2 Kings 11:1 When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family.
Queen Athaliah led the southern kingdom of Judah from 841 to 835 BC. She was one of the wickedest rulers to ever take the throne. Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, from whom she learned to worship Baal. She married Jehoram (king of Judah) to strengthen ties between the northern and southern kingdoms.
Jehoram died when he was forty years old, and was succeeded by their son Ahaziah. He ruled just a year before he was captured and put to death (2 Chronicles 22:1-9). This was Athaliah’s opportunity to seize power, which she did by killing her grandchildren, so they could not challenge her claim to the throne.
This was more than raw ambition; it was a demonic assault on God’s plan for Messiah to come from the line of David (2 Samuel 7:16, Matthew 1:1). Athaliah’s attack on the royal family was an attack on God’s plan of salvation, even if she did not know it.
2 Kings 11:2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered.
Joash was an important child because he was the son of Ahaziah (the previous king) and, therefore, a descendent of King David. Jehosheba acted courageously, and was probably encouraged by her husband, Jehoiada. He was an influential priest who knew the importance of having a descendent of David on the throne.
Athaliah’s massacre of the heirs to David’s throne reminds us of Herod’s massacre of Bethlehem’s children, to eliminate Jesus Christ (Matthew 2:16). In both cases God intervened to preserve his future king. There is no . . . plan that can succeed against the Lord (Proverbs 21:30), says Proverbs. Many have tried; all have failed.
2 Kings 11:3 [Joash] remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the Lord for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.
Athaliah was queen of Judah for six years while little Joash grew. Then, at just the right time, Jehoiada arranged for the young boy to be crowned king. Joash was surrounded by guards, and brought in front of the temple. In the presence of many witnesses, Jehoiada put a crown on the young man’s head. [T]he people clapped their hands and shouted, Long live the king! (2 Kings 11:12).
When Athaliah heard the commotion she went to investigate. Then Athaliah tore her robes and called out, Treason! Treason! (2 Kings 11:14). Jehoiada ordered her execution at once. She was removed from the temple grounds and put to death.
2 Kings 11:17-18 Jehoiada then made a covenant between the Lord and the king and people that they would be the Lord’s people. . . . All the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols to pieces and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.
As Jehu defeated Baal worship in Israel (the northern kingdom), so Jehoida defeated it in Judah (the southern kingdom). Jehoiada’s faithfulness kept Judah from turning away from God completely. Through his courageous work, the worship of God was reestablished, and idolatry was restrained. Jehoiada’s contribution was so great that He was buried with the kings in the City of David, because of the good he had done in Israel for God and his temple (2 Chronicles 24:16).
Sadly, King Joash was faithful to God only as long as Jehoiada lived. When his godly uncle died, Joash turned to idols. This proved disastrous for Joash and the nation. From Joash we learn that every religious advantage is no guarantee of faithfulness.
The apostasy of Joash got the attention of Jehoiada’s son, Zechariah. He preached to the people saying, This is what God says: Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you (2 Chronicles 24:20).
But Joash did not like this preaching, so he ordered the execution of Zechariah, the son of Jehoida. Wicked Joash killed the son of the man who saved him as a baby, and made him king. As Zechariah lay dying he said to Joash, May the Lord see this and call you to account (2 Chronicles 24:22). Joash was murdered within a year (2 Chronicles 24:25).
This story has many twists and turns, heroes, villains and lessons. The battle against evil is never won in this age—only fought. But the day is coming when Christ will put all his enemies under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:25). Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20), wrote John.
Reflection and Review
Are men better leaders than women?
Why did Joash finish badly?
How do believers fight evil today?