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* They "know not, neither will they understand; They walk on in darkness: All & the foundations of the earth are ‘out of course. * I have said, “Ye are gods; And all of you are children of the Most High.” 7 But ye shall die like men, And fall like one of the princes. 8 Arise, “O God! judge the earth: For thou shalt inherit all nations.
Jehoshaphat had concluded a treaty of peace with the kingdom of Israel, and thus terminated the civil wars which had been going on at intervals since the beginning of Rehoboam’s reign. Happy had it been for him had he gone no further in friendly overtures to that back-slidden and faithless people. By a mistaken policy, however, he sought to bind the two kingdoms together by a more intimate affiance, and proceeded to marry his son and successor to the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. This measure had the effect not merely to consummate a strong political alliance, but to create an intimate union between the two royal families, a union which betrayed the good Jehoshaphat into many disastrous compliances with the worthless Ahab and his successors, Ahaziah and Jehoram, and entailed upon his own kingdom the curse of fruitless wars and corrupting idolatries, which continued to develop their malignity long after his death.
The first war into which Jehoshaphat was drawn by Ahab, was against the Syrians, with a view to recover the strong city of Ramoth-gilead. 1 Kings xxii. That city had been seized by the Syrians from the Israelites, and subsequently returned to them by treaty, when the fortunes of war had delivered Ben-hadad a prisoner into the hands of Ahab. But no sooner had the faithless Ben-hadad regained his liberty, than he refused to fulfil the stipulations of the treaty. Three years had elapsed, and Ramoth-gilead and other cities were not evacuated by the Syrian garrisons. It was to dislodge the Syrian troops and recover Ramoth-gilead, that Ahab now marshals his forces, and persuades Jehoshaphat to join the expedition. By this imprudent act Jehoshaphat not only “helped the ungodly,” for which he was afterward reprimanded by the Prophet Jehu, (2 Chronicles xix, 2,) but broke the league which his father Asa had made with the Syrians, (1 Kings xv, 18–20,) and foolishly committed himself to a quarrel not his own. At Ramothgilead he narrowly escaped death by the Syrian archers, and was compelled at length to withdraw from the field and return to Jerusalem in dishonour. As a necessary consequence, by this unfortunate step Jehoshaphat had drawn down upon himself and kingdom the vengeance of the Syrians and their allies, who were prepared to seize the first opportunity for reprisals. By the defeat of Ahab at Ramoth-gilead that prince had lost the fruit of his former victory over Ben-hadad, and had exposed his kingdom to new invasions and increased losses. The Syrian power was at this time in the ascendant, and the Moabites, who were tributary to Israel, availed themselves of this critical moment to shake off the Hebrew yoke, and join the fortunes of their more powerful Syrian neighbours. It is not proper to follow in detail the disasters and further errors of Jehoshaphat, in consequence of his affinity with the wicked house of Ahab. Thus much it was needful to say, in order to explain the political causes of those troubles, followed by miraculous deliverances, which occasioned the Psalms following this section. As Jehoshaphat had committed himself to a war with Syria, by joining Ahab in the expedition of Ramoth-gilead, so, also, after the revolt of the Moabites, who espoused the Syrian cause, he became liable to an invasion from the Arabian nations on the south. Accordingly, the year following the defeat of Ramoth-gilead, Jehoshaphat was one day suddenly surprised, and his kingdom thrown into the utmost alarm and confusion, at the sudden appearance of an innumerable host of Arabians about En-gedi, within four hours' march of the capital, and in the very act of making a descent upon his dominions. The western shore of the Dead Sea is open and accessible to caravans as far north as En-gedi. North of this city the mountains abruptly terminate their bold, precipitous flanks in the waters of the sea, so as to obstruct all travel. This southern route by the lake shore is entirely screened from observation by the lofty range of desert mountains in the “wilderness of Judah,” on the west. It is only after having reached the latitude of En-gedi, and having ascended from the sea to the upper terrace of these barren hills, that the arable heights