Page images
[blocks in formation]

e 2 Chr. 23. 1, &c. dc. 16. 18. or, from breaking up. ↑ bands, or companies. the nurse's arms, was not missed, or not inquired after, or, however, not found: the person that delivered him, was his own aunt, the daughter of wicked Joram; for those whom God will have protected, he will raise up protectors; the place of his safety was the house of the Lord, one of the chambers belonging to the temple, a place Athaliah seldom troubled; his aunt, by bringing him hither, put him under God's special protection, and so hid him by faith, as Moses was hid; now were David's words made good to one of his seed, (Ps. 27. 5,) In the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me. With good reason did this Joash, when he grew up, set himself to repair the house of the Lord, for it had been a sanctuary to him; now was the promise made to David bound up in one life, and yet it did not fail. Thus to the Son of David will God, according to his promise, secure a spiritual seed, which, though sometimes reduced to a small number, brought very low, and seemingly lost, will be perpetuated to the end of time, hidden sometimes, and unseen, but hidden in God's pavilion, and unhurt. It was a special providence that Joram, though a king, a wicked king, married his daughter to Jehoiada a priest, a godly priest: some perhaps thought it a disparagement to the royal family, to marry a daughter to a clergyman, but it proved a happy marriage, and the saving of the royal family from ruin; for Jehoiada's interest in the temple gave her an opportunity to preserve the child, and her interest in the royal family gave him an opportunity to set him on the throne: see the wisdom and care of Providence, and how it prepares for what it designs; and see what blessings they lay up in store for their families, that marry their children to those that are wise and good.

sabbath, even they shall keep the watch of the house of the LORD about the king.

8 And ye shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand: and he that cometh within the ranges, let him be slain : and be ye with the king as he goeth out, and as he cometh in.

9 And the captains over the hundreds did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest commanded: and they took every man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that should go out on the sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest.

I. The manager of this reat affair was Jehoiada the priest, probably, the high priest, or, at least, the sagan, (as the Jews called him,) or suffragan to the high priest; by his birth and office, he was a man in authority, whom the people were bound by the law to observe and obey, especially when there was no rightful king upon the throne, Deut. 17. 12. By marriage, he was allied to the royal family, and if all the seed royal were destroyed, his wife, as daughter to Joram, had a better title to the crown than Athaliah had. By his eminent gifts and graces, he was fitted to serve his country, and better service he could not do it, than to free it from Athaliah's usurpation; and we have reason to think he did not make this attempt, till he had first asked counsel of God, and known his mind, either by prophets, or Urim, or both.

II. The management was very discreet, and as became so wise and good a man as Jehoiada was.

1. He concerted the matter with the rulers of hundreds and the captains, the men in office, ecclesiastical, civil, and military: he got them to him to the temple, consulted with them, laid before them the grievances they at present laboured under, gave them an oath of secrecy, and, finding them free and forward to join with him, showed them the king's son, (v. 4;) and so well satisfied were they with his fidelity, that they saw no reason to suspect an imposition. We may well think what a pleasing surprise it was to the good people among them, who

10 And to the captains over hundreds did the priest give king David's spears and shields, that were in the temple of the LORD.

11 And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple, along by the altar and the temple.

el Chr. 26. 26. f 2 Sam. 8. 7. shoulder.

feared that the house and lineage of David were quite cut off, to find such a spark as this in the embers.

2. He posted the priests and Levites, who were more immediately under his direction, in the several avenues to the temple, to keep the guards, putting them under the command of the rulers of hundreds, v. 9. David had divided the priests into courses, which waited by turns; every sabbath day morning, a new company came into waiting, but the company of the foregoing week did not go out of waiting till the sabbath evening, so that on the sabbath day, when double service was to be done, there was a double number to do it, both they that were to come in, and they that were to go out; those Jehoiada employed to attend on this great occasion, he armed them out of the magazines of the temple with David's spears and shields, either his own or those he had taken from his enemies, which he devoted to God's honour, v. 10. If they were old and unfashionable, yet they that used them, might, by their being David's, be reminded of God's covenant with him, which they were now acting in the defence of.

