1 Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat.
2 Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi).”
3 Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
4 So Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord.
33 The high places, however, were not removed; the people had not yet directed their hearts to the God of their fathers.
34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first to last, behold, they are written in the annals of Jehu the son of Hanani, which is recorded in the Book of the Kings of Israel.
35 After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel. He acted wickedly in so doing.
36 So he allied himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion-geber.
37 Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat saying, “Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the Lord has destroyed your works.” So the ships were broken and could not go to Tarshish.
In the midst of his fear, Jehoshaphat made a very wise decision in verse 3.
When overwhelming circumstances arose, he “turned his attention to seek the Lord.” He even declared a fast throughout the land because he wanted his focus to be in the right place. He recognized the need for the Lord’s guidance as the only way the people would survive. However, at the end of the chapter we see a different report. Verse 35 says that he “acted wickedly.”
What went so wrong?
Jehoshaphat lost his focus and was unable to identify the enemy correctly. In the beginning of this chapter, he recited a beautiful hymn of praise to God, and his rule was even described as right in the eyes of the Lord. But then…something changed. In the text, this change does not seem drastic, but the implications would be. Jehoshaphat began to build ships to help King Ahaziah, who was evil because he did not honor, fear, or serve God. For this unwholesome partnership, he paid a great price. Verse 37 says, “The Lord destroyed your works.” His brief shift in focus cost him dearly.
This passage is a reminder of the reality of spiritual warfare. Jehoshaphat was no stranger to the tension between the right, noble path of following God and listening to the enemy’s lies. Like Jehoshaphat, we are continually tempted to lose focus and follow someone or something other than the Lord. This passage is a reminder to stand firm as those focused on God, that we might not even subtly move off course from following Him.
We must continually seek Him, as it is only by His power we will succeed in this effort.
• Where are you tempted to lose focus on God and give in to surrounding temptations?
• How is this passage a warning to stay focused on the Lord? What changes do you need to make?
• Pray for clear focus on God and the sustaining power of His Holy Spirit in your life.