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made use of a sign in imitation of the practice of true prophets. By the horns of -iron he meant to represent, that the Israelites should defeat the Syrians with irresistible force. Jehoshaphat was apprehensive of fallacy in“, these pretended prophets, and required more satisfactory encouragement before he would proceed to battle, i Micaiah's prophecy is not to be understood in a literal sepse. The beginning of it is certainly ironical : “ Go and prosper, &c." (as much as to say, if you will suffer yourself to be deluded, you must take the consequences, for God will not restrain you by arbitrary means; and Ahab understood it so.') What followed were, undoubtedly the words of Divine inspiration, and contained the prophet's commission from the LORD to foretell Ahab's death : " I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, &c." the remainder appears to have been a kind of parable spoken by the prophet, for the admonition of Ahab and his people, for we must not suppose that he had an actual view of the ALMIGHTY on the throne of heaven. But in respect to such difficult passages as these, we can go no farther than conjecture, which should always be formed on some clear texts of Scripture. Now it may
proved *, from many places in the Bible, that God hates liars, and has declared he will cut them off ; and that he has also commanded, that all false prophets should be put to death; so we may venture to conclude, that Micaiah, knowing by Divine inspiration that the LORD would make these lying priests instruments of punishment to Ahab for refusing to hear his servants, only endeavoured to give force to his exhortation by this familiar representation ; which seems to have been suited to the conceptions which Ahab and his people entertained of the SUPREME Being.
* See Essay for a New Translation,
It is not necessary for us to puzzle ourselves with attempting a farther explication of Micaiah's prophecy, as no christian will infér from it that the Lord 'caused these prophets to tell lies, and then justified them in it: neither could the Israelites have imagined so, if they had properly considered the ways of the LORD, whose justice " was remarkably displayed even in the present instance. Had Ahab lent a willing ear to the Divine warning, he would not have gone on an expedition that was likely to prove fatal to him; as he despised it, the Lord left him to the consequences of his presumption and impiety.
It is rather surprising that Jehoshaphat should go with Ahab, notwithstanding Micaiah's predictions ; perhaps he might think it right to keep his engagement, as the prophet had not forbidden him, and Ahab's fall only was predicted. Ahab seems to have gone into the field of battle with great apprehensions, and he strovė, to avoid his fate by disguising his person. Jehoshaphat's too easy compliance would in all probability have cost him his life, had he not in the instant of danger cried unto the LORD for help; who knowing the good disposition of his heart, pardoned his errors, and protected bim from the destroying sword.
Micaiah's prophesy was now in a great measure ful filled ; for upon Ahab's death the Israelites were scate tered on the mountains of Gilead, like sheep having no shenherd: we find Elijah's prediction accomplished also respecting the dogs licking the blood of this impious king.
The history of Ahab affords a variety of instruction concerning a particular providence, and the justice of God's dealings with mankind': we may infer, from many passages in it, that no events happen by chance; blessings are undoubtedly directed by the will of God, and misfortunes can never happen without Divine permission. To.
the Supreme Disposer of all things we should be thank-, ful for every circumstance of our felicity; and to Him should we address our prayers for deliverance from danger, and for support in affliction.
THE CONTINUATION OF THE REIGN OF JEHOSHAPHAT
KING OF JUDAH.
From 2 Chron. Chap. xix,
AND Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house at Jerusalem in peace.
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?
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.
And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jeruslaem : and he went out again through the people, from Beer-sheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the Lord Gop of their fathers.
And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city.
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.
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 God, nor respect of persons, nor, taking of gifts. 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.
And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart.
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 your
brethren : this do, and ye shall not trespass. And behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the Lord : and Zebadiah the son of Ish. mael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the kirlg's so the Levites shall be officers before
Deal courageously, and the Lord shall be with the good.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
It may be considered as a great instance of the mercy of God, that Jehoshaphat returned to his house in peace, from an expedition which he had so inconsiderately undertaken ; but we understand, that he did not entertain the least inclination for idolatry ; on the contrary, in the day of battle he put his whole trust and confidence in the LORD, and earnestly implored Divine assistanĉe: he was, however, deserving of rebuke, and the prophet Jehu was graciously sent to shew him how he had exe posed himself to the Divine displeasure.
Jehoshaphat did not, like Ahab, return to his house lieavy and displeased at the admonition of the Lord; he received it with becoming humility, and resolved to visit every part of his dominions, that he might person. ally exhort his subjects to live agreeably to the commands of God. Jehoshaphat had formerly sent preachers to in
stinct the people, and he now appointed judges, whose business it was to punish the violators of the 4w, and decide controversies between man and many
By the prophet's, reproof to Jehoshaphạt; we are taught to avoid the society of impious men, lest we encourage sin by appearing to countepance it, and endanger the corruption of our own principles.
We likewise learn, that God is not extreme to mark what we do amiss, and to punish for, every offence ; neither doth he withdraw his protection every time men forfeit it 3 we must not however presume on the forbearance of the LORD, but imitate the example of Jehoshaphat, who repented of his sin, and endeavoured to repair the injury he might have done by it to religion, or the souls of others.
The charge which Jehoshaphat gave to his judges, contains 'excellent instructions to all magistrates, teaching them to examine every cause that comes before them with caution and impartiality ; to consider themselves as the ministers of God for the punishment of evil doers, and 'the protection of the innocent : and to remember that they ought, as far as the infirmities of human nature will permit, to imitate the ALMIGHTY in his administration of justice.
JEHOSHAPHAT'S ALLIANCE WITH AHAZTAM.
Fron e Chron. Chap. XX.
And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very - wickedly: and he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish : and they made the ships in Ezion-geber. 1. Vol. 111.