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(Strength of Jehovah)
(2 Kings 15:1-7; 2 Chronicles 26:0)
Contemporary Prophets: Zechariah, Of 2 Chronicles 26:5; Isaiah; Hosea; Amos.
“He (the Lord) shall cut off the spirit of princes: He is terrible to the kings of the earth.”-Psalms 76:12.
“Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who I was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah. He built Eloth, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.” He is called Azariah helped by Jehovah) elsewhere: the names were so nearly equivalent in meaning as to be applied interchangeably to him. He seems to have come by the throne, not in the way of ordinary succession, but by the direct choice of the people. The princes had been destroyed by the Syrians toward the close of his grandfather Joash’s reign (2 Chronicles 24:23), leaving the people a free hand. “For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof,” wrote Solomon, more than a century before; and this weeding out was not altogether to be regretted: perhaps, nor entirely unnecessary. If the princes selfishly “seek their own” things, they are incapable of judging aright; whilst a needy, suffering people instinctively turn to a deliverer. Their choice here of Azariah was a good one, as the sequel proved. His first recorded work, the building, enlargement, or fortification of Eloth (Elath), and its restoration to the crown of Judah, was an early pledge of the great industrial prosperity of his reign. It belonged to Edom, and was lost to Judah during the reign of Joram (2 Kings 8:20). It was a seaport on the Red Sea, near Ezion-geber (1 Kings 9:26), and must have made a most important mart for the extensive commerce in his administration. It was taken by Rezin king of Syria fifty years later, who expelled the Jews, and occupied it permanently. (See 2 Kings 16:6.) “Sixteen years old was Uzziah when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Jecoliah of Jerusalem.” His was the longest continuous reign (Manasseh’s, fifty-five years, was interrupted by his deposition and captivity by the king of Babylon) of any of the kings of Judah. His mother’s name, Jah will enable, might indicate that she had pious expectations of her son, by the help of God. And in this she would not be disappointed, for “he,” it is said, “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah did”; that is, during the earlier portion of his reign. “And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God (in the seeing of God, marg.): and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.” “Understanding in the visions of God “is not equivalent to having prophetical visions from God. LXX, Syr., Targ. Arab., Kimchi, etc., read, “who was (his) instructor in the fear of God,” which is probably the general sense of the expression. Nothing more is known of this prophet, but his record is on high; and the coming “day” will declare what else, whether of good or bad, was accomplished by him during his earthly life. So shall it also, reader, in the case of you and me.
From city building for the peaceful purpose of commerce, Uzziah turns to retributive warfare. “And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod, and built cities about (or, in the country of) Ashdod. And God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians that dwelt in Gurbaal, and the Mehunim.” Thus he avenged the Philistine invasion during the reign of Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:16, 2 Chronicles 21:17), and punished their allies. It says, “The Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians,”etc. This did not excuse them for their wrong-doing. “ God helped Uzziah against the Philistines, and against the Arabians.” They were the unconscious instruments used by God in the chastening of His people. Their motive was entirely of another kind, and after eighty years God metes out to them the punishment their attack on the land of Judah deserved. This is an important principle which must be borne in mind in any study of God’s ways in government, with either men or nations. (See Isaiah 10:5-19.)
“And the Ammonites gave gifts to Uzziah: and his name was spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt; for he strengthened himself exceedingly.” He “built towers” in Jerusalem, and fortified them. He also “built towers in the desert” (“the steppe-lands west of the Dead Sea”), and cut out many cisterns; “for he had much cattle, both in the low country” (literally, “the Shepheleh,” the low hills between the mountains and the Mediterranean), “and in the plains” (east of the Dead Sea). His wealth seems to have been chiefly in stock and agriculture. He had “husbandmen also, and vinedressers in the mountains, and in Carmel: for he loved husbandry.” He was an earnest and successful agriculturist. He probably gave special attention to the tillage of the soil because of the prophecies of Hosea and Amos (his contemporaries) concerning the scarcity about to come. (See Hosea 2:9; Hosea 4:3; Hosea 9:2; Amos 1:2; Amos 4:6-9; Amos 5:16-19.)
