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AMAZIAH IN JUDAH AND JEROBOAM II. IN ISRAEL
CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—
2 Kings 14:1. Amaziah, king of Judah—Historian returns to the records concerning Judah.
2 Kings 14:3. Yet not like David, his father—Chronicles says, “Not with a perfect heart,” acting in general obedience to God’s law, yet lacking in spiritual loyalty and heartfelt piety.
2 Kings 14:5. Slew his servants which had slain his father—It was a Mosaic law that a son should—as both an act of justice and filial piety—avenge his father’s murder; but he did this without malice, leaving their children untouched, contrary to the prevailing custom of antiquity. This act of revenge was wisely delayed till the kingdom was confirmed in his hand, thus indicating that these servants were men of state influence and eminence.
2 Kings 14:7. Called the name of it Jokkeel—Its former name, הַסֶּלַע, the rock; ἡ Πετρα, afterwards Arabia Petræa, situate amid steep rocks. This ancient Petra is still a scene of splendid ruins. Its new name—יָקְתְאֵל—signifies given, or conquered by God.
2 Kings 14:8. Come, let us look one another in the face—An insolent challenge; perhaps inspired by desire to avenge the massacre of his ancestors by Jehu (chapter 9), more probably from elation over his success with the Edomites.
2 Kings 14:9. The thistle that was in Lebanon—A parable couched in most contemptuous form. Amaziah a mean thistle; cedar of Lebanon being, in its grand contrast, the sovereign of Israel; the wild beast being the desolating army of Israel. But thistle should be briar or briar bush. Give thy daughter to my son to wife—Only a superior could assume such an air of authority and make such a demand.
2 Kings 14:19. They made a conspiracy against him—Mal-administration of the kingdom followed upon this fatal war, and was accompanied with spiritual apostasy (2 Chronicles 25:27); and the ruin of Jerusalem, the sack of the temple, with the captivity of the children carried away as hostages, roused Judah to conspire and overthrow him.
2 Kings 14:20. They brought him on horses—עַל הַסּוּסִים, i.e., on the royal equestrian chariot.
2 Kings 14:21. All the people of Judah took Azariah—So that the popular hostility was not against Amaziah’s family, but against himself.
2 Kings 14:22. He built Elath, and restored it to Judah—Elath was the Edomite seaport (see on 1 Kings 9:26).
HOMILETICS OF 2 Kings 14:1-22
AMAZIAH was a warrior-king, and throughout his reign we hear the incessant clash of sabres and the hurried movements of the military. He dragged his country down to disaster and defeat, and was himself a victim of the vicissitudes of war. He forsook the Lord and became infatuated with idolatry; and we learn once more how certain and how terrible is the downfall of the man who abandons Jehovah (2 Chronicles 25:14-16). His career illustrates the different phases of military ambition.
I. Military ambition may be associated with a defective piety (2 Kings 14:1-4). He did what was right, but not with a perfect heart, like David. His standard of right was too low. His piety was not vigorous and independent enough to lift him above all human examples, or even to strive to imitate the best. He chose an inferior example to copy. “He did according to all things as Joash his father did.” There was a remarkable similarity in the lives of Joash and Amaziah. Both began their reigns, professing zeal for the worship of Jehovah, and afterwards lapsed into idolatry: both ignored the warnings of faithful prophets; and both, having forsaken God, perished by the hands of the assassins. War and religion, though representing directly opposite principles, are often strangely united in the history of nations, but always to the damage of religion. The war-spirit is an enemy to genuine piety. The love of military glory weakens the religions conscience.
II. Military ambition delights in scenes of slaughter and bloodshed (2 Kings 14:5-7). It is mentioned to his credit, that when Amaziah avenged his father’s death by the execution of his murderers, he did not slay the children of the murderers, according to the usual custom in the East. He so far respected the law of God (2 Kings 14:6). But we soon read of great slaughter in his Idumean wars, and of the wanton destruction of 10,000 prisoners, who were thrown down from a precipice and broken to pieces (2 Chronicles 25:12). When the war-demon is once let loose, it riots in scenes of carriage and cruelty. The indulgence of military ambition begets an indifference and recklessness in the treatment of human life.
