At just thirty-five years old, Jehoshaphat became king over the people of Judah. Is this too young for the job? Is he too old to be up to the task? What’s happened in his life that’s readied him for this moment? Who’s to say?
Jehoshaphat was raised as royalty, learning the ropes from his father, King Asa. He watched his father lead a nation to fear God, and Jehoshaphat saw a lot over his twenty-five-year reign. I wonder what he must’ve thought on that first day, and what his perspective was on his last. Did you accomplish all you wanted to? Did you have enough time to lead with the conviction God put in your heart?
Looking at Jehoshaphat’s example, we pick up in 2 Chronicles 19, where after a botched military excursion as allies with the wicked Israelite King Ahab, a prophet charges him to do better. Jehoshaphat was the king but not above reprimand. Out of love and grace, God acknowledged the conviction in his heart and to continue ridding the land of symbols of the idols of neighboring countries.
Jehoshaphat knew he wouldn’t be able to do it alone. He appointed judges in all of the major cities and charged them to consider the weight and consequences of their judgment. He bolstered the Levites and priests and commanded them again to fear the Lord as they led the nation to do the same. We see that at times he prayed or fasted, seeking the Lord’s answer to his questions. In case you’re not keeping a tally, these are all markers of a good reign, during a period where fearing God was not a guarantee.
Was he perfect? No—and God let him know as much (2Chronicles 20:35–37). But in the end, Scripture tells us that Jehoshaphat was buried with his fathers, in a place of honor and remembrance to a life of service.
We read the history of God’s people and see their rhythm of right worship, collapse into chaos, and repentance over and over. If I get a moment to reflect at the end of my life, I hope to look back over the years and see the right things: faithfulness to God, destruction of idols, and leadership pointing others to do the same. What would you want to see?