Joash – The Boy King, II Chronicles 22:10-24:26
The thought of being ruled by a king is a strange concept to most of us. Even in countries that have a royal line, very few are actually led by the king regardless of how stately and official he looks. Most of the kings of Israel came to the throne when they were much older. Not Joash. He was just 7 years old when he was appointed king! How could a 7-year-old possible lead a nation of millions? Let’s find out because the answer is meaningful for all of us.
Joash’s family story is a tragedy. His father, King Ahaz, only ruled for one year before he was killed as a result of following the bad counsel of his advisors (II Chr 22:1-9). Because Ahaziah was so young when he died, there was no son old enough to take his place as king. That stirred up the hunger for power in Joash’s grandmother, Athaliah. She wanted to be the queen so she murdered all Joash’s older brothers, her grandsons! But Joash had a brave and faithful aunt who in the midst of all the murderous chaos hid him in a bedroom. Then he was smuggled into the temple where he could be raised by the priests who were faithful to God (II Chr 22:10-12).
So imagine this: your father is disobedient to God and ends up being killed for his foolishness. Your grandmother is a killer of the worst kind, murdering her grandchildren in her lust for power. You are now an orphan and grow up not even being able to go outside to play. What are your chances of making out very well in life with all this crummy stuff? Not all that great!
But God…. Those are powerful words that can change anything. Joash was an orphan, but God had provided him with a wise uncle, Jehoiada, that was faithful to God. Jehoiada was behind the rescue plans to save Joash from his grandmother. The murderous Athaliah was now the queen, but God was preparing Joash to eventually become the king. Athaliah had influenced the people to worship idols and act immorally, but God was gathering a group of men who were faithful to God who would take a stand against the queen. There is no way that a seven-year-old would be able to lead the country but God gave him the right advisors to train him to follow God and to lead well.
So when Joash was 7 years old Jehoiada the priest made a bold move. He gathered leaders who were loyal to God and called the people together to crown Joash king. They put a copy of God’s law into his hands, placed a crown on his head and cried out, “Long live the king!” When the wicked queen heard the noise of the crowd she ran to the temple where everyone was praising God and celebrating Joash as the rightful king. “Treason! Treason!” she cried out, but it was too late. They took her from the temple and executed her as payment for the many others that she had killed during her lifetime (II Chr 23:1-11).
So justice was enacted and the right king was now on the throne. The first thing that Joash decreed was that all the children in the kingdom got double desserts and no vegetables. Then he decided that parents went to bed at 9:00 while the kids got to stay up and play with the new X-Box he provided for every family. Well, not exactly. He still needed a good advisor to coach and serve him as a boy-king. That’s what his uncle, Jehoiada the priest, continued to do. The people were instructed to tear down all the temples of false gods, destroy their idols and worship of the one true living God was begun again. There is a great statement about Joash and all that he did in II Chr 14:2: “Joash did what was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.” What a super story, but sadly that isn’t where it ends.
The Rest of the Story
Wouldn’t it be great if that were the way things finished for Joash? He accepted the wise advice of Jehoiada and the whole nation turned back to God and prospered. In II Chr 24:17 we get the rest of the story. “But after the death of Jehoiada the officials of Judah came and bowed down to the king, and the king listened to them.” As a result of their terrible advice, all the “bad religion” days start all over again. So God sent prophets to speak against the advice of Joash’s new counselors and the bad choices that Joash was making. The simple description of their response to these men God sent was, “they would not listen” (vs. 19). It doesn’t stop there. Joash and his new advisors had Zechariah the son of Jehoiada put to death for confronting them with the truth. Get that. Joash sinks so low that he is even part of the murder plot to kill Zechariah, the son of the man who had saved Joash’s life. God eventually judges Joash for this evil act when Israel is defeated in battle by a much smaller enemy army. Then his servants murder Joash in his own bed. How did things go from being so good to so bad? Let’s discuss that.
The big question to put before ourselves is, “Who’s advice am I listening to?” Most of us have friends that don’t hesitate to offer their ideas about what we should do or not do on almost anything about our lives.
Proverbs 13:20 (The Msg.) “Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.”
Dad, think of a time when you listened to the wrong advice. What happened? Looking back, what could you have done differently?
Proverbs 27:17(The Msg.) “You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.”
Son, who are some of the voices in your life that are saying the right things, the kind of things that make you a sharper thinker? Who are some of the bad advice givers around you who are good to avoid because they dull your judgment?
Father and son: Are there decisions that you need to be making these days for which you need good advice? Why not stop now and pray for one another about those things? Advice can come later after praying. Remember that God does more than give advice. He actually leads us.
Proverbs 3:6 (The Msg.) “Listen for GOD’S voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”