Joash King of Judah

2 Kings 11‑12  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Elisha is not seen in these chapters, for the affairs of the kingdom of Judah are introduced. But they are incidental to the affairs of Israel in this respect: they give us an account of a great apostasy in that kingdom, and its judgment, just as the chapters which preceded them gave us, as we saw, the judgment of apostasy in the kingdom of Israel. And, being very important in opening the counsels of God to us, I will consider them, though Elisha, our principal object, is not before us.
These chapters give us an account of an interruption to the enjoyment of the throne of Judah which the house of David suffered. And I doubt not it is expressive of the time now present, when the same thing may be said—the seed and house of David are not in the occupation of the throne and power of David.
Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and of Jezebel, and, as I may call her, the Jezebel of Judah, was the instrument of accomplishing this iniquity. A murderer, idolater, and usurper, she exceeds in sin here, as Ahab and Jezebel did in Israel, until the wrath of God visits and removes her as it had visited and removed them.
The seed royal was the object of her murderous designs: in order that she might seize the crown as her own, and (as she judged, perhaps, with infidel boldness) overthrow the divine promise to the house of David (1 Kings 2:44That the Lord may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel. (1 Kings 2:4)). Her act was like Ahab’s in Samaria towards the vineyard of the righteous, or like that of the whole nation afterward towards the Lord of the vineyard, or the Heir of the kingdom.
But there is a secret purpose and power of God that frustrates all this. By the resurrection of Jesus He brings to naught all the devices of the enemy; so here, Joash, a child of resurrection, is used as His instrument for the like end. The sentence of death had gone out against him. But the Lord had deliverance prepared for him, as He had great purposes to accomplish by and in him. He is, therefore, drawn out from the place of death (like Moses in such a case) by the daughter of a king, Jehoshabeath, who had married the High Priest Jehoiada.
It is much to be observed that, being drawn thus out of the place of death, he is hid by the priest of God in “the house of the Lord,” and that “till the seventh year.” This is a striking picture of the distant purposes of God concerning the true Heir of the throne of Judah. For Jesus, being drawn from the place of death by resurrection, is hid during a whole age in the house of God, the heavens having now received Him as the High Priest of the present house of God. The concealment of this Heir of David for a time, thus standing as a fair expression of the present hiding of Jesus in the heavens. Surely I may say, this is “a sign and a wonder,” something to be treated as a type or a mystery.
But Joash is not always to be where the hand of Jehoiada had now secured him. In due season Jehoiada prepares a remnant in Judah to favor him with whom he makes a covenant in the house of the Lord, and to whom he shows “the king’s son.” And after preparing them, he uses them: he fits them out with weapons of war for the day of battle from the armory of David, and sets them all in order to hurl the bold usurper from the throne. This is done with the same perfect and holy intelligence of God’s mind, as the concealment in the sanctuary had been. No blood is to stain the temple—the wicked are to be cut off in this day of righteous judgment without mercy—and “the king’s son” is to be brought forth from the house of the Lord. These three things are to be carefully observed on this great occasion: the king is to be enthroned; the wicked is to be slain; but the temple to be kept undefiled. All this must be done according to God. And then, accompanied in all due solemnity by the power of his kingdom, the righteous in whom he could trust, and on the Sabbath day, the day prepared for his showing to Judah, the king comes forth from his hiding place.
Jehoiada, who, as the priest, had been the guardian of the young king during the time of the usurpation, orders the whole matter of his coronation and manifestation. The king is to be brought from the Sanctuary to the Palace. He is accordingly brought forth from the temple, and just outside it, at the pillar, he is proclaimed amid the acclamations of the people; the testimony as well as the crown being given to him: the one signifying to him his subjection to Jehovah, the other his sovereignty over Israel.
Athaliah, the usurper, is then slain, but beyond the ranges of the temple. For even in the restoration of the king and the peace of the kingdom, the priest will not sacrifice the sanctity of the temple. Beautiful witness of the Lord’s maintaining all His glories in all His ways, never clouding one during the shining of another. The covenant of all the people is then made: they accept the king and the king adopts them. All things that offend and do iniquity are taken out of the way—the house, the altars, the images, and the priests of Baal. And at last, the king passes through the line of bodyguards, all joyful in their attendance upon him; and, like another Solomon, in peace and dignity, full of honor and of the gladness of his people, he sits on the throne of the house of David.
