2 Kings 11
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
This is a touching story of hymen wickedness and of God's overruling and preserving power. Three principal personages come before us here, from each of whom something may be learned.

I. ATHALIAH AND HER WORK. Athaliah's life-work was a Work of destruction. She did much harm. She did no good. A daughter of Ahab and Jezebel (sometimes called a daughter of Omri, whose granddaughter she was), she had inherited all the evil propensities of her parents. She destroyed her own husband, Jehoram King of Judah. We read of him that "he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord" (2 Chronicles 21:6). She destroyed also her son Ahaziah. We read of him that "he also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counselor to do wickedly. Wherefore he did evil in the sight of the Lord like the house of Ahab; for they were his counselors after the death of his father to his destruction (2 Chronicles 21:3, 4). And now she completes her destructive career by putting to death her grandchildren, the seed royal of the kingdom. There are many women like Athaliah, whose life-work is a work of destruction. What harm one wicked woman can do! Some corrupt the morals of others. Some, by their evil-speaking and slander, do what they can to destroy the reputation and good name of their neighbors. The Jezebels and Athaliahs of Scripture story have their parallels in the Queen Marys, the Pompadours, the Medicis, and the Maintenons of more modern times.

II. JEHOSHEBA AND HER WORK. Jehosheba's work was a work of preservation. She too was a king's daughter. But she had not been corrupted by the wickedness of the court. She was the wife of Jehoiada the priest - a good wife of a good man. She rescued Joash from Athaliah's massacre, and kept him hid in the priests' apartments in the temple. There he was hid for six years, until the time that, as a boy-king, he was called to the throne. If there are Athaliahs in the world still, there are also Jehoshebas. If there are women of cruelty, there are also women of sympathetic and. compassionate spirit. If there are women who are corrupters of others, how many there are who by their own pure life and conduct have been the preservers of public purity and morality! If one wicked woman can do much harm, one pure-minded Christian woman can do a vast amount of good. What an amount of quiet beneficence is being carried on by Christian women throughout the world at the present day! What a vast number of ladies who visit and minister to the poor! What a vast number of ladies who, in hospitals and in private houses, devote themselves to the noble work of nursing the sick I How many are engaged in instructing the young in our Sunday schools! How many have gone forth as missionaries to heathen lands! Woman's work in the Christian Church, and in the cause of charity and philanthropy, seems to be increasing every year.

III. JEHOIADA AND HIS WORK. Jehoiada's work was of a twofold nature. His work was both destroying and preserving. He destroyed idolatry. He put an end to Athaliah's reign and life. He did not believe in the policy of non-resistance. He believed in doing his utmost to overthrow even the power of the reigning queen, when that power was wickedly obtained, and exercised in an evil way, dishonoring to God and injurious to the interests of the nation. Like many another reformer, he incurred the charge of disloyalty and treason. But there are many things that need to be destroyed. And who can overestimate the harm done by a wicked ruler? But Jehoiada was no mere revolutionist. He did not rebel against Athaliah for revolution's sake. He did not put an end to her reign because of his antipathy to governments. He would have agreed with St. Paul that the powers that be are ordained of God." He set up another king in her place, and, in place of the idolatry which she had sanctioned, he set up the worship of the true God. We see in the whole narrative the overruling providence of God. Athaliah thought she would make her power secure by her holocaust of young princes. But man proposes, and God disposes. We see also the use of human instrumentality. God works by means. He used Jehosheba to preserve the young life which in the end was the means, in Jehoiada's hand, of overthrowing the wicked power of Athaliah. - C.H.I.

