Reading about King Jehoshaphat this morning in 2Chronicles. This guy intrigues me. Talk about a leader who was firing on 7 out of 8 cylinders. Walked in the ways of David, rejected the ways of the Baals, obeyed the LORD (17:3-4). Made sure his people knew the Book (17:7-9), all the while setting his own heart to seek God (19:3). The misfiring cylinder? His Achilles heel? Unholy alliances. Just couldn’t keep himself from tethering himself to the household of Ahab, king of Israel (18:1).
God’s grace covered the Israel thing. But what inspires this morning is the king’s response to trouble . . . BIG TROUBLE!
Jehoshaphat describes it as a “great horde.” Not one, not two, but three nations rising up together to come against Jehoshaphat for battle (20:1). A great multitude making a great effort with the intent of inflicting some great damage upon Judah and its king. And what does the king whose heart is set on seeking the LORD do? He prays. And it’s the nature of his prayer that I’m chewing on this morning.
First, he acknowledges afresh, and reminds himself anew, of God’s power.
“O LORD, God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In Your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand You.”
(2Chronicles 20:6 ESV)
He puts His current situation in the context of God’s strength. Nothing on earth too hard for the God of heaven. Not even a great horde. God is sovereign. His rule is over all nations and over every circumstance. In His hand is power. Nothing able to withstand the might of our God. So, if God is for us, then who can be against us? And speaking of being for us . . .
Jehoshaphat then, before getting to the need at hand, replays God’s promise.
“Did You not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend?”
(2Chronicles 20:7 ESV)
It’s not like Jehoshaphat’s trouble was born from being outside the will of God–but was a direct result of being exactly where God wanted him. The land the horde were seeking to overrun was the land God had promised to Abraham. The land God had cleared before Joshua and those who had come through the wilderness. The land where the temple had been built and His glory had descended. These nations weren’t just rallying themselves against any old people, but they were rising up against the people of God, the people of promise.
And so, having grounded himself in the truth of God’s power and the surety of God’s promise, he now brings before heaven his trouble and declares it to be God’s problem.
“And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom You would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy–behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of Your possession, which You have given us to inherit. O our God, will You not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”
(2Chronicles 20:10-12 ESV)
We are powerless. We don’t know what to do. But our eyes are on You. More than I can handle, Lord. Taps out my creativity or ability. Thus, I look to You, and You alone. O God of power and promise, I have no choice but to make this Your problem.
That’s a model for prayer, I’m thinking.
And God’s response? The Spirit, by way of a prophet, declares:
“Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but Gods.”
(2Chronicles 20:14-15 ESV)
Not our battle, says the Spirit. God is faithful to His promise, He’ll take this on as His problem. Oh, and by the way, not a problem for the God who is all-powerful.
And Jehoshaphat and the people bow their heads and go facedown and worship the Lord (20:18-19). Even before their deliverance they declare God’s praise.
They believe that who God says He is, He is. That what God has promised to fulfill, He will. And that, when God fights our battles, He wins.
A king’s prayer. A prayer to a King.
By His grace. For His glory.