Can anything more beautifully express the return of Jesus from His heavenly sanctuary? For is He not to appear then in the midst of the strength and righteousness of His kingdom? And is not that to be a time when a Sabbath is again preparing for His Israel, and for the whole creation? Will it not, likewise, be the day of visitation on them that have shed the blood of the righteous and corrupted the earth? Heaven will be opened, and that will be the day of Jesus’ crowning and His people’s gladness—as here, the priest anoints Joash, puts the crown on his head, and the testimony in his hand, according to the ancient ordinance of God (Deut. 17),while the people cry, “God save the king!” The king shows himself in his beauty, and as alive from the dead. The wicked one, the usurper and the murderer, perish in his presence.
Nothing could more exquisitely give us the distant glimpses of our true David than all this. We see, as it were, His descent from heaven, the house of the Lord, in power and glory. And it was the suited moment for such a type. For this usurpation of Athaliah was the full apostasy of Judah—the time for the Lord to come out again, as at Babel’s and Gomorrah’s iniquity of old, to punish the earth for its iniquity, and as the result of that, to take to Him His own holy power and honor.
The land is now again full of David. Not only had the guard of the king been armed with the spears and the shields of David, which had been kept apart and allowed, as it were, to rust for want of use while the heir was hid in the sanctuary, but now, the ordinances of David and the music of David are observed and heard (2 Chron. 23:1818Also Jehoiada appointed the offices of the house of the Lord by the hand of the priests the Levites, whom David had distributed in the house of the Lord, to offer the burnt offerings of the Lord, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, as it was ordained by David. (2 Chronicles 23:18)). The priest is careful to fill the scene with recollections of David. And Baal and his servants are put away, and the God of Israel is in His place again; it is Jehovah the Lord, and David the servant, as it will be in the glorious antitype. A larger covenant is now struck, as we have already observed. It is not merely the priest’s taking an oath of some in favor of the concealed Joash and showing him simply to them, but it is the priest’s bringing all the people, the king, and Jehovah, into holy, gracious covenant again, that they should be the Lord’s people. Then showing the rightful heir of all the glory, not to some, but to all the congregation of Israel. And thus is the city quiet, the people of the land rejoice, the king sits on the throne, and he and the priest restore the service and worship of the God of Israel.
This was the great restitution of all things. In this way things are totally changed. It is no longer the king hidden in the house of the Lord, and a strange woman on the throne, as it were, riding the Beast, with Baal brought in, and the temple of the only true God in defilement and ruin; but the king is brought forth and owned by his willing people; the usurper is judged, and the sanctuary and worship of the Lord are in honor and observance again.
But as with Solomon, so also with Joash—it is only for a season. Adam lost Eden soon after we get the fair type of Christ and the church as the helpmeet given to him. So did Solomon soon drop from the glorious purpose of exhibiting, in type, the earthly honors and kingdom of the true Son of David. And Joash now, as soon as Jehoiada is gone, tarnishes all this brightness. But this we see, that as long as Jehoiada the priest lived, the kingdom was maintained by king Joash in its holiness and beauty. And this shows us again, in a type, that in the coming kingdom, when we shall see the King and the Priest together, all shall be well. As it is written, “He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne, and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” And because the Priest of that kingdom cannot die, being made “after the power of an endless life,” and because the King of that kingdom cannot fail or do wrong, because His scepter is one of righteousness, as it is said of Him, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity,” therefore this peace and honor will abide through His times, until He has delivered up the kingdom. “In His days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.” “The government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever” (Isa. 9:6-76For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6‑7)).
This is, indeed, a strong expression of the then-distant things of Christ’s glory: His return from the heavens which is the Sanctuary of God, His taking to Him judgment first, then His priestly, kingly honors, and dominion in the land of His ancient choice. Happy for our souls to dwell on any thoughts of Him; and, therefore, though Elisha was not here, a Greater than he being here, we have not passed it, nor judged these chapters as an intruder on our path.