lifted up in the ways of the Lord" (2 Chronicles 17:6), not with pride, but:
1. With inward satisfaction. True religion diffuses such a feeling through the heart (Psalms 119:165; Proverbs 3:17; Isaiah 32:17; Isaiah 48:18).
2. With earnest resolution. The elevation of spirit he experienced impelled him to labour for the reformation of his country and the improvement of his people. Sincere piety ever seeks to extend itself. Genuine goodness always aims at doing good to others. Christ commands his followers to do good and communicate (Matthew 10:8).
1. The responsibility of high station.
2. The duty of earnestness in religion.
3. The profit of true piety.
4. The joy of godliness.—W.
2 Chronicles 17:7-9
An old Education Act.
I. ITS PROMULGATION.
1. By whom? Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa and King of Judah. Kings and parliaments should care for the education of the people. No better means of promoting social order.
2. When? In the third year of his reign. Jehoshaphat postponed not a work so excellent, but assigned it a precedence, answering to its importance. Of greater consequence was it for the prosperity of his dominions and the peace of his reign that his subjects should be instructed, than that his armies should be drilled or his garrisons strengthened.
3. For what end? The religious improvement of the people. Under the Old Testament economy that formed part of the duty of the Hebrew state, because state and Church were then one. Under the New Testament economy, when state and Church are not coextensive, the obligation to provide religious education for both old and young rests exclusively upon the Church; the furtherance of secular instruction being the department that properly belongs to the state. If, however, the state is not required to directly furnish teaching in religion, it is not at liberty to hinder the Church, but is bound to afford her free scope for discharging the special work committed to her care.
II. ITS CONSTITUTION.
1. Three orders of teachers.
2. Three kinds of instruction. This at least probable from the appointing of three classes of teachers.
III. ITS OPERATION. It was put in force:
1. Immediately. Good resolutions cannot be too soon carried out, or good schemes too quickly set on foot. Quite as many noble projects are ruined by procrastination as by undue haste.
2. Universally. The teaching deputies went through the land, visited the cities and villages, and left no part unblessed by their labours. 3..Earnestly. They taught the people; not simply opened schools, and read dry and uninteresting lectures on civil, ecclesiastical, and religious history, but saw that the people understood and practised what was taught.
1. The true glory of a king—to care for the welfare of his subjects.
2. The value of secular, but especially of religious, instruction.
3. The best spring of prosperity for a people-knowledge of the Law of the Lord.
4. The true function of a teacher—to cause the people to understand.
5. The ultimate end of education—obedience.—W.
2 Chronicles 17:10-19
The greatness of Jehoshaphat.
I. JEHOSHAPHAT'S NEIGHBOURS.
1. Afraid of his greatness. As on the cities round Jacob and his sons when they fled from Shecham (Genesis 35:5), the terror of Jehovah was on Jehoshaphat's neighbours. Regarding Jehoshaphat as under the protection of Heaven, they hesitated to try conclusions with him on the field of war.
2. Solicitous of his favor. This some sought by means of gifts. The Philistines brought presents and silver of tribute, or "silver a burden," i.e. a great quantity (Bertheau, Keil); the Arabians offered flocks—7700 he-goats, and 7700 rams.
II. JEHOSHAPHAT'S BUILDINGS.
1. Castles, or palaces. Oriental kings commonly attested their magnificence by temple and palace building; e.g. Solomon (2 Chronicles 8:1, etc.).
2. Store-cities. Arsenals or magazines for supplying the garrisons. In them Jehoshaphat had much property (Keil).
III. JEHOSHAPHAT'S WARRIORS.
1. Those who served in Jerusalem.
2. Those who served in Judah. The officers and companies distributed throughout the different garrisons in the land.
1. The influence of true religion even on the wicked.
2. The superior glory of good character, as compared with great condition.
3. The dignity implied in being a soldier of Jesus Christ.—W.