The Advantage of Weakness
It doesn’t take much for us to see our inadequacies—especially in living for and serving God. When life’s circumstances press in on us, we become painfully aware of the challenge set before us and can quickly sense ourselves recoiling from it. We grow weary of people telling us what we can do when we know that we can’t; but at the same time we are unwilling to face up to our weakness in a world that calls us to be strong and confident.
If you find yourself in that predicament, take courage. You’re not alone.
King Jehoshaphat of Judah was a phenomenon who implemented changes that helped God’s people rediscover God’s law (2 Chronicles 19). He reminded them of the importance of understanding and obeying God’s word so that they could serve God faithfully, wholeheartedly, and courageously.
Nevertheless, Jehoshaphat was not immune to fear. When Judah’s enemies threatened his nation, he was acutely aware of their superiority and of the inadequacy of his own people. Yet he also knew that the proper response to inadequacy was to depend entirely upon God. As he confronted the reality of his powerlessness and uncertainty, he kept his gaze firmly fixed above, praying, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
When the enemy whispers to us that we are a disaster or completely useless, we can set his lies against the truth of God’s word and say, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). When we feel that we are powerless in our battle against temptation, we can rest on the truth of God’s word and say to ourselves, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). When we wonder if we have been left alone, we can be assured that “he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).
When we admit our weakness, our mighty Savior will use it for our good and His glory. When we do not know what to do, we can keep our eyes on Him and ask Him to guide us and deliver us, just as He did Jehoshaphat and the whole of Judah (2 Chronicles 20:14-17, 22-25).
As with the men and women who served the Lord throughout the Bible, God still chooses to use unlikely, timid, and hesitant people. What set those individuals apart was not their strength or ability or self-confidence but that they were not consumed by their weaknesses; instead, they embraced them and relied on God’s power to overcome.
Will you do the same?
1After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites,1 came against Jehoshaphat for battle. 2Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom,2 from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). 3Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
5And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. 7Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, 9‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment,3 or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ 10And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy—11behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. 12O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
13Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. 14And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's. 16Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
18Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
20And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 21And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,
“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”
22And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. 23For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.
The Lord Delivers Judah
24When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there4 were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. 25When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much. 26On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah,5 for there they blessed the Lord. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day. 27Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. 28They came to Jerusalem with harps and lyres and trumpets, to the house of the Lord. 29And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.
31Thus Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 32He walked in the way of Asa his father and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord. 33The high places, however, were not taken away; the people had not yet set their hearts upon the God of their fathers.
34Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, from first to last, are written in the chronicles of Jehu the son of Hanani, which are recorded in the Book of the Kings of Israel.
The End of Jehoshaphat's Reign
35After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah joined with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted wickedly. 36He joined him in building ships to go to Tarshish, and they built the ships in Ezion-geber. 37Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have joined with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made.” And the ships were wrecked and were not able to go to Tarshish.
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