Lessons from the Kings of Judah
September 20, 2022 – we have a new president in Kenya, the Queen of England is dead, and there is a new King as it stands. But I am absolutely certain that you knew all that already.
It is interesting; I was reading the accounts of the kings in the Bible this month and I thought to write a post on the lessons I learnt from the various kings that reigned in Judah while the subject of monarchies is still fresh in our minds.
Indubitably, this is one of those posts that I write on my blog for my own learning and for the purposes of reference, that is, whenever I need to revisit a certain topic.
Getting right into it – when the Israelites during Samuel’s day asked for a king to rule over them (as the judges and prophets were at that time the ones communicating to the people the ordinances and commands of God), God hearkened to their request and appointed Saul to be their king. When King Saul turned his heart away from God, God then anointed another king: David— a man after His own heart— to be the ruler of His people.
Of all the kings that reigned over Israel, David’s reign was the only one that was effusively characterized by justice and righteousness. David accomplished what no leader, judge, or king before him had done. And this is mainly because his administration was run on the principles of dedication to God and the well-being of the people. Though David sinned, God did not cease to work with him because David recognized and confessed his sin and recommitted his life to God and remained loyal to Him throughout his lifetime.
Solomon his son became king after his death; followed by Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. The kingdom became divided during the reign of Rehoboam; as the people had already begun turning away from God.
Going through the various kings, I recognized an odd pattern with their reigns; which was: some of the kings reigned in the fear of God; however their sons after them acted contrariwise – carrying out great evil and sinking the kingdom into great depths of dissipation and idolatry. I also recognized something else; which is – my main motive behind writing this post – the downfall of many of the kings: pride.
Solomon ascended to the throne after his father’s death. Most of us know his story; how God gave him wisdom, wealth and riches, glory, and power and honor. Solomon turned away from God and began worshipping other gods; which was mainly spurred by his inter-marriage with numerous foreign wives who turned his heart away from the God who had blessed him with all the material possessions one could ever desire.
Solomon also, failed as a leader – noting that he was the wisest leader who ever lived – mainly because he overtaxed and overworked the people. His desire for luxurious living resulted to excessive taxation which created an environment of displeasure among the people.
Lesson: not only is wealth and riches all vanity, they can also become a stumbling block to a having a relationship devoted to God, and also, having wisdom does not necessarily guarantee that one will use that gift to glorify God.
After Solomon’s death, the kingdom became divided: the northern Kingdom (Israel) and the southern Kingdom (Judah). Rehoboam became the king of Judah while Jeroboam the son of Nebat became the king of Israel. Rehoboam acted foolishly by following the thoughtless counsel of his peers which caused him to add more taxes to the already overtaxed people. Moreover, the spiritual state of the nation deteriorated during his reign as the people erected pagan altars on the hills of the land and entertained male cult prostitutes. God brought judgment upon Rehoboam through the King of Egypt: Shishak.
Lesson: Advice or even counsel from friends or family must be weighed on the scale of God’s word. Also, when a nation or a people become morally and spiritually corrupt, they are ripe for God’s judgment.
Key verse: “Thus says the LORD, ‘You have forsaken Me, so I have forsaken you to Shishak.’” – 2 Chronicles 12:5
Abijah was the son of Rehoboam. Not much is said about him aside from: “He walked in all the sins of his father (Rehoboam) which he had committed before him; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord, like the heart of his father before him David.” 1 Kings 15:3
Lesson: There is nothing worthwhile to be remembered in an evil person, even an evil leader, king or judge.
Here we have a king who broke the evil pattern which the previous kings before him had followed. Asa was Abijah’s son yet he did what was right in the sight of God. He removed the foreign altars and high places that had been erected during the reign of his father. He also put away the male cult prostitutes who existed in Judah.
When he went to battle against Ethiopians, he asked for God’s help as Judah was out-numbered three million to five hundred and eighty thousand men.