Two things they were ordered to do; (1.) To protect the young king from being insulted; they must keep the watch of the king's house, (v. 5,) compass the king, and be with him, (v. 8,) to guard him from Athaliab's partisans, for still there were those that thirsted after royal blood. (2.) To preserve the holy temple from being profaned by the concourse of people that would come together on this occasion; (v. 6,) Keep the watch of the house, that it be not either broken through or broken down, and so strangers should crowd in, or such as were unclean. He was not so zealous for the projected revolution, V. 4-12. Six years Athaliah tyrannised; we have not a as to forget his religion; in times of the greatest hurry, care particular account of her reign, no doubt, it was of a piece must be taken, Ne detrimentum capiat ecclesia-That the holy withthe beginning; while Jehu was extirpating the worship of things of God be not trenched upon. It is observable that Baal in Israel, she was establishing it in Judah, as appears, Jehoiada appointed to each his place as well as his work, 2 Chr. 24. 7. The court and kingdom of Judah had been (v. 6, 7,) for good order contributes very much to the expediting debauched by their alliance with the house of Ahab, and now and accomplishing of any great enterprise; let every man one of that house is a curse and plague to both; sinful friend-know, and keep, and make good, his post, and then the work ships speed no better: all this while, Joash lay hid, entitled to will be done quickly. a crown, and intended for it, and yet buried alive in obscurity. Though the sons and heirs of heaven are now hidden, the world knows them not, (1 John 3. 1;) but the time is fixed when they shall appear in glory, as Joash in his seventh year; by that time, he was ready to be showed, not a babe, but, having served his first apprenticeship to life, and being arrived at his first climacterical year, he had taken a good step toward mannood; by that time, the people were grown weary of Athaliah's tyranny, and ripe for a revolution; how that revolution was effected, we are told:

3. When the guards were fixed, then the king was brought forth, v. 12. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, for even in thy holy mountain thy king appears, a child indeed, but not such a one as brings a wo upon the land, for he was the son of nobles, the son of David, Éc. 10. 17. A child indeed, but he had a good guardian, and, which was better, a good God, to go to. Jehoiada, without delay, proceeded to the coronation of this young king; for though he was not yet capable of despatching business, he would be growing up toward it by degrees; this was done with great solemnity, v. 12. (1.) In token of his being invested with kingly power, he put the crown upon him, though it was yet too large and heavy for his head; the regalia, it is probable, were kept in the temple, and so the crown was ready at hand. (2.) In token of his obligation to govern by law, and to make the word of God his rule, he gave him the testimony, put a bible into his hand, which he must read in, all the days of his life, Deut. 17. 18, 19. (3.) In token of his receiving the Spirit, to qualify him for this great work to which he before was called, he anointed him; though notice is taken of the anointing of their kings only in case of interruption, as here, and in Solomon's case, yet I know not but the ceremony might be used to all their kings, at least those of the house of David, because their royalty was typical of Christ's, who was to be anointed above his fellows, above all the sons of David. (4.) In token of the people's acceptance of him and subjection to his government, they clapped their hands for joy, and expressed their hearty good wishes to him, Let the king live; and thus they made him king, made him their king, consented to, and concurred with, the divine appointment. They had reason to rejoice in the period now put to Athaliah's tyranny, and the prospect they had of the restoration and establishment of religion, by a king under the tuition of so good a man as Jehoiada; they had reason to bid him welcome to the crown, whose right it was, and to pray, Let him live, who came to them as life from the dead, and in whom

12 And he brought forth the king's son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony: and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, "God 'save the king.

13 And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people into the temple of the LORD.

14 Ant when she looked, behold, the king stood mby a pillar, as the manner was, and the princes and the trumpeters by the king; and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets: and Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, treason! 15 But Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the host, and said unto them, Have her forth without the ranges; and him that followeth her kill with the sword. For the priest had said, Let her not be slain in the house Por the LORD.

[blocks in formation]

the house of David was to live. With such acclamations of joy and satisfaction must the kingdom of Christ be welcomed into our hearts, when his throne is set up there, and Satan the usurper is deposed; Hosanna, blessed is he that comes: clap hands and say, "Let King Jesus live, for ever live and reign, in my soul, and in all the world;" it is promised, (Ps. 72. 15,) He shall live, and prayer shall be made for him, and his kingdom, continually.

V. 13-16. We may suppose it was designed, when they had finished the solemnity of the king's inauguration, to make a visit to Athaliah, and call her to an account for her murders, usurpations, and tyranny; but, like her mother Jezebel, she saved them the labour, went out to meet them, and hastened her own destruction.

1. Hearing the noise, she came in a fright to see what was the matter, v. 13. Jehoiada and his friends began in silence, but now that they found their strength, they proclaimed what they were doing. It seems, Athaliah was little regarded, else she had had intelligence brought her of this daring attempt, before with her own ears she heard the noise; had the design been discovered before it was perfected, it might have been quashed, but now it was too late; when she heard the noise, it was strange that she was so ill advised as to come herself, and, for aught that appears, to come alone; surely she was not so neglected as to have none to go for her, or none to go with her, but she was wretchedly infatuated by the transport both of fear and indignation she was in; whom God will destroy, he befools. 2. Seeing what was done, she cried out for help: she saw the king's palace by the pillar possessed by one to whom the princes and people did homage, (v. 14,) and had reason to conclude her power at an end, which, she knew, was usurped; this made her rend her clothes, like one distracted, and cry, "Treason, treason! Come and help against the traitors.' Josephus adds, that she cried to have him killed, that possessed the king's place. What was now doing, was the highest justice, yet it is branded as the highest crime; she herself was the greatest traitor, and yet is first and loudest in crying Treason, treason! Those that are themselves most guilty, are commonly most forward to reproach others.


