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These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace.

17 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good unto me, but evil?

18 Again he said, Therefore hear the word of the LORD; I saw the LORD sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.

ner, and another saying after that manner.

20 Then there came out a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will entice him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith?

21 And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the LORD said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so, 19 And the LORD said, Who 22 Now therefore, behold, the shall entice Ahab king of Is- LORD hath put a lying spirit in rael, that he may go up and the mouth of these thy profall at Ramoth-gilead? And phets, and the LORD hath one spake saying after this man- spoken evil against thee. LECTURE 692.

Against joining in affinity with the wicked.

It is mentioned in the same verse, that " Jehoshaphat had riches and honours in abundance," and that he "joined affinity with Ahab." He took the daughter of Ahab to be his son's wife. See ch. 21. 6. This was indeed an ill return to make, for all the blessings wherewith God had blessed him. And bitter were the consequences which ensued, to himself, and to his children after him. And bitter will be the consequences to us, if we should ever make a like return, for any prosperity which God may give us.

Whilst the connexion of Jehoshaphat with Ahab portended only evil to the king of Judah, it might have been of much service to the king of Israel; if it had pleased God to incline his heart to listen to good counsel. For Jehoshaphat recommended him to enquire "at the word of the Lord;" and suggested that he should enquire of a prophet of the Lord, besides the four hundred prophets first consulted. And Jehoshaphat said to Ahab, when he objected to send for Micaiah, as hating him for prophesying evil against him, "Let not the king say so." Now in all this Jehoshaphat seems to have acted faithfully for the best. He urged upon his new ally the duty of asking counsel of the Lord, by one of his true prophets. He was not ashamed to press this point, in the court of one who had become a worshipper of Baal. And possibly when he made this connexion with Ahab he had an eye not only to strengthening his kingdom, but also to reclaiming Ahab to his duty. But in vain should we give heed to hopes like these, if they would prompt us to form any such connexion. Evil we must never do, though we might hope some good would come of it. And as to joining in close affinity with the wicked, we may be sure that it is much more probable, that this would end in their corrupting us, than in our reclaiming them.

Jehoshaphat escapeth; Ahab is slain.
went to the battle.

23 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near, and smote Micaiah upon the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the LORD from me to speak unto thee?

24 And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see on that day when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.

25 Then the king of Israel said, Take ye Micaiah, and carry him back to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son;

26 And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I return in peace.

27 And Micaiah said, If thou certainly return in peace, then hath not the LORD spoken by And he said, Hearken,


all ye people.

28 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead.

30 Now the king of Syria had commanded the captains of the chariots that were with him, saying, Fight ye not with small or great, save only with the king of Israel.

31 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him; and God moved them to depart from him.

32 For it came to pass, that, when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back again from pursuing him.

33 And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: therefore he said to his chariot man, Turn thine hand, that thou mayest carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.

29 And the king of Israel said 34 And the battle increased unto Jehoshaphat, I will dis- that day: howbeit the king of guise myself, and will go to the Israel stayed himself up in his battle; but put thou on thy chariot against the Syrians until robes. So the king of Israel the even: and about the time disguised himself; and they of the sun going down he died. LECTURE 693.

How God controuls our thoughts and actions.

Micaiah, as an inspired prophet, might safely rest the credit of his words on the issue of the event which he foretold: saying, "If thou certainly return in peace, then hath not the Lord spoken by me. And he said, Hearken all ye people." This he added, as appealing to all who heard him, that they were to judge by the result, whether he were or were not inspired. But in the case of uninspired counsel, no man, whether a minister of God or not, must dare to rest the proof of his having counselled for the best, on the event turning out accordingly. Nor must any man be disheartened to find, that after following the best advice, or

acting on the best principles, he fails in attaining the end desired. In judging of the fitness of our conduct, the less we look to its immediate results the better. The great point on which we ought to fix our attention is this, What would God have us to do? Having done our best to learn what this is, and having acted accordingly, we must be content to leave the issue in the hands of God. Man never seems more presumptuous, never more forgetful of his proper place, than when he ventures to make certain of the future, or to murmur if it does not turn out as he expects. Let him lay his plans with the best intentions. Let him execute them with caution, diligence, and perseverance. And then, whether he succeed or fail, let him be content that he has ground to give thanks to God, for having been enabled to act according to his will.

There is scarcely any difference, between the history in this chapter, and the account given of the same events in the first book of Kings, Ch. 22; except that we are told here, how "the Lord helped" Jehoshaphat when pursued by the Syrians, and moved them "to depart from him." "For it came to pass," we are informed, "that when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back again from pursuing him." Now this latter part of the account is set down in like words in the Book of Kings. But nothing is there said of God's having moved the captains to depart from following Jehoshaphat. So that if we had not had this second history, to supply matters omitted in the first, we might have supposed, that they desisted from pursuing him, merely because they had discovered their mistake. But the truth is, that whilst these men were influenced by such motives as might reasonably weigh with them, God was all the time moving them to be influenced. And in like manner, we have every reason to think, our freedom of choice is subject, in a way beyond our comprehension, to the controul of almighty God. As a man may draw a bow at a venture, and the arrow pierce one who is marked by God for death; so also a man may think some thought at a venture, he may be unable to give any account as to how he came to think of it; and it may in reality have been suggested by Him who rules our thoughts, and guides their flight whithersoever He will. Whilst, therefore, we choose freely, let us be aware that we never can be, God forbid we ever should be, independent of the controul of Him, who is beyond all comparison greater, and wiser, and better than ourselves. Thus God orders not events only, but also the inclinations of our hearts. Let us therefore, as far as possible, conform our will to that which we may know is his. And whereinsoever we apprehend that the one is not conformed unto the other, let us pray for grace to be able to say heartily, "Not my will, but thine, be done." Luke 22. 42.

PART IV. 0. T.

U u

Jehoshaphat appointeth judges throughout the realm.

1 And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem.

2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD. 3 Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God. 4 And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem and he went out a gain through the people from Beer-sheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the LORD God of their fathers.

5 And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city,

God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.

8 Moreover in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the LORD, and for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem.

9 And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart.

10 And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment,statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the LORD, and so wrath come upon you, and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass. 11 And, behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the LORD; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king's matters: also the Levites shall be officers before you. Deal courageously, and the LORD shall be with the good. LECTURE 694.

6 And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. 7 Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it for there is no iniquity with the LORD our

How godly sorrow works in us self revenge.

When Jehu the son of Hanani told Jehoshaphat of his fault, commending him at the same time for what he had done right, the king turned to serve the Lord faithfully, with renewed devotion of heart. This is consistent with that elevated frame of piety which we have already remarked upon in the character of Jehoshaphat. For though it is a common consequence of worldly greatness, that they who possess it are impatient of the slightest admonition; it is far otherwise with true greatness of mind; it is far otherwise with those whose hearts are "lifted up in the ways of the Lord." Ch. 17. 6. These think it no impeachment of their dignity to have a messenger from God to tell them of their faults. These aim not at appearing but at being good. And

they are willing to be shewn where they have done wrong, that they may the better learn for the future to do right.

Helping the ungodly was the sin charged upon the king of Judah, helping the ungodly, and loving them that were hating the Lord. Let us take warning, and remember that this is sinning against God. And wherever we have to choose a side between conflicting parties, let us resolve that we will help the godly, and love them who love the Lord. On the other hand, amongst the good things noted in Jehoshaphat was this, that he had prepared his heart to seek God. Preparation of the heart is then an important duty; preparation in order to the seeking God. We must first reflect upon the past, when we would confess our sins. We must first confess, and then ask for pardon. We must ask for pardon for the past, and then approaching God as reconciled by the blood of Christ, seek grace to obey Him for the future.

The good work in which Jehoshaphat now employed himself was a very suitable expression of his penitence for the sin of helping the ungodly. He went throughout the land, and established judges in all the cities of Judah, and more especially in Jerusalem, and charged them to give upright judgment, according to the law of the land. This was an effectual method of helping the godly. For these would be sure to fare the best, in the due administration of God's righteous law. And most appropriate were the instructions the king gave unto all those, whom he appointed to do the office of a judge. They were to conceive themselves, he told them, as judging for the Lord; and like Him they must shew no respect of persons, like Him they must take no gifts to blind their eyes in judgment. And they had but to deal courageously according to these rules, and behold the Lord would be "with the good." These last words in his instructions, shew how earnestly he desired to prove, that now he loved them which loved the Lord. And we may learn hence what is meant by the apostle when he tells us of godly sorrow working revenge. See 2 Cor. 7. 11. Whatever sin we are most conscious of, let us aim at attaining unto the grace which is most opposite. And whereinsoever we have served Satan ever so little, let us serve God infinitely more.

Teach us, Lord, wherein we have transgressed thy will, and give us that godly sorrow for sin, which will lead us to mortify all our evil and corrupt affections; for the honour of thy most holy name, through Christ our Lord.

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