With the wicked Queen Athaliah dead in Judah, it was time for the rightful heir, Joash, to take the throne officially (2 Kings 11:1–3). Today’s passage reports that he did so at the young age of seven, and it uses the alternative spelling for Joash—Jehoash—to describe the new king’s reign (v. 21).
The author of 2 Kings gives a positive summary of Jehoash’s reign, noting that “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all his days, because Jehoiada the priest instructed him” (12:1–2). However, the author’s assessment does not go unqualified. After all, 2 Kings 12:3 explains that Jehoash did not take away the “high places,” the forbidden, elevated altars where people would worship Yahweh as well as pagan gods. Moreover, the Chronicler gives us more information about the end of Jehoash’s reign when, after the death of the priest Jehoiada, Jehoash’s kingdom descended into even grosser idolatry and the formerly good king killed one of the prophets (2 Chron. 24:20–22). So, we must understand that the assessment of Jehoash in 2 Kings 12:1–2 means he followed the Lord while Jehoiada was alive.
Jehoiada the priest was the uncle of King Jehoash (2 Chron. 22:10–12), and Jehoash’s obedience during Jehoiada’s lifetime shows us the positive impact that faithful individuals in the kingdom of God can have on others. With Jehoiada, we see with particular clarity the potential for good that righteous relatives and clergy can have. Jehoiada was Jehoash’s faithful uncle, and this familial bond was a positive influence on the king. Loyal servants of God can have a righteous impact on their family members, including their children, siblings, parents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins. As a priest, Jehoiada was also a member of the clergy, so we see how much the Lord’s ministers can direct God’s people for good. Blessed is the congregation that has a faithful pastor who is true to the Word of God, living in obedience to God’s commandments as a teacher and example for the people of God.
Second Kings 11:21–12:16, in sum, tells us that Jehoash started his reign well. He supervised the repair of the temple, which was in sore need of attention after years of neglect and the wicked policies of the preceding rulers of Judah—Jehoram (Joram), Ahaziah, and Athaliah (8:16–18, 25–27; 11:1–20). But as we will see, Jehoash did not end well. We must be interested not only in how we begin our walk with God but also in how we end it.