3. Jehoiada gave orders to put her to death, as an idolater, a usurper, and an enemy to the public peace; care was taken, (1.) That she should not be killed in the temple, or any of the courts of it, in reverence to that holy place, which must not be stained with the blood of any human sacrifice, though ever so justly offered. (2.) That whoever appeared for her, should die with her; "Him that follows her, to protect or rescue her, any of her attendants that resolve to adhere to her, and will not come into the interests of their rightful sovereign, kill with the sword, but not unless they follow her now," v. 15. According to these orders, she endeavouring to make her escape the back way to the palace, through the stalls, they pursued her, and there killed her, v. 16. So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: thus give the bloody harlot blood to drink, for she is worthy.

V. 17-21. Jehoiada has now got over the hardest part of his work; when by the death of Athaliah, his young prince had his way to the throne cleare 1 of all opposition, he is now to improve his advantages for the perfecting of the revolution, and the settling of the governmen'.

Two things we have an account of here:

I. The good foundations he laid, by an original contract, v. 17. Now that prince and people were together in God's house, as it should seem, before they stirred, he took care that they should jointly covenant with God, and mutually covenant with

house 'of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images "brake they in pieces thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the LORD.

19 And he took the rulers over hundreds, and the captains, and the guard, and all the people of the land; and they brought down the king from the house of the LORD, and came by the way of the gate of the guard to the king's house. And he sat on the throne of the kings.

20 And all the people of the land rejoiced," and the city was in quiet and they slew Athaliah with the sword beside the king's house.

21 Seven years old was Jehoash when he began to reign.


This chapter gives us the history of the reign of Joash, which does not answer to that glorious beginning of it, which we had an account of in the foregoing chapter; he was not so illustrious at forty years old as he was at seven, yet his reign is to be reckoned one of the better sort, and appears much worse in Chronicles than it does here, (2 Chr. 24.) for there we and the blood of one of God's prophets laid at his door; here we are only told, That he did well, while Jeholada lived, v 1-3. 11. That he was careful and active to repair the temple, v. 4-16. 1. That after a mean composition with Hazael, (v. 17, 18,) he died ingloriously, v. 19-21.

[blocks in formation]

each other, that they might rightly understand their duty both to God and to one another, and be firmly bound to it.

1. He endeavoured to settle and secure the interests of religion among them, by a covenant between them and God. King and people would then cleave most firmly to each other, when both had joined themselves to the Lord. God had, already, on his part, promised to be their God; (Jehoiada could show them that in the book of the testimony ;) now the king and people on their part must covenant and agree that they will be the Lord's people: in this covenant, the king stands upon the same level with his subjects, and is as much bound as any of them to serve the Lord. By this engagement they renounced Baal, whom many of them had worshipped, and resigned themselves to God's government. It is well with a people, when all the changes that pass over them, help to revive, strengthen, and advance, the interests of religion among them. And those are likely to prosper, who set out in the world under fresh and sensible obligations to God and their duty. By our bonds to God the bonds of every relation are strengthened; they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us, 2 Cor. 8. 5.

2. He then settled both the coronation oath, and the oath of allegiance, the pacta conventa-covenant, between the king and the people, by which the king was obliged to govern according to law, and to protect his subjects, and they obliged, while he did so, to obey him, and to bear faith and true allegiance to him. Covenants are of use, both to remind us of, and to bind us to, those duties which are already binding on us. It is good, in all relations, for the parties to understand one another fully, particularly in that between prince and subject, that the one may understand the limits of his power and prerogative, the other of his liberty and property; and never may the ancient landmarks, which our fathers have set before them, be removed.

II. The good beginnings he raised on those foundations. 1. Pursuant to their covenant with God, they immediately abolished idolatry, which the preceding kings, in compliance with the house of Ahab, had introduced; (v. 18,) All the people of the land, the mob, got together, to show their zeal against idolatry; and every one, now that they were so well headed, would lend a hand to pull down Baal's temple, his altars, and his images. All his worshippers, it should seem, deserted him; only his priest Mattan stuck to his altar alone, though all men forsook Baal, he would not, and there he was slain, the best sacrifice that ever was offered upon that altar. Having destroyed Baal's temple, they appointed officers over the house of God, to see that the service of God was regularly performed by the proper persons, in due time, and according to the instituted man


2. Pursuant to their covenant with one another, they expressed a mutual readiness to, and satisfaction in, each other. (1.) The king was brought in state to the royal palace, and sat there on the throne of judgment, the thrones of the house of David, (v. 19,) ready to receive petitions and appeals, which he would refer to Jehoiada to give answers to, and to give judgment upon. (2.) The people rejoiced, and Jerusalem was in quiet, (v. 20;) and Josephus says, they kept a feast of joy many days, making good Solomon's observation, (Prov. 11. 10,) When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.


