I received the following question:

2 Chronicles 19:2 “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Therefore the wrath of the LORD is upon you.
Is this kind of the same concept as for today and not what was the truth for love those who hate you or love your enemy that Jesus said in Matthew 5?

King Jehoshaphat seemed to have some grand scheme in mind whereby he was going to reunite the long-estranged nations of Israel in the north and Judah in the south. It seems this scheme was something he entered into on his own, however, and not by consulting the LORD about the matter. He was ignoring two facts, however. The first was that the northern kingdom was wicked, and had been since Jeroboam led them astray. If they were ever to reunite with Judah in the south, the LORD would need to do a work to change their hearts. Until then, all human efforts to reunite the two kingdoms were doomed to failure. The second fact was that the king of Israel at that time, Ahab, was very wicked, probably the wickedest king the northern kingdom ever had. This was not a good man for any Godly person to enter into an alliance with.

Yet Jehoshaphat ignored both these facts, and proceeded with an attempt to bond the two estranged nations together. His first attempt, it seems, was to marry his son and heir Jehoram to the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, Athaliah. Perhaps he hoped that this would result in his grandson between the two of them becoming the heir of both kingdoms. Yet again he ignored the fact that Athaliah was an extremely wicked woman, like her mother and father. Perhaps he hoped that his son would have a good influence on her. In reality, the opposite was the case. Athaliah corrupted Jehoram, and after his father’s death, he put all of his brothers to death, every one of whom was a better man than he was.

The second attempt of Jehoshaphat to ally the two nations was militarily. He joined Ahab in a campaign against Ramoth Gilead, an Israelite city that had been captured by the Syrians. This campaign ended in disaster, as Ahab was killed in the battle and Jehoshaphat almost lost his life as well. It was when he was returning from this battle that the prophet Jehu met him with this remonstrance from the LORD. He might have had this grand idea in mind of uniting the two brother nations and putting an end to their division, but the LORD had a different perspective on things. To the LORD, it appeared that he was helping wicked people, and loving those who hated Him. And this is exactly the way it was.

Perhaps Jehoshaphat thought the LORD would be pleased by a reuniting of the two nations. If so, he was forgetting that the LORD had caused the division in the first place. If this situation was to be reversed, it would be the LORD who would need to do it, not a man. If he imagined his actions would please the LORD, he was wrong. The LORD was not pleased at all with what he had done.

As for loving those who hate the LORD, Israel never received any command in the Old Testament to love their enemies. Also, Ahab was himself an Israelite, but one who had turned away from the LORD and was worshipping idols at the instigation of his wicked wife. This made him an enemy of the LORD, for he allowed his wicked wife to attempt to stamp out the worship of the true God in the land. Loving such a man was inappropriate for anyone who served the true God.

As for comparing this to Christ’s command to love your enemies, as I said, that command had not been given yet. It was a command to His disciples to emulate His Own behavior, for He Himself was loving towards His enemies, as He demonstrated so manifestly when He died for them. Yet this concept was not without precedent, for Proverbs 25:21-22 declares, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the LORD will reward you.” Giving him bread when he is hungry and water when he is thirsty would be an expression of love towards your enemy, certainly. So the concept definitely does exist in the Old Testament.

Like all things, these statements probably need to be taken in context. Jehoshaphat was not feeding the king of Israel when he was starving. He was trying to help militarily one who rejected and despised the Lord, and who therefore should have been his enemy. No military alliance should have been entered into with such a man, particularly not without consulting the LORD about it beforehand. If Ahab’s nation had been starving, perhaps Jehoshaphat would have been right to help. But helping the LORD’s enemy fight his own enemies was not appropriate. So we understand that loving our enemies should be done only in certain situations. Helping them achieve their wicked ends is not the kind of “loving” the Lord had in mind.