The Singers in the Front Line
2 Chronicles 20:21
Jehoshaphat’s history is interesting. He started well, walking in the first ways of his father, David, as chapter 17 recounts. Then in chapter 18 he joined affinity with Ahab; a bad mistake with very unhappy results. But in the next chapter we find that he was exercised by the rebuke of the word of God, and he brought back the people to the Lord God of their fathers.
Then, chapter 20, at the height of this spiritual recovery trouble came. The kingdom of Judah was invaded by Moab, Ammon and others beside, forming a great host. The soul of the people was stirred and exercised and they immediately turned to God. Presently, waiting upon God, they got that excellent word of assurance, “Fear not, nor be dismayed, tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.” They did not go to sleep however. Indeed, they “rose up early in the morning.”
Now comes the point that is before us. Jehoshaphat consulted with the people and appointed singers unto the Lord. Moreover they went out “before the army;” that is, he put them into the front line; and they were to “praise the beauty of holiness,” and to say, “Praise the Lord; for His mercy endureth for ever.” A remarkable army that!
But see how it worked, for the God that they praised acted on their behalf and as for the enemies, “they were smitten . . . every one helped to destroy another . . . none escaped,” The victory was so complete that “the people were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.”
So, brethren, in our day let us also be full of the praises of our God. It marks our Lord, who is now in the glory. Take the three Psalms, 22; 40; 69; each of them portraying the Lord in His path of suffering here, yet each indicating that He comes forth with a song of praise. In Psalm 22 we see Him as the sin offering, yet He says, “In the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee.” In Psalm 40, He is the burnt offering, and we read, “He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God.” In Psalm 69, the trespass offering, we find, “I will praise the name of God with a song.” Note particularly the “our God,” of Psalm 40, for this indicates that others are to be linked with Him.
Corroborating this, we may notice that rejoicing in the Lord is a powerful antidote to spiritual ills. In Philippians 3, we find trouble threatening from without, and the word is, “Rejoice in the Lord.” In chapter 4, trouble is threatening from within, and again comes the same word, twice repeated, “Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice.” It is clear, therefore, that we are to rejoice in the Lord, and sing, whatever the circumstances may be.
Thus, in the Old Testament, Habakkuk addressed himself to “the Chief Singer,” though faced with distressing circumstances. And in the New Testament Paul and Silas sing in the prison. It is deeply touching also to remember that it was “when they had sung an hymn,” that Jesus and His disciples “went forth to the Mount of Olives.”
We too must learn to say, “The Lord is my strength and song” (Psalm 118:14).