V. 1-3. The general account here given of Joash 18, 1. That he reigned 40 years; as he began his reign when he was very young, he might, in the course of nature, bave con

2 And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

3 But the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.

4 And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the "dedicated things that is brought into the house of the LORD, even the money of every one that passeth the account, the money that every man is set at, and all the money that cometh into any man's heart to bring into the house of the LORD,

5 Let the priests take it to them, every man of his acquaintance; and let them repair the breaches of the house, wheresoever any breach shall be found. 6 But it was so, that, in the three and twentieth year of king Jehoash, the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house.

7 Then king Jehoash called for Jehoiada the priest, and the other priests, and said unto them, Why repair ye not the breaches of the house? Now,

1 Kings 15. 14. 22. 43. c. 14. 4. Jer. 2. 20. • holinesses, or, hot, things. e Ex. 30. 13. c. 22. 4. ↑ of the souls of his estimatim, Lev. 27. 2. I ascende.h

tinued much longer, for he was cut off when he was but 47 years old, v. 1.

2. That he did that which was right, as long as Jehoiada lived to instruct him, v. 2. Many young men have come too soon to an estate, have had wealth, and power, and liberty, before they knew how to use them, and it has been of bad consequence to them; but against this danger Joash was well guarded, (1.) By having such a good director as Jehoiada was, so wise, and experienced, and faithful to him. (2.) By having so much wisdom as to hearken to him and be directed by him, even when he was grown up. Note, It is a great mercy to young people, and especially to young princes, and all young men of consequence, to be under good direction, and to have those about them that will instruct them to do that which is right in the sight of the Lord; and they then do wisely and well for themselves, when they are willing to be counselled and ruled by such: a child left to himself, brings his mother to shame, but a child left to such a tuition, may bring himself to honour and comfort.

3. That the high places were not taken away, v. 3. Up and down the country, they had altars both for sacrifice and incense, to the honour of the God of Israel only, but in competition with, and at least in implicit contempt of, his altar at Jerusalem. These private altars, perhaps, had been more used in the late bad reigns than formerly, because it was not safe to go up to Jerusalem, nor was the temple service performed as it should have been; and, it may be, Jehoiada connived at them, because some well-meaning people were glad of them when they could not have better, and he hoped that the reforming of the temple, and putting things into a good posture there, would, by degrees, draw people from their high places, and they would dwindle of themselves; or perhaps neither the king nor the priest had zeal enough to carry on their reformation so far, nor courage and strength enough to encounter such an inveterate usage.

therefore, receive no more money of your acquaintance, but deliver it for the breaches of the house.

V. 4-16. We have here an account of the repairing of the temple in the reign of Joash.

8 And the priests consented to receive no more money of the people, neither to repair the breaches of the house.

9 But Jehoiada the priest took a chest, and bored a hole in the lid of it, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one cometh into the house of the LORD: and the priests that kept the "door put therein all the money that was brought into the hou e of the LORD.

10 And it was so, when they saw that there was much money in the chest, that the king's "scribe and the high priest came up, and they put up in bags, and told the money that was found in the house of the LORD.

upon the heart of a man. d Ex. 33. 5. in the twentieth year and third year. e 2 Chr. 21. 5, c. threshold. I or, secretary. ** bound up. 1† brought it for th. repairs, and to take care that the work was done; the king had the affairs of his kingdom to mind, and could not himself inspect this affair, but he employed the priests to manage it, the fittest persons, and most likely, one would think, to be hearty in it. 1. He gave them orders for the levying of the money of the dedicated things; they must not stay till it was paid in, but they must call for it where they knew it was due in their respective districts, either as redemption money, by virtue of the law, (Ex. 30. 13,) or as estimation money, by virtue of the law, (Lev. 27. 2, 3,) or as a free-will offering, (v. 4;) this they were to gather every man of his acquaintance, and it was supposed that there was no man but had acquaintance with some or other of the priests. Note, We should take the pportunity that God gives us of exciting those we have a particular acquaintance with, to that which is good. 2. He gave them orders for laying out the money they had levied, in repairing the breaches of the house, v. 5.

