Allow me to introduce you to King Jehoshaphat, king of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. He is the son of King Asa and is a contemporary of wicked King Ahab, husband to Queen Jezebel. Ahab and Jezebel were reigning in the Northern Kingdom of Israel around the same time Jehoshaphat was ruling in Judah. In fact, in 2 Chronicles 18, you can read about an alliance that was formed between wicked King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat.
As a result of this unholy alliance, Judah and Israel were defeated in a battle with Syria and King Ahab died. It was after this defeat by the Syrians that we find Judah coming under attack again by the children and of Moab and Ammon (2 Chronicles 20:1-2). The record is clear—Jehoshaphat was afraid according to verse 3. But I love his response—he “set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:3).
Is this how you and I deal with problems in our lives? When fear comes due to our circumstances which is a natural human response, how do we handle it? Jehoshaphat set a great example for his people and for all of us to follow. But it doesn’t stop there!
The record in 2 Chronicles 20 goes on to give us Jehoshaphat’s prayer with the enemies closing in from all sides. Here is what he asked the Lord:
"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? 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? And they dwelt therein, and have built Thee a sanctuary therein for Thy name, saying, 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. 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; 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." 2 Chronicles 20:6-12
My Life Application Study Bible broke down the vital ingredients of Jehoshaphat’s prayer that can help us in times like these.
The part that really jumped off the page for me comes next. Jehoshaphat finished his prayer and then this happens. Look at 2 Chronicles 20:13:
“And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.” 2 Chronicles 20:13
I have often studied how to pray and seen many helpful passages like the one we just looked at to help us pray as we should. But the thing that I often forget to do in my prayer is to listen!
Jehoshaphat and all the people of Judah stood before the Lord and waited for Him to answer them. My, what a difference it would make if I didn’t rush off after the “Amen” of my prayer, but instead waited for a bit before the Lord. My heart has been gripped by this verse.
It wasn’t until after they waited that the record goes on to describe how the Spirit of the LORD came to one of the Levites named Jahaziel and told him what the battle plan was to lead them to victory. The people listened to Jahaziel and achieved that great victory against the Ammonites and the Moabites. Their response upon their return to Jerusalem was just what our response should be—praising God and giving Him all the glory for what He accomplished through them!
I can testify in my own life that I am quick to ask the Lord for His help, but then I can be very quickly dissatisfied that the answer has not come immediately. This record of a king who wasn’t perfect by any means worked to stir my heart about my need to take the time to stand before the Lord and wait patiently for Him to answer.
We don’t know how long the people waited, but I can imagine that there was great confidence going into battle knowing they had heard from the Lord.
Maybe we are often weak in battle because we pray and then rush in before we get an answer. David tells us in Psalm 27:14 to “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”
May we take time first to talk to the Lord but also remember to wait for His direction before we rush headlong into the battle without it!
How have you waited on the LORD as David writes of in Psalm 27:14? “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”
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