Then Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned safely to his house in Jerusalem. And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore, the wrath of the Lord is upon you. Nevertheless, good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land and have prepared your heart to seek God.” (2 Chronicles 19:1-3)
Seeing The Good In The Heart
King Ahab was a vile and wicked king who murdered his citizens and filled the land with the abomination of idol worship as few kings before or after him. He married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. The name of Jezebel is synonymous with evil and gross wickedness. Ahab and Jezebel were the most ungodly, immoral, and sensually perverted leaders of their time. Because of their influence, the northern tribes of Israel were destroyed by sin and eventually the Assyrian Empire. It was common knowledge how wicked a man Ahab was, yet the southern king, Jehoshaphat, decided to ally with his northern counterpart. His first mistake was to align himself with Ahab through marriage. Some years later, Jehoshaphat visits Ahab and the two kings have a great feast. During the celebration, Ahab seeks the alliance of Jehoshaphat to go to war against Ramoth Gilead. The king agrees and sets in motion events that will bring the end of the reign of Ahab.
The war does not go well for the northern kingdom. Ahab has been warned by Micaiah, the prophet, that he will be killed in battle. The king disguises himself among the soldiers, but a certain man drew a bow at random, and the arrow delivered a fatal blow to Ahab. He would die that evening around sunset. Jehoshaphat returned safely to his house in Jerusalem to consider his decision to align himself with Ahab. Jehu, the son of Hanani the seer, meets the king and offers a warning and a promise. The first was a rebuke for the king to have sought a union with a king as evil as Ahab. Jehoshaphat showed the world that he did not condemn Ahab’s example and, as Jehu said, expressed love to a man who hated God. This displeased the Lord greatly, and the Lord was angry with the king. However, it was clear Jehoshaphat had made a wrong decision and learned from his mistake. Jehu tells the king the Lord knows the heart of all men and saw good in Jehoshaphat. The king had walked in the former ways of his ancestor David and did not seek the Baals. He had removed the wooden images of idolatry from the land. Jehoshaphat sought the God of his father and walked in the commandments of the Lord with faithfulness. His decision to join forces with Ahab was a serious mistake, but there was good in his heart. God knew that Jehoshaphat had prepared his heart to seek God.
Sin has plagued all men, and good men have stumbled as easily as evil. There has never been a man without sin except Jesus Christ. All the heroes of the Bible were men of frail natures. Noah sinned by getting drunk, Abraham lied about his wife, Moses murdered a man, David murdered the husband of his mistress and lied about it, and Peter denied the Lord with cursing. The chapter of failed faith is long. What separated Jehoshaphat from Ahab is the heart of each man. Ahab’s heart was a stone-cold blackened mass of evil with no redeeming hope of repentance. Jehoshaphat was a man who sought the will of God in his life but made a fatal decision to try and have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. God’s providence brought an end to Ahab’s reign and reminded Jehoshaphat of the importance of a dedicated heart. It would be a hard lesson for the king to learn as he later would align himself with Ahab’s successor and suffer the loss of his fleet of ships.
Jehoshaphat was a good man, and the grace of God saw the kind of heart the king had. There are few lessons so meaningful than to realize how much the kindness of God’s mercy is needed for everyone who bears the mark of a sinner. King Jehoshaphat made mistakes, but his life was seeking the will of the Father as he prepared his heart to obey God. The dividing mark between those who are blessed and those who are not is whether the heart is right with the Lord. Ahab had no desire to serve the Lord. Although he was a child of God, he lost everything, including his salvation, because his heart was turned away from the Lord. Jehoshaphat had a good heart. Thank God for His abundant mercy, everlasting kindness, and the grace of divine forgiveness.