He prayed a profound prayer to God saying, “Lord, there is no one besides You to help in battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us O Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude.” Now this is my favorite part of the prayer: “O Lord, You are our God; let no man prevail against You.” Glorious! Just glorious! And God answered his prayer and delivered them from the Ethiopian army.
Asa was a good king for the most part of his reign; however, he began having pride in the latter years of his reign. It is interesting that his pride came about so subtlety that one could almost not be able to notice it. At one time, in a dispute with the King of Israel – Baasha –instead of going to God as he had previously done when he faced the Ethiopians, he made an alliance with the King of Aram: Ben-hadad – entreating him through a bribe to break the treaty which he had made with Baasha.
The plan succeeded; however, when he was confronted by Hanani, who was a prophet of God, he became angry and had him imprisoned.
In his later years, his pride had become extremely blinding to himself that when he got sick in his legs, he preferred to consult doctors rather than to ask God for healing. His story ends when he dies and nothing further is spoken of him.
Lesson: “The end of a matter is better than its beginning; Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.” Ecclesiastes 6:8
Also, pride is the root of all sin; and it is a sin to be fiercely resisted. When I personally observe my life, I find that I am susceptible to fall into it; as well as have it destroy all the work that I have built on the foundation of my faith in Jesus. Thus, may God deliver me from all pride.
Key verse: “Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the Lord Your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand.” “Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro the earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect towards Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9
Of the kings in Judah, he is one of the kings I preferred best that is, after Josiah and Hezekiah. Though Jehoshaphat’s s reign is filled with a lot of compromise, he was a good king. He was Asa’s son. The Bible says about him that he took great pride in the ways of the LORD and removed the high places (idols) from Judah. On top of removing the high places, he taught people the word of God which I have personally come to learn is the very key to success.
Now, Jehoshaphat made his mistakes as well; which could amount to one word: foolishness. Writing all this too, makes me recognize how easily susceptible we all are to fall into the same kinds of snares. Which brings us to my main conclusion and prayer from this whole post – “who can stand these forces? May God help me – personally – to stand.”
Where was I? Yes! Jehoshaphat – what concerns me about him primarily, is that he knew God’s word yet it is recorded that he made so many foolish decisions, not just once, but countless times.
➛For one, he made an alliance with Ahab, the king of Israel – remember him? One of the most evil kings in the Bible, if not the most evil king, together with his evil wife Jezebel? He allowed his son Jehoram to marry Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter – Athaliah – in the name of creating a treaty between Israel and Judah.
➛He allied himself yet again with Ahab in battle – though he sought God over this alliance, he disregarded God’s directive and went ahead anyway with the battle which almost cost him his life; as he was mistakenly thought to be Ahab and was almost killed. God delivered him from his distress after he cried out to Him for salvation.
➛Once again, he did not learn from his previous mistake because he allied himself this time with Ahaziah the king of Israel who was also a wicked king.
Lesson: There is a reason why God warns us against ungodly alliances. He knows that they have the ability to weaken our faith, cause us to compromise our values altogether, and even lead us to our own destruction. Also, our sins can make the generations to come after us suffer greatly.
Key verse: Jehoshaphat’s prayer – And he said, “O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in your hand so that no one can stand against You.” – 2 Chronicles 20:6
You already guessed it! Recall, this is Jehoshapat’s son who married Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter – Athaliah? You can already predict the king of reign his was. Jehoram was an evil king chiefly because he married a wife who was evil.
He began his reign by killing off his brothers so that they would not lay claim to the throne. God struck him with such a horrible disease in his bowels in that the Bible says that he died in much pain. The Bible also records that when he died, nobody cared for it.
Lesson: There is no praise, glory, tribute or even remembrance of the wicked.
When Jehoram died, his son succeeded him. He walked in the ways of his father since his mother Athaliah was still alive and was his chief advisor. He reigned as king for only one year then he was killed.
Lesson: If we are not careful, we can also inherit bad practices from the examples of our parents which could lead to our ruin. Moreover, God requires that we are responsible, accountable and answerable for our own lives. Evil parents are not an excuse to sin. Again, pride is the reason why most of us do not turn to God for guidance.