And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, etc. Among the blackest names in the long roll of the world's infamy are those of kings and queens, and amongst them Athaliah is not the least abhorrent and revolting. She was the daughter of Ahab King of Israel, and of Jezebel, his notorious wife. She married Joram (or Jehoram) King of Judah. She was the mother of Ahaziah, and advised him in his wickedness. After Jehu had slain him, she resolved to put an end to all the children of her husband by his former wives, and then mount the throne of Judah herself. But the half-sister of Ahaziah, Jehosheba, secured Joash, one of the children and heir to the throne, and secreted him with his nurse for six long years. In the seventh year the young prince was brought forth and placed on the throne. Crowds of people assembled to witness the ceremony, and Athaliah, hearing the shouts of the crowd, hastened to the temple, utterly unsuspicious even of the existence of the young king. When, however, she caught a sight of the young king and heard the hurrahs of the crowd, she felt that her atrocious plans had been frustrated, and in her savage humiliation rent her clothes and cried, "Treason! Treason!" But her hour was over; she was too late to rally a party in favor of her own interest, and by the command of the priest she was instantly removed and violently destroyed. In this woman's life, as here sketched, we have hereditary de, rarity, outwitted wickedness, and just retribution.

I. HEREDITARY DEPRAVITY. We find in this woman, Athaliah, the infernal tendencies of her father and her mother, Ahab and Jezebel. Though they had been swept as monsters from the earth, and were now lying in the grave, their hellish spirit lived and worked in this their daughter. It is, alas! often so. We have an immortality in others, as well as in ourselves. The men of long-forgotten generations still live in the present. Even the moral pulse of Adam throbs in all. By this fact we are reminded:

1. That the moral qualities of parents may become physical tendencies in their children. The man who voluntarily (and all moral qualities are voluntary productions) contracts habits of falsehood, dishonesty, profanity, incontinence, drunkenness, and general intemperance, transmits these to his children as physical tendencies. This is marvelous, but patent to every observer of society and student of history. Who cannot refer to both men and women who have received an unappeasable craving for strong drinks by the drunken habits contracted by their parents?

2. That the evil moral qualities of parents, reappearing in their children in the form of physical tendencies, is no complete justification for the children's wickedness. This is clear:

(1) From the fact that God has endowed all with sufficient force to control all physical tendencies. Most men have sufficient mental faculties to quench the strongest physical passion.

(2) From the personal consciousness of every sinner. When the conscience is quickened, the greatest liar, debauchee, drunkard, thief, becomes filled with compunctions for the crimes committed. Every sigh of remorse on account of sin is a testimony to the power of the human mind to control the passions.

(3) From the Divine Word as found in the Scriptures. "Whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free." "He that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons."

3. That the way to raise the human race is to improve their moral qualities. Indoctrinate men's souls with truth, benevolence, piety, chastity, purity, etc., and you help on the race to its millennium. And in no other way. The gospel is the instrument for this.

II. OUTWITTED WICKEDNESS. NO doubt this woman, who thought she had destroyed all the "seed royal," considered she had made her way to the throne clear and secure. For six long years she had no conception that one had escaped her bloody purpose. Now it was revealed to her, and her disappointment maddens her with vengeance, and excites the desperate cry, "Treason! Treason!" It is ever so. "He disappointeth the devices of the crafty." History abounds with the examples of the bafflement of wrong. The conduct of Joseph's brethren, Ahithophel, Sanballat, Haman, and the Jewish Sanhedrin in relation to Christ, are instances. Satan, the arch-enemy of the universe, will exemplify this through all the crises of his accursed future. A piece of conduct, wrought by the highest human skill and earnest industry, if not in accord with the immutable principles of right and truth, can no more succeed in its purpose than a house can stand, which is built regardless of the resistless laws of gravitation. The architecture may look well, the materials be most precious, and the production be most costly, yet down it must come, and confound the builder. Craftiness uses lies as concealment and defense, but the eternal law of Providence makes them snares. One lie leads to another, and so on, until they become so numerous that the author involves himself in contradictions, and he falls and flounders like a wild beast in a snare.

III. JUST RETRIBUTION. "Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the host, and said unto them, Have her forth without the ranges: and him that followeth her kill with the sword.... And they laid hands on her; and she went by the way by the which the horses came into the king's house: and there was she slain.... And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet: and they slew Athaliah with the sword beside the king's house." Thus Soepe intereunt aliis meditantes necem. Those who plot the destruction of others often fall themselves. Here is:

1. A terrible retribution.

2. A prompt retribution. It came on her here before she passed into the other world. Retribution is going on now and here.

