Here is, I. A short account of the reign of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, of which we shall have a much fuller narrative in the book of Chronicles, and of the greatness and goodness of that prince, neither of which was lessened or sullied by any thing but his intimacy with the house of Ahab, which, upon several accounts, was a diminution to him. His confederacy with Ahab in war we have already found dangerous to him, and his confederacy with Ahaziah his son in trade sped no better. He offered to go partner with him in a fleet of merchant-ships, that should fetch gold from Ophir, as Solomon’s navy did, 1 Kgs. 22:49. See 2 Chron. 20:35, 36. But, while they were preparing to set sail, they were exceedingly damaged and disabled by a storm (broken at Ezion-geber), which a prophet gave Jehoshaphat to understand was a rebuke to him for his league with wicked Ahaziah (2 Chron. 20:37); and therefore, as we are told here (1 Kgs. 22:49), when Ahaziah desired a second time to be a partner with him, or, if that could not be obtained, that he might but send his servants with some effects of board Jehoshaphat’s ships, he refused: Jehoshaphat would not. The rod of God, expounded by the word of God, had effectually broken him off from his confederacy with that ungodly unhappy prince. Better buy wisdom dear than be without it; but experience is therefore said to be the mistress of fools because those are fools that will not learn till they are taught by experience, and particularly till they are taught the danger of associating with wicked people. Now Jehoshaphat’s reign appears here to have been none of the longest, but one of the best. 1. It was none of the longest, for he reigned but twenty-five years (1 Kgs. 22:42), but then it was in the prime of his time, between thirty-five and sixty, and these twenty-five, added to his father’s happy forty-one, give us a grateful idea of the flourishing condition of the kingdom of Judah, and of religion in it, for a great while, even when things were very bad, upon all accounts, in the kingdom of Israel. If Jehoshaphat reigned not so long as his father, to balance this he had not those blemishes on the latter end of his reign that his father had (2 Chron. 16:9, 10, 12), and it is better for a man that has been in reputation for wisdom and honour to die in the midst of it than to outlive it. 2. Yet is was one of the best, both in respect of piety and prosperity. (1.) He did well: He did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord (1 Kgs. 22:43), observed the commands of his God, and trod in the steps of his good father; and he persevered therein: He turned not aside from it. Yet every man’s character has some but or other, so had his; the high places were not taken away, no not out of Judah and Benjamin, though those tribes lay so near Jerusalem that they might easily bring their offerings and incense to the altar there, and could not pretend, as some other of the tribes, the inconveniency of lying remote. But old corruptions are with difficulty rooted out, especially when they have formerly had the patronage of those that were good, as the high places had of Samuel, Solomon, and some others. (2.) His affairs did well. He prevented the mischiefs which had attended their wars with the kingdom of Israel, establishing a lasting peace (1 Kgs. 22:44), which would have been a greater blessing if he had contented himself with a peace, and not carried it on to an affinity with Israel; he put a deputy, or viceroy, in Edom, so that the kingdom was tributary to him (1 Kgs. 22:47), and therein the prophecy concerning Esau and Jacob was fulfilled, that the elder should serve the younger. And, in general, mention is made of his might and his wars, 1 Kgs. 22:45. He pleased God, and God blessed him with strength and success. His death is spoken of (1 Kgs. 22:50), to shut up his story, yet, in the history of the kings of Israel, we find mention of him afterwards, 2 Kgs. 3:7.
II. The beginning of the story of Ahaziah the son of Ahab, 1 Kgs. 22:51-53. His reign was very short, not two years. Some sinners God makes quick work with. It is a very bad character that is here given him. He not only kept up Jeroboam’s idolatry, but the worship of Baal likewise; though he had heard of the ruin of Jeroboam’s family, and had seen his own father drawn into destruction by the prophets of Baal, who had often been proved false prophets, yet he received no instruction, took no warning, but followed the example of his wicked father and the counsel of his more wicked mother Jezebel, who was still living. Miserable are the children that not only derive a stock of corruption from their parents, but are thus taught by them to trade with it; and unhappy, most unhappy parents, are those that help to damn their children’s souls.