2 Chronicles 17:3
And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not to Baalim;
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(3) He walked in the first ways.—The former or earlier ways of David, as contrasted with his later conduct—a tacit allusion to the adultery with Bathsheba and other sins of David committed in his later years (2 Samuel 11-24). A few MSS. and the LXX. omit David.

And sought not unto Baalim.And sought not the Baals (dārash lĕ, a late construction). The Baals were different local aspects of the sun-god. Here the term no doubt includes the illegal worship of Jehovah under the form of a bullock, as instituted by Jeroboam, and practised in the northern kingdom (“the doing of Israel” 2Chronicles 17:4). Syriac, “and prayed not to images.”

2 Chronicles 17:3-4. He walked in the first ways of his father David — His ways before he fell so foully, in the matter of Uriah, which were good ways. David, indeed, recovered from that fall, but, perhaps, never, while he lived, fully retrieved the spiritual strength and comfort which he had lost. Jehoshaphat followed David as far as he followed God, and no farther. St. Paul himself thus limits our imitation of him, 1 Corinthians 11:1, Follow me, as I follow Christ, and not otherwise. The first ways of many pious people have been their best ways, and their first love their strongest love: which, however, ought not to be the case: for the last ought to be more than the first, Revelation 2:19. But in every copy we propose to write after, as we ought to single out that only which is good, so that chiefly which is best. The original words here are literally rendered, He walked in the ways of David his father, הראשׁונים, hareshonim, those first, or ancient ways. He proposed to himself, for his example, the primitive times of the royal family, those purest times, before the corruptions of the late reigns came in. See Jeremiah 6:16. The LXX. leave out David, and so refer this to Asa: He walked in the first ways of his father Asa, and did not imitate him in what was amiss in him toward the latter end of his time. It is well to be cautious in following the best men, lest we step aside after them. And sought not unto Baalim — The neighbouring nations had their Baalim: one had one Baal, and another had another; but he abhorred them all, and had nothing to do with any of them. He sought the Lord God of his father, and him only; prayed to him only; and inquired of him only.17:1-19 Jehoshaphat promotes religion in Judah, His prosperity. - Jehoshaphat found his people generally very ignorant, and therefore endeavoured to have them well taught. The public teaching of the word of God forms, in all ages, the great method of promoting the power of godliness. Thereby the understanding is informed, the conscience is awakened and directed. We have a particular account of Jehoshaphat's prosperity. But it was not his formidable army that restrained the neighbouring nations from attempting any thing against Israel, but the fear of God which fell upon them, when Jehoshaphat reformed his country, and set up a preaching ministry in it. The ordinances of God are more the strength and safety of a kingdom, than soldiers and weapons of war. The Bible requires use to notice the hand of God in every event, yet this is little regarded. But let all employ the talents they have: be faithful, even in that which is little. Set up the worship of God in your houses. The charge of a family is important. Why should you not instruct them as Jehoshaphat did his subjects, in the book of the law of the Lord. But be consistent. Do not recommend one thing, and practise another. Begin with yourselves. Seek to the Lord God of Israel, then call upon children and servants to follow your example.The first ways of his father David - The Septuagint and several Hebrew manuscripts omit "David," which has probably crept in from the margin, for David's "first ways" are nowhere else contrasted with his later ways. The real meaning of the writer is, that Jehoshaphat followed the example set by his father Asa in his earlier years 2 Chronicles 14:1-15; 15.

Baalim - On the plural form, see 1 Kings 18:18 note.

3-5. he walked in the first ways of his father David—He imitated the piety of his great ancestor in the early part of his reign before he made those unhappy lapses which dishonored his character.

and sought not unto Baalim—a term used for idols generally in contradistinction to the Lord God of his father.

In the first ways, which David walked in before he fell into those horrid sins of murder and adultery. Or, in the ways of David, and his father’s first ways. For the beginning of Asa’s reign was laudable, as we have seen, though he declined at last. For it seems more probable that this passage is a reflection upon Asa, whose last ways were much his worst, and of whose repentance we have no evidence, than upon David, who, though he fell dreadfully in the matter of Uriah, yet did manifestly repent of it, and return to his first and holy course of life, in which also he continued until death; having this character given him by the Holy Ghost after his death, that he did right in all things, saving that of Uriah, 1 Kings 15:5. And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat,.... Guiding and directing, prospering and succeeding him in all things; he had, no doubt, his gracious presence in spiritual things, as well as his powerful and directing presence in things civil; the Targum is,"the Word of the Lord was for his help;"

because he walked in the first ways of his father David; which were his best; some of his last ways not being good, as in the affair of Uriah and Bathsheba, and his numbering of the people; Jehoshaphat followed him in the one, but not in the other: or, "in the ways of David and his father, the first"; the first of them both; for the latter ways of his father Asa were not so good as his first, as the preceding chapter shows; and the Septuagint version leaves out the word "David", and so restrains it to his own father:

and sought not unto Baalim; as did Ahab king of Israel, who now reigned there; 1 Kings 15:24.

And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the {a} first ways of his father David, and sought not unto {b} Baalim;

(a) That is, his virtues meaning before he had committed with Bathsheba, and against Uriah.

(b) Did not seek help from strange Gods.

3. in the first ways of his father David] Omit David (so LXX.), the person referred to being Asa (1 Kings 22:43). Asa’s first ways (ch. 14, 15) were good, his latter ways (ch. 16), according to the Chronicler, were evil.

unto Baalim] R.V. unto the Baalim. Baal is not a proper name, but a title meaning “Lord,” which was generally given to false gods. Israel might not call Jehovah, “My Baal” (Baali), Hosea 2:16-17.Verse 3. - The first ways of his father David. Although there would be no difficulty in reconciling this statement with history, yet probably the name David should not stand here. It is not in the Septuagint. The most natural and sufficient reference is to Asa. And sought not unto Ballim; literally, to the Baalim; i.e. to the various false gods of surrounding peoples (Judges 2:11), Baal-berith (Judges 8:33; Judges 9:4, 46), Baal-zebub (2 Kings 1:2), Baal-peor (Numbers 23:28, etc.; Numbers 25:3), according to the places where the idolatrous worship was carried on. (For the preposition לְ, "to," after "sought," in this and following verse, see again 1 Chronicles 22:19.) The end of Asa's reign; cf. 1 Kings 15:23-24. - On 2 Chronicles 16:11, cf. the Introduction.
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