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2 Kings 12:1-3 - Homilies By J. Orr

A mixed character.

The reign of Joash began with bright hopes, showed for a while excellent promise, yet ended ingloriously. To explain this we may consider—

I. JOASH 'S ADVANTAGES .

1. He had a pious education . As a child he was brought up by his aunt Jehosheba, who, with her husband the high priest, would instill into his mind the principles of true godliness. In his strict seclusion he was kept free from sights of vice. Like Timothy, he would be taught from a child to know the things that make wise unto salvation ( 2 Timothy 3:15 ). To have an early training of this kind is an inestimable advantage.

2. He had a good counselor . The early education of our own Queen Victoria was carefully conducted with a view to the royal office she was afterwards to fill. It would not be otherwise with young Joash. Jehoiada would carefully impress upon his mind the principles of good government, and, after his coronation, this holy man continued to be his guide and counselor. So it is said, "Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him." It is a happy thing when a king is willing to receive counsel from older and wiser heads than his own (cf. 1 Kings 12:6-11 ).

3. He had an excellent opportunity . Joash started with every advantage for reigning well. The people were animated with hatred of idolatry from the experience they had had of it in Athaliah's reign; they were enthusiastic in their return to the worship of Jehovah; they had inaugurated the restoration of the line of David by a new covenant with God, and by zealous acts of reform. The tide was with Joash, if he had shown strength of character sufficient to avail himself of it.

II. JOASH 'S WEAKNESS . Circumstances test men, and it was to be proved that, with all his advantages, Joash was a weak king.

1. He lacked independence of judgment . Whether the early seclusion of his life had anything to do with this, we cannot tell; but it seems plain that he was not a king accustomed to think and act for himself, but one who was easily influenced and led by others. His nature was passive clay, on which the judgment of others stamped itself. While Jehoiada lived, he allowed himself to be led by him; and when this good priest and counselor died, he allowed himself as readily to be turned into evil courses by the wicked nobility ( 2 Chronicles 24:17 , 2 Chronicles 24:18 ).

2. He lacked firmness of will . This defect flowed from the feebleness of judgment now indicated, Joash knew the right, but he had not the courage or persistence to do it when pressure was brought to bear on him in an opposite direction, His life thus proved at last a wretched failure. Notwithstanding Jehoiada's kindness to him, he was betrayed at length into shedding the blood of Zechariah, his benefactor's sea ( 2 Chronicles 24:20-22 ).

3. He lacked true surrender of heart to God . This was the prime defect in his character. His goodness, such as it was—and for a time it seemed perfectly genuine—was the result of natural amiableness, of early training, of external influences; it did not spring from a root of true conviction. Therefore, when the sun was up, it was scorched, and withered away ( Matthew 13:6 ). It was goodness like the morning cloud, and the early dew—unenduring ( Hosea 6:3 ). The lesson we learn is the need of a radical change of heart as the foundation of true and enduring piety.

III. JOASH 'S IMPERFECT REFORMS . The one point noticed about him at this stage is that, while reforming the worship of the temple, the high places were not taken away as commanded by the Law. This was a reform, it is to be allowed, not easily achieved, but had Joash been a man of more character he might have accomplished it, as Hezekiah did after him ( 2 Kings 18:4 ). The fact that he did not attempt it, though popular feeling was so strongly on his side, is an evidence of that weak line in his character which came more clearly to light when Jehoiada was removed.—J.O.

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