Jehoshaphat visits his kingdom.
- Whenever we return in peace to our houses, we ought to acknowledge God's providence in preserving our going out and coming in. And if we have been kept through more than common dangers, we are, in a special manner, bound to be thankful. Distinguishing mercies lay us under strong obligations. The prophet tells Jehoshaphat he had done very ill in joining Ahab. He took the reproof well. See the effect the reproof had upon him. He strictly searched his own kingdom. By what the prophet said, Jehoshaphat perceived that his former attempts for reformation were well-pleasing to God; therefore he did what was then left undone. It is good when commendations quicken us to our duty. There are diversities of gifts and operations, but all from the same Spirit, and for the public good; and as every one has received the gift, so let him minister the same. Blessed be God for magistrates and ministers, scribes and statesmen, men of books, and men of business. Observe the charge the king gave. They must do all in the fear of the Lord, with a perfect, upright heart. And they must make it their constant care to prevent sin, as an offence to God, and what would bring wrath on the people.
2 Chronicles 19:1-4 . JEHOSHAPHAT VISITS HIS KINGDOM.
1-4. Jehoshaphat . . . returned to his house in peace--(See 2 Chronicles 18:16 ). Not long after he had resumed the ordinary functions of royalty in Jerusalem, he was one day disturbed by an unexpected and ominous visit from a prophet of the Lord ( 2 Chronicles 19:2 ). This was Jehu, of whose father we read in 2 Chronicles 16:7 . He himself had been called to discharge the prophetic office in Israel. But probably for his bold rebuke to Baasha ( 1 Kings 16:1 ), he had been driven by that arbitrary monarch within the territory of Judah, where we now find him with the privileged license of his order, taking the same religious supervision of Jehoshaphat's proceedings as he had formerly done of Baasha's. At the interview here described, he condemned, in the strongest terms, the king of Judah's imprudent and incongruous league with Ahab--God's open enemy ( 1 Kings 22:2 )--as an unholy alliance that would be conducive neither to the honor and comfort of his house nor to the best interests of his kingdom. He apprised Jehoshaphat that, on account of that grave offense, "wrath was upon him from before the Lord," a judgment that was inflicted soon after (see 2 Chronicles 20:1 ). The prophet's rebuke, however, was administered in a mingled strain of severity and mildness; for he interposed "a nevertheless" ( 2 Chronicles 19:3 ), which implied that the threatened storm would be averted, in token of the divine approval of his public efforts for the promotion of the true religion, as well as of the sincere piety of his personal character and life.
4. he went out again through the people--This means his reappointing the commissioners of public instruction ( 2 Chronicles 17:7-9 ), perhaps with new powers and a larger staff of assistants to overtake every part of the land. The complement of teachers required for that purpose would be easily obtained because the whole tribe of Levites was now concentrated within the kingdom of Judah.
2 Chronicles 19:5-7 . HIS INSTRUCTIONS TO THE JUDGES.
5-7. he set judges in the land--There had been judicial courts established at an early period. But Jehoshaphat was the first king who modified these institutions according to the circumstances of the now fragmentary kingdom of Judah. He fixed local courts in each of the fortified cities, these being the provincial capitals of every district
2 Chronicles 19:8-11 . TO THE PRIESTS AND LEVITES.
8. set of the Levites . . . priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel--A certain number of these three classes constituted a supreme court, which sat in Jerusalem to review appellate cases from the inferior courts. It consisted of two divisions: the first of which had jurisdiction in ecclesiastical matters; the second, in civil, fiscal, and criminal cases. According to others, the two divisions of the supreme court adjudicated: the one according to the law contained in the sacred books; the other according to the law of custom and equity. As in Eastern countries at the present day, the written and unwritten law are objects of separate jurisdiction.