I read this verse some time ago and paused to reflect on it. What did it mean? What does it look like to prepare your ways before God?
Time for some cross-references:
1 Sam. 7:3 – Return to God with all your heart, put away idols, prepare your hearts for God, and serve Him only.
1 Chron. 29:18 – King Solomon prays that God would fix [prepare] Israel’s heart toward Him.
2 Chron. 12:14 – King Rehoboam did evil because he did not prepare his heart to seek God.
2 Chron. 19:3 – King Jehoshaphat finds favor with God because he had removed the wooden idols and prepared his heart to seek God.
2 Chron. 20:33 – The high places were not removed because the Israelites had not yet directed [prepared] their hearts toward God.
2 Chron. 30:19 – King Hezekiah prays that God will atone everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, even if he is not cleansed physically.
Job 11:13 – Zophar says that Job needs to prepare his heart and stretch out his hands toward God.
Psalm 9:7 – The LORD has prepared His throne for judgment.
Psalm 10:17 – The LORD will prepare the heart of the humble.
What I notice is a repeated refrain in 2 Chronicles especially, stating whether someone had prepared his heart to seek God or not. That word “prepared” implies an intentional act: purposefully staying away from evil, cleansing of sin, and seeking after God. Picture when you are having a guest over – you invite him to come, and then you clean your house up and maybe prepare some food, too. Intentional preparation.
It’s easy to imagine what it means to prepare your heart. But what about preparing your ways?
Here I picture writing a rough draft of a paper and asking a professor for feedback, or planning a battle strategy and bringing it before a commander for approval. You’re not just acting in your ways; you’re preparing them.
And that would explain why Jotham was mighty. He didn’t just do; he planned. And he didn’t just plan; he took his plans before the Great Counselor for advice and approval.
The commentators agree. Matthew Poole says he “directed his ways, i.e. his counsels and actions, by the rule of God’s law.” Gill’s Exposition says he “ordered, directed, and guided them according to the word and will of God, and walked as in the sight of God, having the fear of him continually before him.”
Let us do the same.