Online Bible Commentary
God’s Instructions to Those Who Judge
2 Chronicles 19: 5 Then he set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, 6 and said to the judges, "Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. 7 Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes." 8 Moreover in Jerusalem, for the judgment of the Lord and for controversies, Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites and priests, and some of the chief fathers of Israel, when they returned to Jerusalem. 9 And he commanded them, saying, "Thus you shall act in the fear of the Lord, faithfully and with a loyal heart: 10 Whatever case comes to you from your brethren who dwell in their cities, whether of bloodshed or offenses against law or commandment, against statutes or ordinances, you shall warn them, lest they trespass against the Lord and wrath come upon you and your brethren. Do this, and you will not be guilty. 11 And take notice: Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the Lord; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king's matters; also the Levites will be officials before you. Behave courageously, and the Lord will be with the good." (NKJV)
Jehoshaphat was the son of Asa and great grandson of Solomon, son of David. He was king of the southern kingdom, Judah. He assumed the throne at the age of 35 and reigned from 914 to 889 B.C. Jehoshaphat was the greatest king since Solomon, and Judah prospered under his guidance. He maintained a strong military and walked in obedience to the Lord.
In this passage Jehoshaphat is appointing judges. First, he appoints judges in the fortified cities (v.5). He instructs them to be careful in their rulings because they are judging not for men “but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment” (v.6). He warns them to judge carefully, in “fear of the Lord”, for the Lord allows no iniquity (injustice) or partiality or bribery (v.7).
Next Jehoshaphat appointed judges in Jerusalem, the capitol city, to make major rulings. These judges were religious leaders, Levites and priests, and prominent citizens. His order to them was also to serve “in the fear of the Lord, faithfully and with a loyal heart” (vv.8-9).
However, Jehoshaphat gave an additional order to these high judges. His order was for the judges to warn the litigants not to sin against the Lord; otherwise his wrath will come on you and your brothers. Jehoshaphat then warns the judges to do the same “and you will not be guilty” of sin (v.10). His final instruction to them is to “Behave courageously, and the Lord will be with the good”, those who follow his instructions (v.11b).
We all must settle disputes at one time or the other in our lives. The word of God gives us guidelines here to follow when doing so.
First of all, we should take great care when judging because we are not appointed by man, but by God. God has put us in every circumstance where we find ourselves.
Therefore, we should honor God by judging as He would, without injustice, partiality, or bribery. The justice spoken of here is God’s justice. We should make rulings in obedience to His word, the Scriptures. We should be impartial, listening intently to each side without any preexisting bias governing our hearing. We should not accept bribes of any kind. This would include any favors or popularity that may follow if we rule a certain way.
We also should judge faithfully and wholeheartedly, in the fear of the Lord. It is a solemn and sacred task, not to be taken lightly. It is a task where His will must be done.
Next, we should warn the parties that they should not come in sin. In other words, they should be clean in the eyes of God. They should not be defending a sin or committing the sin of lying or misrepresenting in their testimony. We also, as the judge, should not be guilty of these sins.
Finally, we should “act with courage.” We should have the courage to do God’s will, no matter the consequences. We have the promise that God will manage the consequences, when we are obedient to Him.