17 1 Asa’s son Jehoshaphat succeeded him as king. Jehoshaphat strengthened his position against Israel 2 by stationing troops in the fortified cities of Judah and placing soldiers throughout the land of Judah and in the cities of Ephraim that his father Asa had captured. 3 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the earlier ways of his father by not seeking Baal. 4 Instead, he sought the God of his father, and unlike Israel, he followed God’s commandments. 5 The Lord gave him firm control over the kingdom, and all Judah brought Jehoshaphat tribute, so that he had abundant riches and honor. 6 Jehoshaphat took pride in the Lord’s ways and again removed the shrines and the sacred poles from Judah.
7 In the third year of his rule, Jehoshaphat sent his officials Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah to teach in the cities of Judah. 8 They were accompanied by the Levites Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah, and by the priests Elishama and Jehoram. 9 They taught throughout Judah. They brought with them the Lord’s Instruction scroll as they made their rounds to all the cities of Judah, teaching the people.
There were two motivations at hand for choosing this scripture. The first was yesterday’s excellent message delivered by visiting pastor Rev. Jess Winderweedle. One of the things that Jess touched on was that scripture can be difficult but if you have the courage to stay in the Word, when you at first cannot seem to find meaning or connection, you will be rewarded. Today’s scripture tells the story of a leader, King Jehoshaphat, whose character, and actions would be what we could really appreciate today.
First though a note of clarification. The bible tells us that on the succession of Solomon’s son Rehoboam, the United Jewish Monarchy split with Israel in the north and Judah in the south containing Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple. The story of King Jehoshaphat is a story of faithfulness in God’s rewarding obedience resulting in honor, wealth, and rest.
In verses 1 and 2 we are told it is likely the northern kingdom had begun to threaten Judah just before Jehoshaphat came to the throne after his father Asa had died. Jehoshaphat took defensive steps to protect his kingdom which prevented an attack from the north, without bloodshed. His nature was to protect his country and people, not aggression. We can interpret verses 3 – 6 to mean that he walked in God’s commandments and worshipped the Lord God. Doing good and being in relationship with God was his desire to the extent that his heart was lifted up. He kept idols out because he knew that they would only put his people in bondage.
The last three verses really flesh out Jehoshaphat’s relationship with God. He sent out teachers and priests to teach the people God’s law, correct the people when they did wrong and teach them to do better. It would seem that the more there was of true understanding of God in the land, the more the people would be loyal and appreciative.
by Clarence Beverage
For Pondering & Prayer
If you enjoy studying human nature, the bible is a terrific book in my opinion. Unfortunately, human nature often involves mistakes, problems, and things that we can learn from to do better. This story makes my heart feel good. It is not often that we see such character and interest by a leader in the welfare of the people.
How do you see this story? Does this encourage you to be like Jehoshaphat?
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for giving us your Word which is complete in so many ways. We ask that you give us the courage to persevere when we feel weak or disconnected from you. May your Spirit strengthen us and those around us who touch our lives. Amen