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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

2 Chronicles 20

 

 

Verses 1-37

2 Chronicles 20:1. With them other, the LXX, ΄ιναιοι, mixed people.

2 Chronicles 20:5. Jehosphaphat stood—in the house of the Lord. This was proceeding in the good and ancient way. He prayed in open courts; the men of Judah also stood with their wives and little ones.

2 Chronicles 20:14. Then, when the king had prayed, came the Spirit of the Lord upon Jahaziel, a man of distinction and piety, as is indicated by this act, and by his genealogy. He prophesied openly in the temple, and the prophecies were all fulfilled the next day! They were most remarkable prophecies, that the enemies should kill one another; for wicked men once taken in the net are furious as the wild beasts. Had these prophecies proved to be the mere reveries of insanity, Jahaziel had forfeited his life, as the law directs, and all his house and order would have been covered with a reproach that could never be wiped away. In that case the king, deceived and angry, would have ordered him for execution. But seeing all was fulfilled, how could the Jews ever after this doubt the truth of revelation.

2 Chronicles 20:36. Ships to go to Tarshish. See on Isaiah 23:6. Ezekiel 27:12.

REFLECTIONS.

When nations become populous, haughty, and insupportably licentious, God permits war to follow, that the land, oppressed by their crimes, may disgorge them from its bosom. The cause which induced Ammon, Moab, and Edom, to form a league against Judah, and to hire all the Mehunims, or mixed nations they could, we are not told. But so secret was the plot, and so concerted the descent, that Jehoshaphat knew nothing of it till the enemy was entering his country at Engedi.

Oppressed with sudden and tremendous danger, his measures were prompt and wise. Instructed by his father’s error, he sent no treasures to Benhadad; and warned by his own folly, he asked no help of Ahab; but according to the example of Samuel, he convoked his whole people, first for devotion, and then for defence. In like manner, when assailed by sudden and great calamities, let us run to God, the refuge and hidingplace of his saints; for we have no might against the multitude which cometh against us. Thus our blessed Lord met his agony on his knees, and he conquered in the fight.

The prayers of Jehoshaphat on this eventful crisis was the language of an enlightened heart. He pleads the sovereignty and omnipotence of God, he urges the covenant claims that Israel had in his defence, he asks present aids from former favours in giving Abraham the land, and in the record of his glorious name in the temple; and he forgets not the ingratitude of the invading nations whom Israel had spared on leaving Egypt, and who were now come to cut them off. These prayers were urged with the greater effect, by a sight of the little ones present before the Lord:—how happy to have recourse to Him in the day of trouble. The deliverance which a believer then feels in his soul, is a pledge to him of the future deliverance from all his foes.

No sooner had the king closed his devotion than God gave him a present answer. Jahaziel, impelled by a divine impetus, could scarcely contain himself till Jehoshaphat had ended his supplication, but promised the devout assembly a victory on the morrow, even without a battle. His words were as fire among stubble. The king and all his people caught the same spirit; and passing in a moment from sorrow to joy they fell prostrate, and already celebrated the victory over the alien host. And the music joining the shouts, banished sorrow from the courts of the Lord to the camps of Moab. Tremble, oh alien hosts, for JEHOVAH is coming against you; his sword shall be bathed in blood, and carnage shall mark the wheels of his car. Where now were the lurking idolaters and infidels who would complain that a day was lost in fasting and prayer, which ought to have been employed in going forth to meet the enemy before he reached the capital? That day is not lost which gains heaven for an auxiliary. Surely they could not but now feel, that the devotion of the nation was inspired from above.

The army, divinely animated, left the city long before the break of day; and the king, standing in the gate, delivered to every man as he passed, if I may so speak, “the shield of faith,” the best barrier, and the surest pledge of victory. Hear, oh Judah, said he; believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. This was armour from the Lord; and their carnal weapons were now but an encumbrance.

Mark how the Lord managed for his people, and entangled the wicked in their own net. The enemy expecting Jehoshaphat in the plain, had arranged his plans of battle, and caused Seir or Edom circuitously to advance in ambush, and take the king in the rear. But it was God that set the ambush; for the host of Ammon and Moab, mistaking the Edomites for the army of Judah, cut them off; and on the dawn of day perceiving their mistake, and seeing the army of Judah daringly approach, both those nations fled to the defiles, where for want of room the one cut its way through the other. Thus the Lord gave them the victory, and the enemies’ spoil for a reward. How happy for a nation when God undertakes its defence. Let our fears subside, and let us rejoice, for God will defend his Zion, and make her his inheritance for ever.

But after all this reformation and fasting, and after this most signal victory, we lament to find in Judah the roots of secret idolatry, ready to germinate whensoever the civil power should remit its vigour. Well, oh land, if neither judgments nor mercies will root out thine idols, go on, go on in thy sins; but remember the threatenings of the covenant, that God will root out thine inhabitants. Jehoshaphat had not resolution to remain firm in keeping separate from Ahab. Having taken the bloody daughter of the bloody Jezebel to be wife to his son, he seemed entangled. Though on the first solicitations to renew the fleet at Ezion-gaber to go to Tarshish, he refused, yet he yielded to future applications. But God, who would not prosper the covenant, wrecked the fleet on its leaving the port. Learn, believer, to persevere in keeping clean hands from improper connections with the wicked, and God will give thee a pure heart.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 20:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/2-chronicles-20.html. 1835.

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