It’s amazing how it doesn’t matter how many times you read the Bible, God can speak and bless you through His inspired text. Recently in my personal devotions I reached 2 Chronicles 20. I had preached on this story before, but reading it for my personal devotional time it struck me again how awesome this story is and how few people seem to know about it. In the spirit of being transparent I must admit if you had asked me about King Jehoshaphat before my recent study of this passage I would not have been able to tell you much, I might have even made some joke about him being the older brother of Jehoshathin, which would cause my wife to do a face palm in disbelief.
In case you’re not familiar with King Jehoshaphat either let’s take a quick look at the story recorded in 2 Chronicles 20.
In this post I will highlight some of the major lessons I learned from King Jehoshaphat when facing overwhelming danger and certain doom.
Message comes to King Jehoshaphat that “a great multitude” was coming against him (verses 1-2). Naturally King Jehoshaphat is troubled and his response to being full of fear is worthy of emulation,
“Jehoshaphat was afraid, so he decided to seek the LORD's advice. He decreed that all Judah should observe a fast.”
- 2 Chron. 20:3 NET Bible
The people answer the King’s rally and people come from all the cities of Judah “to seek the LORD.” (v.4) King Jehoshaphat then leads out in a beautiful prayer where he claims God’s promises. (vv.6-12) Meanwhile, all of Judah, including women and children, stand before the LORD. (v.13)
I would like to point out a few things regarding King Jehoshaphat’s prayer.
King Jehoshaphat is aware of God’s power and character and begins his prayer reminding God of who He is. I believe we can all benefit from doing this. Not that God needs to be reminded but because this is a great exercise to keep who God is fresh in our minds.
- The God of our fathers.
- God in heaven.
- Ruler over all the Kingdoms of the nations.
- So powerful and mighty that no one is able to withstand Him.
How familiar are we with our God and His attributes?
Exodus 34:6-7 has a beautiful description of who God is. There are many descriptions of God and His character throughout the Bible, different qualities are demonstrated in different situations. It is important for us to know what our God is like, what He is capable of, how He acts, so we can pray to Him accordingly.
Repeating what we know about Him also boosts our faith.
One of my favorite parts of King Jehoshaphat’s prayer is found on verse 9,
“If disaster comes upon us — sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine — we will stand before this temple and in your presence (for your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.”
We can cry out to our God in our affliction and He hears and saves. This is something we ought to remember, and practice. These stories in the Bible serve as examples for us, teaching us how to handle afflictions.
My second favorite part of King Jehoshaphat’s prayer is found on verse 12.
“O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”
I have this highlighted and underlined in my Bible. If your life experience is similar to mine there must have been several times in your life when you could have benefited from a prayer like this one the goes along the lines of:
“I have no power against this great (place your problem here) that is coming against me; nor do I know what to do, but my eyes are upon You.”
When the prayer is finished and they are standing there in the presence of the LORD the Spirit of the LORD comes upon Jahaziel with a message for everyone.
“Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
- 2 Chronicles 20:15b
As Jahaziel continues to deliver the message from God we discover that King Jehoshaphat and the people Judah will not even need to fight in the battle. All they will have to do is position themselves and “see the salvation of the LORD… for the LORD is with [them].” (2 Chronicles 20:17)
Upon hearing the prophecy/promise of what God would do they burst into praise “with voices loud and high” (v.19)
They get up early in the morning to go face their enemies and as they went out King Jehoshaphat said to them:
“Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe in His prophets, and you shall prosper.” (2 Chronicles 20:20b)
Not only that, King Jehoshaphat then proceeds to appoint men to “sing unto the LORD,” and to “praise the beauty of holiness.” Before the victory had been won, before they could see their enemies, before they really saw any tangible evidence of God’s power they had a choir going before the army singing
“Praise the LORD,
For His mercy endures forever.” (v.21b)
All they had available to them were promises, prophesies of what God would do. Armed with that they began to praise God. I believe it is important to notice how they were thanking God not for what He had done, because technically He had not yet delivered them. Rather they went out praising God for who He is, trusting Him to act according to His character. The choir, the people of God, praise God for who He is even before they could witness with their eyes the fulfillment of His promises.
For me this is a major takeaway from this story.
This is a story of a king and a people facing certain doom from an overwhelming enemy force. This is the story of a people who turn to their God asking for deliverance, confessing they did not know what to do. This is a story of a people that begin to praise the LORD and worship after hearing a prophecy, after hearing God’s promises, even before they witness the fulfillment of those promises for themselves.
I love 2 Chronicles 20:22. It states that when the people of God began to sing and praise, the LORD defeats their enemies. I find this so encouraging, so fascinating, to faith building.
The biblical text describes God fulfilling His promises the moment His people begin to praise Him. The battle was won, the overwhelming enemy was destroyed by the power of praise. The people of Judah, the inhabitant of Jerusalem, God’s faithful people won the battle without having to engage in physical combat. They believed, they trusted, and they praised God, and God took care of the rest, just like He had promised, just like He had so many times in the past.
God has a history of coming through for His children. He has a history of being merciful, of hearing prayers, of delivering, of being faithful.
A few questions remain.
Do you worship the same God King Jehoshaphat worshiped?
Is God still powerful?
Is He still in control?
Is He still judge?
Does He still promise to take care of you and to do for you what you cannot do for yourself?
If so, what keeps you from praising Him?