Have you ever heard of King Jehoshaphat and his bizarre battle tactics?

A massive army was marching against the kingdom of Judah. By worldly wisdom, Jehoshaphat’s army was hopelessly outnumbered. By all rights, there was no possible way Jehoshaphat could possibly defeat this army, but he had a weapon that is too often forgotten or under utilized.

An Odd Approach

“After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat.

Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar’ (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”

2 Chronicles 20:1-4 NIV

The first battle tactic was to pray…

Jehoshaphat did not immediately call out his army. He did not put on his armor and mount his chariot. No, the first thing Jehoshaphat did was to cry out to the Lord and to fast. It’s not the first thing a president or king would normally do today when faced with a great enemy, yet it is the FIRST THING we should all do when we are faced with a battle. Too often we look first to our resources at hand. We check our bank accounts, we research the internet, we call the doctor, etc., but we forget to cry out to the Lord FIRST.

The second battle tactic of Jehoshaphat was to wait…

“All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.”

2 Chronicles 2:13

After Jehoshaphat prayed earnestly, he didn’t immediately set out for battle. He waited and stood there before the Lord with the rest of Judah. He waited for an answer. I tend to be a “fixer.” It’s hard for me to wait. I want to spring into action to “fix” whatever is worrying me. And because I don’t stop and wait for an answer from the Lord, I often get ahead of Him and make a mess of things. There is value in taking a moment to wait and see how God leads.

…“Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

2 Chronicles 20:15-17

The third battle tactic of Jehoshaphat was to trust and believe….

Trust in the LORD with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Too often we lean on our own understanding. God’s ways are not our ways, His plans don’t always make sense. So we distrust the Lord. We surrender to our own worries, our own logic, our own wisdom. Instead, we need to wage war like Jehoshaphat and trust and obey the Lord.

Jehoshaphat waited and God answered. Now Jehoshaphat had a plan of action from the Lord Himself. Yet, it seemed crazy. What if Jehoshaphat had ignored God’s plan and went with a more “logical” battle plan? What if he had thought, “This doesn’t make any sense! I’m going to gather my army now before this huge army reaches the city!” What would have happened to Judah if Jehoshaphat hadn’t believed and obeyed the Lord regarding this battle?

The fourth battle tactic of Jehoshaphat was to sing and worship the Lord…

“Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord,

for his love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 20:18-21

Not only did King Jehoshaphat sing, he assembled a choir to go out to battle.

King Jehoshaphat sang in worship to the Lord.

Not only did he sing, he assembled a choir to go out to battle. Read that again…

He assembled a choir to go out in battle.

Wait, what?

He sent a choir to lead out his troops? That makes absolutely no sense at all! At least it makes no sense when we think of battle tactics. The first wave of troops in a battle should not be a marching band of instrumentalists and singers. I wonder if any of Jehoshaphat’s soldiers thought he had lost his marbles.

He hadn’t…

He just knew who was going to fight this battle, and so he sang instead of drawing his sword.

“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.”

2 Chronicles 20:22-24 NIV

Read the first phrase of the passage above again. “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes…” The Lord didn’t act before or after the army began to sing, He acted as they sang.

The Lord didn’t begin the battle until the people began to sing. If we think our worship does not really matter to the Lord, remember this battle. God responded to the praises of His people and He annihilated the enemy as they worshipped Him.

The army of Judah arrived just in time to see the decimated army in the valley of En Gedi. They didn’t have to draw their swords. They didn’t have to shoot their arrows, or throw their spears and javelins. No, they just had to sing in worship to the Lord.

So, what can we learn when we face our own battles?

Pray… Wait… Worship… And Obey.

Then just wait, and see what the Lord does!


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