CRITICAL NOTES.] We have succession of A. (2Ch ), his expedition against Moat (5-13), his idolatry (14-16), his war with Joash (17-24), and his death and burial (25-28). Parallel 2Ki 14:1-20.
2Ch .—A.'s succession (cf. 2Ki 14:2-6). Perfect, single heart; not like ancestor David, but like Joash, father. 2Ch 25:3. Slew, executed justice; an instance of right-doing. 2Ch 25:4. Not, as Deu 24:16. Families of traitors often destroyed.
2Ch .—Expedition against Moab. 2Ch 25:5. Old method of organisation by families (Num 2:34), under captains of hundreds, &c. Hired, paid for others, his own army too reduced to protect country. 2Ch 25:8. If, &c., some suppose not dropped out, and would read, "Go alone, and God will not make thee fall." Generally thought to be ironical. "Go (if thou wilt be self-willed) thou, act, be strong, it will be of no avail." 2Ch 25:10. Anger, caused through sudden and apparently unreasonable dismissal. 2Ch 25:11. Salt. South of Dead Sea, where dwelt Seirites, associated with Edom (Gen 36:18). 2Ch 25:12. Rock, unto the height of Selah. "Battle probably fought not far from Selah (Petra); the captains marched to Petra itself, and precipitated from the steep cliffs in its neighbourhood" [Speak. Com.]. 2Ch 25:13. Soldiers, mercenaries sent by Joash to ravage Jewish cities from Sam. to Beth., in revenge for considered insult.
2Ch .—A.'s idolatry. Not in Kings. Gods, common practice to carry gods of conquered places as trophies of victory, not generally to be worshipped. 2Ch 25:16. Talked, prophets entitled to counsel kings. Art thou, &c.? lit., "Have we made thee a king's counsellor?" Forbare, ceased remonstrance, asserted his right, and consequences of disobedience.
2Ch .—A.'s war with Joash (cf. 2Ki 14:8-14). Advice, counsel not from God. Face, a challenge to combat (2Sa 2:13). 2Ch 25:18. Thistle. Parabolic forms employed in East to carry unwelcome truths, or express contemptuous sneers. This designed here. A thistle, low shrub; represents A. a petty prince; cedar, the potentate of Israel. The wild beast, the overwhelming army of Israel, would destroy the strength of Judah. The moral of fable in 2Ch 25:19. 2Ch 25:20. Not, sarcastic tone incited more. Asa in a judicial state of blindness. From God, characteristic of the author. Joash overcame A., plundered palace and temple, and took hostages to prevent further war.
2Ch .—A.'s end. Turn away, apostasy followed by maladministration. King lost respect, fled to Lachish, frontier town of Philistines, there traced and murdered. Body brought without pomp in a chariot to Jerusalem, and interred among ancestors.
Son and successor of Joash, ninth king on throne of Judah; 25 years old at accession, reigned 29 years, B.C. 837-808 (2Ki ).
I. In ordinary circumstances of succession. A privilege to inherit a crown, great natural rights and positions. Better to become kings and priests, aristocracy of God, to rule over the hearts and affections of men, than on thrones of empires.
II. With considerable zeal for Jehovah. Did right, "but not with a perfect heart," not like David his father. Half-hearted, zealous for God, but "high places not taken away." Obeying God and making sacrifices, but honouring the idols of Edom. Double-minded, his good beginning as that of Joash unlike his later conduct.
III. By an act of justice and mercy. Punished traitors who murdered his father, as an act of justice; but was moderate. "With a mercy shown apparently for the first time in Hebrew annals, their children were spared" [Stanley]. Generally families of traitors were destroyed. This act, therefore, had regard for law of God more than customs of nations; displayed kindly feeling, and became a king.
"No ceremony that to great ones 'longs—
Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword,
The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe,
Become them with one half so good a grace
As mercy does" [Shakes.].
EXPEDITION AGAINST EDOM.—2Ch
This chief event in reign, an attempt to impose upon Edomites the yoke cast off in time of Jehoram (2Ki ; 1Ki 22:48).
I. An expedition ambitious in design. Might be natural and prudent to assemble army, class according to respective families, and appoint officers from among brethren, that all might be an army of brothers, relatives, and friends. Might be patriotic to reduce insurgents to former subjection. But A. the slave of reckless ambition; adventurous, fond of conquest and military renown, prone to "meddle to his hurt." Real wisdom to cultivate peace, develop internal resources of kingdom; real "strength to sit still" at home.
"Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself,
And falls on the other side."
II. An expedition in which alien forces were hired for the accomplishment of the design. Edom strong. A. considered his 300,000 troops unequal, hired 160,000 men from Israel, and sets first example of employing mercenary forces. Such help useless, dangerous, and opposed to God's will. He should go alone, in dependence upon God, "who hath power to help and to cast down." Any other plan would displease God and result in defeat. With God's presence our own resources sufficient; without, numbers only ruin, and "make thee fall before the enemy."