He also gave attention to military matters, and thoroughly organized his army, “that made war with mighty power, to help the king against the enemy.” He saw too that his army was thoroughly equipped, as we read: “And Uzziah prepared for them throughout the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and coats of mail, and bows, and even slinging-stones. And he made in Jerusalem machines invented by skilful men, to be upon the towers and upon the bulwarks, wherewith to shoot arrows and great stones.7 And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvelously helped, till he became strong.” (N. Tr.) But alas, what is man! After all this well-doing, Uzziah’s heart is lifted up with pride. Then came his act of sacrilege-the dark blot upon the record of this otherwise blameless man’s life. “But”-alas, those “buts” in so many life-records of God’s saints!-”when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense”-explicitly forbidden by the law. (See Exodus 30:7, Exodus 30:8; Numbers 16:40; Numbers 18:7.) “And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord, that were valiant men: and they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertained not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honor from the Lord God. Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, from beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the Lord had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several [separate] house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord.” It was a fearful stroke from God. Death was the actual penalty enjoined by the law for his crime (Numbers 18:7), and leprosy was really that-a living death, prolonged and intensified. “Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed,” was said of Miriam, who was smitten with a like judgment, and for a similar offence. God is holy, and must vindicate His word against every transgressor. He is no respecter of persons, and brings to light, sooner or later, every man’s work and purposes of heart-not excepting His best servants. (See Numbers 12:10-12; 1 Timothy 5:24, 1 Timothy 5:25.)
The actuating motive in this audacious act of king Uzziah’s is not made known. It has been suggested that he wished, like the Egyptian kings, to combine in himself both the office of king and high priest, so arrogating to himself the religious as well as the civil power. But whatever the immediate impelling motive, we know the primary cause of his profane deed. It was pride, the really “original sin,” that hideous parent-sin of all succeeding sins, whether among angels, or among men (1 Timothy 3:6; Ezekiel 28:2, Ezekiel 28:17). “He was marvelously helped till he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction.” “Strength of Jehovah” was the meaning of his name; and happy would it have been for him had he realized that only in His strength is any really strong. “My strength,” says He who is “the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8), “is made perfect in weakness.” “When I am weak, then am I strong,” wrote one who knew his own utter powerlessness and his Lord’s sufficient strength. “Be strong in the Lord,” he cautions his fellow-weaklings. Uzziah prospered; and because of his prosperity, his foolish heart was lifted up with pride: and in him was fulfilled his great ancestor’s proverb, “The prosperity of fools shall destroy them”: and another-”Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 1:32; Proverbs 16:18). “Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, write. So Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the field of the burial which belonged to the kings; for they said, He is a leper: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.” They would not lay his leprous body in their “Westminster Abbey,” but buried him in a field (in earth, perhaps) adjoining the sepulchres of their kings. He died about the time of the founding of Rome. It was “in the year that king Uzziah died” that Isaiah entered upon his full prophetic ministry. The moral condition of the nation during the close of Uzziah’s reign is revealed in the first five chapters of his prophecy. He was also the historiographer of his reign. It is not known in just what year of Uzziah’s reign he was smitten with leprosy. Nor is it certain just when the great earthquake occurred (Amos 1:1; Zechariah 14:5). From Amos 1:1, compared with other scripture chronological references, it is quite certain that it was not later than seventeen years after Uzziah’s accession to the throne, and not when he was smitten with leprosy, as Josephus mistakenly affirms.
7 In these details, by which Uzziah’s kingdom was strengthened and his people blessed and enlarged, God would call our attention, surely, to what will strengthen and bless His people now: first, the precious and abundant food of the land we occupy-the precious fruits of His grace appropriated through patient cultivation on our part, by which our souls are richly fed and strengthened; then, that watchful care against inroads of the enemy-uniting and strengthening God’s people against the assaults and wiles of Satan.- [Ed.
(Jah has remembered)
2 Kings 15:8-12
Contemporary Prophet: Amos.
“Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.”-Proverbs 13:6
“In the thirty and eighth year of Azariah king of Judah did Zachariah the son of Jeroboam reign over Israel in Samaria six months.” There appears to be (from a comparison of dates) a period unaccounted for, of about eleven years, between Jeroboam’s death and the beginning of his son Zachariah’s reign. This is not surprising when we see what quickly followed his accession to the throne. “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. And Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and smote him before the people, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.”
Anarchy probably prevailed during the above-noted interregnum. Hosea, whose prophecy dates about this time (as regards Israel, see Hosea 1:1), seems to allude frequently to this season of lawlessness and revolution. See his prophecy, chaps. 7:7; 10:3, 7; 13:10-the last of these reads in the New Translation, “Where then is thy king?” etc. The people were probably unwilling to have Zachariah succeed his father to the throne. He appears to have been quite unpopular with the mass of the nation, for Shallum slew him without fear “before the people.” But God has said next to nothing as to this parenthetic period, and we dare not say more. To speculate here would be worse than folly, since God’s wisdom has chosen to give us no record of it; and where no useful end is gained, He always hides from the gaze of the curious the sins and errors of His people. Contemporary Scripture-dates, however, show that such an interval must have elapsed between the close of Jeroboam’s and the beginning of his son’s reign, though God has passed over the interregnum in silence.24
The assassination of Zachariah ended the dynasty of Jehu, five generations in all, and extending over a period of more than a hundred years. But at last God avenged “the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu” (Hosea 1:4). God’s eyes were upon “the sinful kingdom” (Amos 9:8), and its sinful kings; and from the time of Jeroboam’s death, declension set in, ending, less than seventy years later, in its final overthrow and dissolution. Prophetic ministry was from this time greatly increased. “Such is the way of our gracious God,” an unknown writer says, “that when judgment is near to approach, then testimony is multiplied.” How much it was needed in Israel the prophecies of Hosea and Amos abundantly testify.
“And the rest of the acts of Zachariah, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. This was the word of the Lord, which He spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit upon the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass.” And thus was it written by the prophet, “At daybreak shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off” (Hosea 10:15, N. Tr.).
Zachariah’s name- Jah has remembered-was strikingly significant. God did not forget the wholesale slaughter of men-many of them, perhaps, better than their executioner. Though a century had passed, Jah remembered, and made the inevitable “inquisition for blood,” upon the fifth and final member of the murderer’s succession.
24 “The English laws of to-day do not recognize the validity of Charles the First’s deposition and execution, nor that of any laws in Parliament or decisions delivered by judges between 1641 and 1660. That whole period of nineteen years is treated as a legal blank, and Charles the Second’s reign is counted in the statute-book from his father’s death-no reckoning being made of Oliver Cromwell’s sovereignty.”
2 Kings 15:13-15
Contemporary Prophet: Amos (?).
“An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.”-Proverbs 17:11
“Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the nine and thirtieth year of Uzziah king of Judah; and he reigned a full month in Samaria. For Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah, and came to Samaria, and smote Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.” This assassin was not allowed to live long in his ill-gotten power-only for a brief four weeks-and then met the just reward of his crime. His name (a very common one in Israel) means recompense, or retribution; and as he requited his predecessor, so did Menahem his successor recompense him. It is the old principle of governmental just retribution in kind exemplified. This assassination of two rulers, Zachariah and Shallum, within the space of half a year, speaks loudly of the state of anarchy prevailing in the kingdom at the time. It was, as the prophet testified, “blood touch-eth blood” (Hosea 4:2). The great prosperity and ex- pansion under Jeroboam II appears to have corrupted the people and caused them to give free rein to their evil desires and violence. See Hosea 4:7. Those in authority, instead of checking this spirit of lawlessness, found pleasure in it. “They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies” (Hosea 7:3). Dissipation to surfeit marked the conduct of these princes, under this monarchy: “In the day of our king, the princes made themselves sick with the heat of wine” (Hosea 7:5, N. Tr.). The demoralized condition of public affairs can scarcely be wondered at, when the king himself encouraged the disdain of the lawless: “He stretched out his hand to scorners” (Ibid.). Disintegration and bloodshed followed, as a natural consequence. Out of the political chaos and disorder following the death of this, Israel’s most powerful king, came forth the undesired Zachariah, and his murderer, Shallum. So wickedness brings its own reward, whether it be in a nation, a family, or an individual.
