2 Chronicles 19:1

I. UNDESERVED MERCY TO THE SOVEREIGN. (Ver. 1.)

1. Jehoshaphat returns from Ramoth-Gilead. Having gone thither without the Divine sanction - indeed, against the Divine will - he might have been left there and not permitted to return. But God preserves the going out and coming in of his people (Psalm 121:8), even when they walk not in his ways.

2. Jehoshaphat returns to Jerusalem. Having left his capital and kingdom on an errand to which he was not called, he might have found both taken from him and barred against him on his return. But Jehovah, always better to his people than they deserve, had watched over both while Jehoshaphat was absent.

3. Jehoshaphat returns to his house in peace. Very different might his home-coming have been (Isaiah 59:8); not alive and in safety, as Micaiah had predicted (2 Chronicles 18:20), but as Ahab was brought to Samaria, dead; shot by an arrow from a Syrian bow like the King of Israel, or smitten by the Syrian charioteers as himself nearly was, and certainly would have been had Jehovah not interposed. But, again, God is faithful to his covenant, even when his people are not faithful to their duty (Psalm 111:5; 2 Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 10:23).

II. DESERVED REBUKE FROM THE SEER. (Vers. 2, 3.)

1. ,4 severe reprimand. Charged by Hanani's son Jehu with a twofold offence:

(1) Helping the ungodly. Aiding the wicked in their necessities or enterprises, when these are not sinful, never was a crime against Jehovah in Old Testament times (Leviticus 19:18, 34; Deuteronomy 22:1; Job 22:29; Zechariah 7:9), and is not prohibited but commanded in the gospel (Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8); but then, as now, sympathizing with them in their wicked thoughts, joining with them in their wicked ways, and assisting them in their wicked projects, is interdicted to all who profess to be followers of God and of Christ (Psalm 1:1; Psalm 24:4; Psalm 141:4; Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:11; 2 Timothy 2:19, 21, 22; 1 Peter 2:11, 12).

(2) Loving them that hate God. This also permissible in the sense in which God himself and Christ loved and still loves sinners, pitying their misery, compassionating their frailty, grieving over their iniquity, and seeking their recovery and salvation. But in the sense of extending affection and confidence, sympathy and support, to such as are private and public enemies of God, despisers of his religion, deserters from his worship, violators of his commandments, oppressors of his people, opponents of his cause, is a stretch of charity which neither then was nor now is allowable. Rather among Hebrew saints to hate Jehovah's enemies was accounted the supreme virtue (Psalm 139:21, 22). If Christian saints may not hate the persons, they are still enjoined to hate the works and ways of the Lord's enemies (2 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 4:26; Philippians 3:18). (On Hanani, see 2 Chronicles 16:7.)

2. An alarming sentence. "Wrath from before Jehovah" should come upon Jehoshaphat certainly and speedily. This was inevitable, since Jehovah, as a jealous God (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24), could by no means allow such declension to pass without some manifestation of displeasure. Besides, Jehovah, by covenant engagement with David, had expressly bound himself to chastise with rods any defection on the part of David's successors (2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 139:30). In the same way, though God, for Christ's sake, forgives the transgressions of believers, so that they shall not come into ultimate condemnation, he does not in every instance exempt them from suffering on account of their offences, but rather, as a rule, causes them, when they go astray, to feel such inward rebukes upon their consciences, and such outward inflictions upon their persons or estates, as to make them sensible of his holy anger, if not against their souls, against their sins (Acts 14:22; Romans 5:3; 1 Corinthians 11:32; Hebrews 12:11). Already at Ramoth-Gilead Jehoshaphat had experienced a foretaste of Jehovah's wrath (2 Chronicles 18:31). Additional evidence thereof was soon to follow, in a Moabitish invasion (2 Chronicles 20:1, etc.).

