The Word Made Fresh
1King Jehoshaphat of Judah returned safely to Jerusalem. 2The prophet Jehu son of Hanani met him and said, “Do you think you should give assistance to the wicked and show love to those who hate the LORD? God is angry with you because of this. 3But there is some good to be found in you, because you did, after all, rid the land of the Asherah totem poles, and you have searched for God in your heart.”
4Jehoshaphat lived at Jerusalem, but he toured among the people, going out from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim encouraging them to return to the LORD, the God of their ancestors. 5He appointed judges in each of the walled cities throughout the land, 6and told them if they judged on behalf of the LORD, not on behalf of people, the LORD would be with them in their decisions. 7“Therefore,” he said, “let the fear of the LORD be with you. Be careful what you do, because the LORD does not bend justice to be partial to one party over another, nor does the LORD accept bribes.”
8He also appointed selected Levites and priests and family heads in Jerusalem to make judgments on the LORD’s behalf and to settle disputed cases. Jerusalem would be their headquarters. 9“You must perform your duties out of respect for the LORD,” he told them, “Act in faith, with your whole heart. 10When your relatives from other cities bring a case to you that involves bloodshed or other sins, your job is to educate them in the laws and commandments and legislations and rules, so that they will not be guilty before the LORD. That is how you will ensure that God’s anger will not fall on you and your relatives.” Then he said, “Amariah is chief priest and his decisions with regards to the LORD’s laws are final. Zebadiah son of Ishmael is governor of Judah and all matters to be brought before the king must come through him. The Levites will serve as government officials, and the LORD will be with those who are steadfast in their duties.”
1-3: Ahab is killed, but Jehoshaphat is not harmed and returns safely to Jerusalem. He is met by the seer Jehu Ben-Hanani, who lets Jehoshaphat know that God is not pleased that he went to help Ahab King of Israel. We met this Jehu in 1 Kings 16, where he prophesies against King Baasha of Israel, who ruled some decades before Ahab.
4-7: Jehoshaphat again undertakes a reform by putting judges in all the cities who will teach the people the ways of the LORD (see 17:7-9).
8-11: He reorganizes the judicial system in Jerusalem, placing it under the direction of the chief priest Amariah and a government official named Zebadiah.
Jehoshaphat is unique among the kings of Judah in his efforts to educate the people in the ways of the LORD. In today’s world that responsibility falls on the church – its pastors, its officials, and its teachers and counselors.