And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem.2 Chronicles 19:1-3. Jehoshaphat returned to his house in peace — Safe, being miraculously delivered from imminent danger, as has just been related. And Jehu, the seer — Of whom see 1 Kings 16:1-2; went out to meet him — Sent by God for that purpose. And said to Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly? — Give them a hand of fellowship, and lend them a hand of assistance? And love them that hate the Lord? — Be in a state of intimacy with those that are at enmity with God, and under his wrath and curse? Was it agreeable to the love and duty which thou professest to God and godliness, to enter into so strict an alliance and friendship with wicked Ahab, God’s sworn enemy, and to give him such assistance? Therefore is wrath come upon thee, &c. — God is angry with thee, and will chastise thee for this miscarriage. Which he did, partly by stirring up the Moabites and others to invade him, chap. 20.; partly by permitting his eldest son Jehoram to kill all his brethren, 2 Chronicles 21:4; and principally by bringing that almost general destruction upon his grand-children by Jehu, (2 Kings 9:27; and 2 Kings 10:13-14,) which was the fruit of his alliance with Ahab. And hast prepared thy heart to seek God — הכינות, hachinota, hast disposed, directed, or set thy heart; that is, thou hast sought and served God with all thy heart, and not feignedly, as many others do. And this work of preparing or directing the heart, which is elsewhere attributed to God, (Proverbs 16:1; Php 2:13,) is here ascribed to Jehoshaphat, because it is man’s action, though performed by God’s grace, preventing, enabling, and inclining him to it.
And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.
Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.
And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem: and he went out again through the people from Beersheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the LORD God of their fathers.2 Chronicles 19:4. He went out again through the people — He went out before by his officers, (2 Chronicles 17:7,) now he went in his own person. From Beer-sheba to mount Ephraim — That is, through his whole kingdom, whereof these were the two bounds. And brought them back unto the God of their fathers — Such of them as had revolted from God to idols, he reclaimed by his counsel and example, and by the instructions of the Levites and priests whom he carried with him. Many, probably, had revolted to idolatry, when they saw their king so intimate with idolaters. Therefore he thought himself doubly obliged to do all he could to reduce them. If we truly repent of sin, we shall do our utmost to repair the damage we have done to religion, or the souls of others.
And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city,2 Chronicles 19:5-6. He set judges in the land, city by city — In every city, for itself and the country adjacent, that justice might be administered with the most ease and convenience to the people, and they might not all be forced to go up to Jerusalem. And said to the judges, Take heed, &c. — Mind your business; take heed of making any mistakes; be afraid of misunderstanding any point of law, or the matter of fact. Judges, of all men, have need to be cautious, because so much depends on their understanding a matter right. For ye judge not for man, but for the Lord — You represent God’s person, to whom judgment belongeth; you have your commission from God, and not from man only; and your administration of justice is not only for man’s good, but also for God’s honour and service. Who is with you in judgment — Both to observe your carriage, and to defend you against all those enemies whom the impartial exercise of justice may provoke.
And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment.
Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.2 Chronicles 19:7. Wherefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you — Which will be a restraint upon you to keep you from doing wrong, and an encouragement to you to be active in fulfilling the duties of your office. For there is no iniquity in our God, nor respect of persons — And therefore you, who are in God’s stead, and do his work, and must give an account to him, must imitate him herein. Nor taking of gifts — So as to pervert judgment. See Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; Proverbs 17:23.
Moreover in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the LORD, and for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem.2 Chronicles 19:8. The chief of the fathers of Israel — Who were not priests, or Levites, but such persons of other tribes as were most eminent for their dignity, ability, and integrity. But whether these persons made up one court, called the sanhedrim, by which all causes, ecclesiastical and civil, were decided; or there were two distinct courts, the one ecclesiastical, consisting of the priests and Levites, the other civil, consisting of the chief of the fathers of Israel, it is not easy to determine. For the judgment of the Lord — For matters concerning the law and worship of God. For controversies — For matters of difference between man and man. When they returned — When Jehoshaphat and his company were returned to Jerusalem, he made this order concerning establishing judges there.
And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart.2 Chronicles 19:9. Faithfully, and with a perfect heart — Passing such sentences with your lips, as your consciences, upon the hearing of the parties, shall judge to be just, and not acting against your consciences through carnal motives, as corrupt judges do.
And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the LORD, and so wrath come upon you, and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass.2 Chronicles 19:10. Between blood and blood — Between the blood of the person slain, and the blood of the manslayer. See the note on Deuteronomy 17:8. All the cities of refuge, except Hebron, now belonged to the kingdom of Israel, so that the manslayer now usually fled to the courts of the temple, or the horns of the altar; and therefore the trial of these was reserved for the court at Jerusalem. Between law and commandment, &c. — When any debates shall arise about the meaning of any of God’s laws. Ye shall even warn them — Ye shall not only give a righteous sentence for what is past, but ye shall admonish the offender, and others, to take better heed for the future. This do, and ye shall not trespass — Thus you shall not bring guilt and wrath upon yourselves and others, which otherwise you certainly would do.
And, behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the LORD; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king's matters: also the Levites shall be officers before you. Deal courageously, and the LORD shall be with the good.2 Chronicles 19:11. The chief priest is over you — Shall be your president to direct and assist you; in all matters of the Lord — In spiritual or ecclesiastical matters. And Zebadiah, the ruler of the house of Judah — The prince, or chief ruler, under the king, of the tribe of Judah; for all the king’s matters — For civil causes, or controversies, either between the king and his people, or between subject and subject, which may be called the king’s matters, because it was a principal part of his office to see them justly decided. The Levites shall be officers before you — Shall be at your command, to see your just sentences executed; which work was fitly committed to the Levites, as persons who might add their instructions to the corrections, and might bring the guilty to an acknowledgment of their fault, and a submission to their punishment. Deal courageously — Act with resolution, and fear not the face of man; but be bold and daring in the discharge of your duty. And the Lord shall be with the good — Shall protect and bless good judges in their pronouncing just sentences, and doing good things.