3. A retribution administered by human hands. Truly "the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment. Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds; yet he shall perish forever.... Yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night." An Oriental act thus vividly describes the retribution that must follow wickedness -

"All vice to which man yields in greed to do it,
Or soon or late, be sure, he'll sorely rue it;
Experience deep, howe'er false seeming blind him,
Surcharged with retribution, out will find him.

It locks upon his soul a fatal fetter,
Explodes throughout his face in horrid tatter,
Over his shameless eyeballs brings a blurring,
Keeps in his heart a deadly fear-load stirring

At all pure joys with fiendish talon snatches,
The noblest traits from out his being catches;
Each beam and hope and vision darkens,
His conscience stuns whene'er towards heaven be hearkens

On goading thorns his sleepless longing tosses,
With soul remorse-foam pleasure's waves embosses.
Sometimes from phantom-fears impels him flying,
Sometimes in frantic horrors shrouds his dying

Now turns his dearest friends to cease to love him,
Now spreads avenging Siva's form above him;
Makes this world black with prison walls and gibbets,
And in the next escape from hell prohibits.

The whole creation's strange and endless dealing,
In spite of shields and veils and arts concealing,
Proclaims that whosoe'er is long a sinner
Can only be by it of woe a winner." D.T.

Athaliah was the evil genius of Judah, as Jezebel was of Israel. The mother was slain, but, unwarned by her fall, the daughter snatched at the reins of power, and held the throne for six years. The track of both was marked by violence, bloodshed, and political convulsion.

I. THE WICKEDNESS OF ATHALIAH. Ahaziah's death gave Athaliah her opportunity. Nothing could more clearly reveal the wicked disposition of the woman than the means by which she raised herself to the throne. When she "saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal."

1. She was a woman, yet, to pave her way to power, she did not hesitate to crush every feminine instinct in her breast, and to imbrue her hands in innocent blood.

2. She was a mother, yet she remorselessly put to death her own grandchildren. The youngest was a babe, but her savage temper made no distinctions. Her son's offspring were only rivals, to be got out of the way by murder. In this tigress-like nature of the queen-mother all womanhood is effaced. Truly "the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel" (Proverbs 12:10).

II. THE PRESERVATION OF JOASH. After all, Athaliah's end was not gained. Unknown to this savage woman, one of Ahaziah's sons, the youngest, was saved from the general massacre by his aunt Jehosheba, and, after a temporary concealment in the store-chamber of the palace, was conveyed to the temple, and there secretly brought up. We have in this deliverance of the young Joash:

1. An example of faith and courage. IS was "by faith" that the pious Jehosheba did this daring act, even as it was by faith that the parents of Moses hid their goodly child (Hebrews 11:23). And faith, in this instance as in the other, had its reward.

2. A proof of God's faithfulness to his promise. It had been promised to David that he should never want a man to sit on his throne (1 Kings 8:25). That promise seemed now frustrated, when to outward appearance every descendant of David was destroyed. But "the counsel of the Lord standeth forever" (Psalm 33:11). No device of man can prevail against that.

3. An illustration of how God can defeat the designs of the wicked. Skillfully as the wicked lay their plots, there is generally something overlooked, forgotten, which brings them to naught. Some witness of their crimes is left undetected. They seem to have closed up every chink and cranny through which defeat could enter, yet it is found that some loophole has been left. A good and true cause may be safely left in the hands of God. He will not suffer it to fail. - J.O.

For six years Athaliah was dominant in Israel. Jehoiada meanwhile kept his secret well. Least of all did the usurping queen suspect that a legitimate heir to the throne was in hiding in the temple almost at her own palace door. Her reign must have grown well-nigh unendurable to the people, when they were so willing as the event proved to throw it off. At the six years' end Jehoiada prepared for his coup d'etat.


