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11 And Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no prophet of the LORD here, through whom we may inquire of the LORD?” Then one of the king of Israel’s servants answered, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.” 12 And Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the LORD is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him. And Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.” But the king of Israel said to him, “No; it is the LORD who has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.” 14 And Elisha said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you.

I’m intrigued by the lament of King Jehoram in this story. He says, “Alas! The LORD has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab” (2 Kings 3:10b). If I were one of the other two kings on this war campaign, I’d be asking Jehoram, “Wasn’t this all your idea?” You have three kings on a campaign together, attempting to collect on a debt that was owed one of them (Jehoram king of Israel). They run out of water and Jehoram throws up his arms and gives up. Fortunately for him, he selected a good friend to bring along for the battle.

We learn earlier in the story, Jehoram wasn’t a very godly king but he invites Jehoshephat to join his little war. If he hadn’t made that invite, this story would have gone very differently. It’s not because Jehoshephat was a great fighter or strategist, but because he had a godly reputation. Notice how the story plays out. Jehoshephat suggests they consult God. That’s the first step in the right direction for this threesome. Then, when they find Elisha it is Jehoshephat’s godly reputation that causes Elisha to help them. Elisha even says, “were it not that I have regard for Jehoshephat…I would neither look at you nor see you.”

Both Jehoram and Jehoshephat had reputations preceding them. Elisha, who is the spokesperson of God, chose to help because of Jehoshephat’s character – based not on one good decision but by the pattern of a good life. This story would have done very differently if one of the kings doesn’t have a pattern of life that enables him to interact with God through Elisha. It’s not as if God’s leading is unavailable to anyone, it’s that Jehoshephat had a pattern of seeking God’s voice and the character to listen to it. These three kings enter a very strange battle plan that required work and some significant faith. God’s action in this story is directed in the favor of a man who had a longtime relationship with him, the wisdom to ask for God’s leading, and the faith to obey it.

The attributes that saved the day in this story are not established overnight. The practices you and I establish in our lives position us to hear God and respond to his sometimes strange leadings. Tuning our souls to react to God’s leading doesn’t happen in the heat of the desert, it happens in the day-to-day. What devotional pattern can you establish in your schedule? Make time daily to interact with God so that you’re able to hear him when you’re in desperate need of water. Put it on your calendar. Make it a pattern and learn to listen.

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By Aaron Bjorklund

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