III. Military ambition generates a boastful spirit and an insatiable love of conquest (2 Kings 14:8-10). Amaziah’s victories in Edom turned his head. He felt equal to anything. He was ambitious to reign over Israel. He challenged the rival kingdom to battle, and the reply of Jehovah, in the form of a sarcastic parable, piqued his vanity and determined him to risk the encounter. There are some minds to whom success is more dangerous than failure.
Is oft more fatal far than bad, one winning throw,
Cast from a flattering die, tempting a gamester
To hazard his whole fortune.
IV. Military ambition is often humbled by ignominious defeat (2 Kings 14:11-14). It was not long before Amaziah had reason to regret his boastful challenge. By the prompt action of his rival hostilities were precipitated; Judah was utterly defeated, the king taken prisoner, the wall of Jerusalem broken, the temple stripped of its treasures, and hostages taken to prevent any further molestation. Another illustration of Proverbs 16:18.
Ah, curst ambition! to thy lures we owe
All the great ills that mortals bear below.
Of all kinds of ambition, military ambition is most disappointing, and subject to great fluctuations of fortune. History teems with examples of how the ambitious warrior is at length defeated with the same weapons and by the same methods with which he sought to defeat and humble others. “The stone falls back upon the head of him who casts it into the air.”
V. Military ambition is detrimental to good government.—
1. It is dangerous to the ruler himself (2 Kings 14:17-20). The disastrous issue of the war with Israel created national dissatisfaction. The nobles were scandalized that their children were draughted away as hostages, and the people were grievously annoyed to see their city invaded and their loved temple pillaged by a despised rival. The disaffections grew into serious proportions. A conspiracy was formed to assassinate Amaziah, as the cause of all their trouble. The fear and anguish of that period would be the bitterest experience of his life. Of what avail now were his military powers and his bannered hosts? The interests of his own people had been sacrificed to his ambitious folly, and he at length becomes the victim of their disaffection and anger. What Hume says of Richard Cœur de Lion would apply with equal force to Amaziah: “He was better calculated to dazzle men by the splendour of his enterprise than either to promote their happiness or his own grandeur by a sound and well-regulated policy.”
2. It entails trouble to his successor (2 Kings 14:21-22). The conquest of Edom by his father required Azariah to capture and fortify the seaport of Elath. The results of past victories can be retained only by ceaseless vigilance and effort. The conquests of the father often impose serious burdens upon the son.
LESSONS:—The love of military glory is the bane of any nation.
2. The throne that is won by war is lost by war.
3. It is a nobler ambition to be good than to be great; to build up and consolidate rather than destroy.
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES
2 Kings 14:1-4. Imperfect piety. I. May be genuine up to a certain point. “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.” II. Is lacking in thorough consecration. “Not like David his father.” III. Islimited by the example it imitates. “He did according to all things as Joash his father did.
2 Kings 14:3. In cases like that of Amaziah, where faith is not completely and sincerely an affair of the heart, it has no firm foundation, and is quickly overwhelmed, either by unbelief or by superstition. A half-and-half disposition in what is good is a bridge that leads to what is evil. In sacred and spiritual affairs we have not to ask, How did our fathers do? but, How would God have us do? Because Amaziah only did as his father had done, he finally fared as his father had fared.—Lange.
2 Kings 14:5-6. A revengeful spirit. I. Knows how to wait for its opportunity. II. Carries out its purpose with terrible exactness. III. Is controlled by respect for the Divine law.
—It is as much a sin to leave the guilty unpunished, as to punish the innocent. Right and justice are distorted by both courses. Where regicides are allowed to go unpunished, out of pity or weakness, there all justice ceases. The throne and the civil authority are not established by weak concessions, but by righteousness.—Lange.
2 Kings 14:6. “But the children of the murderers he slew not”—wherein he showed some faith and courage that he would obey this command of God, though it was very hazardous to himself, such persons being likely to seek revenge for their father’s death.—Pool.
2 Kings 14:7-14. The intoxication of success. I. Leads to indiscreet and boastful challenges (2 Kings 14:7-8). II. Indignantly repudiates all advice and warning. (2 Kings 14:9-11). III. Precipitates húmiliating defeat and widespread disaster (2 Kings 14:12-14).
2 Kings 14:7-14. Extraordinary success in our undertakings is a great temptation to arrogance. Those must be strong legs which can support great good fortune and prosperity. God blesses our undertakings in order that we may become not haughty, but humble (Genesis 32:10-11). Every undue self-exaltation robs us of the blessing again.—Wurt. Summ.
2 Kings 14:8. We learn from Chronicles that Amaziah had hired a large body of Israelite soldiers for his Idumæan war, but, warned by a prophet, had dismissed them. These persons, disgusted at their treatment, ravaged the Jewish territory on their way back to Samaria (2 Chronicles 25:13), thus affording to Amaziah a sufficient ground of quarrel. This, however, was the occasion rather than the cause of the war. The cause was Amaziah’s pride and ambition. His success against Edom had so elated him that he thought himself more than a match for his northern neighbours (comp. 2 Kings 14:10, and 2 Chronicles 25:19).—Speaker’s Comm.
2 Kings 14:9. People in the East very often express their sentiments in a parabolic form, especially when they intend to convey unwelcome truths, or a contemptuous sneer. This was the design of the admonitory fable related by Joash in his reply. The thistle, a low shrub, might be chosen to represent Amaziah, a petty prince; the cedar, a powerful sovereign of Israel; and the wild beast that trode down the thistle, the overwhelming army with which Israel could desolate Judah. But, perhaps, without making so minute an application, the parable may be explained generally as describing in a striking manner the effects of pride and ambition, towering far beyond their natural sphere, and sure to fall with a sudden and ruinous crash. The moral of the fable is contained in 2 Kings 14:10.—Jamieson.
—The destroyer is represented as passing by, not as sent out by the cedar. So Jehoash might wish to suggest to Amaziah that in case he meddled with things beyond his province he would be suddenly smitten by some judgment of the Almighty. He does not proudly boast and presume to tread down Amaziah and Judah by his own warriors and martial prowess.—Whedon.
2 Kings 14:10. He who desires to correct another for his arrogance must take good care not to fall into the same fault himself. Blame and complaint for the pride and arrogance of others often come from hearts which exalt themselves too much. Do not parade your wisdom and strength, if you really possess them. The Lord breaks down even the cedars of Lebanon (Psalms 29:5; Isaiah 2:12-13).—Lange.
2 Kings 14:12. The author of Chronicles notes that Amaziah’s obstinacy, and his consequent defeat and captivity, “came of God” (2 Chronicles 25:20), were judgments upon him for an idolatry into which he had fallen after his conquest of Edom.—Speaker’s Comm.
Oh, the depth of Divine justice and wisdom in these outward administrations! The best cause, the best man, doth not ever fare best. Amaziah did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, Joash evil; Amaziah follows David, though not with equal paces; Joash follows Jeroboam; yet is Amaziah shamefully foiled by Joash. Whether God yet meant to visit upon this king of Judah the still odious unthankfulness of his father Jehoiada, or to plague Judah for their share in the blood of Zechariah and their late revolt to idolatry; or whether Amaziah’s too much confidence in his own strength, which moved his bold challenge to Joash, were thought fit to be thus taken down; or whatever other secret ground of God’s judgment there might be, it is not for our presumption to inquire.—Bp. Hall.
2 Kings 14:18-22. The vicissitudes of a monarch’s life. I. His fame is the great theme of the historian (2 Kings 14:18). II. He is the subject of dark and dangerous conspiracy (2 Kings 14:19). III. Notwithstanding the most anxious precautions, he falls a victim to the assassin (2 Kings 14:19). IV. His dead body may be more reverenced than his character (2 Kings 14:20). V. His successor reaps the benefit of his successes (2 Kings 14:21-22).
2 Kings 14:19. His turning after the gods of Edom (2 Chronicles 25:27), his defeat by Jehoash, the hostages taken of him, and the spoliation of the temple, all served to make the last half of his reign unpopular. The discontent of the kingdom culminated in conspiracy. So he perished like his father (chap. 2 Kings 12:20).—Whedon.
2 Kings 14:20. They conveyed his body back to Jerusalem in the royal chariot and with the horses which had brought him to Lachish. The combination of relentless animosity against the living prince with the deepest respect for his dead remains is very characteristic of an Oriental people.—Speaker’s Comm.
CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—
2 Kings 14:23. In the fifteenth year, &c., Jeroboam, king of Israel, &c.—Israel’s history resumed. This was Jeroboam II. His reign was marked by idolatry, yet also with great political success (2 Kings 14:25).
2 Kings 14:25. Spake by his servant Jonah—Not found in the Book of Jonah which we possess.
2 Kings 14:26. There was not any shut up, &c.—Comp. Notes on Kings 2 Kings 14:10.
2 Kings 14:27. The Lord said not that He would blot out the name of Israel—The Divine purposes had not yet announced the obliteration of the ten tribes of the house of Israel.—W. H. J.
HOMILETICS OF 2 Kings 14:23-29
NATIONAL PROSPERITY—AN OPPORTUNITY FOR NATIONAL REFORM
JEROBOAM reigned longer than any other king of Israel, and soon gave evidence of possessing considerable capacity and energy. He not only checked the Syrian invasion and regained the portions of his kingdom which had been seized by the foe, but carried the war into Syria and overawed Damascus into submission. Adversity having failed to bring back Israel to the true worship of Jehovah, a period of prosperity is granted, with no better result. Instead of tracing the goodness of God in their national blessings, the people are confirmed in their calf-worship, and attribute their successes to the influence of Baal. It is their last opportunity, and they see it not. Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first madden. The subsequent history of Israel is one of decline and disaster, until as a nation it becomes extinct. The long and prosperous reign of Jeroboam II. may be regarded as an opportunity for national reform. Observe—
I. That the misfortunes of a nation awaken the Divine compassion. “For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel that it was very bitter” (2 Kings 14:26). The Divine compassion seen—
1. In promising help and instruction by a duly authorized messenger. “According to the Word of the Lord God of Israel, which He spake by the hand of His servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet” (2 Kings 14:26). We have no record of the prophecy uttered by Jonah on this occasion, but it doubtless had reference to the victories over the Syrians that would be granted to the arms of Jeroboam, and be accompanied with warnings and instructions to recognise the authority and power of Jehovah. The Lord pitied the ignorance and infatuation of Israel, and the misery which their own sins had brought upon them, and He once more sends His servant to call them to repentance and reformation. A faithful and earnest ministry is a boon to any people, and brings with it a solemn responsibility to all who hear.
2. In suspending the threat of extinction.—“And the Lord said not that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven” (2 Kings 14:27). The idolatry and corruption of Israel merited the punishment of Jehovah, but in mercy He deferred the desolating stroke to give them space for repentance. The time came when the Divine compassion ceased, and the prophets Hosea, Amos, Micah, and others foretold the ruin that fell on Israel with such terrible force. Reprieves are not pardons. The Lord waits to be gracious; but where impenitence continues, the threatened vengeance will surely fall.
3. In providing a competent deliverer.—“He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam” (2 Kings 14:27). Jeroboam was “a man of might” (2 Kings 14:28), distinguished by personal prowess and military genius, and by those qualities that make the successful statesman and ruler. Though himself an idolater, he is used as an instrument to deliver Israel and raise the nation to an extraordinary height of prosperity. The Lord has His agents planted in unseen and unexpected quarters. They may seem the most unlikely to carry out His purposes, and may themselves be unconscious of the real drift of the work they are permitted and aided to accomplish.
II. That national prosperity is a token of the Divine beneficence. “He restored the coast, recovered Damascus” (comp. 2 Kings 14:25; 2 Kings 14:28). The dash and enterprise of Jeroboam roused the nation into new life. The success of his arms at the boundaries of his kingdom ensured protection and peace; and the wheels of commerce, once more set in motion, carried prosperity into every part of the land. Confucius has thus portrayed the signs of national prosperity—
Where spades grow bright, and idle words grow dull;
Where jails are empty, and where barns are full;
Where Church paths are with frequent feet outworn;
Law court-yards weedy, silent, and forlorn;
Where doctors foot it, and where farmers ride;
Where age abounds and youth is multiplied—
Where those signs are, they clearly indicate
A happy people and well-governed State.
Prosperity, like every other blessing, is from God; it is often the severest test applied to the conduct of individuals and of nations. The glitter and glut of prosperity may hide the hand that gives. The heart that adversity could not vitiate has been seduced by the subtle smiles of inconstant prosperity.
