Historians must pick and choose which episodes to describe when they are writing their works, for they have limited space in which to record what has happened. Even the divinely inspired authors of Scripture had to decide, by the superintendence of the Holy Spirit, what to include and what to exclude. After all, the world cannot contain all the books it would take to tell all of God’s workings (see John 21:25).
So, we should step back at times and consider why the biblical historians include particular episodes. When it comes to 2 Kings, for instance, the author could have ended his book at 25:21 with the destruction of Jerusalem. He wrote mainly to explain why Israel and Judah went into exile, and with Judah’s fall that story effectively ended. Yet, the author tells us more, giving a brief look at what happened at the beginning of Judah’s exile. His original audience consisted of the Judahites who were living in exile in Babylon, and he included today’s passage as an appendix in order to point the way forward. He was answering Judah’s inevitable question: “Now that we know why God sent us to Babylon, where is our hope for the future?”
The story of Gedaliah’s assassination indicates that the Judahites were not to hope in a violent overthrow of Babylon. Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had royal pedigree, and no doubt some of the Judahites left behind hoped he would restore their independence by killing Gedaliah, the Babylonian-appointed governor. But while those Judahites were foolish to kill the governor, they were smart enough to get out before Babylon exacted revenge (vv. 22–26). Jeremiah, who was carried to Egypt when these Judahites fled, tells us that the whole episode was ill conceived (Jer. 42–43). The point is clear: Judah was not to look for hope in the overthrow of Babylon.
Second Kings 25:27–30 reveals that the Judahites were to put their hopes in, of all people, King Jehoiachin of Judah, whom the Babylonians had taken away decades earlier (24:8–17). His exaltation in Babylon over all the other captive kings was a faint glimmer of hope that God’s people yet had a future. David’s line would continue somehow through Jehoiachin. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the people were to put their hope not in Jehoiachin but in the promise-keeping Lord who covenanted to preserve David’s throne forever. David’s line was chastened but not abandoned. Somehow, God would bring better days to His people.