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2 Chronicles 28:1. Ahaz was twenty years old— Twenty-five years old. Houbigant. See 2 Kings 18:2.
2 Chronicles 28:3. And burnt his children in the fire— And caused his children to pass through the fire. See Lev 18:21 and the versions.
2 Chronicles 28:20. Distressed him, but strengthened him not— And yet in 2Ki 16:9 it is said that he did help him. How then can he be said to have distressed him? Very well: for as he came to his assistance against the king of Syria, so he took Damascus, carried the people captive, and delivered Ahaz from the power of the Syrians: but this did Ahaz little good; for he helped him not to recover the cities which the Philistines had taken from him. He sent him no forces, nor enabled him to recruit his own. On the contrary, he rather weakened him by exhausting his treasures, and destroying Samaria, which opened a way for the invasion of his country with more facility, as it happened in the next reign. For, it is no uncommon thing, even in later ages, to hear of kingdoms, which have called in the help of some foreign prince against their enemies, being over-run and conquered by those who came to their assistance.
2 Chronicles 28:23. Because the gods of the kings of Syria, &c.— "O blind superstition!" exclaims Bishop Hall upon this folly of Ahaz. "How did the gods of Syria help their kings, when both those kings and their gods were vanquished and taken by the king of Assyria? Even this Damascus, and this altar, were the spoil of a foreign enemy. How then did the gods of Syria help their kings, otherwise than to their ruin? What dotage is this, to make choice of a foiled protection! But had the Syrians prospered, must their gods have the thanks? Are there no authors of good, but blocks or devils? or is an outward prosperity the only argument of truth, the only motive of devotion? O foolish Ahaz! it is the God thou hast forsaken that punishes thee, under whose only arm thou mightest have prevailed. His power beats those pagan stocks one against another; so that now this, now that seems victorious, and the other vanquished; and at last he confounds both, together with their proudest votaries. Thyself art certainly the most striking instance."
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Ahaz, the degenerate son of a pious father, no sooner came to the crown, than he sunk into every abomination, following the ways of wicked Israel, and serving Baalim as did the heathens around him. Swift vengeance overtook him. The hosts of Syria defeated his army, plundered his country, and made captive his people; and Israel seconded the blow with a very great slaughter. Note; They who sell themselves to work wickedness shall surely receive the wages of their sin in condign suffering.
2nd, Wicked instruments are often made the scourges of righteous vengeance.
1. Triumphant Israel tramples down the strength of treacherous Judah. One hundred and twenty thousand men fall by the sword, and double that number of women and children are led away captive. The king's son and his principal officers fall in the battle, and the country is ravaged and plundered. When God is departed, all our defence is gone.
2. The Lord sends a prophet to the people of Israel, to rebuke them for the severity with which they had stained their victory. He met them on their return to Samaria, and warned them from God. The victory which they had obtained was not the effect of their valour or goodness, but of God's wrath against Judah. Cruel was the slaughter they had made, which cried to God for vengeance against them; and hard the bondage which, as an iron yoke, they would lay on their brethren: but let them consider their own sins, be confounded, and justly fear a return of greater severity on themselves: to avert which, he enjoins them instantly to release their captives, or the fierce wrath of God would quickly overtake them. Note; (1.) Cruelty to an enemy is a great crime: even in a just war, much blood-guiltiness may lie at our door. (2.) They who are sensible of their own sins will be most compassionate to the sufferings of others. (3.) Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
3. The princes, struck with this divine admonition, immediately interposed with the men of war; insisted that the captives should be brought no farther; warned them of the anger of God against their cruelty; and, confessing how much sin already lay upon them, resolved not to add to the measure of it the enslaving of their brethren. Overcome by the remonstrance, the men of war nobly yielded up both prisoners and spoil; and, with tender care and liberal provision, the princes took care safely to carry them to Jericho, that they might thence return to their own homes. Note; (1.) It is better to take warning late than never. (2.) The victory of self-denial is greater than the honour of treading on the necks of vanquished foes. (3.) They who are mighty should be merciful; it is their greatest honour.
3rdly, When a state is weakened and sinking, the meanest foe spurns at it. Sin had left the land naked, exposed to every invader, and unable to resist. Edom and Philistia joined Syria and Israel in their ravages; the cities are taken, the inhabitants led captive, and Ahaz reduced to deep distress. We have here,
1. The unsuccessful attempt that he made to extricate himself from his difficulties. By impoverishing himself, and emptying his treasures, as well as robbing the house of God and fleecing the princes, he engaged the king of Assyria to make a diversion in his favour; but he received no benefit from him, for his auxiliaries distressed him as well as his enemies. Note; They who forsake God must needs be disappointed in every other confidence.
2. The aggravated wickedness of this infatuated king. Unmoved by all God's judgments, he hardened his heart in idolatry; grew worse under these reproofs; and, instead of repenting of his sins, added to his strange gods, shut up the temple, defaced and destroyed the vessels; and, in place of one, set up multitudes of altars in every corner of Jerusalem, to sacrifice to the idols of Syria; as if the success of the Syrians had been owing to their influence, and that he hoped to be helped by them: but, alas! he found to his cost, that he only hastened his own and his peoples ruin. This is that Ahaz, a monster of iniquity, and branded in the book of God with everlasting infamy. Note; When judgments harden, instead of humbling, the case seems very desperate.
3. God was graciously pleased to rid the kingdom of this heavy plague, and in the midst of his days cut down this wicked king. Nor would the men of Judah suffer him to lie among his godly progenitors, but cast him into a common grave, an intimation of that awful and eternal separation which, after death, shall be made between the righteous and the wicked.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 28". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25