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(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 16". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany