“O our God, will You not judge?” (2 Chronicles 20:12, NKJV)
The twenty-third psalm is one of those portions of Scripture that is universally loved because it connects so well with our raggedness as sojourners in this fallen world. It addresses both present need and future hope. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:6). All because the Lord is my shepherd.
Another one of those perfectly suited passages is found in 2 Chronicles 20. There Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, descendent of David, prays for the people. He begins by lifting their eyes to the true and living God: “O LORD God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?” He helps the people to make eye contact with the God who is able to do all things, the one who is their God and the God of their children.
A great army was advancing against the people of Judah. The people were as ants against an overwhelming adversary. Jehoshaphat’s reflex was to pray. His prayer of 2 Chronicles 20:12 acknowledges that they were powerless against the foe. They did not know what to do. But their eyes were on their God who was all powerful and all wise, mighty to save.
How wonderfully that prayer fits the adversities of our lives! In the face of cancer or financial distress or addiction, we cry out to God acknowledging our helplessness. We are at our wits end. We have neither the strength nor the wherewithal. In our anguish, we lift our voices to the God who is with us and for us.
But what exactly is our prayer? What we’ve seen so far is not the prayer; it is what prompts the prayer – our weakness, our desperation, our relationship with the living God. Here is the whole: “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (2 Chron. 20:12).
Like a child crying out to his or her parent for protection, we call out to our Father in heaven to intervene, to stand in the breach between us and the threat. As the pillar of cloud stood between the Egyptian army and the freshly-delivered people of Israel, so we cry out to our God to guide and guard us whom He has delivered.
While this prayer of asking God to intervene in the face of adversity fits well with the challenges of life, ultimately it is answered in the deliverance of Jesus Christ from whatever threat we may face in this age or that to come. It harmonizes with the declaration of the twenty-third psalm of God’s goodness and grace now and forevermore.
As the apostle Paul will later write: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:35–37). The adversities of the day may be severe but they are impotent to sever us from the love of God in Christ.
Christ is the One who stood in the breach between us and God when we were His enemies. Christ is the One who came to be judged in our stead. Christ is the One who lives to intercede for us, who is the power of God, the wisdom of God for our salvation. He is our strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
Christ is ultimately the answer to Jehoshaphat’s prayer and Christ is the answer to our prayer for strength when we are weak, peace when we are in distress, safety when we are threatened, and salvation to lift our eyes from ourselves to God alone as our Savior.
- Looking at the distress of your life, in what way is Jesus God’s answer both in this life and that to come?
- How does Paul’s remark in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 speak to Jehoshaphat’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 20:12?
Father, I thank you that I need not fear for You are with me. I don’t need to panic in my anxiety for You are my God. I believe that in Christ You will strengthen me and help me, and uphold me with Your righteous right hand.
Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.