III. An expedition the success of which was turned into a curse. A. heeded not prophet, went, conquered, and captured cities.
1. In the cruelty exercised. Savage cruelty dealt out in revenge for barbarities inflicted on Hebrews, or to strike terror into a rebellious people. "Man's inhumanity to man."
2. In the spirit which it begot. Not a spirit of gratitude and caution. Flattered probably by those from whom he "took advice" (2Ch ), he became proud and presumptuous. Burning with revenge for Israel's insult, not satisfied without defiant challenge, he undertakes aggressive war. The fruits of victory misappropriated. Unsanctified successes often turned into curses.
DUTY AND SELF-INTEREST.—2Ch
A. made every preparation for expedition, ready to start, but suddenly "there came a man of God" and forbids. But what must he do for the money? Lose it and go to war in right way. Learn—
I. That we often invest our resources without prudence or security. Money, friends, position, and life pledged for wrong purposes. Enterprises without divine guidance, gifts used sinfully. Men morally going astray, poor and insecure, though strong and sufficient in their own estimation. The "man of God," the ministry of the word ever meets in the ways of life, condemning our treaties and alliances, reproving our plans and investments, and calling us back to God.
II. That we are often called upon to sacrifice our resources thus invested. Reluctant to give up besetting sins, worldly pleasure, and to forsake evil ways. Often much at stake in worldly friendships, Sunday trading, and unlawful compacts. "What must we do with our money risked upon it?" "Why forfeit the deposit?" But why strike the bargain if wrong? Why make the deposit without prudence and security, &c.? The answer to all questions, God demands. Before divine authority objections ridiculous. In divine promise compensation for any loss. "The Lord is able to give thee much more than this."
III. That when called to duty obedience guarantees success and brings abundant reward. Impossible to induce obedience without offer of superior good. Motive power needful. Think not that nature or some law of mind breaks the chains of desire confirmed by habit and long years of life! Calculate not too confidently on moral powers wasted in sinful pursuits! It is never easy for a selfish man to renounce himself even with help of gospel! But God imparts disposition and strength. In sin "the first loss is the best." In duty we find compensation and gain. "The Lord is able to give thee much more than this"—abundant reward for leaving all and following him. "Manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting."
AMAZIAH'S FALL INTO IDOLATRY.—2Ch
A. took the gods of Edom as tokens of victory, but deserted God who gave victory, and worshipped the idols he captured, like the Romans subduing nations and paying tribute to their gods.
I. Idolatry most gratuitous. This not asked of him. Probably he sought to disarm spite of Edomites for harsh treatment, or attracted by pomp and splendour of worship of idols. Idolatry, sin fascinates unholy men. But what humility and disgrace voluntarily and slavishly to bow down!
II. Idolatry most unreasonable. The gods could neither protect themselves nor worshippers, senseless and most absurd to lean upon them or put them in place of Jehovah! The sinner, a criminal and a fool, can give no reason for his choice. "Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people, &c.?"
III. Idolatry most dangerous. It estranges further from God, confirms self-will, and binds us faster to the false and debasing. It brings down rebuke from God, and leads to destruction. "Wherefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against Amaziah."
THE DANGERS OF SUCCESS AND AMBITION.—2Ch
Dangerous to succeed without God. Amaziah's false step at beginning, and the spirit in which it was originated turned the end into misfortune.
I. Success begetting pride and ambition. The victory of Edom made A. proud; its issue unblest; kindled boldness and a spirit of revenge. He glories in strength. Success led him on to fresh undertakings which involved defeat. "Pride cometh before destruction, &c."
II. Pride leading into presumption. Thought himself more than a match for King of Israel. He cannot sit still, must punish him for wrong-doing, and sends the challenge, "Come, let us look one another in the face." The bitter and contemptuous language of the parable only enraged him to repeat the challenge. Nothing checks. "He is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied."
III. Presumption ending in destruction. Exultation often the prelude to downfall, downfall more dismal and complete on account of previous eminence. Prosperity of fools destroys them.
1. Warning unheeded. Edom conquered. Be content. Stay at home. Why meddle to thy hurt?
2. Blinded by self-security. He could not be defeated, could see no danger, and knew not that God had forsaken him.
3. Miserable failure. Joash surprised him before ready for war; defeated him in a pitched battle; routed his army, and took him prisoner. The disasters of his conduct created opposition and conspiracy, and he was slain. No real, permanent success to ungodly man. If no reverses in life, death makes him a wreck. His honours and achievements buried in the dust, and he stands naked in the presence of God!