“And the rest of the acts of Shallum, and his conspiracy which he made, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.”
2 Kings 15:16-22
“By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.”-Proverbs 11:11
Menahem, Josephus asserts, and not without reason, was general of the Israelitish forces. His coming up from Tirzah to slay Shallum, and afterwards starting “from Tirzah” (where the main army was posted, probably) on his expedition of slaughter against Tiphsah, implies as much. “Then Menahem smote Tiphsah, and all that were therein, and the coasts thereof from Tirzah: because they opened not to him, therefore he smote it; and all the women therein that were with child he ripped up.” Tiphsah was originally one of Solomon’s northeastern border cities, on the Euphrates (1 Kings 4:24). It was doubtless recovered to Israel under Jeroboam II, and was probably in revolt when so cruelly attacked by the war-king Menahem. “Situated on the western bank of the Euphrates, on the great trade road from Egypt, Syria and Phenicia to Mesopotamia, it was important for Menahem to rescue it” (Fausset). He, in all likelihood, expected by his brutal treatment of the Tiphsahites to strike terror to all who were likely to oppose his tenure of the crown.
“In the nine and thirtieth year of Azariah king of Judah began Menahem the son of Gadi to reign over Israel, and reigned ten years in Samaria. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand. And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.” This is the first mention of the dreaded “Assyrian” in Scripture. Assyriologists are not perfectly agreed as to just who this “Pul” of Scripture was. The name (that form of it, at least) is not found on any of the Assyrian monuments. A “Phulukh” is mentioned in the Nimrud inscription, with whom some would identify him. Berosus mentions a Chaldean king named Pul, who reigned at just this time, and where the wise cannot among themselves agree we must not venture even to put forth an opinion, but pass on to that concerning which there can be no doubt-his invasion of the land, and the enormous price paid by Menahem for peace. Some suppose that Pul regarded Menahem’s reduction of Tiphsah as an attack upon his territory; hence his march against his kingdom; but it is more probable that it was a mere plundering incursion, as most of these ancient military expeditions were, especially those of Assyria. The burden of the levy fell upon the rich, which needs not excite much sympathy when we learn from the prophets Amos and Micah how their riches were obtained. See Amos 4:1; Amos 5:11, Amos 5:12; Amos 8:4-6; Micah 2:2; Micah 6:10-12.
“And the rest of the acts of Menahem, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? And Menahem slept with his fathers; and Pekahiah his son reigned in his stead.” Though he probably reigned as a military dictator merely, he evidently died in peace, as the expression “slept with his fathers” implies. The expression “his fathers” implies too that he was an Israelite, though his name Menahem does not sound like Hebrew. It is found nowhere else in Scripture, nor is that of his father (Gadi, fortunate)-a peculiar and somewhat remarkable, if not significant, circumstance. A competent and spiritually-minded Semitic philologist would, we believe, find an ample and productive field for original research here, as well as in many other portions of Old Testament Scripture, especially the opening chapters of 1 Chronicles.
Menahem’s name appears on the monuments of Tiglath-pileser, though it is thought by some, for various reasons, that the Assyrian chroniclers confused the name of Menahem with that of Pekah-his son’s slayer. But this, like everything of merely human origin, is uncertain. Only in divinely-inspired Scripture have we absolute exactitude and certainty; for He who was “the Truth” declared, “the Scripture cannot be broken.” Hence they “are most surely believed among us” (Luke 1:1).
