As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14
King Jehoshaphat loved God and governed the kingdom of Judah wisely.* In 2 Chronicles 18, however, he made some foolish choices that nearly cost him his life.
First, he formed an alliance with King Ahab, who reigned over the ten northern tribes of Israel. Jehoshaphat agreed to go to war with Ahab against a mutual enemy, Syria. King Ahab wasn’t godly. In fact, when Jehoshaphat asked him if there was a prophet of God in his kingdom that they could consult, Ahab said, “There is still one . . . but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me” (v. 7).
Jehoshaphat should’ve backed out of the alliance right then, but he didn’t. He told Ahab to summon the prophet anyway. When the prophet Micaiah revealed that God had “decreed disaster,” they ignored him and continued with their plans for war (vv. 22-28). More foolish choices.
Then, before the battle began, King Ahab disguised himself so that the enemy soldiers wouldn’t know he was a king, but he told Jehoshaphat to wear his own royal garb. And Jehoshaphat did—foolishness, again! When the enemy soldiers saw Jehoshaphat dressed in his kingly robes, they surrounded him and were about to kill him. In desperation Jehoshaphat cried out to God to save him, and God mercifully “drew [the Syrian soldiers] away from him” (vv.30-32).
This episode in Jehoshaphat’s life both comforts and convicts me. I also make foolish decisions. I allow myself to be persuaded to do things I shouldn’t do such as indulging in gossip. I engage in verbal battles I should avoid. Other times I stubbornly refuse to develop better ways of dealing with recurring problems such as disagreeable neighbors or family conflicts.
Nevertheless God mercifully comes to my rescue when I call out to Him. I may suffer some consequences because of my foolishness, but God doesn’t abandon me. And He never says, “Serves you right.” As David knew when he wrote Psalm 103, God understands just how weak we are. I’m so grateful that His grace, mercy, and love are endless. Aren’t you?
To learn more about Jehoshaphat, read 2 Chronicles 17. What good decisions did he make? How did God bless him for his faithfulness?
King Ahab and his wife Jezebel were very wicked (See 1 Kings 16:29-33). For one example of their evil deeds, read about their treatment of Naboth in 1 Kings 21:1-16.
Read Psalm 103. Which of God’s benefits are you most thankful for today?
How can we make wiser decisions? James 3:13-17 gives us a checklist to follow.
Denise K. Loock
*Note: After Solomon’s death the nation was divided into two kingdoms, the ten northern tribes, known collectively as “Israel,” and the two southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin, known as “Judah.” 1 Kings 11:9-40 explains why God divided the nation into two kingdoms. Jehoshaphat and Ahab began their reigns about 55 years after Solomon died.