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2Ch . Right, but not with perfect heart. Many good things in A., had respect for ordinances of religion, knew Scriptures, and had desire to do right. But failed because not thoroughgoing in principle and piety.
1. Much half-heartedness, levity, and superficial goodness.
2. A perfect heart required. Earnest, consecrated feeling and energy. "He had a good name; it imported ‘one strong in the Lord and in the power of his might;' but he was far enough from that" [Trapp].
2Ch . Two practices. Revenge and forbearance. One natural to man and prevalent in the East. "Revenge is sweet to man." Difficult to stop with one life, without taking another. But God controls and educates men by law. The other practice of divine authority. "It is strange at first sight, that when the law contained so very plain a prohibition, the contrary practice should have established itself. But we must remember first; that the custom was that of the East generally (see Dan 6:24; Herod. III. 119, &c.); and secondly, that it had the sanction of one who might be thought to know thoroughly the mind of the legislator, viz., Joshua (cf. Jos 7:24-25)" [Speak. Com.]. Always better to forbear than revenge.
"Revenge at first, though sweet,
Bitter ere long back on itself recoils"
1. The question of the king. "Art thou of the king's counsel?" Who authorises, entitles thee to give advice?
2. The prophet's reply. Consists of two parts—(a) He "forbare" to dispute. Silence best answer to some; contention makes them worse. (b) He predicts. "The prophet ceased his remonstrances and retired, but aimed a Parthian shaft on quitting the royal presence, ‘If I am not of thy counsel, I am of God's counsel, and know what is determined there. God has counselled to destroy thee.' For fulfilment of prophecy, see 2Ch ; 2Ch 25:27" [Speak. Com.]. Not hearkened.
1. A sign of hardness, judicial blindness and obduracy.
2. A ground of desertion by God. Ignored and forsaken, the result natural.
3. A prelude to destruction.
2Ch . The parable of Cedar and Thistle.
1. The inequalities of character and condition of men. Great and little, contented and restless, &c.
2. The ridiculous conduct and ambition of some men. The less, the more unsettled and ambitious, the more meddlesome, &c.
3. The need to be satisfied with present possessions. Grasping after more may lose what you have. The miseries of discontent. Quench that fire which
"Preys upon high adventure, nor can tire
Of aught but rest; a fever at the core,
Fatal to him who bears, to all who ever bore "[Byron].
Tarry at home.
1. Better for individuals, than meddle, create mischief with neighbours, seek home comforts and decencies. Officious interference creates discord. Meddling the parent of strife. "It is an honour for a man to cease from strife; but every fool will be meddling."
2. Better for nations to look to themselves, stay at home and cultivate arts of peace than engage in aggressive wars. Kings dethroned, governments upset, and empires rent asunder through hasty war.
2Ch . Providential consequences. "After the time from following the Lord. The writer means to observe that the violent death of A. followed on his apostasy not closely in point of time—for it must have been at least fifteen years after (2Ch 25:25)—nor was, humanly speaking, caused by it; but in the way of a divine judgment—a complete fulfilment of the prophecy, 2Ch 25:16" [Speak. Com.]. Sequences in the natural as well as moral world. Forsake God and duty, violate law, then risk and disaster. "For it came of God, that he might deliver them into the hand of their enemies, because they sought after the gods of Edom."
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 25
2Ch . Law. When the Lord laid down that law he taxed human forbearance to the uttermost. It may not seem to be so in reality, but test the matter by human consciousness and by human action. Have we not wronged whole families? Have we not often thrown in the child as if he were part of the father, and let both be crushed by the mill of revenge? [Dr. Parker].
2Ch . What of hundred talents? Do your duty and leave the rest with God [R. Cecil]. This is the first of rights, the only absolute duty. No right more sacred [Vinet]. There is little or nothing in this life worth living for, but we can all of us go straight forward and do our duty [Wellington].
2Ch . Success. There is a glare about worldly success which is very apt to dazzle men's eyes [Hare]. Watch lest prosperity destroy generosity [Beecher]. Success at first, doth many times undo men at last [Venning].
2Ch . The gods of the people. Idolatry is one of the most unconquerable of all the corrupt propensities of the human soul. Miracles under the new dispensation had scarcely ceased, apostolic fathers were scarcely cold in their graves, before idolatrous forms were again superinduced upon the pure spirituality of the Holy Gospel [Walker].
2Ch . See one another in face. Every presumption is properly an encroachment, and all encroachment carries in it a still further and a further invasion upon the person encroached upon. Presumption never stops in its first attempt. If Csar comes once to pass the Rubicon, he will be sure to march further on, even till he enters the very bowels of Rome, and break open the Capitol itself. He that presumes steps into the throne of God [Dr. South].
2Ch . Buried.
"Death lays his icy hand on kings;
Sceptre and crown must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade" [Shirley].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 25". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany