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Understanding the Power of Praise - The Story of King Jehoshaphat

I hope you’ve been following along with this whole series in which we’re learning how to praise God in difficult times! We are slowly but surely understanding the power of praise in our lives.

*Here is the whole Redeeming Thanksgiving Series, if you need to catch up.

So far, I’ve shared a lot of my own story in hopes that God’s faithfulness to me would encourage those of us who are still down in the pit. Today, though, we’re not talking about my story, we’re opening our Bibles together to learn from the story of King Jehoshaphat. Perhaps the most compelling demonstration of the power of praise in the Bible!

There are few testimonies either in Scripture or since Bible times that so clearly demonstrate the truth that praise precedes the victory, so let’s dig into this incredible Bible study.

Learning from King Jehoshaphat in Understanding the Power of Praise

We find our main text in King Jehoshaphat’s story in 2 Chronicles 20 (click to read). If you want to study more on his reign in Judah, you can find more about him in 1 Kings 15 & 22, 2 Kings 1, 3, 8, 9, 12, & 2 Chronicles 17- 21. But for understanding the power of praise, 2 Chronicles 20 is where we need to look.

During the reign of King Jehoshaphat, word came that the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites had declared war against Judah. The messenger brought the daunting news that the enemy was marching out with a vast army, ready to attack.

Though the king was terrified, knowing his tiny army didn’t stand a chance against such a monumental force, his humble response is what ultimately secured the victory.

Put Your Trust in God, Not Man

Rather than allying himself with other surrounding nations, counting on them for help, Jehoshaphat bowed low before the Lord and pleaded with Him for guidance and rescue. He also ordered all the people of Judah to fast and seek the Lord. 

The people of Judah gathered in Jerusalem in front of the Temple of the Lord and King Jehoshaphat stood before them and led them in prayer: 

“Oh Lord, God of our ancestors, You alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against You!” 

Jehoshaphat went on to list many of the miracles God had performed in the past on behalf of His people, reminding the Lord of His promise to always come to their aide whenever they stood before His Temple crying out to Him to save them.

He reminded the Lord of His vow to hear those cries and to rescue His people. 

Jehoshaphat continued by appealing to the covenant the Lord had made with their ancestors, pointing out how the enemy was not only a threat, but an offense to that covenant.

Praise Starts in Humility

Finally, in humility, Jehoshaphat proclaimed,  

“We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to You for help.” 

God responded quickly, telling the king and all the people not to be afraid. He assured them that He would deliver the vast armies of the enemy into their hands and even promised to do it without the army having to fight.  

Jehoshaphat and the people bowed low before the Lord and worshiped Him for His faithfulness. Understanding the power of praise, they shouted their acclamation to Him and then the next morning the army of Judah marched out into the wilderness of Tekoa to meet the enemy.

As they went out, the King told his men not to be afraid and assured them that God had already won the battle for them. Then, he did something a little bit strange.

The Power of Praise in the Bible

As the army of Judah marched out to battle, King Jehoshaphat did not place his mightiest warriors at the front, as we would expect. Instead, he appointed singers to walk in front of the army, praising God for His holy splendor as they advanced! Can you imagine?

As the first notes of their song rang out across the countryside, “Give thanks to the Lord; His faithful love endures forever!” the Lord caused the enemy armies to start fighting among themselves. 

By the time the army of Judah reached the enemy camp, dead bodies as far as the eye could see was all that remained. Not a single one of the enemy troops had escaped Judah’s mightiest weapon – praise to the God of Heaven’s Armies!

Understanding the power of praise, King Jehoshaphat and the army of Judah chose to celebrate God even before the victory had been won, and not a single enemy troop was able to survive such a mighty weapon!

Understanding the power of praise, King Jehoshaphat and the army of Judah chose to celebrate God even before the victory had been won, and not a single enemy troop was able to survive such a mighty weapon! Click To Tweet

Understanding the Power of Praise Over OUR Enemies 

Of course, not many of us find ourselves on a literal battlefield. 

We learn in Ephesians 6:10-17 that in this New Testament Church age, the army of our enemy is no longer made of flesh and blood. Instead, we find ourselves toe to toe with the forces of darkness; both here in this world and in the heavenly realm.  

No longer are we trying to conquer kingdoms to expand the nation of Israel. Rather, we’re fighting to expand a Kingdom that will last forever. We’re not interested in acquiring real estate, but in winning souls. 

Likewise, the land we’re fighting to protect is no longer the tangible terrain of this earth, but the territory of our hearts and minds.

And though the weapons we use may look a little different, the strategy that will ensure our victory is exactly the same.  

Praise Precedes the Victory

Only by Your power can we push back our enemies; only in Your Name can we trample our foes. I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. You are the One who gives us victory over our enemies; You disgrace those who hate us. Oh God, we give glory to You all day long and constantly praise Your Name. Psalms 44:5-7

Just as King Jehoshaphat recognized that the only hope for Israel was to rely on the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, we too must humble ourselves before Him and quit believing we can fight any battle on our own. 

We must understand that praise precedes the victory and declare to Him, “It is only by Your power, oh Sovereign Lord, that we can push back our enemies. It is only in Your Name that we can trample our foes.” 

If we examine King Jehoshaphat’s response we will find six simple steps that we can follow today to claim victory over our dark enemies. I think we’ll find that at the root of each step is a thankful heart fully submitted to and dependent upon God. It is the kind of heart that makes the enemy flee!

5 Steps in Understanding the Power of Praise that Unleash the Power of Almighty God 

1. Declare who God is 

As King Jehoshaphat took his place before the people of Israel, he opened his prayer with a simple declaration of God’s greatness. He proclaimed Him to be the only true God, the ruler of everything, and the unconquerable source of might and power.

It is imperative we do the same in our battle. When we acknowledge who fights for us, it will both terrify the enemy, and strengthen our resolve.

Psalms 66:1-4– Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!
Sing about the glory of His name!
Tell the world how glorious He is.
Say to God, “How awesome are Your deeds! 
Your enemies cringe before Your mighty power.
Everything on earth will worship You;
they will sing your praises, shouting Your name in glorious songs.”

When we acknowledge who it is that fights for us, it will both terrify the enemy, and strengthen our resolve. Click To Tweet

2. Recount what God has done 

I believe this to be one of our mightiest weapons against the enemy. Let’s think about it. Our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, waiting to devour us with what? Lies!

He is a liar and the father of all lies. And his favorite thing to lie about is God. He chips away at our faith by planting in us the seeds of doubt. He lied in this way to Eve, to Jesus, and he lies in this way to us every chance he gets!

When we stop to recount God’s work, it stops those lies dead in their tracks and replaces them with the glorious truth that our God is a faithful champion fighting in our defense! 

Psalms 66:5-8 & 16–20- Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles He performs for people!
He made a dry path through the Red Sea, and His people went across on foot.
There we rejoiced in Him. For by His great power He rules forever.
He watches every movement of the nations; let no rebel rise in defiance.
Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing His praises.
Our lives are in His hands, and He keeps our feet from stumbling.

Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He did for me.
For I cried out to Him for help, praising Him as I spoke.
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer.
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His unfailing love from me. 

3. Remember His promises 

This is another tactic to replace the lies of the enemy with the truth of Scripture. King Jehoshaphat knew that reminding the Lord of His promises to their ancestors would serve not only as an appeal to Him, but as a reminder to the people that God was, and had always been on their side.

It was a reminder too, that their enemy was also His enemy, and that an enemy of God is as good as defeated! 

How quick we are to forget the danger to those that oppose Him, and how easy it is to forget what it means to belong to Almighty God!  

2 Chronicles 16:9–The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him… 

Psalms 50:14-17 & 22-23 – Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.
Then call on Me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give Me glory.
But God says to the wicked: “Why bother reciting My decrees and pretending to obey My covenant?
For you refuse My discipline and treat my words like trash…
Repent, all of you who forget Me, or I will tear you apart, and no one will help you.
But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me.
If you keep to My path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” 

4. In humility, ask for help 

I love King Jehoshaphat’s appeal for help. So simple, and SO humble! “We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to You for help.”

It’s never easy to admit that we are powerless, but what a mighty step towards victory it is! 

James 4:7-8 – So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 

5. Praise Him 

What a gutsy move on the part of King Jehoshaphat to place the singers out in front of the army as they marched out to battle! It’s almost as if they were celebrating their victory before the fight had even begun.

It was an action step that boldly proclaimed, “I know who it is that fights for me, and I can’t keep silent! I will thank Him now because I already know the ending to this story, and He is worthy of all our praise!”  

Should we have any less courage? We certainly have the promise of ultimate victory! We know how this story ends, and it does not bode well for the enemy! 

So let’s start today by lifting our voices in thanks to the One who will hurl our enemy into the fiery lake of eternal torment, never to threaten us again. May the words of our testimonies to His greatness never cease! “

Psalms 144:1-2 & 15  – Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.
He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my rescuer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in Him.
He makes the nations submit to me.
Yes, joyful are those who live like this!
Joyful indeed are those whose God is the Lord.

Revelation 12:10-11 – Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and power and the kingdom of God, and the authority of His Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…”

*How about you? Do you have a story of how praise precedes the victory? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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***Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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    • Esther Hosea

      I am a lover of the Old Testament and all the rich and wonderful lessons it holds for us. Lessons that are often overlooked. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

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