IV. This method did not answer the intention, v. 6. Little money was raised; either the priests were careless, and did not call to the people to pay in their dues, or the people had so little confidence in the priests' management, that they were backward to pay money into their hands: if they were distrusted without cause, it was the people's shame; if with, it was more theirs. But what money was raised, was not applied to the proper use; the breaches of the house were not repaired; the priests thought it might serve as well as it had done, and therefore put it off from time to time. Church work is usually slow work, but it is pi y that churchmen, of all men, should be slow at it. Perhaps, what little money they raised, they thought it necessary to use for the maintenance of the priests, which must needs fall much short, when ten tribes were wholly revolted, and the other two wretchedly corrupted.

V. Another method was therefore taken; the king has his heart much upon it, to have the breaches of the house repaired, v. 7. His apostacy, at last, gives us cause to question whether I. It seems, the temple was gone out of repair; though he had as good an affection for the service of the temple as he Solomon built it very strong, of the best materials, and in the had for the structure; many have been zealous for building and best manner, yet, in time, it went to decay, and there were beautifying churches, and for other forms of godliness, who yet breaches found in it, (v. 5:) in the roofs, or walls, or floors, have been strangers to the power of it: however, we commend the ceiling, or wainscoting, or windows, or the partitions of the his zeal, and blame him not for reproving even his tutor Jehoiada courts: even temples themselves are the worse for the wear- himself when he saw him remiss; and so convincing was his ing; the heavenly temple will never wax old. Yet it was not reproof, that the priests owned themselves unworthy to be any only the teeth of time, that made these breaches, the sons of longer employed, and consented to the taking of some other Athaliah had broken up the house of God, (2 Chr. 24. 7,) and, measures, and the giving up of the money they had received, out of enmity to the service of the temple, had damaged the into other hands, v. 8. It was honestly done, when they found buildings of it, and the priests had not taken care to repair the they had not spirit to do it themselves, not to hinder other peobreaches in time, so that they went worse and worse. Un-ple from doing it. Another course was taken, worthy were those husbandmen to have this valuable vineyard let out to them upon such easy terms, who could not afford to keep the wine-press in due and tenantable repair, (Matt. 21. 33) justly did their great Lord sue them for this permissive waste, and by his judgments recover locum vastatum-for dilapilations, (as the law speaks,) when this neglected temple was Jaid even with the ground.

II. The king himself was (as it should seem) the first and forwardest man that took care for the repair of it; we do not find that the priests complained of it, or that Jehoiada himself was active in it, but the king was zealous in the matter; 1. Because he was king, and God expects and requires from those who have power, that they use it for the maintenance and support of religion, the redress of grievances, and reparation of decays, for the exciting and engaging of ministers to do their part, and people theirs. 2. Because the temple had been both his nursery and his sanctuary, when he was a child, in a grateful remembrance of which, he now appeared zealous for the honour of it. They who have experienced the comfort and benefit of religious assemblies, will make the reproach of them their burden, (Zeph. 3. 18,) the support of them their care, and the prosperity of them their chief joy. III. The priests were ordered to collect money for these

11 And they gave the money, being told, into the hands of them that did the work, that had the oversight of the house of the LORD: and they laid it out to the carpenters and builders that wrought upon the house of the LORD,

1. For raising money, v. 9, 10. The money was not paid into private hands, but put into a public chest, and then people brought it in readily, and in great abundance, not only their dues, but their free-will offerings for so good a work. The high priest and the secretary of state counted the money out of the chest, and laid it by in specie for the use to which it was appropriated. When public distributions are made faithfully, public contributions will be made cheerfully. The money that was given, (1.) Was dropped into the chest through a hole in the lid, past recall, to in' imate that wha has been once resigned to God, must never be resumed: every man, as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give. (2.) The chest was put on the right hand as they went in, which, some think, is alluded to in that rule of charity which our Saviour gives, Let not thy left hand know what the right hand doeth. But while they were getting all they could, for the repair of the temple, they did not break in upon that which was the stated maintenance of the priests, (v. 16;) the trespass money and the sin money which were given to them by that law, Lev. 5. 15. 16, were reserved to them. Let not the servants of the temple be starved, under colour of repairing the breaches of it.

2. For laying out the money that was raised. (1.) They did not put it into the hands of the priests, who were not versed


12 And to masons, and hewers of stone, and to buy timber and hewed stone to repair the breaches This chapter brings us again to the history of the kings of Israel, and particularly of the house of the LORD, and for all that was laid out for the house to repair it.