1. Joash produced. The good priest found it necessary to proceed with caution. His measures were taken with skill and secrecy. He first took into his confidence the five centurions of the life-guards, made them swear an oath of fidelity, then produced the king, and showed him to them. The soldiers entered into his plan at once. The risks were enormous, but God's shield was around this one remaining "lamp" of David's house, and did not allow its tremulous light to be extinguished. The boy-king was the feeble ark that bore the fortunes of David's house and of Messianic promise. Had he perished, God's Word would have fallen to the ground. The Chronicler tells how the captains of hundreds went forth and secretly spread among the Levites and chief of the fathers of Israel the tidings that there was still a living heir of David's line, and how these came to Jerusalem, and saw the young king too (2 Chronicles 23:2, 3). It is remarkable that a fact known to so many persons did not in some way leak out. But the people were of one heart and one soul, and Athaliah was left in her false security without a single friend to warn her of her danger.

2. The events sabbath. The day chosen for the public production of the king was probably a feast-day. Otherwise the large concourse of people from all parts of the land could hardly have failed to attract attention. It was a sabbath and an high day - "the better the day, the better the deed." What was contemplated was indeed a revolution, and might involve bloodshed; but it was also a reviving of the fallen theocracy, a replanting of the red of Jesse, and therefore fit work for the sabbath. Nothing that favorably affects the fortunes of the kingdom of God is out of place on the sabbath day. Jehoiada made careful strategic preparations, combining apparently the Levites who went on and off duty in the temple with the life-guards under the captains, and assigning to different companies their respective posts.

3. The place and temple guarded. Guards were told off both for the "king's house" and for the temple.

(1) those who entered on duty on the sabbath were divided into three parts, and posted round the palace. One third was posted at the principal entrance; a second third at "the gate Sur" - perhaps a side gate - and the remaining third was placed at a gate which communicated with the temple (ver. 19), where the guards or "runners" were usually stationed.

(2) Those, again, who went off duty on the sabbath were placed within the court of the temple, stretching across from side to side, to guard the person of the king. To these weapons were given from David's spears and shields, which were in the temple of the Lord. While trusting in God, Jehoiada thus took every human precaution. Faith and works co-operate in God's service. Our dependence should be as entirely in God as if human means were unavailing, yet our use of means should be as diligent as if everything depended on their employment.


1. The safety of the king's person. When the young king Joash was brought forth, and placed on a raised stand in the temple court, his guard stood firmly around him, each man clutching his weapon. The instructions were that any person attempting to break through the ranks should at once be slain. The person of David's son was too precious to be left without an effectual guard. Yet more effectual is the guard which God places round his sons (Psalm 34:6, 7).

2. The ceremony of coronation. The act of coronation of the child-king was then proceeded with. Jehoiada presided at the ceremony.

(1) The crown - visible symbol of royal office - was placed upon his head. God's priest could well preside at the coronation of God's king. As son of David, Joash was the legitimate heir of the throne. Royal authority is from God, and investiture at the hands of God's ministers is our acknowledgment of this. Only those who rule by Divine favor can look for a blessing on their crown.

(2) He had put upon his head "the testimony," i.e. the Law of Moses, by which kings of Judah and Israel were to be guided (Deuteronomy 17:18-20). "Finely are both the crown and the book presented to the king, that he might be not only mighty, but also wise, or, as we may say, know God's Word and right. Thus, even now, we make kings with a sword and book (Luther). The highest in the land are not above the authority of God's Word. He by whom "kings reign" is mightier than the mightiest, and requires from the monarch the same allegiance as from the humblest of his subjects. A nation is happy, prosperous, and blessed only when God's Law is made the rule of its policy and the foundation of its government (Deuteronomy 4:6-8).

(3) He was anointed with oil. For where God gives office he gives also qualification for that office. Oil is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Word without the Spirit to interpret it, and to give strength for obedience to it, is useless. Kings need the grace of God for the discharge of their duties as much as, even more than, ordinary people. Jesus is God's King, "anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows" (Hebrews 1:9).

