In case there was any question remaining as to whether Jehoshaphat had done wrong in going out to war against the Syrians with Ahab, God sent a prophet to the king of Judah in order to confirm this error. “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?” Ahab was wicked. Ahab hated the Lord. What was good king Jehoshaphat doing serving Ahab’s military interests? There would be consequences for this mistake, yet the prophet also spoke words of commendation from the Lord for the king of Judah: “Nevertheless, some good is found in you, for you destroyed the Asheroth out of the land, and have set your heart to seek God.”
There was something right about Jehoshaphat’s concern for all of Judah and Israel. While it was wrong for him to look to Israel for military advantage or to fall in line with Israel’s war plans before first consulting the Lord, it was right of Jehoshaphat to be concerned about righteousness and justice in all of the territory of the Promised Land from Beersheba in the south to the hill country of Ephraim in the north. The king himself went everywhere urging all of the people to return to the Lord. He did what he could to establish an honest system of justice according to the Law of the Lord wherever he had any influence.
Jehoshaphat established an honest chain of command in Jerusalem and urged everyone to be good and true representatives of God Almighty in the matters that came before them. His words to those in authority reflected a concern for the One who is over all: “Deal courageously, and may the Lord be with the upright!”
A good king needs to respond to the Lord’s correction with full obedience and to encourage his subjects to do the same. While Jesus had no sin in His life that required any correction, we are still informed by Scripture that, “He learned obedience through what he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8) There can be no doubt that He calls us to be deeply concerned about honesty in all matters of justice. It is a mistake to think that the generosity of the gospel is an argument in favor of lower standards of goodness among those of us who believe that Christ’s blood has atoned for our sins. Our King sends forth His Spirit throughout the earth. He has caused His Word to be published even in the tongues of those who have had no other written word available to them. He gives the church shepherds and instructs them to teach others to observe all of His commands. He tells us that if we love Him we will obey His commandments.
It was commendable that Jehoshaphat cared about obedience to the Lord. Surely Jesus cares about the righteousness and honesty of all who claim to be His followers. He hates wickedness. Yet this same Jesus died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)