Bible Commentary

2 Chronicles 20

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of 2 Chronicles 20)

Verse 2

[2] Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi.

The sea — The dead sea, beyond which mount Seir lay.

Syria — Largely so called, and so it includes the Moabites and Ammonites. And it may be thus expressed, to intimate that they came by the instigation of the Syrians, to revenge themselves of Jehoshaphat for joining with Ahab against them.

Verse 5

[5] And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,

The house — Largely so called, in the court of the people, upon that brazen scaffold which Solomon had erected.

New court — Before the priests court: which is called the new court, because it had lately been renewed when the altar was renewed.

Verse 7

[7] Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?

Abraham — To whom thou hast engaged thyself by covenant to be his friend, and the friend of his seed for ever.

Verse 9

[9] If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.

The sword — Or rather, the sword of judgement or of vengeance, that is, war, whereby thou punisheth thy people for their sins.

Verse 12

[12] O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.

Wilt thou not judge — Wilt thou not give sentence against them, and execute it upon them? The justice of God is the refuge of those that are wronged.

No might — Though he had great armies, yet he seems to have been surprized by these men, before his forces were in readiness to oppose them.

Verse 13

[13] And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.

Little ones — Whom they used to present before the Lord in times of great distress, to stir up themselves to more fervent prayers, their eyes being upon their harmless and tender children, and to move God to compassion, because God hath declared, that he will be prevailed with, by such methods as these.

Verse 15

[15] And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.

But God's — God will fight for you, and he alone will do the work, you need not strike a stroke.

Verse 16

[16] To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.

Go down — From Jerusalem, where he and his army now were; which stood upon high ground.

Verse 19

[19] And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high.

Stood up — By Jehoshaphat's appointment.

On high — With heart and voice lifted up: whereby they shewed their full assurance of the victory.

Verse 20

[20] And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.

Believe — God's promise delivered to us by this prophet, and consequently all other predictions of the prophet.

Verse 21

[21] And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.

Consulted — Jehoshaphat called a counsel of war, and it was resolved, to appoint singers to go out before the army, who had nothing to do, but to praise God, to praise his holiness, which is his beauty, to praise him as they did in the temple, that beauty of holiness. By this strange advance to the field of battle, Jehoshaphat shewed his firm reliance on the word of God, which enabled him to triumph before the battle, to animate his own men and confound the enemy.

Verse 22

[22] And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.

To sing — So acceptable are the fervent prayers of God's people to God, and so terrible to their enemies.

Ambushments — Or, liers in wait, either 1. the holy angels, who appeared in the shape of men, and possibly put on the appearances and visages of the Moabites or Ammonites, and in that shape slew the rest, who supposing this slaughter to be done by a part of their own army, fell upon them, and so broke forth into mutual slaughters. Or, 2. God raised jealousies and animosities among themselves, which broke forth, first into secret ambushments, which one party laid for another, and then into open hostilities to their utter destruction. So vain are all mens attempts against God, who needs none to destroy his enemies but themselves, and their own mistakes, and passions, which he can, when he pleaseth, arm against them.

Verse 24

[24] And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.

The watch tower — Which stood upon the cliff of Ziz, mentioned verse 16, and looked toward the wilderness, where their enemies lay encamped, whose numbers, and order, and condition, they could descry from thence.

Verse 25

[25] And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.

Jewels — Which they brought with them to corrupt any of Jehoshaphat's officers as they saw occasion: to procure necessaries for their vast army from time to time: and because they came as to triumph rather than to fight, being confident of the victory because of their numbers, and especially because they thought to surprize Jehoshaphat ere he could make any considerable preparations against them; God also permitting them to be puffed up to their own destruction.

Verse 26

[26] And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.

Berachah — Heb. of blessing; so called from their solemn blessings and praises given to God in it upon this occasion.

Verse 28

[28] And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the LORD.

To the house — To renew their praises in the court of the temple, the proper and usual place for it. Praising God must not be the work of a day only, but our praises when we have received mercy, must be often repeated, as our prayers were, when we where in pursuit of it. Every day we must bless God: as long as we live, and while we have any being, we must praise him, spending our time in that work, in which we hope to spend our eternity.

Verse 33

[33] Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.

Not taken — Not universally; the fault was not in Jehoshaphat, but in the people, who, though they did worship the true God, yet would not be confined to the temple, but for their own conveniency, or from their affection to their ancient custom chose to worship him in the high-places.

Verse 35

[35] And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly:

After this — This is mentioned as an aggravation of his sin, after so great an obligation laid upon him by God; and after he had been so singularly reproved by a prophet yet he relapsed into the same sin which proceeded partly from that near relation which was contracted between the two families, and partly from the easiness of Jehoshaphat's temper, which could not resist the solicitations of others, in such things as might seem indifferent. For he did not join with him in war, as he did with Ahab, but in a peaceable way only, in a matter of trade and commerce. And yet God reproves and punisheth him for it, verse 37, to shew his great dislike of all familiar conversation of his servants and people with professed enemies of God and of religion, as Ahaziah was.

Very wickedly — Or who did industriously, and maliciously, and constantly work wickedness, as the Hebrew phrase implies, giving himself up to idolatry and all wickedness.

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