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2 Kings 11:1 . Athaliah, that is, wicked woman. She must have received this as a surname for her evil deeds; and justly did she merit the appellation, for she slew her grandsons at a tender age, and so cut off all the heirs of David’s house. In ages of tyranny and blood, such inhuman conduct was too frequently adopted.
2 Kings 11:9 . On the sabbath. The throne is always safest in the arms of the church. Here is one of the completest plans ever devised.
(1) The venerable highpriest, surnamed the Blessed, aided by his sons, gained the officers of the guards by introducing them to the young king; and they knew already that he was hid in some place.
(2) As the soldiers went unarmed to devotion in the temple, he provided them with spears from the arsenal of the temple.
(3) He divided them into three companies to guard the king, and the two principal gates, where a small force could repel the idolaters.
(4) He crowned the young king in their presence, amid the liveliest effusions of loyalty and joy.
(5) He completed his work by destroying the bloody usurper, with the priest and temple of Baal. See his character, 2 Chronicles 24:0.
In this chapter we find the tragedy of Samaria extended to Jerusalem. No sooner was it known that Jehu reigned, that Ahab and all his house were cut off, that Ahaziah was dead, than Athaliah, a pupil of Jezebel’s school, was struck with terror, and became frantic with alarm. Her guilty mind seemed to see a bloody hand entering at every gate and every door of her palace. Thinking every servant a traitor, and every friend a foe, she fled to her faction for counsel, and probably to the house of Baal, which for two reigns had been suffered to rival the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem. Here it was decreed to slay the whole house of David, and not leave a branch to perpetuate his name. Consequently all the prophets were to be confounded; and the Lord not allowed, of David’s line, to send the Messiah for the redemption of the world! This was the counsel of the wicked; the bloody measure was no sooner decreed than executed; but God made one exception to the plot. Oh what calamitous times for kings, for princes, and the great ones of the earth. The whole households of Jeroboam, of Baasha, and of Ahab entirely cut off! In Judah the calamities on royalty were much the same. Jehoram, probably at the instigation of this wicked woman, had slain all his brothers, and many of the nobility. 2 Chronicles 21:3. The Arabians had carried away all his wives and all his sons, except Ahaziah, now dead. 2 Chronicles 21:17. The royal family in Damascus had just sustained the like calamity from the conspiracy of Hazael. But all those families had greatly sinned in shedding innocent blood, and in departing from the Lord.
During the fury of popular and military carnage, the supreme Ruler sat serene in the heavens, and directed the tempest, as he prescribes bounds to the waves of the sea. He who preserved a single branch to Gideon, and to Jonathan, preserved a Joash to David, while the numerous and more culpable male branches were all exscinded from the tree. What then have good men to fear in the worst of times? The God of heaven and earth directs the shafts of vengeance, and handles the weapons of the warrior. The hairs of their head are all numbered; life and death, things present and things to come, alike contribute to serve such as are in covenant with the Lord.
The wicked often triumph for a time, notwithstanding the enormity of their crimes. Athaliah’s plot was crowned with complete success. God was her defence, because she wantonly and solely hoping to serve herself, obtruded her services to do him a bloody work; and he protected her, because he would grant this daughter of Jezebel space for repentance. Leviticus 2:21. As yet also, the lawful prince was not of age to handle the sceptre of his sires. Sometimes the plans of providence, not being ripe for execution, occasion the wicked to be long preserved. But mark now, how the wheels of justice rolled in their course. Jehoiada, the wary highpriest, whose person and religion had been long insulted by two queens of Ahab’s house, kept his eye on the hope of Israel, promised in David’s line. Joash approaching the age of seven years, discovered a most engaging countenance, strongly marked with the features of his fathers, and afforded the most hopeful indications of genius. Urged, on the one hand, by the silent cries of blood, and on the other by a sense of duty, he apprized his friends of his designs, and appointed them captains of hundreds, &c. Applauding his fidelity, they all entered the sanctuary on the sabbath; received the arms which David had taken from his enemies, and instantly on seeing Joash on the throne, saluted him with the appellations of royalty, while the cheers and the trumpets published their joys afar. What a day of gladness to Judah, a new birthday to David’s house, and the renovation of Zion’s hopes. Athaliah, indolent on her couch, instead of kneeling for devotion, heard and trembled; she wished to know the cause, but feared to ask. Impatient for information, she entered the gates of the sanctuary; and what did she see but Joash on the throne! Joash guarded by the nation, while the venerable priest pronounced her arrest, and ordered her out of the courts for immediate execution. So she died in the carriage road leading to the palace. How mysterious and instructive are the judgments of heaven. Did this woman bring death on a multitude of princes in a moment of perfect repose? Did she cut them off without allowing them to bid adieu to their dearest friends? Did the pursuing sword destroy them in palaces, or in streets? Behold now the requital in kind. She came into the temple for joy, but found sorrow. She expected a long reign in wickedness, but saw the innocent on the throne. She cried, yea, to her gods; but there were none to hear, none to save. How instructive are the reflections which those tragic times suggest! Who would regret as a calamity the being born in a peaceful cottage, rather than in a troubled palace? Who would not pity the peculiar calamities of kings; and who after this can think themselves at ease and secure in their sins? Perhaps that daring infidel, perhaps that proud and haughty woman may soon hear the trumpets, and not be aware that death is at the door. Perhaps the wicked, rioting on the lap of pleasure, and scorning repentance, may see the Lord on his throne, and hear their dreadful sentence, while all around rejoice and applaud. Be not deceived. God is not mocked. If all those bloody families fell in their blood, the same eternal Judge still survives, to render to every man according to his works.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 11". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany