And Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the days he was instructed by Jehoiada the priest.
I. MUCH DEPENDS UPON THE CHARACTER OF THE SOVEREIGN. Compare England under the Stuarts with England under Cromwell or Queen Victoria. An impure and licentious court demoralizes a whole nation. A pure court is a standing rebuke to iniquity in high places. We have much need to pray "for kings, and for all that are in authority." We have much need to be thankful for the character and life of our present sovereign.
II. THE NATIONAL LIFE LARGELY DEPENDS UPON THE CHARACTER OF THE NATION'S COUNSELLORS. In our limited monarchy the "ministers of the Crown" are virtually the rulers of the nation. How important that a Christian nation should have Christen rulers, Christian legislators! The time has surely come when the voice of the Christian people of the British empire should be much more heard in Parliament. It is not so much the politics of party we need, as the politics of Christianity. We want rulers who will remember that "righteousness exalteth a nation." We want our laws to be based upon the eternal law of God. We want legislators who have the fear of God before their eyes. Christian people need to be aroused to their duty in this matter. They should see to it that, so far as they can secure it, Christian men are chosen to represent them in the legislature of the nation. - C.H.I.
And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.
1. And, first, let us advert to the habit of mind itself against which we are cautioned, in order that we may detach from it for separate consideration so much as may be due to a constitutional weakness of character — to a natural diffidence end dread of having to go alone, which, as not coming within the scope of our moral powers entirely to eradicate, we must believe either the mercy of God will pardon, or His grace will rectify and render harmless. We cannot doubt that the existence of this is a common form of mental infirmity, which allies itself to intellects of the highest reach, and to souls of the most indomitable and commanding power. That tyrant, who at the beginning of the present century made more than half the nations of Europe tremble, had as little of the self-reliant element in his nature as the lowest subaltern he ever ordered to the field. True, when he had resolved upon a step, neither difficulty nor danger moved him; but to make him resolve upon it he must have the consents of some trusted and approving mind; in private life, being as much influenced by his empress, as in public matters, he leaned on the counsels of Talleyrand. If this practical subjugation to the will and counsel of another, this tendency to hang on, and hold on by what is felt to be a stronger judgment, be found among the higher and more towering spirits of our race, how much more shall we look for it in the humbler and more dependant ranks. Some men are born into the world with a soft, pliant, treacherous debility of will. They must have somebody to think after, and speak after, and act after. They hold their wills, as it were, by feudal tenure under other people's will, changing both Lord and service, if need be, seven times a day. Such persons appear, at first sight, to be a good deal at the mercy of their providential lot, in the power of those accidents and associations which shall bring them under the permanent ascendant of a better or of a more corrupt mind; of a Jehoiada who will lead them in the good and the right way, or of the dissolute princes of Judah who will be as oracles to mislead, and as guides to destroy. But we allow not that our soul's life can be suspended on any such precarious issues. we must not make a god of temperament, nor a god of circumstances; but we must believe of original tendencies of character as of any other cause which may be injurious to our moral steadfastness, that there is provided for us, in the economy of grace, a way of escape, an ordained antidote to our nature's evil, whereby God may get honour upon our infirmities, and out of weakness make us strong. But passing from the case of any constitutional liability to be influenced by other minds, let us address ourselves to the evil of the habit itself, when it allows others to think and act for us in the great concerns of personal religion. And proceeding upon the example furnished by our text, we ought to take a case where the influencing or ascendant mind is, according to our common human estimates, a strong mind, a good mind, a mind formed to lead, and honestly and earnestly bent on leading right. In many cases, no doubt, this may be a great advantage. It is a happy thing for young people setting out in life to be under the instruction and control of one whose desire is always to lead them in the good and the right way. And yet we ought to show that if our religion stands only in the power which this mental control wields over us, and goes no lower down to the depths of our moral being than that example can reach, or that influence can minister to, such religion will be vain, will never become more than a surface religion, will not keep itself fixed and fastened in the roots of our moral nature, and consequently in time of temptation we shall fall away. The relation out of which