(Jah has observed)
2 Kings 15:23-26
“The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.”-Proverbs 11:5
“In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. But Pekah the son of Remaliah, a captain of his, conspired against him, and smote him in Samaria, in the palace of the king’s house, with Argob and Arieh, and with him fifty men of the Gileadites: and he killed him, and reigned in his room.” Azariah (Uzziah), during his long reign of more than half a century, saw the death of five of Israel’s kings, three of whom were assassinated, besides an interregnum of anarchy lasting at least eleven years. This marked contrast is what the prophet referred to, probably, when he wrote, “Ephraim encompasseth Me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit, but Judah yet walketh with God [El], and with the holy things of truth” (Hos. 11:13, N. Tr.). This does not mean that all Judah’s ways pleased the Lord, but that, unlike apostate Israel, they still, as a State, maintained the truth of Jehovah, as revealed in the law and symbolized in the temple’s worship and service.
Pekahiah’s slayer was his captain ( shalish, aide-de-camp, probably; “the general of his house,” Josephus says), Pekah, with two of his followers, and a company of fifty Gileadites. These Gileadites (“fugitives of Ephraim,” Judges 12:425) appear to have been a rough, wild class, a kind of Hebrew highlanders, and ready in Pekahiah’s day for any and all manner of villainy. See Hosea 6:8. They slew the king in his very palace (“with his friends at a feast;” Josephus’ Ant. ix. n, § 1), so bold were they. His name, Jah has observed, implies that God had looked upon the murder of Shallum by his father Menahem, and in the death of Pekahiah his son requited it (2 Chronicles 24:22). His name, like his father’s and grandfather’s, does not occur anywhere else in Scripture.
“And the rest of the acts of Pekahiah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.” His death ended the seventh dynasty of the Israelitish kings.
25 ”Fugitives of Ephraim,” however, was an unrighteous taunt of the proud Ephraimites to their Manassite brethren. Gilead was a direct descendant of Manasseh, eldest son of Joseph, and head of a large, powerful family, to whom Moses gave the conquered territory east of Jordan called Gilead. See Numbers 32:39-41; Deuteronomy 3:13.
2 Kings 15:27-31
Contemporary Prophet: Oded.
“Righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.”-Proverbs 11:19
“In the two and fiftieth year of Azariah (Uzziah) king of Judah, Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned twenty years. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.” How painfully this oft-recurring testimony, like a sad refrain, falls upon the ear! But this is the last time. Under Hoshea, Pekah’s slayer and successor, God made “to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel” (Hosea 1:4). And he, though he wrought iniquity, did it “not as the kings of Israel that were before him” (2 Kings 17:2).
“In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.” This occurred after Pekah’s unprovoked and dastardly attack on Jerusalem, in concert with Rezin king of Damascus. See Ahaz. And the king of Assyria’s invasion and devastation of his land was his just reward for his “fierce anger” and “evil counsel” against the house of David, which he sought to overthrow by conspiracy and revolution. See Isaiah 7:4-6.
He slew in his “fierce anger” one hundred thousand Jews in one day (2 Chronicles 28:6); and God requited him in kind; for as he had so treacherously shed man’s blood, by man was his blood also treacherously shed. “And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.”
Josephus says Hoshea was “a friend” of Pekah’s (Ant. ix. 13). In his death the prophecy of Isaiah (chap. 7:16) was fulfilled. His name, meaning watch, is from a root, “to open” (as the eyes); figuratively, to be observant (Strong). But watch as he might, his very friend in whom he trusted became, in the ordering of God, his slayer; so impossible is it for the wicked to escape their merited retribution from the hand of Him who has said, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay.” Read Amos 9:1-5.
“And the rest of the acts of Pekah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.”
(2 Kings 15:32-38; 2 Chronicles 27:1-4)
Contemporary Prophets: Isaiah; Micah; Hosea.
“Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.”-Proverbs 20:28
“Jotham was twenty and five years old when he I began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Jerushah, the daughter of Zadok.” Jotham was regent over the kingdom after the judgment of God had fallen upon his father. “And Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land” (2 Chronicles 26:21). This would indicate that Uzziah was guilty of his impious trespass in the very latter part of his long reign, as Jotham was only a young man of twenty-five at his father’s death, and he could not have been judging the people of the land many years before this. His mother’s name, Jerushah (possessed), daughter of Zadok (just), would seem to imply that she was really the Lord’s, and just before Him. She, like every true mother, would have considerable influence over her son, in the formation of his character. So we read, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Uzziah did: how beit he entered not into the temple of the Lord.” He avoided the folly of his headstrong father, and did not “rush in where angels fear to tread.”
“And the people did yet corruptly.” The prophecies of Isaiah and Micah contain much detail of the manner of their wickedness, which was indeed great. It probably increased rapidly toward the close of Uzziah’s reign, though from the beginning of his rule “the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places” (2 Kings 14:4). True, the sacrifices and incense were offered to Jehovah; but Jerusalem, Scripture said, was “the place where men ought to worship”; and this departure, though considered unimportant, probably, by many godly Israelites, only paved the way for greater and more serious violations of the law. God’s people are only safe as they adhere carefully and closely to the very letter of the word of God. The slightest digressions are often the prelude of wide and grave departures from obedience to God’s will as revealed in His Word. The beginning of sin is, like strife, “as when one letteth out water.”
And “he built the high gate of the house of the Lord, and on the wall of Ophel he built much.” The “high gate” led from the king’s house to the temple (see 2 Chronicles 23:20), and Jotham’s building it (rebuilding, or repairing) is very significant. He wished free access from his own house to that of the Lord. He would strengthen the link between the two houses- keep his line of communication open (to use a military figure) with the source of his supplies of strength and wisdom. This is one of the secrets of his prosperity and power.
“Moreover he built cities in the mountains of Judah, and in the forests he built castles and towers.” He built where most men would have thought it unnecessary, or too much trouble-in the “mountains” and “forests.” He neglected no part of his kingdom, but sought to strengthen and fortify it everywhere. And as a result, he prospered. “He fought also with the king of the Ammonites, and prevailed against them. And the children of Ammon gave him the same year a hundred talents of silver, and ten thousand measures of wheat, and ten thousand of barley. So much did the children of Ammon pay unto him, both the second year and the third. So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God.” That high gate between the palace and the temple was better than a Chinese wall around his kingdom. It is in communion with God that all real prosperity and power is found.
“Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all his wars, and his ways, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.” “ All his wars” implies that during his sixteen years’ reign he was actively engaged in conflict with enemies, subduing some, like the Ammonites, and repelling the invasions of others (Rezin king of Syria, and Pekah king of Israel). His “ways” too were written. God’s saints are called to walk, as well as to war. “I have fought a good fight,” said one; “I have finished my course,” he also adds. This last was his “ways.” Ours, like king Jotham’s, “are written in the book.” May we say then, like another Hebrew king, “I will take heed to my ways”! (Psalms 37:1). Jotham is the only one of all the Hebrew kings, from Saul down, against whom God has nothing to record. In this his character is in beautiful accord with his name, Jehovah-perfect. “All the world,” we know, is “guilty before God.” “All have sinned,” God says. But in his public life, Jotham, like Daniel, was perfect, or blameless. “ We”-Daniel’s enemies say-”shall not find anything against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” Yet this same Daniel says, “I was confessing my sin” (Daniel 6:5; Daniel 9:20). Man saw nothing to condemn: Daniel knew God’s eye saw much. And, like the honest man that he was, he puts it on record with his own hand that he had sins to be confessed to God.
“And Jotham slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.” Had Micah Jotham’s death in mind when he wrote, “The godly [man] hath perished out of the land”? (Micah 7:2, New Tr.) From what follows in the chapter, down to the 7th verse, it would appear so. The violence, fraud, bribery, treachery, and other forms of wickedness described here, is just what prevailed after Jotham, under Ahaz’ infamous rule. Jotham was indeed a godly man, and well might the righteous say on his death, “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth!” or, “is gone.”
The record of his reign is brief, but full of brightness. His “memory,” like that of all “the just,” “is blessed.” He was the tenth of Judah’s kings, and God always claims His tithe; and in Jotham, the “Jehovah-perfect,” it was found.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 15". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter