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2 Kings 14:1-7 - Homilies By J. Orr

Amaziah doing right.

The murder of Joash King of Judah, and the accession of his son Amaziah, took place a little after the accession of Joash the son of Jehoahaz in Israel, therefore just before the turn of the tide in the fortunes of the latter kingdom.

I. EARLY RIGHT - DOING .

1. A promising beginning . Amaziah was not, any more than his father, a man of strong character. He proved to be vain, boastful, and foolish But he began well, giving heed to the counsels of God's prophets (cf. 2 Chronicles 25:7-10 ), and therefore it is said of him, "He did right in the sight of the Lord." It is not, however, the beginning, but the end, which tests character ( Colossians 1:23 ; Hebrews 3:14 ).

2. Significant shortcoming. To the record of his right-doing, it is added, "Yet not like David his father," or, as elsewhere, "not with a perfect heart." His conduct is likened to that of Joash his father, whose history very much resembled his own. Amaziah, like Joash, began well, afterwards lapsed into idolatry and cruelty, and died by conspiracy of his servants under a cloud of ignominy and contempt. Those who are like in sin need not wonder that they are like in doom.

3. The high places unremoved . This was one of the points in which Amaziah showed a want of thoroughness in right-doing. The sin was one of shortcoming rather than of positive transgression, like the keeping up of the worship of the calves in Israel It is not, therefore, reckoned so hideous as me Baal-worship; but the after-effects show that no portion of God's Law can be neglected with impunity. The worship on high places was a temptation and snare to Judah. The neglect to remove them reacted seriously on the life of the nation.

II. JUST JUDGMENT . The treatment by Amaziah of his father's murderers gives further evidence of his early disposition to do well. We observe:

1. The execution of justice . The murderers were put to death. This was right. The existence of even real grievances does not justify resort to crime. David's treatment of Saul shows the right course to be pursued in such cases ( 1 Samuel 24:4-12 ). And a nation is only secure when real crime is punished within its borders.

2. Discrimination of innocent and guilty . It is specially noted about Amaziah that, in taking this vengeance on the men who slew his father, he did not, as was a frequent custom in those times, slay the children of the murderers. He acted, therefore, on principle in his judgment, not in blind fury. His object was to vindicate justice, not to take revenge. He drew the line where it ought to be drawn—between the actually guilty and the innocent. There is a strong tendency, where anger is strongly kindled against a person or persons, to allow rage to overflow on those not directly implicated in their offence. The odium that attaches to them is extended also to their families, and pleasure is taken in inflicting insult and pain on their children and relatives. This ought not to be.

3. Regard for God ' s Law . The reason for Amaziah acting as he did was that it was so commanded in the Law of Moses ( Deuteronomy 24:16 ). On the seeming contradiction between this passage and those which speak of the iniquity of the fathers being visited on the children, or which illustrate the actual punishment of children for their parents' sins—as in the case of Achan ( Joshua 7:24-26 )—it may suffice to remark that the rule here laid down is one for human jurisprudence. There is a wider treatment of human beings, constantly finding illustration in providence, in which the principles of organic union and corporate responsibility have full play; but God does not entrust the enforcement of these to any human magistracy. What specially concerns us here is the fact that, finding such a rule laid down in the Word of God, Amaziah faithfully adhered to it. His conduct shows an advance in the moral conceptions of the time—a better appreciation of the fact of individuality.

III. EARLY VICTORY . In connection with this earlier and more promising part of Amaziah's reign, we are told of a great victory which he gained over the Edomites. The Edomites had revolted in Jehoram's reign ( 2 Kings 8:20 ); but Amaziah now felt himself strong enough to attempt their resubjugation. In setting out on this war—the origin of which we do not precisely know—he had the countenance of God's prophets, and acted by their directions ( 2 Chronicles 25:6-10 ). He had, as men always have when God is with them and they are content to be guided by his will, great success. He slew of Edom ten thousand, took Selah, or Petra, and changed its name. But the flush of his victory proved also the beginning of his ruin.

1. His conquest was not unmarked by great cruelty (cf. 2 Chronicles 25:12 ).

2. He fell into idolatry, actually setting up the gods of the Edomites which he had brought home, and burning incense to them—those gods which, as a prophet reminded him, could not deliver their own people out of his hand ( 2 Chronicles 25:15 ). From this point dates his declension. He acted precisely as his father had done in forcibly silencing the prophets; and God, in return, gave him up to a reprobate mind for his destruction. Prosperity tests a man's nature. There are few who can carry the full cup without becoming haughty and God-forgetful.—J.O.

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