this subordinating influence arises, makes no difference in the evil and danger of becoming enslaved to it. It may be that of a parent exercising a control over the filial conscience which belongs to him by the eternal prescription of heaven; or that of a husband drawing the wife into assimilations of thought and feeling, almost before she is aware of it — affection promoting the influence, and the marriage sanctities giving to it the force of law. Or it may be that of a pastor, having begotten us, in Christ Jesus through the Gospel. You will ask me why? I answer, first, because such a religion is essentially false and defective in principle. It originates neither in love to God, nor gratitude to Christ, nor deep views of sin, nor in delight in holy service, nor in aspirations after the sanctity and bliss of heaven; but chiefly in a desire to approve itself to some dominant and controlling influence. Water cannot rise above its level; and as Jehoiada, whether from temperament or policy, had done nothing to remove the high places of sacrifice, though confessedly a reproach to the temple service, Jehoash would do nothing either; and so the eulogium, even of his early goodness, has to be qualified by the remark, "But the high places were not taken away." The examples are rare where, in the race of goodness, the disciple outstrips his chosen guide; and if he does so, it is because a better guide has taken him in hand, and the master influence has become merged in the mightier power of the Spirit of God. But, as a rule, the subject mind will keep below the religious standards and measures of its superior. All its goodness is derived goodness, and it shines only in a borrowed light. And as the standard of piety is low, so the acts of which it specially consists are prompted, often by a feeble sentimentality, or perhaps with a view to the praise of men. Conspicuous among the pious acts of Jehoash was his zeal in setting about the repairs of the temple, injured less by the hand of time than by the sacrilegious spoliations of idolators. It were easy to account for this zeal on other grounds than those of personal goodness. That temple was very dear to him. How natural to address himself vigorously to a work so gratifying to Jehoiada, so easily mistaken by himself for the dictate of pious emotion, and so calculated to gain him favour with his subjects for a loving attachment to the truth of God. And so, also, it may be with us, while our religion is in other's keeping. We may love the temple, have joy in ordinances, feel a thrill of sacred pleasure under the power of the Word, and for the largeness of our alms be called "the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the path to dwell in," while of any principle of vital godliness we may be as destitute as Jehoash was. Rooted and grounded in the depths of the carnal heart may be hidden the seeds of an unsuspected idolatry, which wait bus the scorching sun of temptation to develop into pernicious fruit, to turn the repairer of the temple into a worshipper of the grove, and lead a lover of faithful teaching to slay between the temple and the altar a servant of the living God.
2. But, secondly, we say of a religion that owes its being to any merely mental deferences, that it will always be feeble and languid, and inefficient in itself, that it will leave its possessor unprepared for the struggles, and temptations, and rough discipline of life, a prey to the first evil influence that shall try to make a captive of him, and to be overcome by the first afflictive trial which shall send him to the foundation of his trusts. So weak was the hold which the religion of Jehoash had upon his conscience, that he yielded to the most visible and transparent lure ever man's soul was taken withal, namely, the fawning sycophancy of a few unprincipled courtiers, asking as the boon price of their service, that he should cast off the worship of his fathers, violate the covenant of his God, and bow the knee only before the divinities of the grove. "And the king hearkened to them." Yes, for why should he not? His religion had all along been the creature of influence, and therefore, must change as often as the ascendant influence changed. Strength of its own, such religion has none, either to resist or attack. It is impotent as the autumn leaf, now lifted up in circling eddies by the blast, now waiting in passive helplessness the first footstep that shall crush it to the earth. And hence, I say in all this religion obtained at second hand, this derived Christianity of another mind, there will generally be found a sickly irresolution Of purpose, a sort of letting out of one's moral powers to the highest and most powerful bidder. The man who trusts in it is not his own master; he is the property of the first strong will that shall think the appendage worth having. But true religion, that which is rooted in a Divine principle and a Divine influence, is a hardy thing, a manly thing. It is furnished for the cloudy and dark day, and expects its coming. Deep in the springs of its unseen life is an element of strength which gives dignity to the character, composure to the spirit, a settledness and perseverance to the once-formed resolve which nothing can bend, nothing can turn aside.
3. But the text suggests a third reason for predicting the inevitable miscarriage of a religion which is dependant for its life on surrounding influences, namely, that the very friends that helped to make us as good as we are, may, in the providence of God be taken away. "Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him." But Jehoiada died; and what did he do then? Why, evil, and evil only. The morning cloud disperseth not sooner, nor the early dew when it passeth away, than did that fabric of gossamer and unsubstantial goodness, which a breath was to destroy even as a breath had made. And it seems to be in obedience to a law, as if it was a Nemesis of God on the mind that leans on human trusts, that Jehoash became more impious and profane for having known something of the semblance of piety before. Just as the emperor Nero, conspicuous for humanity and virtue while he had the counsels of Seneca to guide him, went down to the grave a monster with the execration of posterity upon his head. Some lessons arise from this aspect of our subject brethren, whether as applied to those who consciously and of purpose have joined themselves to the train of a superior mind, and, only to please him, kept up a show of goodness, or to those who, having a loving and leaning confidence in another's wisdom and piety, have been content to draw from him all their soul's life and strength, and, unconsciously to themselves, to let him be to them instead of God. To the former Jehoash leaves the lesson that it would have been better for them never to have known good things at all. They are fretting under a yoke for a season, only to indulge in more unrestrained licence as soon as it shall be taken off. The instant the weight is lifted off, the bent bow will fly back with more violent rebound. There may be love for a season, zeal for a season, concern for holy things for a season, but when Jehoiada is dead, the long pent-up energies of evil will burst forth, and like the heir long kept out of the expected inheritance, the heart plunges into the thick of its carnal thoughts, and as if to take revenge on itself for its forced early goodness, the man endeavours to crowd as much iniquity as he can into the remainder of his days. But there is a lesson also to those who do not fret under their mental subjection, who, in heart love their Jehoiada, and indeed, whose chief danger is that they love him too much, and who, therefore, think within themselves, "If he should be taken away what good will our lives be to us, or what power shall keep us faithful unto our pious work?" So may reason the son, who, breathing from his youth the pure atmosphere of domestic piety, has seen in the life of his parents all that could ennoble godliness, and all that could make virtue loved. But I must conclude with a few practical counsels, am helpful to guide us from the danger of which this history warns us.(1) And first, I would say, have a care of being deceived as to your spiritual state, by what may be called the amiabilities of religion. Cradled in the sanctuary, nursed by a pious aunt, his early years watched over by a faithful servant of God, it had been a wonder if the early outward life of Jehoash had not been full of grace and promise.(2) A second counsel I would offer, is, see to it that there be no holding an undecided course in your religion. Jehoash does not seem to have actually joined the princes of Judah. But, "he hearkened to them," and from that they knew his mind. "He that wavereth is like a wave of the sea," saith St. James, "driven of the wind and tossed" — an unsettled, divided heart, the absence of all serenity and repose, and an acute sensitiveness to every disturbing influence, a never continuing in one stay. Lastly, as ye would have a goodness that shall stand with us in time, and shall abide the ordeal of that fire which is to try every man's work of what sort it is, see that ye have an inward experience of the vital realities of religion — the regenerate will, the renewed mind, the revival of that spiritual image upon the conscience which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness. You cannot be too severe, too searching in ascertaining your personal participation in these essentials of the spiritual character.
(D. Moore, M. A.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Links2 Kings 12:2 NIV
2 Kings 12:2 NLT
2 Kings 12:2 ESV
2 Kings 12:2 NASB
2 Kings 12:2 KJV
2 Kings 12:2 Bible Apps
2 Kings 12:2 Parallel
2 Kings 12:2 Biblia Paralela
2 Kings 12:2 Chinese Bible
2 Kings 12:2 French Bible
2 Kings 12:2 German Bible
2 Kings 12:2 Commentaries