Well, well, well! The mother becomes the queen of Judah! After the death of her son Ahaziah, she attempted to kill all her son’s children so that there could no longer be a royal offspring to claim the throne. By God’s hand, the high priest’s wife stole one boy called Joash – Ahaziah’s son – and hid him in the temple for six years. On the other hand, Athaliah did not know that this had happened; she also reigned as queen for six years.
Now, I would like us to pause here for just a second so that we can see just how this assassination attempt almost cost humanity our Messiah. Jesus was to come from the offspring of David and Ahaziah was a direct descendant of David meaning, that if Athaliah had managed to murder his entire son’s offspring, then there would not be a son to carry on the lineage to Jesus Christ.
Lesson: Again, we go back to Jehoshaphat, he is long dead by now, but he has no idea just how dire the consequences of his foolish alliances with Ahab were.
He began his reign when he was only seven years old. Athaliah was also overthrown after a public proclamation of Joash as the rightful king by the high priest Jehoiada. His reign was for the most part influenced by Jehoiada the priest since he was his chief advisor; and he was also careful to instruct him in the ways of the LORD.
The temple was also repaired under his reign since it had fallen into much disrepair after the times of Solomon.
Here is what baffles me once more, after the death of Jehoiada the priest, Joash turned his heart away from the LORD and began worshipping idols.
God sent Zechariah – who was Jehoiada’s son – to rebuke the king and proclaim judgment upon him. However, instead of repenting of his sin, he had Zechariah murdered. As a result, God allowed the Arameans to invade Judah. And in the time of Joash’s distress, his own servants killed him as retribution for the death of Zechariah – Jehoiada’s son.
Lesson: It is good to have a mentor who leads you to walk in God’s ways, but it is far better to have a personal relationship with God because that causes one to have a real dependence on God in everyday life. Also, you reap what you sow – whether it is in this life or the next one.
Key verse: “Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness which his father Jehoiada had shown him, but he murdered his son. And as he died he said, “May the LORD see and avenge!”” – 2 Chronicles 24:22
The Bible says of him that he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, though he did not follow God with a whole heart. When I read the texts where his reign is outlined, I honestly could not locate an instance where he did anything that was praiseworthy because of his pride.
In many instances, Amaziah acted conceitedly and proudly. Instead of asking God to help him in the battle against the Edomites, he hired military support. However, he listened to God’s prophet who sent word to him pointing out his error and he sent back the hired troops.
After God had helped him in that battle against the Edomites, he brought back idols from the battle and began worshipping them. Furthermore, as though the idols were not enough – a stab God in the back kind of repayment – he boasted in his heart that he had defeated Edom by his own strength.
Now, this is the part where I write on my Bible… “I mean seriously dude?!!”
But then I remember the verse: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
In his proud and boastful attitude, he went ahead to attack the king of Israel and was defeated mightily.
Lesson: “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18
Key verse: “You said, ‘Behold you have defeated Edom.’ And your heart has become proud in your boasting.” – 2 Chronicles 25:19
He was Amaziah’s son and he was a good king. He built a lot of infrastructure in Jerusalem; he was a skilled warrior and he had exceptional organizational and delegation skills. He, however, like some of the kings we have seen before him, began well but ended poorly. The Bible says that “when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.” 2 Chronicles 26:16
This sin that he committed was severely grievous because that was a job solely meant for the priests. As a result of his actions, God struck him with leprosy and was separated from the people due to his condition.
Lesson: Again, the issue of pride is highlighted here with the severity of the consequences following. Leprosy was a terrible skin disease that was incurable in Biblical times. Uzziah allowed pride to dominate his life to the extent of usurping the job that was done only by priests. His arrogant and disobedient act was followed by immediate judgment. What a tragic turn of events! May God help us all to learn from these lessons.