3. A merciful mitigation. While condemning the king's sins, Jehu did not forget to make candid acknowledgment of the king's virtues. To praise another for good qualities is not so easy as to blame another for bad ones. In others, faults are more readily discerned than favourable points; in ourselves, the latter more quickly than the former. Happily, the great Heart-searcher, while noting his people's shortcomings, overlooks not their well-doings. If Jehoshaphat's conduct in contracting alliance with Ahab was denounced, his behaviour in removing the groves from his land and preparing his heart to seek Jehovah was not forgotten. So of Christians, "God is not unrighteous to forget their work and labour of love" (Hebrews 6:10), even though obliged to correct them for doing wrong (Hebrews 12:10); while Christ, sending his messages to the Churches in Asia, with one exception never omits to notice in each case excellences worthy of commendation (Revelation 3., 4.).

LESSONS.

1. Gratitude for mercy.

2. Submission to rebuke.

3. Repentance for sin.

4. Watchfulness in duty.

5. Charity in judging others. - W.







And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem.
I. GOD MAKES A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BACKSLIDDEN CHILD AND AN APOSTATE.

1. He preserves the life of the child (ver. 1).

2. God reproves in grace His backslidden child (ver. 2, 3).

3. God commends His backslidden child for the good he has done.

II. JEHOSHAPHAT EXEMPLIFIES THE TRUE SPIRIT IN WHICH WE SHOULD RECEIVE DIVINE REPROOF.

1. He received the Divine reproof without resentment and with real contrition for his sin.

2. He sought to make amends for past misconduct by greater personal efforts to promote the spiritual interests of his people.

III. JEHOSHAPHAT LAYS DOWN RULES FOR THE JUDGES OF THE PEOPLE WHICH ARE APPLICABLE AND ESSENTIAL TO OUR OWN TIMES.

1. That a true judge must have reference to God in his decisions (ver. 6).

2. That a true judge should be a real Christian (ver. 7).Lessons:

1. Unholy alliances are fraught with the greatest danger to every child of God.

2. In his backslidden state the child of God should at once heed God's warning and reproof through His servants.

3. God requires personal efforts for the promotion of His cause from the rich as well as poor; from those in the highest positions of State as well as from the obscure and lowly.

(D. C. Hughes.)

Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord?
I. THE FRIENDSHIP OF WICKED MEN ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS TEMPTATIONS TO WHICH CHRISTIANS ARE SUBJECT. Modern life in cities illustrates this with special force.

1. The wealth of the world is largely in the hands of men who are not friends of Christ.

2. In many communities intelligence and culture are possessed mainly by the irreligious.

3. Interests of business sometimes create similar peril.

4. In a higher circle of life professional success often tempts young men of aspiring mind to ally themselves with those who love not God.

II. WHILE CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLE REQUIRES NO NARROW OR ASCETIC SECLUSION FROM THE WORLD, YET IT FORBIDS SEEKING WORLDLY FRIENDSHIPS AND ALLIANCES FOR SELFISH ENDS AND TO THE PERIL OF RELIGIOUS USEFULNESS AND RELIGIOUS CHARACTER.

III. THE IRRELIGIOUS FRIENDSHIPS OF RELIGIOUS MEN VIOLATE THE RULING SPIRIT OF THE SCRIPTURES.

IV. ENTANGLING ALLIANCES WITH THE WORLD OFTEN INVOLVE IMMENSE SACRIFICE OF CHRISTIAN USEFULNESS.

V. CHRISTIAN ALLIANCES WITH THE WICKED DO NOT COMMAND THE RESPECT OF THE VERY MAN FOR WHOSE FAVOUR THEY ARE FORMED.

VI. LOVING THOSE THAT HATE GOD INFLICTS A WOUND OF GREAT SEVERITY ON THE FEELINGS OF JESUS CHRIST. It is from Calvary that the voice comes to each in our solitude, "Shouldest thou love them that hate the Lord?"

(A. Phelps.)

I. WHAT IS THAT INTIMACY WITH THE UNGODLY WHICH GOD FORBIDS?

1. An alliance with them.

2. A conformity with them.

3. An unnecessary association with them.

II. WHY IS IT SO DISPLEASING TO GOD?

1. On account of the state of mind it implies.

2. On account of its pernicious tendency.

3. On account of its Opposition to His revealed will.

(J. Chapin.)

