Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel reigned Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah.The Thistle and the Cedar
2 Kings 14:9
There are two striking fables in the Old Testament: that of Jotham, and this of Jehoash the King of Israel.
I. The Fable Illustrates the Variety of Humanity.—'The thistle that was in Lebanon:' the word may mean a thorn or a brier; whichever it be it represents what is mean, contemptible, low, troublesome. And quite near it uprose 'the cedar that was in Lebanon'—grand, majestic, sublime. Thistles and cedars are alike part of the economy of God. Which are we in spiritual character? No man need be a moral thistle. Every man may be 'a cedar Christian'. By grace each of us may be a righteous soul, and 'the righteous shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon'.
II. What Inadequate Self-knowledge is here Displayed?—A thistle on Lebanon abides a thistle withal. The thistle of the fable forgot this, and it desired to treat with a cedar on quite equal terms. It is ever the small and mean and worthless that lack self-knowledge most conspicuously.
III. Empty and Ambitious Pride is here Rebuked.—'Give thy daughter to my son to wife,' cried the pompous little thistle. Well does Dean Farrar characterize it as 'ludicrous presumption'. Surely there is no room for pride in any man.
How shall we be enabled to think nothing of ourselves? The great evangelical hymnist gives us the sacred clue:—
When I survey the wondrous Cross,
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
IV. In this Fable we see a Want of Appreciation of Nobleness.—Many a cedar has been unrecognized by the thistle community amid which it has dwelt. It is possible to live with nobleness and never perceive it. This is one of the tragedies of human history. Supremely was it exemplified when the Son of God was Incarnate here.
V. Here Incongruous Aspirations are Represented.—The vanity which expresses itself in 'vaulting ambition which overleaps itself was never better delineated than in this old-world fable. Said the thistle to the cedar, 'Give thy daughter to my son to wife'. For ourselves and those we love we do well to dread unwise and unholy ambitions. All ambition is dangerous, much ambition is ruinous. 'I was afraid of ambition,' said the great and good Dean Vaughan when asked why he had refused a bishopric.
VI. See in this Old Fable the Retributive Ruin of a Life.—How did the comedy end? In a tragedy—as so many of the comedies of life end. 'And there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon and trode down the thistle.' There was no need for the cedar to send a reply to the self-deceived thistle. Retribution came, and came soon.
Quite casual the retribution seemed: the wild beast 'passed by'. But it was not so casual as it seemed. Law lies behind all things—and that law essentially moral. What appears a fateful accident may be a Divine retribution. The wild beasts of the forest belong unto God. And He sends them forth on His errands. When a wrongdoer least expects such a visitation the wild beast passes by on its destructive mission.
—Dinsdale T. Young, The Travels of the Heart, p. 85.
References.—XV. 13-18.—W. Hay M. H. Aitken, The Highway of Holiness, p. 63. XVI. 15.—C. Brown, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxii. 1902, p. 398.
He was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his father: he did according to all things as Joash his father did.
Howbeit the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places.
And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was confirmed in his hand, that he slew his servants which had slain the king his father.
But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand, and took Selah by war, and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day.
Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us look one another in the face.
And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle.
Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thine heart hath lifted thee up: glory of this, and tarry at home: for why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?
But Amaziah would not hear. Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah.
And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents.
And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Bethshemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits.
And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria.
Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did, and his might, and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead.
And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years.
And the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
Now they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem: and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there.
And they brought him on horses: and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.
And all the people of Judah took Azariah, which was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.
He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.
In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.
For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel.
And the LORD said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.
Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which belonged to Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead.