Jehoshaphat of Judah enjoyed many blessings from the Lord (2 Chron. 17). However, his reign was not free of all conflict. Today’s passage describes one of these conflicts when a coalition of Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites moved against Judah.
We know little about the Meunites, who resided on Mount Seir, a mountain range running the length of the land of Edom. The Moabites and Ammonites, both related to the Israelites and Judahites through Abraham’s nephew Lot (Gen. 19:30–38), had long been enemies of God’s people. King Saul had battled the Ammonites (1 Sam. 11:1–11). The Moabites had hired Balaam to curse God’s people during the wilderness era (Num. 22:1–6). Later, King Ahab of Israel subjugated the Moabites, forcing them to pay tribute. Since Jehoshaphat had allied Judah with Ahab’s Israel, when Ahab died and the Moabites revolted against Israel, Judah entered the conflict (2 Kings 1:1; 3:5; see 2 Chron. 18). The Moabite-led coalition against Judah was part of this rebellion, and it attacked Judah probably because it perceived Judah as the weaker partner in the alliance with Israel.
Outnumbered, the Judahites went to the Lord, with Jehoshaphat leading them in a prayer that serves as a model in several ways. It starts out acknowledging God’s power, then rehearses God’s acts of salvation for Israel. Next, it appeals to God’s promise to hear His people’s prayers, states the problem, and appeals for help based on the great need of the Lord’s powerless people (2 Chron. 20:1–12; see Gen. 15; Josh. 24:18; 2 Chron. 6:12–7:22). To make our prayers more biblical, we should include similar petitions in our prayers.
God answered Jehoshaphat’s prayer by confusing the enemy and leading the various peoples to fight against one another until they were destroyed. Judah did not even have to act in the fight, and the Judahites’ resultant victory encouraged the surrounding nations to fear the Lord (2 Chron. 20:13–30). God answers our prayers not only to rescue us but also to move people to fear His name.
The original audience of 2 Chronicles consisted of Jews who came back from Babylon and lived in their own land under Persian rule. These Jews were outnumbered by a hostile pagan empire, so reading this prayer of Jehoshaphat and God’s response encouraged them to trust the Lord and seek His face for their own preservation. Today, God’s people, the church, are frequently outnumbered and live in hostile territory. So, let us be people of prayer as well.