“David... Solomon ... Rehoboam... Abijah... Asa... Jehoshaphat...” (Matthew 1:6-8, CSB). These were some of the great, great, great... grandfathers of Jesus.
Solomon turned away from God. Rehoboam followed in the misdirected steps of his dad. Abijah did too. Then, Asa turned back to the Lord and the nation followed. Asa’s son, Jehoshaphat was also faithful to follow the Lord.
“Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king; he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem... He walked in all the ways of his father Asa; he did not turn away from them but did what was right in the Lord’s sight” (1 Kings 22:42–43, CSB). “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he walked in the former ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals but sought the God of his father and walked by his commands, not according to the practices of Israel. So the Lord established the kingdom in his hand” (2 Chronicles 17:3–5, CSB).
The Lord blessed and protected Judah with peace and prosperity. “The terror of the Lord was on all the kingdoms of the lands that surrounded Judah, so they didn’t fight against Jehoshaphat” (2 Chronicles 17:10, CSB).
“In the third year of his reign, Jehoshaphat” made a remarkably wise decision. He directed his officials and the leading priests to institute a national education program to teach all of the people about the Living God. “They taught throughout Judah, having the book of the Lord’s instruction with them. They went throughout the towns of Judah and taught the people” (2 Chronicles 17:7–9, CSB). Brilliant!
But Jehoshaphat made at least one bad decision that had lasting negative consequences. Jehoshaphat made friends with Ahab, the wicked king of Israel. To solidify their friendship,
he “made an alliance with Ahab through marriage” (2 Chronicles 18:1, CSB). Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram (or Joram) married the daughter of Ahab.
“Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 21:5, CSB). Jehoram “strengthened his position by killing with the sword all his brothers” (2 Chronicles 21:4, CSB). Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, “walked in the ways of the kings of Israel... He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight” (2 Chronicles 21:6, CSB).
Jehoshaphat had been a pretty good guy, but one bad decision led to vast spiritual wreckage and ruin. He could have ... he should have learned from Solomon’s error and the horrific cost associated with intermarriage with pagans. He didn’t, and it cost plenty!
So, a parting word of folksy wisdom: Choose your friends wisely. If you play with pigs, you will soon smell like a pig!