(4) He was acknowledged as king by popular acclamation. "They clapped their hands and said, God save the king!" The Divine choice was ratified by the free election of the people. While kingly, like all other authority, is derived from God, a throne is only strong when it rests on the loyal affection of the body of the people.


1. The shout of a king. Athaliah, though queen of Judah, was not a worshipper of the God of Judah. While the scenes above described were being transacted, she was either in her own "house of Baal," or in the palace. But now the ringing shouts of the people apprised her that something was wrong. The sight of the guards posted round her palace would add to her alarms. She hastened to the temple, and there beheld a spectacle which told her that her hour was come. The young Joash was standing on his platform, the crown on his head, the captains and trumpeters around him, while the air rang with the joyful huzzas of the people, with the notes of the silver trumpets, and with cries of "Let the king live!" Only in part could Athaliah read the meaning of the scene, for she did not know who this crowned boy was. But she saw enough to tell her that the loyalty of the people had found a new center, and that her power was gone. The rejoicings of the people would be gall and wormwood to her heart, for they told her, not only that it was all over with her authority, but that the people were glad it was so. How swiftly, as by a bolt from a clear sky, does retribution often fall upon the wicked! An hour before Athaliah had no suspicion of any calamity. She had but to speak, and guards and servants were ready to yield her all obedience; now her authority has departed like a pricked bubble, and she stands helpless among a multitude - none so poor as to do her reverence. The passage is an illustration of the proverb, "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn" (Proverbs 29:2).

2. Treason to a traitress. When Athaliah saw what was being done, heard the shouts, and witnessed the rejoicings, she rent her garments, and cried, "Treason! Treason!" Treason is an act or series of acts designed to compass the overthrow of a constituted government, and is generally held to be punishable by death, It is wicked and illegitimate governments which make most of the crime of treason, and most severely enforce the penalties against it. Yet it is plain that these penalties are justified only on the supposition that the government against which the treason is directed is a legitimate one. A government which is itself born and bred of treason has no moral justification for punishing treason in others. Athaliah was queen, not by God's will, but in defiance of all right and morality. She had usurped the throne, and killed (or thought she had killed) the rightful heirs to it. Treason against such a government, itself the offspring of the blackest treachery, was not a crime, but might be the highest duty. Still, as if some horrid iniquity was being practiced, the traitress rends her clothes, and cries, "Treason!" Her own treason is unthought of; she sees only the treason of her enemies. Is not this state of mind too common? Men are loud in denouncing transgressions which they themselves are flagrantly guilty of. They point to the mote in another's eye, without reflecting on the beam in their own. Callous as to their own falsehood, selfishness, and dishonesty, they detect in an instant, and loudly denounce, the same vices in their neighbors, especially when practiced towards themselves. It is this which renders them inexcusable. For the power to detect sin in others implies a knowledge of the law which condemns the person judging if he does the same things (Romans 2:1).

3. Just retribution. The order of Jehoiada was that if any one ventured to follow Athaliah, he was to be killed with the sword. But no one seems to have shown any pity for the fallen queen. The downfall of her power was thus complete. A new government having been constituted, her own attempt to excite rebellion now fell under the category of treason, and was punishable. Jehoiada gives orders for her being taken beyond the temple bounds, and there slain. We see hands laid upon her, and she is led away, or goes, "by the way by the which the horses come into the king's house," and in that place of stables meets her death. An inglorious end! But what glory can we look for to crown a career of sin? In Athaliah, the last member of Ahab's cursed house met a deserved doom. Judgment against the sinner may not always be executed speedily, but the stroke will surely fall at last (Ecclesiastes 8:11).


1. The covenant with God renewed. The people had received, as if from heaven, a new king of the line of David, and the moment was auspicious for a new covenant being entered into, and formally ratified, with God. It is good when special mercies are made an occasion of renewal of vows. The covenant promoted by Jehoiada wan twofold.

