Have you ever wondered why people write what they write, or what event prompted their writing about it? The psalms always peak my curiosity like that.
This week as I studied Psalm 91, I discovered it was written in celebration of God’s defeat over the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites which occurred during the reign of King Jehoshaphat of Judah. The story is told in 2 Chronicles 20 and provides the key to living a peaceful life in spite of life’s trials, troubles, and battles. Here’s what happened.
Jehoshaphat, an ancestor of Jesus Christ and king of Judah from 872 – 849 BC, was a king who mostly did what was right in God’s eyes. Mostly. But like us, not always. In his case, he didn’t worship other gods, but on occasion he made alliances that did not garner God’s approval.
As we look at his story, we discover that at this particular time in his reign, he found favor in God eyes. When Jehoshaphat was told that a vast army was on the way to conquer them, he gathered all the men, women, and children of Judah and Jerusalem and proclaimed a fast. The people came together for a “national day of prayer.” All the people sought God’s help while Jehoshaphat recalled God’s faithfulness to them and cried out to the Lord, “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”
While they were praying–I love that phrase. It’s found several times in the Bible–the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel, an inspired Levite, with a message from God.
“Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. The battle is not yours but God’s. March down, take your position, stand firm, and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”
Isn’t it nice to know that the battle is the Lord’s. All we have to do is be still and let God handle it.
When Jehoshaphat heard that the Lord would deal with the approaching army, he bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people fell down and worshiped the Lord. Some of the Levitical priests were so thankful, they stood up and shouted their praises.
Early the next morning, Jehoshaphat told the people of Judah and Jerusalem to “Have faith in the Lord, and you will be upheld.”
As a man of faith himself, Jehoshaphat appointed singers– not warriors suited up and armed for battle–but singers with their vocal cords tuned up to sing to the Lord and praise Him for the splendor of His Holiness before the battle began.
Did you get that? BEFORE the battle, they sang and praised the Lord. Before they knew the outcome, they thanked God because they trusted Him to provide the deliverance He promised them. That kind of trust only comes from being still in God’s Presence and acknowledging His sovereign will.
And while they were praying [there it is again], praising, and singing to the Lord, the Lord set ambushes; and the Moabites and Ammonites destroyed each other.
When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert, they saw only dead bodies. It took three days to collect all the plunder from that vast army. On the fourth day they assembled in the valley of Beracah (means praise) and praised the Lord; then returned joyfully to Jerusalem, and went straight to the temple of the Lord to thank and praise Him.
After that, their enemies all around them feared the Lord; and the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace because God gave them rest on every side.
Would you like to have rest in all areas of your little kingdom? Then place your unwavering faith in God, lean on His promises, and do what He tells you to do.
“Don’t be afraid or discouraged… The battle is not yours but God’s. Take your position [in Him], stand firm [in your faith], and see the deliverance [from the problem] the Lord will give you. Go out to face [your problem], and the Lord will be with you [to do battle for you].”
That’s the key to a peaceful life. When you know that God is ready, willing, and able to answer your prayers–maybe not in the manner you imagine because He isn’t limited by your imagination–and you’ve learned to trust Him, then ask for His help and thank Him ahead of time. He will answer your prayers, too. Even while you are still praying.
Now go read Psalm 91. It will make a whole lot more sense to you now that you know the back story. And, praise the Lord for giving you peace in the midst of your daily battles.