The Life and Times of Joash the King
2 Kings 12:1-2 Message Bible
1 In the seventh year of Jehu, Joash began his kingly rule. He was king for forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Gazelle. She was from Beersheba. 2 Taught and trained by Jehoiada the priest, Joash did what pleased God for as long as he lived.
1-3 The Makings of the Monarch
4-16 The Merits of the Monarch
17-21 The Malice of the Monarch
Israel is going through a very interesting time in their history. This chapter is going to summarize the 40 years of Joash’s reign as king. For the most part, especially as we read the events in 2 Kings, the “Life and Times of Joash” are positive and refreshing. The large majority of his life and reign are defined as good. Now, the 2 Chronicles point of view is much more candid and disapproving. It really takes both stories to get a clear picture of the life and times of Joash the king.
While 2 kings in general is a darker book, when it comes to revealing just whom Joash is we see just the opposite. He’s not left looking like some great saint, but he’s not portrayed as an extremely wicked man either. However, what we see when reading 2 Chronicles is a man who ended his life making some real wicked choices that eventually will cost him his own life.
Probably the most poignant thing we read is of Joash executing the son of the very man who kept him alive in the Temple of God. We’re told that after Jehoiada died Joash took a real turn toward real darkness. 2 Chronicles tells of officials that came from all over Judah to bow down and pander to Joash. The king fails to see what they are doing and allows idol worship back into the land.
God sent prophets in an attempt to convince Joash to repent. 2 Chronicles tells us of one man who stands out above them all – Zechariah, the son and successor of the high priest, Jehoiada. Remember, Joash spent the first six years of his life living, learning and being nurtured in the Temple of God by Zechariah’s father. No doubt, being cousins, Zechariah is right there with Joash in education and instruction in view of God’s plans and purposes. As family, Zechariah and Joash were very familiar with one another.
So, with real courage, Zechariah the high priest begins confronting Joash in view of his failure to God. Sadly we understand from 2 Chronicles that king Joash had him executed in the court of the Temple of God. It’s very possible that this is what the Lord Jesus was referring to when He said…
Luke 11:50-51 NIV – 50 Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.
Interestingly, the Lord places the responsibility of this incident, and others like it, square on the backs of the Pharisees and religious leaders of His day. Most likely it was these “officials of Judah” that convinced Joash of the problematic nature of Zechariah’s confrontations; just like the Pharisees convinced the people to crucify the Savior. So this king, when we read in context of 2 Chronicles, had fallen into deep apostasy, wickedness and malice.
Perplexingly, this all goes unmentioned in 2 Kings 12! The presentation seems to be that Joash was a king truly blessed more than others. He was marked for death when his brave aunt and uncle hid him in the safest place one could imagine—the Temple of God. And why was he was saved? He was saved because God would have pity upon the house of David!
2 Kings 8:19 NIV – 19 Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever.
And his guardian, Jehoiada, had the spiritual insight of God’s plan and purpose for the descendants of David. Just look at what he tells an assembly of leaders.
2 Chronicles 23:3 NIV – …Jehoiada said to them, “The king’s son shall reign, as the LORD promised concerning the descendants of David.”
For six years they hid him. For six years they taught him. For six years they clothed, fed and nurtured this young man. And now this young man would become king. In his seventh year of life, they anointed and crowned him. Now, in chapter 12, we come to the Life and Times of Joash the King.
J. Robert Hanson