One of my favorite aspects of the Bible is learning about God (and ourselves) through the genre of stories. There are so many excellent stories gracing the pages of God’s redemptive Story. One character that has always been a favorite of mine is King Jehoshaphat, the leader over Judah. Opening to 2 Chronicles 20 we have a front row seat of God at work.
Jehoshaphat hears of a vast army that is coming against them. A situation that would prompt most to fear and rapid action. But how he responds is so encouraging. He doesn’t immediately start military strategizing. He doesn’t enlist a draft to get more men ready to fight. He proclaims a fast for the whole land to seek rescue from the Lord. And the end of his heartfelt prayer to God contains these famous words, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” An expectant and prayerful trust and hope in the Lord.
As he learns of how the enemy will move towards them and where the conflict will occur, Jehoshaphat also learns that the battle is the Lord’s and that the Lord will give them deliverance from their foes. He is told multiple times to not be afraid or discouraged.
So here we pick up in verse 18 and see the King lead his people into a posture of worship. They bow to the ground and notice there’s no mention of any music or voice yet. The emphasis is on the message of the song, not so much the melody. Then in verse 19 the praise follows and they’re not bashful about it. The next morning they go out and Jehoshaphat encourages all the people to have faith in the Lord. He appoints people to worship the Lord and praise him “for the splendor of his holiness”. To go before the Army and declare joyfully, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”
So while they sing and praise, the Lord fights for them and their enemies are defeated. There is utter chaos and they destroyed one another. Then the people of Judah come upon the scene and see the totality of their God at work. The response to this victory is not self reliance or pride but an assembly in a valley to praise the Lord.
Following this, they return joyfully to Jerusalem. Their rejoicing over their enemies was fully credited to the Lord. So they came home in triumph and went to the temple of the Lord armed with not their weapons of war but ones of worship! Harps, lutes, and trumpets. A joyful noise for sure. Then the fear of God comes on all the countries around and Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was at peace. God had given them rest on all fronts.
We can learn much from this story! When we experience the Lord’s favor and working, a response of worship and gratitude is only fitting. Jehoshaphat is facing a really tough situation and instead of leaning on his own strength and abilities, he looks to God. And every step of the way his posture, his interacting with his people, his heart towards God; every bit of it is worship! They asked for rescue and their God rescued them. Too often I find myself facing a challenge and my instinctive response is to widen my stance and try and bear the load myself. Without altering my course and looking to God to work, this always leaves me worn out and depleted. But I am so thankful for a Savior that gives me cause to rejoice every day and invites me to look to him in all my battles! In the face of trials, may we like Jehoshaphat be quick to turn to God and lead ourselves and those around us into praise. May we give thanks to the Lord, whose love endures forever!