13 Howbeit, there were not made for the house of the LORD bowls of silver, snuffers, basins, trumpets, any vessels of gold, or vessels of silver, of the money that was brought into the house of the LORD:

of the family of Jehu. We have here an account of the reign, I. Of his son Jehoahaz, which continued 17 years. His bad character in general, v. 1, 2. The trouble he was brought into, (v. 3,) and the low ebb of his affairs, v. 7. His humiliation before God, and God's compassion toward him, v. 4, 5, and again, v. 23. His continuance in his idolatry notwithstanding, v. 6. His death, v. 8, 9. II. Of his grandson Joash, which continued 16 years. Here is a general account of his reign in the usual form, (v. 11-13,) but a particular account of the death of Elisha in his time. The kind visit the king made him, (v. 14,) and the encouragement he gave the king in his wars with Syria, v. 15-19. His death and burial (v. 20,) and a miracle wrought by his bones, v. 21. And, lastly, The advantages Joash gained against the Syrians, according to his predictions, v. 24, 25.

14 But they gave that to the workmen, and repaired therewith the house of the LORD.

15 Moreover, reckoned with the men

into whose hand they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen: for they dealt faithfully.

16 The trespass money and sin money was not brought into the house of the LORD: it was the priests'.

17 Then Hazael king of Syria went up and fought against Gath, and took it: and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem.

18 And Jehoash king of Judah took all the hallowed things that Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own hallowed things, and all the gold that was found in the treasures of the house of the LORD, and in the king's house, and sent it to Hazael king of Syria: and he went away from Jerusalem.

19 And the rest of the acts of Jehoash, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

20 And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and slew Jehoash in the house of Millo, which goeth down to Silla.

21 For Jozachar the son of Shimeath, and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, smote him, and he died; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Amaziah his son reigned in his stead.

[blocks in formation]

in affairs of this nature, having other work to mind, but into the hands of those that did the work, or, at least, had the oversight of it, v. 11. They were fittest to be intrusted with this business, whose employment lay that way; Tractant fabrilia fabri -every artist has his trade assigned; but let not those who are called to war, the holy warfare, entangle themselves in the affairs of this life. They that were thus intrusted, did the business, [1] Carefully; purchasing materials, and paying workmen, v. 12. Business is done with expedition, when those are employed in it that understand it, and know which way to go about it. [2.] Faithfully; such a reputation they got for honesty, that there was no occasion to examine their bills, or audit their accounts; let all that are intrusted with public money, or public work, learn hence to deal faithfully, as those that know God will reckon with them, whether men do or no; those that think it is no sin to cheat the government, cheat the country, or cheat the church, will be of another mind, when God shall set their sins in order before them. (2.) They did not lay it out in ornaments for the temple, in vessels of gold or silver, but in necessary repairs first, (v. 13;) whence we may learn, in all our expenses, to give that the preference, which is most needful, and, in dealing for the public, to deal as we would for ourselves. After the repairs were finished, we find the overplus turned into plate for the service of the temple, 2 Chr. 24. 14. V. 17-21. When Joash had revolted from God, and was become both an idolater and a persecutor, the hand of the Lord went out against him, and his last state was worse than his first. 1. His wealth and honour became an easy prey to his neighbours. Hazael, when he had chastised Israel, (ch. 10. 32,) threatened Judah and Jerusalem likewise; took Gath, a strong city, (v. 17,) and thence intended to march with his forces against Jerusalem, the royal city, the holy city, but whose defence, on account of its sinfulness, was departed. Joash had neither spirit nor strength to make head against him, but gave him all the hallowed things, and all the gold that was found both in his exchequer and in the treasures of the temple, (v. 18,) to hire him to march another way. If it were lawful to do this for the public safety, better part with the gold of the temple than expose the temple itself; yet, (1.) If he had not forsaken God, and forfeited his protection, his affairs had not been brought to this extremity, but he might have forced Hazael to retire. (2.) He diminished himself, and made himself very mean, lost the honour of a prince and a soldier, and of an Israelite too, in alienating the dedicated things. (3.) He impoverished himself and his kingdom. And, (4.) He tempted Hazael to come again, when he could bring home so rich a booty without striking a stroke. And it had this effect, for, the next year, the host of Syria came up against Jerusalem, destroyed the princes, and plundered the city, 2 Chr. 24. 23, 24.

2. His life became an easy prey to his own servants. They VOL. I.-114

the three and twentieth year of the

I son of hazia king of Judah, Jehoahaz, the son

of Jehu, began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned seventeen years.

2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.

3 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel; and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael 'king of Syria, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, all their days.

4 And Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him; for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them.

5 (And the LORD gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime.

6 Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel sin, but walked therein and there remained" the grove also in Samaria.)

