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which retained its allegiance, maintained its profession of the national faith, and continued to observe its divinely-appointed worship; Israel, by the impious policy of Jeroboam, was led into idolatry and schism. And while the one side rightly held that all ought to worship at Jerusalem, and the other bowed down before the calves which their crafty leader had set up at Dan and at Bethel, they were both likely to forget that they were descended from a common ancestry, that they spoke a common language, and that they both professed to live under institutions which had been dictated to Moses by the voice of God. The increase of the power of the neighbouring kingdom of Syria, seems to have induced the rival monarchs to suspend a domestic warfare, and unite their forces against a foreign enemy—“Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel.” There had been enough of bloodshed. It would have well become the character of Jehoshaphat, if from motives of religion and humanity he had desired to put a stop to the unnatural contest. But it seems to have been altogether conducted in a spirit of godless policy. He not only made peace with the king of Israel, but entered into an alliance with him; and at the time when, more than at any other, he should have avoided intimate intercourse, he formed a near connexion with the reigning family by marrying his son, Jehoram, to the daughter of the wicked Ahab. The displeasure of Jehovah was plainly manifested against this unholy union. The last days of Jehoshaphat were marked by calamity: Jehoram, led away by the advice of his wife, Athaliah, "did evil in the sight of the Lord;" and misfortune and murder tracked the progress of the family, till the infant Joash was the only male representative of the house of David.
It would appear, from a careful examination of the history, that the alliance between the kings of Judah and Israel had been formed some years before the occurrence of the events which are related in the chapter from which I have taken the text. The sacred writer tells us that there were “three years without war between Syria and Israel.” The Syrians, who had grown into importance from the discord of their neighbours, were probably awed into peace by their union. But “it came to pass, that in the third year, that Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, came down to the king of Israel.” He found his ally preparing for an attack on Syria, and was invited to join in the expedition. After having gone so far as he had gone in his acquaintance with this dangerous friend, it was not to be expected that he would now refuse his countenance and assistance. We have no right to enter into intimate acquaintance with the wicked ; if we do, it is not at all surprising that we should in the end be found engaged with them in transactions which we should at first have regarded with horror. When requested to go to battle to Ramoth-gilead, “ Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses." war.
The two kings are thus embarked on a Syrian war. It is likely it was an unjust, for it seems to have been an offensive
With one of these it was clearly unjust ; Jehoshaphat had nothing to do with it. The Syrians were not his enemies; he engaged in it merely to gratify his ally. It is thus men go on from one sin to another. His first sin was forming an alliance with Ahab at all; but he does not end with that. He allows his son to intermarry into that impious family; and now we see him, and all in the natural course of things, aiding the schemes of the wretched Ahab. A severe rebuke awaited him when he returned from this war, disgraced and defeated—“ Jehu, the son of Hanani the seer, went out to meet him, and said, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord ? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord.”
But sinful as was the conduct of Jehoshaphat in making common cause with schismatic Israel and idolatrous Ahab, it is recorded to his honour that he was not even in such society ashamed of religion. He was, alas! able to stifle the scruples that must have arisen within him with
regard to the lawfulness of his uniting with his sinful neighbours, but he could not but hear the voice of conscience requiring him to begin what he was about to do with the formalities of religion. He “said unto the king of Israel, Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord today.” Ahab indulged, what he doubtless regarded as the decent prejudices of his friend; and a flattering tribe of four hundred prophets deceived him to his ruin, by bidding him “go up,” and assuring him that the Lord would deliver RamothGilead into the hand of the king. Jehoshaphat was not satisfied with these assur
More accustomed to the wholesome voice of truth, he regarded with suspicion the courtly acquiescence of these men, and “ said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might inquire of him? And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah, the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat