Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem.Our Friendships
2 Chronicles 19:2
This is a most important and searching question, asked of a good man, a shining example—among the rulers of his time—of purity, truth, and goodness of character. An earnest reformer, faithful to Jehovah from the beginning to the end of his reign, was Jehoshaphat.
It is the more distressing, therefore, to discover his defects. There are few things in life more distressing than the faults of good men. Faults which are the more conspicuous and glaring because they are entirely contrary to the general trend of the life.
Jehoshaphat was the anointed of the Lord. He owed all the strength and peace and prosperity of his kingdom to Jehovah, and Ahab had set himself against Jehovah and against His prophets. Surely the position which Jehoshaphat should have assumed was to insist firmly that before he could become an ally of Ahab, that man must repent of his wickedness and reverse the whole policy of his government.
I. It may seem a harsh ruling to give, that godly persons and those who have avowedly confessed themselves believers in Jesus, and followers of Him should never enter into intimate relations of friendship with careless, indifferent, unbelieving, and ungodly people; it may seem like bigotry to insist upon it, it may seem uncharitable, it may seem that if only persons are amiable, kindly, and moral, the question of religious conviction and belief should not come up. But if we are earnest followers of Christ, and not merely nominal Christians, it is bound to come up. For to an earnest and wholehearted disciple religion is the first thing. It is not merely a matter of custom and opinion, it touches the deepest springs of life, it enters into every department of life.
There are circumstances in life where there is no choice, where men are compelled to be in close touch with those who care for none of these things. Where, like Charles Lamb in the South Sea Office, the lament may be, 'Nobody reads the New Testament here'. Young men and young women with noblest enthusiasm may find themselves set down in lodgings or in a house of business where all around them are irreligious. Life is awfully lonely, there is a deep hunger for friendship, but unless a friendship of the right sort can be found, you had far better keep to yourself.
II. We may learn some searching lessons from the consequences of the alliance which Jehoshaphat formed with Ahab and Ahab's son.
1. In the battle into which Jehoshaphat went, he barely escaped with his life. He was mistaken for Ahab, and he—the better man will often be confounded with the worse, where he has made a friendship with him—only escaped as by a miracle.
2. Further, the friendship of these two men issued in the marriage of the son of Jehoshaphat with the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, and the cursing of both kingdoms with their pernicious influence, and the undoing of all the work of reform which Jehoshaphat had done.
We must have contact with unbelieving and irreligious men, but it need not, it must not, be the contact of close friendship and companionship. Our relation to our dear Lord, whose sacrifice they slight, Whom they refuse to follow, forbids it. If there is to be an alliance, it can never be at the sacrifice of principle; it must be by the embracing of principle. They must come over to our side, or rather to His 'whose we are, and Whom we serve'; whose claims they do not yield to, but to Whom we dare not be disloyal.
—C. Brown, Light and Life, p. 181.
References.—XIX. 2.—A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book for All Ages, p. 55. XIX. 11.—Reuen Thomas, Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. 1896, p. 188. J. Stalker, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxi. 1902, p. 150. XX.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. li. No. 2923. XX. 1.—R. B. Brindley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. 1899, p. 106. XX. 4.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. li. No. 2923. XX. 12.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 170. XX. 15.—C. Drayton Thomas, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lx. 1901, p. 7. XX. 15, 17.—A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book for All Ages, p. 21. XX. 20.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 176. XX. 21.—J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. iv. p. 228.
And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.
Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.
And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem: and he went out again through the people from Beersheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the LORD God of their fathers.
And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city,
And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment.
Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.
Moreover in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the LORD, and for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem.
And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart.
And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the LORD, and so wrath come upon you, and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass.
And, behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the LORD; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king's matters: also the Levites shall be officers before you. Deal courageously, and the LORD shall be with the good.