God blesses those who walk in obedience to Him. That was how it was for Judah’s new king Amaziah. His father Joash had been murdered by his servants and Amaziah had become king in his place (2 Kings 12:19-21). Verses 1-6 read,
“In the second year of Joash the son of Joahaz, king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem. 3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not like David his father. He did in all things as Joash his father had done. 4 But the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. 5 And as soon as the royal power was firmly in his hand, he struck down his servants who had struck down the king his father. 6 But he did not put to death the children of the murderers, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, where the Lord commanded, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. But each one shall die for his own sin.”
Amaziah was a good king, who walked in obedience to The Lord, but like his father and so many of the kings before him, he did not remove the high places, Asherah poles, or other places for idol worship in Judah. He showed his condemnation for his father’s assassination by putting the servants who had committed the crime to death. But in obedience to The Lord, he spared their children. He did the right thing.
Perhaps like so many of us, doing what we know is right in The Lord gave him some boldness to keep doing what is right, and fight the wrongs done to Judah and to The Lord. Perhaps that boldness had a bit of pride mixed in with it. He took credit for being the king who had avenged his father and would now God’s vengeance on Edom, who had rebelled against Judah in the days of Joram and Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 3). Edom was distantly related to Israel, they came from Essau, Jacob’s brother. Amaziah took their insurgence personally and retaliated. Verse 7 reads,
“He struck down ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt and took Sela by storm, and called it Joktheel, which is its name to this day.”
Amaziah gave credit to The Lord for his victory over Edom, he called it Joktheel, which means ‘subdued by God.’ But perhaps his pride got a little more puffed about his goodness and might. How often does this happen with us? We make the right choice, we exercise self-control, or we do some good work for The Lord and yes we give credit to God, but a part of us takes some credit for ourselves. We think, “I am pretty good!” or “Wow, look what I just did!” Let’s be clear, we are not good. We have no righteousness of our own (Philippians 3:9). If we are able to behave well, if we are able to do great things for The Lord, heal the sick, evangelize, teach, comfort, prophesy, or clean someone’s toilets, it is not us who makes that possible. It is The Lord God. It is the Father who called us to do it. It is Jesus Christ’s righteousness. It is the Holy Spirit’s power. Philippians 3:3 says we can’t even worship God from our own power.
“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh”
Galatians 6:14-15 exhorts us not to take pride in the works which prove our faith, the works which look good to others (despite being from The Lord or from our own hearts), or our faith.
“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”
Amaziah took a lot of pride in defeating Edom. Now he turned his fervor for The Lord and his pride and turned it against God’s own people, Israel. Edom was Israel and Judah’s cousin, but Israel was Judah’s brother. They were not really two different people, but one nation split into two. Amaziah probably looked at King Jehoash who did evil in the sight of the Lord and thought he was better than him. The fact was his victories had swollen his pride so much that he turned from worshipping The Lord and brought Edom’s idols back to Judah and began practicing idolatry himself (2 Chronicles 25:14).
He had taken vengeance on the men who killed his father, he had punished Edom, the country who rebelled against Israeli rule, and now he decided he had to retaliate against Israel for their evil against The Lord, but what he really wanted was to become king of Israel as well as of Judah. Verses 8-10 read,
“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.” 9 And Jehoash king of Israel sent word to Amaziah king of Judah, “A thistle on Lebanon sent to a cedar on Lebanon, saying, ‘Give your daughter to my son for a wife,’ and a wild beast of Lebanon passed by and trampled down the thistle.10 You have indeed struck down Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Be content with your glory, and stay at home, for why should you provoke trouble so that you fall, you and Judah with you?”
Jehoash, Israel’s king refused to fight Amaziah. He even warned Amaziah that he was letting pride get in the way of right thinking. Jehoash might have done evil in the sight of The Lord but God still prophesied through him. But Amaziah was too filled with himself to listen to God’s counsel. Verse 11-14 describe what happened.
“But Amaziah would not listen. So Jehoash king of Israel went up, and he and Amaziah king of Judah faced one another in battle at Beth-shemesh, which belongs to Judah. 12 And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his home. 13 And Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash, son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem for four hundred cubits, from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate. 14 And he seized all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king's house, also hostages, and he returned to Samaria.”
They fought and Judah was badly defeated by Israel. The Lord handed Judah to Israel and Amaziah to Jehoash to punish him for turning away from Him. So Jehoash captured Amaziah, but he did not take over rule of Judah. Israel ravaged Jerusalem and destroyed about 600 feet of the wall surrounding the city.
Verses 15-16 record the death of Jehoash.
“Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash that 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? 16 And Jehoash slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel, and Jeroboam his son reigned in his place.”
Verses 17-22 record Amaziah’s death.
“Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, lived fifteen years after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel. 18 Now the rest of the deeds of Amaziah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 19 And they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish. But they sent after him to Lachish and put him to death there. 20 And they brought him on horses; and he was buried in Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David. 21 And all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah. 22 He built Elath and restored it to Judah, after the king slept with his fathers.”
The reason the people of Judah conspired against Amaziah was because he had turned away from The Lord (2 Chronicles 25:27). He ran away to Lachish but they went after him, put him to death, and made his son king in his place. The king turned away from God but the people did not. His pride made him judge Israel for their wrong worship of The Lord, when he was worshipping the false gods of Edom. The people did not follow him to his idolatry. They wanted a king who would restore them to The Lord.
Believer, I encourage you today to be sure that you are judging with righteous judgement, not by what appears right to you (John 7:24). Make sure the sin you accusing someone else of is not the sin you are committing (Matthew 7:1-5). Be careful of your pride. Give credit to The LORD your Maker, Sustainer, and Savior in your heart and by your lips. Proverbs 18:12 warns us,
“Before destruction a man's heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.”