7 Neither did he leave of the people to Jehoahaz but fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Syria had de

the twentieth year and third year. I walked after. a Judg. 2. 14. bc. 8. 12. 12. 17. e Ps. 78. 34. d Ex. 3. 7. c. 14. 26. e ver. 25. 1 yesterday and third day. She walked. I stood. f1 Kings 16. 33.


conspired against him, and slew him, (v. 20, 21;) not aiming at his kingdom, for they opposed not his son's succeeding him, but to be avenged on him for some crime he had committed and we are told in Chronicles, that his murdering of the prophet, Jehoiada's son, was the provocation. In this, how unrighteous soever they were, (vengeance was not theirs, nor did it belong to them to repay,) God was righteous; and this was not the only time that he let even kings know that it was at their peril, if they touched his anointed, and did his prophets any harm; and that when he comes to make inquisition for blood, the blood of prophets will run the account very high. Thus fell Joash, who began in the spirit, and ended in the flesh. God usually sets marks of his displeasure upon apostates, even in this life; for they, of all sinners, do most reproach the Lord.


V. 1-9. This general account of the reign of Jehoahaz, and of the state of Israel during his 17 years, though short, is long enough to let us see two things which are very affecting and instructive.

I. The glory of Israel raked up in the ashes, buried and lost, and turned into shame. How unlike does Israel appear here to what it had been, and might have been! How is its crown profaned, and its honour laid in the dust!

1. It was the honour of Israel, that they worshipped the only living and true God, who is a Spirit, an eternal mind, and had rules, by which to worship him, of his own appointment: but by changing the glory of the incorruptible God into the similitude of an or, the truth of God into a lie, they lost this honour, and levelled themselves with the nations that worshipped the work of their own hands. We find here that the king followed the sins of Jeroboam, (v. 2,) and the people departed not from them, but walked therein, v. 6. There could not be a greater reproach than these two idolized calves were to a people that were instructed in the service of God, and intrusted with the lively oracles. In all the history of the ten tribes we never find the least shock given to that idolatry, but in every reign, still the calf was their god, and they separated themselves to that shame.

2. It was the honour of Israel, that they were taken under the special protection of Heaven; God himself was their Defence, the Shield of their help, and the Sword of their excellency. Happy wast thou, O Israel, upon this account. But here, as often before, we find them stripped of this glory, and exposed to the insults of all their neighbours. They, by their sins, provoked God to anger, and then he delivered them into the hands of Hazael and Ben-hadad, v. 3. Hazael oppressed Israel, v. 22. Surely never was any nation so often plucked and pillaged by their neighbours as Israel was. This they brought upon themselves by sin; when they had provoked God to pluck up their ( 905')

[blocks in formation]

hedge, the goodness of their land did but tempt their neighbours to prey upon them. So low was Israel brought in this reign by the many depredations which the Syrians made upon them, that the militia of the kingdom, and all the force they could bring into the field, were but fifty horsemen, ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen, a despicable muster, v. 7. Are the thousands of Israel come to this? How is the gold become dim! The debauching of a nation, will certainly be the debasing of it.

II. Some sparks of Israel's ancient honour appearing in these ashes. It is not quite forgotten, notwithstanding all these quarrels, that this people is the Israel of God, and he the God of Israel. For,

1. It was the ancient honour of Israel, that they were a pray-a ing people and here we find somewhat of that honour revived; for Jehoahaz their king, in his distress, besought the Lord, (v. 4;) applied himself for help, not to the calves, (what help could they give him?) but to the Lord. It becomes kings to be beggars at God's door; and the greatest of men to be humble petitioners at the footstool of his throne. Need will drive them to it.

2. It was the ancient honour of Israel, that they had God nigh unto them in all that which they called upon him for, (Deut. 4. 7,) and so he was here. Though he might justly have rejected the prayer, as an abomination to him, yet the Lord hearkened unto Jehouhaz, and to his prayer for himself and for his people, (v. 4,) and he gave Israel a saviour, (v. 5;) not Jehoahaz himself, for, all his days, Hazael oppressed Israel, (v. 22,) but his son, to whom, in answer to his father's prayers, God gave success against the Syrians, so that he recovered the cities which they had taken from his father, v. 25. This gracious answer God gave to the prayer of Jehoahaz, not for his sake, or the sake of that unworthy people, but in remembrance of his covenant with Abraham, (v. 23,) which, in such exigencies as these, he had long since promised to have respect to, Lev. 26, 42. See how swift God is to show mercy; how ready to hear prayers; how willing to find out any reason to be gracious! else he would not look so far back as that ancient covenant which Israel had so often broken, and forfeited all the benefit of. Let this invite and engage us for ever to him; and encourage even those that have forsaken him, to return and repent; for there is forgiveness with him, that he may be feared.

V. 10-19. We have here Jehoash, or Joash, the son of Jehoalaz, and grandson of Jehu, upon the throne of Israel. Probably, the house of Jehu intended some respect to the house of David, when they gave this heir-apparent to the crown, the same name with him that was then king of Judah.