and cities of Judah appear in sight. To this day the same route is taken by the Arabs, when they wish to maraud the regions of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. This was the route now chosen by the allied nations of Moab, Ammon, and Edom, when they meditated an irruption into Jehoshaphat's kingdom. Stealthily and unobserved they defiled their innumerable hosts along this covered pass; then, ascending the hills about En-gedi, they discovered themselves to the border inhabitants, about ten or twelve miles distant, across the desert of Judah. The country was thrown into the greatest alarm, and messengers fled to Jehoshaphat from all parts, in breathless fright, saying: “There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar, which is En-gedi.” Jehoshaphat could call into the field an army, whose numerical force amounted to one million one hundred and sixty thousand men, besides the garrisoned forces that kept the cities. But these were his militia. His regular army, or guards, were few, and he had now no time to rally and organize his forces for battle. The enemy was in sight, and within a few hours march of the capital. They were innumerable, and from the most warlike and formidable nations of Arabia; and their swarthy myriads were pouring along, over hills and through mountain gorges, like darkening swarms of locusts. It was a moment of the intensest anxiety and distress to Judah. Jehoshaphat had indeed erred in joining hands with Ahab, but he had meekly received the reproof of the prophet, and had endeavoured the more zealously to inculcate upon his people the laws of Jehovah. He himself feared and trusted God, and in this his extremity he acted up to the genius of the theocracy, and threw himself upon the protection of Judah's real Sovereign, the Lord of hosts. He proclaimed a fast and publicly sought help from heaven. The people were assembled about him with their families by thousands. “All Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.” While the king prayed and confessed before the Lord, the spirit of inspiration came upon Jahaziel, a Levite, who came forward and announced to the king that God had undertaken his cause, and that on the morrow, without a battle, the vast host of the invaders should be overthrown. “And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshipping the Lord. And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with a loud voice on high.” Read 2 Chronicles xx, 1–20.
PS ALM L XXXIII.
WHEN JEHOSHAPHAT HAD RECEIVED THE PROMISE OF VICTORY OVER THE CONFEDERATED ARABIAN AND SYRLAN NATIONS.
A complaint to God of the enemy's conspiracies, 5–8; a prayer for their overthrow, 9–18.
T A Song or Psalm of Asaph.
1 Keep not thou silence, O God! Hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God! * For, lo! "thine enemies make a tumult: And they that hate thee have lifted up the head. * They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, And consulted against thy hidden ones. * They have said, “Come, and "let us cut them off from being a nation; That the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.” a Psa. 2. 1. Acts 4, 25. u See Est. 8.6, 9. Jer. 11.19. and 81. 36.
* For they have consulted together with one 'consent: They are confederate against thee: 6 The * tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; Of Moab, and the Hagarenes; 7 Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; The Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; * Assur also is joined with them: They have "holpen the children of Lot. Selah! * Do unto them as unto the "Midianites; As to “Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison. 10 Which perished at En-dor: They became as dung for the earth. 11 Make their nobles like "Oreb, and like Zeeb: Yea, all their princes as # Zebah, and as Zalmunna: 12 Who said, “Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.” 13 O my God, make them like a wheel; As the stubble before the wind. 14 As the fire burneth a wood, And as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; 15 So persecute them with thy tempest, And make them afraid with thy storm. 16 Fill their faces with shame; That they may seek thy name, O Lord! 17 Let them be confounded and troubled forever; Yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: * That men may know that thou, whose "name alone is
JEHOVAH, Art the Most High over all the earth. 1 Heb. heart. d Numbers 81.7. f Judg. 7. 25. c See 2 Chron. 20. 1, 10, 11. Judg. 7. 22. g Judg. 8, 12, 21. 2 Heb. been an arm to the e Judg. 4.15, 24, h Exod. 6. 3,
children of Lot. and 5. 21.