1-3 The Makings of the Monarch
I called verses 1-3 The Makings of the Monarch because of the incredible possibilities there were in this man. He started out so well and had an incredible foundation to build upon. Verses 1-3 show us why he acted the way he did. What are those foundations?
Our foundations define who we are and how we act. Switch foundations and things will get a bit shaky. I was reading about what it takes to change a foundation while the building of a home is in process. This is not the building plan of choice. It’s costly, time consuming and most of all, creates a situation for an unstable structure. Builders prefer and say it’s much better to commit to a foundation and not become whimsical during the construction period. The best idea is to let your home develop from the foundation and not visa-versa. Joash switched his foundations. There are actually two foundations presented in this first section. He changed from one to the other toward the end of his life. He was about 44/45 when he did this—maybe he suffered a midlife crisis of some kind. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t wise. Let’s look a Joash’s foundations.
What do we know about Joash’s mother Zibiah of Beersheba? Pretty much next to nothing. We know nothing about her character. Her name translates from the Hebrew to mean “a female Gazelle.” You can do all types of fun illustrations with that name, but I’m not sure if making things up gives us any more truth about Joash’s foundations. The only thing we can concretely say is that she was from Beersheba, the southern most city of the kingdom of Israel. The most logical reason I think her name is mentioned is to show that Joash has zero connection with Athaliah. Past that, I’d hate to speculate. So, that having been taken care, let’s look at two basic foundations we can be assured of that displays what developed Joash into the king he ended up.
a. The Foundation of Purity
First we see a “Foundation of Purity.” When you read about the early years of Joash, there is something pure and innocent about this young man. His mentor, Jehoiada defined everything positive and good about Joash’s life. This priest taught and trained this young man. Jehoiada became a father and caretaker of him. The early essence of what this young man was we find founded by the principles of this high priest of God and his wife.
Now, I know people that say he made Joash too dependent upon himself. And so when Jehoiada was gone, Joash failed. Maybe that’s right and what the high priest did was a big mistake. However, I find it very difficult to fault Jehoiada for his dominating care of this young man. He knew Joash was the rightful king. He knew the young boy would be dead but for his help. And most of all, he knew what God’s promise was for the house of David and he did everything he could to preserve that assurance.
In fact, Jehoiada did such a great job that when something appeared amiss to Joash about God’s house, the king was right there asking his mentor what was going on and holding Jehoiada accountable. Jehoiada’s mentorship was the foundation of purity in this king.
b. The Foundation of Impiety
The second thing we see is a “Foundation of Impiety.” Here is where things get shaky and costly. Something happens to tweak and foul up Joash’s purity. Verse 3 gives us the foundation for the impiety that will eventually plague and define the end of Joash’s reign. Once Jehoiada was dead, things began breaking down rather quickly for Joash. I want to suggest that maybe this good priest overlooked something or was just afraid to deal with a big problem.
NIV – 3 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.
The High Places of false worship for Asherah were never dealt with. This becomes a foundation for future impiety that king Joash sadly builds upon. I’m inclined to think that if Jehoiada and Joash had removed the high places in the king’s younger years, then maybe the king would not have stumbled as he did in the end. It was these high places of false worship that brought the officials of Judah to Joash once Jehoiada was gone. Their false religion had lost its mainstream appeal. Jerusalem had been cleansed. But these hidden places of wickedness in high places had been allowed to remain. So, lets take a closer look at how these two foundations affect this king.
J. Robert Hanson