I hear myself saying this sentence more as I age, “I have no wisdom about that.” When our family encounters a problem that has no probable solution, or two good choices come along in life, I refer to my go-to mantra: “I have no wisdom about that.” Read what Old Testament King Jehoshaphat did when faced with an advancing army, people to protect, and he had no apparent knowledge of what to do.
The account of his kingship, in 2 Chronicles chapters 17-21, shows the king’s prayer-response to an advancing enemy against Judah. A report brought to King Jehoshaphat announced a “vast army is coming against you from Edom” (20:2).
When the message arrived, the enemy was still at least 25 miles away. The news of impending attack spread from farmer to farmer from merchant to merchant, household to household. The citizens surrounding Jerusalem rushed into the city to “seek help from the Lord.” The urgency caused men to bring their unprotected families with them.
Alarmed by the news of enemies on their tunic tails, Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast for all of Judah, and afterwards he faced the temple and prayed. During his talk with God, the king reminded God of his promises. God had previously assured his people that when they sought an audience with him he would hear.
The final words in Jehoshaphat’s prayer express a common feeling of helplessness when our piddling wisdom and resources run out. The king admitted to God, and before his citizens, his lack of wisdom: “O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.” He continued his plea, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (20:12). I’ve adopted the last sentence of Jehoshaphat’s prayer about personal issues, our country, and its people: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”
Too often, we let the daunting troubles that our eyes see sway us toward fear. We forget that God is mightier than any problem or foe we will ever face in life. The last line of Jehoshaphat’s prayer acknowledges our smallness and lack of wisdom. His words also confess that God is God and man is man.
What was God’s response to this humble leader who knew he didn’t have the answers or the power to protect his people: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” Then the Lord gave King Jehoshaphat an assignment, “[S]tand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you” (20:17). Read further in these chapters to find how conflict in the enemies’ ranks caused them to slay each other.
Until the end of December, we’ll keep focusing on disciplining ourselves in humility. To help in our efforts, adopt Jehoshaphat’s verbal confession of faith and reliance. Almost daily, we see life stick out her foot to trip self or someone we know. We will have that “what-now?” look on our faces again. When that happens, remember God says, “Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24). Make a habit of praying the short prayer of King Jehoshaphat. Pray it for self. Pray it for the nations of the world and for our country: “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
Hunger for Humility (Week 35): “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)