It is told of a sweet-voiced canary that it forgot how to sing by having its cage hung outside where it was constantly surrounded by sparrows. It gave up its once sweet notes and learned to chatter the meaningless, tuneless notes of the sparrow. The constant association with the Christless is apt to make our hearts grow Christless.

I have to describe to you a man, not lost, but continually in danger of being lost; a man not wicked, but weak; a man possessing in his character much that was good, but allowing his goodness to be sullied by approach to evil and evil men. I have to show you how one ill-considered step, in the earlier part of his career, embarrassed his whole reign. Affinity with Ahab's family affected more or less the whole life of Jehoshaphat. This should make us cautious.

I. IN SUCH SERIOUS MATTERS AS FORMING FAMILY CONNECTIONS, OR PARTNERSHIPS IN BUSINESS.

II. In what appear MINOR THINGS. Observe the man who is over-persuaded to what he believes to be evil; the man who consents to do what is wrong, and justifies himself by saying some good will come of it; the man who frequents the society of the vicious, yet believes that he can escape corruption; the man who enjoys the jest of the profane, yet supposes that his mind can retain its reverence for holy things; the man who is silent when he should declare openly his disapprobation of evil; the man who runs himself into temptation, yet trusts that God will find him a way out of it. All these persons do, in their measure and degree, expose themselves to danger — commit acts of indecision — take a step which may necessitate others, against which they may exert themselves in vain — impress a stain on their conscience which it may require years to efface — and plant on the soil of their souls a weed so vivacious, so self-spreading, so absorbent of moisture and nutriment, that by and by it may choke the growth of all Christian graces and virtues.

(J. Hessey.)

Nevertheless there are good things found in thee
The Lord will analyse a man's disposition and a man's character, and will assign to him all that is due. What man is wholly bad? Surely in the very worst of men there are excellences, and it ought to be our delight to consider these, and where possible, with due regard to justice, to magnify them and to call the man's attention to them. A man may take heart when he sees some of his best points. Here is a lesson for parents, magistrates, and teachers and monitors of every name and position. Tell a boy that he has done something well. We are too much afraid of what is called flattery, forgetting that flattery is a lie; but we are called upon simply to state the truth, and to state it with affection and emphasis, that it may become an encouragement to hearts that are very easily cast down.

(J. Parker, D.D.)

Is a man whose character is good to the extent of six-sevenths to be pronounced a bad man? Is there not a spiritual arithmetic which looks into majorities and minorities of a moral kind? Will God, then, at last drive away from Him men who have had six good points out of seven? As business men, suppose a man be recommended to you in these terms: This man has seven qualities, and six of them are really admirable; the only thing about him is that you cannot trust him with money. Would you take him? Six points are good out of seven: will you go by the majority or by the minority? Another man is also good in six points, admirable; the only fault he has is that you cannot believe a word he says. Will you take him into your business? There is a minority greater than any majority can be. That is the doctrine which we have omitted when we have been criticising eternal providence and wondering about the issues of human action. Amongst ourselves it is right that we should say of one another, "He is a good man take him on the whole." But what is the meaning of the reservation? Is it a grace, a posture that may be taught by a hired master? Or is it a morality, the want of which turns the whole being into a bog on which you cannot rest with security?

(J. Parker, D. D.)

We may very well admit that the nearer we get to God and to His sunlight the more freely and fully we shall admit that there is no good thing to be found in us. But yet God sometimes allows His angels to say of a mortal man, "There are good things in him," without any frown of supreme displeasure. This should —

1. Comfort us. Our good deeds are not useless, not forgotten.

2. Encourage us. If God speak so like an indulgent master to a trying servant, then we need not fear Him. We need dread no impatient frowns upon our insufficient strivings.

3. Humble us. We are perhaps not so good as Jehoshaphat. For his one backsliding ours, perhaps, are many.Lessons:

1. Mutual forbearance. Let us not set down any of our neighbours as altogether bad.

2. Let us see that our good qualities are definite and discoverable.

3. Let us pray earnestly, agonisingly, that the good in us may overcome the evil. Evil must not for a moment be tolerated. Christ must reign.

(S. B. James, M. A.)

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