(1) It was a covenant between the king and people and Jehovah. In this transaction they solemnly pledged themselves to be the Lord's people. National covenanting is only appropriate when it springs from the spontaneous impulse of the masses of the people. Among the Hebrews, who, by the very form of their national existence, were a people in covenant with Jehovah, such renewal of religious vows was specially suitable. The idea of a "people of the Lord" is now embodied, not in a national form, but in the Church of Christ. Great is the honor of forming part of this "chosen generation," this "royal priesthood," this "holy nation," this "peculiar people" (1 Peter 2:9), and we should often recall the fact to ourselves, and make it the basis of new consecration.

(2) It was a covenant between the king and the people. He, on his part, would pledge himself to maintain the government according to the Law of God; and they, on theirs, would promise him loyalty and obedience. Happy is it, when rulers and people stand in this bond of mutual confidence!

2. Zeal in religious reform. The earnest spirit awakened by this solemn act of covenant immediately showed itself in zealous efforts for the removal of abuses. We read that, not one or two, but "all the people of the land," set themselves to reforming, work.

(1) They went into the house of Baal, and brake it down. A house of Baal in Jerusalem, and possibly on the temple hill, was a deliberate insult to Jehovah. No respect for the beauty or costliness of the building was allowed to save it from destruction. When higher interests are involved, artistic and sentimental considerations must go to the wall.

(2) They brake in pieces "thoroughly" Baal's altars and images. Idolatry was to be thoroughly rooted out in accordance with the word of the testimony (Deuteronomy 12:1-3).

(3) They slew Mattan, the high priest of Baal. By the Law of Israel his life was forfeited through the practice of idolatry.

(4) They restored the worship of the temple. This is implied in the statement, "The priest appointed officers over the house of the Lord." It is evident from the next chapter that the temple service had been allowed to become greatly disorganized. The zeal of these reformers had, therefore, its positive side. They sought to build up as well as cast down. The false worship of God was replaced by the true. Court fashion goes a long way in determining preferences in religion. When Athaliah worshipped Baal, it was fashionable to neglect Jehovah; now that Joash restored the worship of Jehovah, people flocked back to the temple. Those in high stations have great responsibilities, and not least for the examples they set in religion.

3. The joy of the people. Joash was now escorted in grand procession to the palace of his fathers. Athaliah was dead, and he sat on the throne of the kings. Joy filled the people's hearts, and quiet reigned in the city. When godliness is victorious, it diffuses peace and gladness through all minds. - J.O.

Jehoiada was faithful to God. All that he had hitherto done was but the work of a pioneer, preparing the way for the restoration of God's worship and God's Law in the land. We have here -

