Anxiety (aNGˈzīədē) is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or uneasiness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Everyone experiences anxiety. No one is immune to it because of the fallen world we live in. Anxiety can be negative or positive depending upon the perception of the concerned person.
There are many characters in Scripture that experienced some form of anxiety, negative and/or positive. There was David, Elijah, Jonah, Job, Moses, Jeremiah, and even Jesus to name a handful. We are familiar with most of these characters, their struggles, and their breakthroughs, but today the focus will be on King Jehoshaphat.
King Jehoshaphat was the fourth king of Judah, son of Asa, and was age thirty-five when he became a monarch, reigning for twenty-five years (1 Kings 15:24, 22:42). Picking up his story in 2 Chronicles 17, we see him taking charge of Judah and strengthening it against attack from Israel. He stationed troops and fortified the towns, assigning additional garrisons to all of Judah and previously captured Ephraim. And he found favor in the Lord’s sight.
The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father’s early years and did not worship the images of Baal. He sought his father’s God and obeyed his commands instead of following the evil practices of the kingdom of Israel. 2 Chronicles 17:3-4 NLT
So, the Lord established King Jehoshaphat’s control over his kingdom. The people brought him gifts making him highly esteemed as well as wealthy. His commitment to the Lord led him to remove the pagan shrines and Asherah poles from Judah. In his third year, he sent out officials, Levites, and priests to teach all the towns of Judah from the Book of the Law of the Lord (1 Chronicles 17:5-9).
Fearing the Lord, surrounding kingdoms would not declare war on King Jehoshaphat. Instead, the Philistines brought him various gifts and silver. The Arabs gave him 7,700 rams and 7,700 male goats making him even wealthier. As he became more and more powerful, he built fortresses and storage cities throughout Judah. He stationed an army of his seasoned troops at Jerusalem. In addition to those he stationed in the fortified towns, there were one million one hundred sixty thousand troops stationed in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 17:10-19).
Later, King Jehoshaphat made an alliance with Ahab of Israel by allowing his son to marry Ahab’s daughter.
On a visit to Samaria some time later, Ahab prepared a huge feast for Jehoshaphat. During the feast, Ahab asked if Jehoshaphat would join forces with him to recover Ramoth-gilead. Jehoshaphat agreed on the condition that they first find out what the Lord had to say about the battle. Trying to appease Jehoshaphat, the king of Israel summoned 400 of his prophets to ask if they should go to war against Ramoth-gilead or hold back. They all told Ahab to go ahead, God would give the king victory. But Jehoshaphat is not satisfied and questions that there is not a prophet of the Lord among the 400 prophets who responded, and he presses Ahab (1 Chronicles 18:1-6).
Reluctantly Ahab summons Micaiah, a true prophet of the Lord. Micaiah is hated by Ahab because all of his prophecies regarding Ahab are negative. At first, Micaiah sarcastically tells the King of Israel that he should go to war and that he will be victorious, but the king realizes Micaiah is not being honest. After the king demands Micaiah tell the truth of what he saw, he continues (1 Chronicles 18:7-15).
Then Micaiah told him, “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘Their master has been killed. Send them home in peace.’” 1 Chronicles 18:16 NLT
Micaiah has now told of Ahab’s future death and how the Lord Himself asked, “Who could entice Ahab into battle so he can be killed?” At this juncture, I pause to question the anxiety level of the two kings. Ahab never gets a good report from the Lord’s prophet Micaiah and Jehoshaphat has teamed up with someone he now sees as not kingly.
Most people when faced with bad news will fold like a cheap chair. Others will rise to the challenge, acing the outcome. Still others will attempt to change the outcome. King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat unwisely choose to lead their armies against Ramoth-gilead disregarding Micaiah’s warning (1 Chronicles 18:18-27). As further proof of his anxiety and lack of confidence, Ahab convinces Jehoshaphat to wear his royal robes whilst he goes in disguise.
Prior to battle, the king of Aram gives orders that only the king of Israel is to be killed. Upon seeing Jehoshaphat in royal robes, the Aramean army assumes he is the main target. As they chased Jehoshaphat, he calls out to the Lord. God graciously saves him by turning the attackers away as soon as they realize he isn’t the king of Israel.
So, what happened to Ahab? Even though they had orders to only kill Ahab, an Aramean soldier randomly shot an arrow at the Israelite troops, piercing Ahab between the joints of his armor. That “random shot” resulted in Ahab being fatally wounded (1Chronicles 18:28-34).
King Jehoshaphat had to have been aware of King Ahab’s personality, beliefs, and his reputation, yet he aligned himself with Ahab and was almost killed in his place. After his return home, his seer pointed out his mistake of helping the wicked Ahab and proclaimed the Lord’s anger with him. And for a time, Jehoshaphat appeared to have learned his lesson. He went out encouraging the people to return to the God of their ancestors. He then appointed judges throughout the fortified towns tasking them to fear the Lord and judge with integrity (1 Chronicles 19).
History records that overall King Jehoshaphat was a good king who attempted to follow the Lord’s laws. When his life or country was threatened, his go-to move was praying to the Lord for deliverance. Unfortunately, he would again make some missteps during the latter part of his life. He would fail to remove some pagan shrines, and therefore, the people never fully committed themselves to following the God of their ancestors. And later, an alliance with the very wicked King Ahaziah of Israel would cause his ultimate disfavor with the Lord (1 Chronicles 20).
So how is this Old Testament story relevant to our issues with anxiety?
Let’s reflect honestly on how are we handling our feelings of worry, nervousness, or uneasiness? Are we going to God and praying about everything we are uncertain about? And if He answers our prayers, are we listening? Are we like King Jehoshaphat, aligning ourselves with the wrong people, or are we following God completely? Lastly, have we memorized scripture that can help us to better cope with our anxiety, like Luke 12:25, 31:
Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? … Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. NLT
Father God, we thank you for allowing us to come to You with our anxieties and we ask Your forgiveness when we take it back upon ourselves or ignore Your instructions. We ask that You point out anything within us that is hindering us from conquering our anxieties and that You point out anyone who is adding to them. We thank you Father that Your mercies are new every morning and for Your ever-present help. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Written by Melony Henderson
Please note all scripture was taken from the NLT.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.