The narrative of King Jehoshaphat and King Ahab in 2 Chronicles 18 provides insight into the dynamics of peer pressure. When you or your children yield to peer pressure you are, in effect, dividing your loyalties between God and man. This double-mindedness simply does not work. It results in decision making that is foolish. Many sins that young people become entangled with begin when they yield to peer pressure. This story of King Jehoshaphat demonstrates that young people are not the only ones susceptible to this problem.
Jehoshaphat should have realized that forming an alliance with Ahab was extremely unwise, even stupid! When Jehoshaphat declared allegiance to Ahab he became more concerned with pleasing Ahab than pleasing God. To illustrate this we see that despite a clear warning from God from the Prophet Micaiah, Ahab rejects God’s word and Jehoshaphat follows Ahab rather than God.
Ahab acknowledges that Micaiah is God’s spokesman. Ahab has no concern that the word of God has been spoken. Micaiah then goes on to say just how God intended to bring about defeat for Ahab. Jehoshaphat heard all this, and yet, having done the religious thing by checking with a true prophet, he still maintains his loyalty to Ahab over against God.
In one of the more stunning events in Scripture, verse 28 in this chapter records the actions of Ahab and Jehoshaphat in response to Micaiah’s prophesy.
“So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead.”
After hearing from God, both men chose to ignore him. Ahab did so because he hated God and his ways. Jehoshaphat did so because he did not want to offend Ahab. To be sure, this is a case of misguided judgment. It gets worse. Ahab tells Jehoshaphat his plan. Ahab will dress like a common soldier and Jehoshaphat will wear the robes of a king into battle so that Ahab won’t be attacked and Jehoshaphat will. To this, Jehoshaphat, in effect, says, okay I’m good with that and proceeds to go into battle wearing his royal robes.
This judgment is not only flawed, it is disastrous. Yet Jehoshaphat follows Ahab’s plan. Thus we see that divided loyalty is not really divided, it is following the ways of the enemy. This is the real danger of following peer pressure.
In this instance, God is merciful to Jehoshaphat and spares his life despite his stupidity. This narrative is a powerful illustration of what happens when pleasing people becomes the most important thing. It is easy to think – how could Jehoshaphat have acted so foolishly??? But this is what happens to you and me, to everyone when people become more important to us than God.
This is a story you can tell to your children when they are young and refer to again and again as they grow older. There is a straightforward warning here: it is amazing how foolish we can be when we lose sight of loving God and try to please people instead.