Do you have a dumb list? You know, those things you did in life that when you look back on them you think: “Whoa! THAT was stupid!” I have one (probably several) and if you’re honest with yourself, you probably have one too. Most of us can’t navigate life without generating at least one dumb list. It’s in our fallen nature to do so. King Jehoshaphat of Judah had a dumb list, too. The reason God tells us about him is to remind us that we have a perfect God who loves imperfect people. Now, I don’t know about you, but I am as imperfect as they come. I need (read “have to have”) a perfect God Who loves me despite my imperfections. Thank God I have a God like that, and I get to meet Him every day in His Word.
Jehoshaphat was an Old Testament king of Judah. By his day, Israel had already gone through a civil war that had split the nation of Israel into two uneven parts. The northern kingdom consisted of ten tribes known collectively as “Israel.” The southern kingdom consisted of the two remaining tribes of Judah and Benjamin and were known collectively as “Judah.”
To understand some of the early actions of king Jehoshaphat you have to understand that at heart, he was a well-meaning reformer with a strong desire to see the kingdom of Israel go back to its glory days as one nation. He understood that reunification may have been out of the question, but he at least wanted to see the two halves working as one. It was a good intention. But Jehoshaphat was a lot like us. He had the ability of seeing his good intentions as being the same as the will of God. Have you ever been so intent on something (or, maybe not you, but someone you know – wink, wink) that you could read God’s will into something even when it was clear to everyone else that God was not in it? That was Jehoshaphat’s problem. He was so intent on seeing both halves of Israel working together as one that he was willing to go to any means necessary to bring it about, even if it was contrary to God’s will because in his mind, his intentions were God’s will.
We find the account of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 17-19. His name means “Jehovah Judges.” What we find in his life is that sometimes Jehovah had to judge Jehoshaphat. What makes him stand out as a good king is his response to the rebukes that God sent his way. When Ahab was rebuked by a godly prophet, his response was to put that prophet in prison. Jehoshaphat’s response was to repent ant to obey God’s direction. Before we get into what Jehoshaphat did to make things right, we need to look quickly at the things he got wrong:
- He arranged an alliance marriage between his son and Ahab’s daughter Athaliah.
- He agreed to meet with Ahab in Israel (the northern kingdom) in hopes of improving relationships.
- He agreed to go into battle alongside Ahab over clear prophetic counsel to the contrary.
Thankfully, our God is faithful to us even when we are not faithful to Him. As I said before, we have a perfect God Who loves imperfect people. That does not mean He loves or excuses our imperfections. He loves us despite them, and He is willing to help us past them if we are willing to obey Him. We’ll pick up on this next time.