I. The general account here given of him and his reign, is much the same with what we have already met with, and has little in it remarkable, v. 10-13. He was none of the worst, and yet, because he kept up that ancient and politic idolatry of the house of Jeroboam, it is said, He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. That one evil was enough to leave an indelible mark of infamy upon his name; for, how little evil soever men saw in it, it was, in the sight of the Lord, a very wicked thing; and we are sure that his judgment is according to truth. It is observable, how lightly the inspired penman passes over his acts, and his might wherewith he warred, leaving it to the common historians to record them, while he takes notice only of the respect he showed to Elisha. One good action shall make a better figure in God's book, than 20 great ones; and, in his account, it gains a man a much better reputation to honour a prophet, than to conquer a king and his army.

II. The particular account of what passed between him and Elisha, has several things in it remarkable.

1. Elisha fell sick, v. 14. Observe, (1.) He lived long, for it was now about 60 years since he was first called to be a prophet. It was a great mercy to Israel, and especially to the sons of the prophets, that he was continued so long, a burning and shining light. Elijah finished his testimony in a fourth part of that time. God's prophets have their day set them, some longer, others shorter, as Infinite Wisdom sees fit. (2.) All the latter part of his time, from the anointing of Jehu, which was 45 years before Joash began his reign, we find no mention made of him, or of any thing he did, till we find him here upon his death-bed.

He might be useful to the last, and yet not so famous as he had sometimes been. The time of his flourishing was less than the time of his living. Let not old people complain of obscurity, but rather be well pleased with retirement. (3.) The Spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha, and yet he is not sent for to heaven in a fiery chariot, as Elijah was, but goes the common road out of the world, and is visited with the visitation of all men. If God honour some above others, who yet are not inferior to them in gifts or graces, who shall find fault? May he not do what he will with his own?

2. King Joash visited him in his sickness, and wept over him, v. 14. This was an evidence of some good in him, that he had value and affection for a faithful prophet; so far was he from hating and persecuting him as a troubler of Israel, that he loved and honoured him as one of the greatest blessings of his kingdom, and lamented the loss of him. There have been those who would not be obedient to the word of God, and yet have had the faithful ministers of it so manifested in their consciences, that they could not but have an honour for them. Observe here, (1.) When the king heard of Elisha's sickness, he came to visit him, and to receive his dying counsel and blessing; and it was no disparagement to him, though a king, thus to honour one whom God honoured. Note, It may turn much to our spiritual advantage, to attend the sick-beds and death-beds of good ministers and other good men, that we may learn to die, and may be encouraged in religion by the living comforts they have from it in a dying hour. (2.) Though Elisha was very old, had been a great while useful, and, in the course of nature, could not continue long; yet the king, when he saw him sick and likely to die, wept over him. The aged are most experienced, and therefore can worst be spared. In many causes, one old witness is worth ten young ones. (3.) He lamented him in the same words with which Elisha had himself lamented the removal of Elijah, My father, my father. It is probable he had heard or read them in that famous story. Note, Those that give just honours to the generation that goes before them, are often recompensed with the like from the generation that comes after them. He that watereth, that watereth with tears, shall be watered, shall be so watered also himself, when it comes to his own turn, Prov. 11. 25. (4.) This king was herein selfish, he lamented the loss of Elisha, because he was the chariots and horsemen of Israel, and therefore could be ill spared, when Israel was so poor in chariots and horsemen, as we find they were, (v. 7,) when they had in all but fifty horsemen and ten chariots. They who consider how much good men contribute to the defence of a nation, and the keeping off of God's judgments, will see cause to lament the removal of them.

3. Elisha gave the king great assurances of his success against the Syrians, Israel's present oppressors, and encouraged him to prosecute the war against him with vigour. Elisha was aware that therefore he was loath to part with him, because he looked upon him as the great bulwark of the kingdom against that common enemy, and depended much upon his blessings and prayers in his designs against them. "Well," says Elisha, "if that be it that makes thee thus sad, let not that trouble thee, thou shalt be victorious over the Syrians, when I am in my grave: I die, but God will surely visit you. He has the residue of the Spirit, and can raise up other prophets to pray for you." God's grace is not tied to one hand; he can bury his workmen, and yet carry on his work.

To animate the king against the Syrians, he gives him a sign: orders him to take bow and arrows, (v. 15,) to intimate to him that, in order to the deliverance of his kingdom from the Syrians, he must put himself into a military posture, and resolve to undergo the perils and fatigues of war; God would be the Agent, but he must be the instrument. And that he should be successful, he gives him a token, by directing him, (1.) To shoot an arrow toward Syria, v. 16, 17. The king, no doubt, knew how to manage a bow better than the prophet did, and yet, because the arrow now to be shot, was to have its significancy from the divine institution, as if he were now to be disciplined, he receives the words of command from the prophet. Put thy hand upon the bow: Open the window: Shoot. Nay,

« PreviousContinue »