III. That national prosperity is abused when it does not lead to national reform. “He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord; he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam (2 Kings 14:24). As was the king, so were the people. The sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, like a close-fitting Nessus garment, still clung to his idolatrous descendants. The goodness of God, that was intended to lead them to repentance, was misinterpreted as sanctioning and even rewarding their apostacy, and instead of weaning them from their idols, lulled them into a false confidence in the supremacy of Baal. It is sad to see blessings abused, opportunities neglected, warnings disregarded, and a whole nation sinking into the gulf of ruin. How unspeakable is the compassion of Him who observes the follies and sins of mankind, and yet shows Himself more eager to restore than destroy!
1. That prosperity and adversity are tests of fidelity to principle.
2. An opportunity for reformation comes to every indiridual and every nation.
3. The abuse of opportunity intensifies the inveteracy of evil.
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES
2 Kings 14:25-27. I. Israel’s deep misery (Jeremiah 2:19). II. God’s great pity (Psalms 103:10; Hosea 9:8).—Lange.
—Our faithful God helps us out of trouble, according to His great compassion, even when we have not deserved it of Him; but often not until our distress has reached the highest pitch, and no help is to be expected from any other quarter.
2 Kings 14:25. Jonah must have been prominent among his order in these stormy times, for we find him the counsellor of Jeroboam in a policy of vigour against Syria. Enthusiastically patriotic, the depression of Israel weighed on his heart. But he did not despair of his country even in its darkest hour. It was under the protection of Jehovah, and must rise again, if it repented and returned to its invisible King. With keen insight into the capacity of the new ruler in Samaria, he recognised him as the deliverer promised by God to save His chosen people, and animated him to take the field against the long-dreaded enemy, by the inspired assurance that he would be victorious, and would even extend the narrow limits of Israel well-nigh to the grandeur of David’s empire—from Hamath, in the northern valley of Lebanon, on the Orontes, to the south of the Dead Sea. That Jonah should have been sent on an errand of mercy to a great heathen city (Nineveh) is specially interesting, as the first prominent expression of the Divine love to all mankind found in the Old Testament. The very harshness and exclusive narrowness of the prophet himself heightens the charm of the narrative. God has pity on the great city, although idolatrous; but Jonah is unwilling to carry a message of love outside his own nation. His very conceptions of the Almighty show the imperfect ideas of his time. He thinks to escape from Him by leaving Palestine for a region beyond the sea. And even when forced on his journey, his Jewish bigotry shows itself in his anger that a heathen population should have averted its threatened doom by a timely repentance.—Geikie’s Hours with the Bible.
2 Kings 14:26-27. God’s unfailing interest in His people.—I. He is minutely acquainted with their abject affliction. II. He delays the execution of the judgment their sins deserve. III. He mercifully delivers them from their distress.
2 Kings 14:27. The reign of this king, which was distinguished by so extraordinary a flow of prosperity, increased the religious apostacy, and by consequence the moral degeneracy, of Israel. Under him the corruption of manners became extreme, and laid the foundation for those public calamities which befel the kingdom soon after his demise, and quickly accomplished the destruction of the nation. Hengstenberg observes: “The prosperity only confirmed the people still more in their temerity. Instead of being led to repentance by the unmerited mercy of God, they considered this prosperity as a reward of their apostacy, as a seal by which Jehovah-Baal confirmed the rectitude of their ways. The false prophets, too, did what was in their power to strengthen them in their delusion, whilst the true prophets preached to deaf ears.” Hengstenberg refers in this last sentence to the emphatic warnings addressed to Jeroboam by Hosea and Amos. Although his whole reign was marked by signal successes, notwithstanding that apostacy, which was usually punished by war and loss of national independence, the wrath of God was denounced against Israel, as well as the destruction of the house of Jeroboam, by the two named prophets, whose writings sufficiently attest the faithful execution of their mission.—Jamieson.
2 Kings 14:28-29. Jeroboam had striven for the external prosperity of his people, and when he died, he left the kingdom in a more flourishing condition than any previous king of Israel. For its spiritual welfare, however, he had done nothing. Calf-worship and other service of false gods had continued, and a moral rottenness had found entrance, which brought the kingdom near to ruin. So has many a one at his death left to his children treasures which he has won by long labour and care, but those children have not been bred in the fear and love of God, and have not been taught that “the world passeth away,” &c. (1 John 2:17; 1 Peter 1:24).—Lange.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Kings 14". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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