Summary: King Jehosphaphat cried out to God for help and the Lord answered him. We cry out to God in prayer and desire for the Lord to answer our prayers as well.
I found another wonderful story of life changing prayer this morning. The story is found in two Old Testament passages – I Kings 22:32 and 2 Chronicles 18:31. It is interesting to me that the wording of both passages is almost the same which might indicate they used a common resource. What is different in the two passages makes a huge difference in its meaning. To begin with let’s use 2 Chronicles 18:31 READ.
The words “cried out” sounds like a prayer. King Jehoshaphat cried out to God for help or intervention to his crisis situation. The Jerusalem Bible translates this word that Jehoshaphat gave a “shout”.
With this knowledge that King Jehoshaphat prayed for God’s help, let’s back up and learn the situation so you can have greater appreciation for the need of his prayer.
Verse 11 shares with us that King Ahab had heard from his prophets to go attack the King of Aram and that he would be victorious. Ahab didn’t trust the counsel these prophets gave and sought the word of a prophet of the Lord God named Micaiah. Verses 12-27 tell us the remarkable story how the Prophet of God, Micaiah, first told King Ahab what he wanted to hear and then told him the truth. Ahab didn’t want the truth, but wanted to do what he thought was best. Do you ever find yourself praying and thinking, wishing God would give you what you want? I know I have.
Verses 28, 29 READ.
Tells us that King Ahab, the King of Israel, worked out a deal with King Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, to enter in war together against King of Aram. As they were getting ready for the battle, Ahab suggested that Jehoshaphat wear his royal robe and Kingly garments while Ahab would wear the clothes of a common soldier. This should have been a clue to King Jehoshaphat that something was wrong or bad, but it didn’t register to him. Ahab was a shrewd fellow. He must have believed if King Jehoshaphat was killed, then he could take over his kingdom as well.
The historian who is recording this information for us has learned some very valuable information. In verse 30 the King of Aram has instructed his 32 (this detail comes from I Kings 22 text) chariot commanders to attack no one else except the King of Israel. Ahab anticipated the King of Aram would give such orders and therefore the suggestion of the disguise for himself and setting up King Jehoshaphat as a target. With friends like Ahab, who needs enemies?
Verse 31 when the chariot commanders saw King Jehoshaphat’s royal robes and kingly garments, they began moving towards him to attack. With all these chariots and soldiers coming towards him King Jehoshaphat realized he was in danger and this is when this godly King cried out in prayer.
Hold your finger here and turn back to I Kings 22:32 and see the difference in the two verses. The Kings passage does not have “the Lord helped him”. How did God answer the prayer of King Jehoshaphat?
• The NIV says God drew them away from him.
• KJV “God moved them to depart from him”
When the chariot commanders got closer to the King they realized it was not King Ahab and turned away. This sounds like a humanistic answer for God’s intervention. How often do we try to explain a miracle of God with a rational or logical answer?
The story is not over. Verse 33-34 tells us that an enemy soldier randomly shot an arrow towards the Israelite army and it hit King Ahab in disguise between its arrow protection points. The King propped himself up in the chariot to appear in command of the army until sunset when the battle stopped. Then King Ahab died. With King Ahab dying, it fulfilled the prophesy of the Prophet Micaiah.
King Ahab tried using a disguise to protect himself from God’s judgment and it didn’t work. What appeared as a random arrow was guided by the purpose of God to strike the only place it could do damage. This is not conquincidence, but the sovereign will of God.
God protected King Jehoshaphat because his heart was following God, but brought judgment on King Ahab because his heart was evil. Call on the Lord in your time of trouble and walk righteously before Him.