Key verse: “It is not for you, Uzziah to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary for you have been unfaithful and will have no honor from the LORD God.”— 2 Chronicles 26:18
He was also generally a good king; however the people acted corruptly in his reign. The Bible states as well, that he did not enter the temple of the LORD.
Lesson: It is possible to turn from the ways of our parents — if those ways disregard God’s commands — and curve out a path of our own where we seek to glorify God throughout all our lives.
Here is one of those paradoxical kinds of situations. Ahaz was an evil king, yet his father Jotham before him, was a good king. He sacrificed his children to other gods by burning them in the fire and erected molten images for Baal.
When he was attacked by the Edomites, he sent for help from the king of Assyria who instead of helping him, turned against him and afflicted him. He never at any one time sought the help of God but relied on his own wisdom which failed him terribly.
Lesson: When we get into a fix, or a catch-22 situation, we should always turn to God for help. If we cry out to Him in humility and in truth, God is able to come to our aid and deliver us from our troubles.
Key verse: “Now in his time of distress this same king Ahaz became yet more unfaithful to the LORD.” – 2 Chronicles 28: 22
I think most of us have heard about Hezekiah in church or somewhere else. If not, well… not to worry, here’s a short summary.
He is one of those kings who stand out in the Bible – possibly because of the miraculous healing he received – Hezekiah was a good king; out of all the kings of Judah, he is my second favorite. He instituted reforms in temple through consecration of priests and levites back to God and restored worship in the temple.
He also revived the Passover celebration which had not been celebrated for a long, long time. The Bible actually says that when they celebrated the Passover, there was so much joy in Jerusalem, because there had not been anything like that in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon the son of David, the king of Israel.
Hezekiah also destroyed all the idols that had been erected by his fathers before him. All these things led to a true spiritual revival in Judah. This was noticeable especially in the way the people responded in their giving to God.
He went against the king of Assyria – Sennacherib – in battle by the word of God, and in the confidence that God was with him. And he encouraged his military officers with these words: “Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him. With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” – 2 Chronicles 32:7
Notwithstanding, Hezekiah also allowed pride to dominate his life towards the end of his lifetime. After God healed him of his sickness, he boasted of his wealth to the princes of Babylon and did not give God the credit for his healing. God told him that all the treasures that he had shown to them would be carried away by the Babylonians in the times of his sons after him.
Lesson: It is not enough to know the word of God; we must also obey it and put it into practice for it to be effective, and for it to bear much fruit. God is also able to work wonders through a person whose heart is totally submitted to him; he causes favor to fall on such a person and blesses him/her immensely.
When God answers our prayers, it is not for us to boast about how we are self-sufficient in ourselves, or even how God’s favor is upon us – but an opportunity for us to demonstrate to others the depth of God’s love and grace towards us all as His creation.
Key verse: “Hezekiah did what was good, right and true before the Lord his God. Every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered.” – 2 Chronicles 31: 20
My O my! Between Ahab and Manasseh, I struggle to distinguish which of the two was the worst king – though Ahab reigned in Israel.
Manasseh was Hezekiah’s son who began his reign at the age of twelve years old. He was the longest reigning king in Judah of all the kings of Judah, and his reign was evil, wicked and idolatrous.
He rebuilt the high places which his father Hezekiah had brought down, he burned his children in the fire, he practiced witchcraft and sorcery, and he used divination and consulted spirits and mediums.
In fact, the Bible says of him that he did more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the sons of Israel.
However, the most attention-grabbing part of his life is that, towards the end of his life and his reign, he repented of all the evil that he had committed and God forgave him.
This is one of the stories in the Bible which firstly gives me hope that there is no sin too far gone that God is not able to forgive, and secondly, a story that makes me extremely cautious to judge other people.
Only God knows the heart of man and only He, knows their fate.
Lesson: The lesson I derive from his story is that there is no darkness that is so deep that the light of God is not able to penetrate. If God could forgive Manasseh, surely he can forgive anybody who comes to him in genuine repentance.
