Jehoshaphat and the Wicked Kings of Israel

Bible PensJehoshaphat was one of the God-fearing kings of Judah. The Bible says Jehoshaphat sought the LORD, and even describes him as “courageous in the ways of the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 17:1-6) The Bible says Jehoshaphat sent trained theologians to teach the “Book of the Law” throughout Judah (2 Chronicles 17:7-9). The Bible describes Jehoshaphat’s noble attempts to establish justice and equity in Judah (2 Chronicles 20:4-11). The Bible describes Jehoshaphat as a man of deep faith and heartfelt prayer (2 Chronicles 20:4-11). Like I said, Jehoshaphat was one of the God-fearing kings of Judah.

However, this God-fearing king had one significant weakness. Jehoshaphat regularly allowed ungodly people to influence his life and his decisions. 2 Chronicles 18 describes Jehoshaphat’s strange relationship with king Ahab, a king who was certainly not “courageous in the ways of the LORD.” One wonders why Jehoshaphat was spending with Ahab in the first place? Was he trying to be a good influence in Ahab’s life? Was he trying to be a light in a dark nation? We can only speculate about Jehoshaphat’s motivations. What we know is that Jehoshaphat took advice from the wicked, idol-worshiping king of Israel.

Jehoshaphat and Ahab went into battle together (2 Chronicles 18:1-34). Ahab went in disguise but convinced Jehoshaphat to dress as king, essentially putting a giant target on his back. God tried to warn Jehoshaphat through the prophet Micaiah, but apparently Jehoshaphat was more interested in impressing Ahab than heeding Micaiah’s warning. To his great shame, Jehoshaphat did not say a word when Ahab threw Micaiah in prison (2 Chronicles 18:4-27). Despite Jehoshaphat’s folly, God took care of the situation, and Ahab was the one killed in battle by a “random” arrow (2 Chronicles 18:33-34). Even though Jehoshaphat survived the battle, a prophet of the LORD made it clear that God was not amused with Jehoshaphat’s relationship with Ahab (2 Chronicles 19:1-3).

You would expect this experience to teach Jehoshaphat a lesson. He nearly died in battle. He saw Ahab killed in battle. He even saw Micaiah’s warning come to pass. All of this should have stopped Jehoshaphat from taking advice from wicked kings. But it didn’t. In 2 Chronicles 20:35 we read, “Jehoshaphat king of Judah joined with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted wickedly.” Ahaziah had a plan to get rich through trade over the seas, and Jehoshaphat wanted a piece of the action. Again, God was not amused, and the Bible calmly reports that the ships were wrecked and not able to sail (2 Chronicles 20:37).

What do we learn from Jehoshaphat and his friendships with the wicked kings of Israel? Here are three lessons:

  1. Never underestimate the power of ungodly influences. For the most part, Jehoshaphat was a God-fearing king. He made many God honoring decisions that pleased the LORD. Nevertheless, he clearly had a habit of allowing ungodly influences into his life. These influences led him to make decisions that did not please the LORD. In an attempt to be culturally relevant, many Christians invite ungodly influences into their lives. When pressed, they retort, “But Jesus hung out with the worst sinners!” Yes he did. But you’re not Jesus. Do not underestimate the power of ungodly influences.
  2. There are always consequences to sin. This is true for you just like it was true for Jehoshaphat. You can chose your sin, but you can’t chose your consequences. For the most part Jehoshaphat loved the LORD and encouraged other people to follow the LORD. However, when he allowed Ahab and Ahaziah to lead him astray, there were consequences. Many lives were lost in battle (2 Chronicles 18). Much money was lost in the shipwreck (2 Chronicles 20). But most tragically, Jehoshaphat’s family was on the verge of disaster. That’s leads to the final lesson …
  3. Your children are listening and watching. The Bible says Jehoshaphat made his eldest son Jehoram the next king (2 Chronicles 21:1-3). Jehoram grew up watching his dad serve the LORD. In many ways Jehoram saw a man who was courageous in the ways of the LORD. In other ways Jehoram saw a man who allowed ungodly kings to make his decisions. Unfortunately, Jehoram chose to follow in the footsteps of the ungodly kings of Israel. The Bible says he slaughtered his brothers and, “walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 21:4-7). Why didn’t Jehoram grow up to serve the LORD? Part of the problem was the inconsistent example set by his father.

The big take away? Be courageous in the ways of the LORD, and be careful who you allow to have influence over your life.

Originally published July 24, 2015 on