Yesterday in our Old Testament Sunday school class we were unpacking 2 Chronicles 20. It has to do with a king named Jehoshaphat (try saying his name three times fast). This fourth king of Judah was unlike any of those before him. He was a faithful man of God. Perfect—no, he made mistakes, but he was faithful.
I was particularly struck by this man’s response in a crisis. He is told in verse two that “a vast army” would soon be knocking at the nation’s door. Actually, three armies. On a human level this would most certainly spell out defeat.
“Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord.” (v. 3)
The NIV rightly states that the king was “alarmed.” Was he scared? You bet. Afraid? Uh-huh, and I would be too. The man was terrified. J. A. Thompson writes in his excellent The New American Commentary of 1 & 2 Chronicles:1
Jehoshaphat’s first response was fear, an appropriate response in the circumstances. Jahaziel later counseled, “Do not fear” (v. 17), counsel that occurs 365 times in the Bible, enough for each day’s quota of fearful situations.
Jehoshaphat’s second response was (literally) to “give his face to seek Yahweh.” In fact, the two verbs “feared and gave” begin the verse in Hebrew almost as one verb. Jehoshaphat knew how to deal with fear.
Seeking the Lord is stressed here with two synonyms, the first (dāraš) translated “inquire” and the other (biqqēš) translated “seek”… God’s omnipotence is affirmed as the prayer unfolds.
It is only natural for us to be “alarmed” at the first sign of a crisis. But for the Christian, he or she knows what is to be done next—where to go for first aid. Just as King Jehoshaphat did, ever so faithfully, we should be “resolved to inquire of the Lord.” To pray to the omnipotent One.
“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You.” (v. 6)
Because He is bigger than any problem we could ever face.
1 Thompson, J. A. The New American Commentary: Vol. 9, 1, 2 Chronicles (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1994). 293.