Moreover, it is paramount that we know that God’s forgiveness does not erase the wicked things we have done. We, subsequently, must therefore strive to live a life that expresses God’s grace and love towards us – shunning all sin and wickedness.
Key verse: “When he was in distress, he entreated the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.” 2 Chronicles 33:12-13
He was a wicked king and walked in the ways of his father Manasseh. He reigned for only two years as his servants conspired against him and killed him in his own house.
Lesson: Again, there is nothing worthwhile or even notable to remember in evil people.
Now here we have my favorite king. He became the king of Judah at eight years of age. The Bible says of him that he did not turn aside to the right or to the left in the ways of his father David.
He had a deep relationship with God from the very beginning of his youth. His relationship with God caused him to put away all the idols and high places that had been erected by Manasseh and Amon before him. He, also, restored and repaired the temple of God.
In the process, the book of the law was discovered which had been lost probably during the reigns of the evil kings and he had the book read out loud to him.
The Bible says that when he heard the word of God, he tore his clothes out of shame and sorrow as he realized how much Judah had fallen short of God’s commands.
Recall that God had pronounced judgment upon Judah in the reign of King Hezekiah? God spared Josiah and assured him that he would not see the evil that He would bring upon the people of Judah. Moreover, the Passover feast was celebrated once more during his reign and there was much joy and celebration in Judah.
Lesson: The sins of those who live before us (ancestors), also carry weight in the present generation; hence the term: generational curses. Unless God intervenes there is surely but no hope for the present generation. Here, we see that although Josiah was a good king, God did not turn his judgment on Judah away. Also, it is important to have a personal relationship with God – as we have learnt from Josiah’s story as well as from several men and women in the Bible who God did mighty things through them. Furthermore, God is able to withhold his judgment for the sake of those who are faithful to him; to execute it only when his children are out of the picture.
Key verse: “Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant written in this book.” –2 Chronicles 34:31
✓ And finally we have the last four kings of Judah – Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekaiah.
I will not say anything much about them as it is during their reigns when Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon began his revolution take over. Zedekiah was the last king of Judah before all of Judah was taken to captivity.
Now, we have come to the end of the post and indeed there are so many lessons to be learnt from all these kings.
What stands out for me personally is the sin of pride because it becomes predominant in almost every king at some point in their lives. And also, because it is a sin that no matter how hard we try to rid of it ourselves, or, ‘stay humble’ in our own efforts, we can never achieve.
A daily walk with God and being constantly in touch with Him is the only and sure way to ensure that we do not fall into this sin – because His Holy Spirit will always be present with us; reminding us to take the back seat at all times and let God receive all the glory.
That’s it for now from me!
Hoping to see you once again soon!
And may God give our new president, and the new king of England wisdom— as they discharge the awesome duties and responsibilities ahead of them.
Additionally, may He grant us all His wisdom in our different areas of responsibilities as well; that our lives may reflect His perfect will.
Okay… Let’s just be honest, whenever most people hear anything about religion, their first reaction and instinct is probably to cringe or brush off the whole matter entirely.
Why? Most likely because it is a subject that is associated with extreme cases of fanaticism, it brings about a lot of conflicts and controversies, and even offends easily.
Religion is famously known for: manipulation, stagnation, repression, ignorance, bigotry and is too often a threat to liberty. And rightly so. I do agree. With that said, I recommend you to read two of my posts as well as encourage you to do a personal, extensive, and honest research on your own regarding this matter. Why?
As intellectuals (critical thinkers), I believe we owe it to ourselves to interrogate, examine, and ask hard questions regarding matters touching on faith rather than choosing to ignore them or even worse— follow blind faith. Click here for the first post.
Who speaks the truth with regards to a genuine, sincere and true relationship with God? Is it Buddha? Muhammad? Jesus? Zoroaster? Confucius? Joseph Smith? Guru Nanak? Krishna? Among others? Find out on this second post:
My heart overflows with a goodly matter; I speak the things which I have made touching the king: My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Psalms 45:1
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