I. THE COVENANT MADE. Very early in the history of God's people we find them entering into covenants with him. When Jacob had that comforting vision at Bethel, he entered into a covenant. "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go... so that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God; and this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee." The pillar he set up was the witness of the covenant. When God gave the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel, they entered into a covenant that they would keep them and do them. That covenant they publicly renewed and ratified many times in their subsequent history. They renewed it shortly before the death of Moses. They renewed it shortly before the death of Joshua, and on that occasion Joshua set up a great stone to be a witness of what they had done. On the occasion before us they renew it under the influence of Jehoiada. "And Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the people, that they should be the Lord's people; between the king also and the people." They renewed it also in the reign of Josiah, and under Ezra and Nehemiah after the return from the Captivity. In all these cases we find three important features, common to them all. In each case the duty of making the covenant was enjoined upon the people by eminent men of God - prophets, priests, and kings. In each case it was a public covenant, entered into by all the people. And in each case, when the covenant was renewed, it was accompanied by moral and spiritual revival and reformation. Have we not in the New Testament the same duty pointed out and practiced, though not indeed under the same name? It was a public covenant with the Lord when on the Day of Pentecost the three thousand souls were baptized. When Paul praises the Churches of Macedonia for that "they first gave their own selves to the Lord;" when he calls his readers to present themselves a living sacrifice unto God; to remember that they are not their own, but are bought with a price; to come out from among the godless and be separate; - all these are just different ways of reminding them that as Christians they have entered into a covenant with God. Passing over the dark ages which came upon the Christian Church, we find that when the Bible truths began to shed their light once more in the surrounding darkness, the early Reformers found it necessary to baud themselves together in a solemn covenant with God and with one another. By this means they kept before them their great purpose. By this means they stimulated and strengthened and encouraged one another. By this means they lifted up a testimony against surrounding error. Such a covenant was publicly agreed to by the Protestant princes and states of Germany, and also by the Huguenots of France. But the best-known and most memorable covenants are those of Scotland. John Knox laid the foundation of the Reformation in Scotland, but the covenants built it up and strengthened it. The first of these was called the National Covenant, first drawn up in the year 1580. It was signed by the king, nobles, and persons of all ranks - the king being James VI. of Scotland, afterwards James I. of England. By this memorable document the whole people of Scotland pledged themselves to renounce and resist all the errors of popery, and to maintain the truth as it is in Jesus. It was this covenant which was afterwards renewed in the Greyfriar's Churchyard at Edinburgh, when, among the immense multitude who signed it, many opened their veins and wrote their names with their own blood. The other was the Solemn League and Covenant, entered into between the two parliaments of England and Scotland, also for resistance to popery, and the maintenance of pure religion throughout the land. These things suggest to us that, in times of prevailing wickedness or of prevailing error, it is the duty of God's people to make public avowal of their faith in Christ and allegiance to him. It is a duty pointed out both in the Old Testament and in the New, and confirmed by the experience of God's Church both in Scripture times and in more recent days. If ever there was a time when it was the duty of Christ's people publicly and unitedly to confess him, that time is the present. Wickedness abounds. The love of many waxes cold. Many of Christ's professing people seem utterly indifferent to the claims of their Master and his cause. False doctrines are taught; and under the show of religion there is a growing conformity to the world. A faithful, strong, united testimony for Christ is urgently needed. How, then, are we to carry out this duty of making a public covenant with God? There is one way which is available to us all, and that is the Lord's Supper. It is an act of commemoration, communion, and consecration. In partaking of the Lord's Supper we enter into a covenant with God. It is a public covenant. The eyes of the world are upon us. They see us make a profession to be Christ's. Do they see that our practice corresponds with our profession? Each communion ought to be a personal covenant with God on the part of each individual believer. It ought to be a public covenant with God on the part of families. It ought to be a public covenant with God on the part of congregations.

II. THE COVENANT KEPT. Jehoiada and the people had entered into a covenant or engagement that they would be the Lord's. And they kept their promise. The first way in which they showed it was by breaking in pieces the idols and their altars, which were so abundant in the land. So, if we take Christ's vows upon us at his table, let us show that we mean what we profess. Let us show that we are on the Lord's side. "Better not to vow, than to vow and not pay." Let us begin with our own hearts. Are there no idols there that need to be thrown down, no besetting sins that need to be put away, no evil passions that need to be crucified? "If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only" (1 Samuel 7:3).

III. THE BLESSINGS OF THE COVENANT. "And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet." God kept them in perfect peace, because their minds were stayed on him. They kept their part of the covenant. God kept his. We find in Scripture that God promises special blessings to those who enter into a covenant with him. Before he gave the Law on Mount Sinai, he said to the children of Israel, "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine." Then again God says, "Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord God Almighty." We also find that more than once these promises were fulfilled. In the days of Asa, when the people of Judah made a covenant with God, we read that "it was a time of great rejoicing, for they had sought the Lord with all their heart, and he was found of them; and the Lord gave them rest round about." So in the days of Josiah, When they made the covenant and put away the strange gods, we read, "Surely there was not holden such a Passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah." It was the same in more recent times. The covenanters, whose motto was "For Christ's crown and covenant," and who shed their blood in defense of Christ's authority, were a great means of preserving pure and undefiled religion in Scotland. Let us all, then, faithfully witness for him by our lives. "Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten' (Jeremiah 1:5). - C.H.I.

The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database.
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