The Word Made Fresh
1When Athaliah, King Ahaziah’s mother, learned that her son was dead, she determined to kill everyone in the royal family. 2But King Ahaziah’s sister Jehosheba took the king’s son, Jehoash. She separated him from the king’s children who were to be killed and hid him with a nurse in a bedroom so that Athaliah wouldn’t find him. 3She kept him for six years, hidden in the LORD’s house, while Athaliah ruled the country.
4In the seventh year the priest Jehoiada summoned the captains of the hundred-man platoons, from both the Carite special forces and the army, to meet with him in the LORD’s house. He made them swear to secrecy, and then brought out the king’s son. 5He ordered them, “This is what you must do, those of you who come off duty on the sabbath – a third of you are assigned to guard the palace, 6a third guard the Sur gate, and a third the rear gate. Those of you guarding the palace must stay there and block all access. 7The other two groups must guard the temple where the king is being hidden. 8Surround the king, weapons in hand. Kill anyone who tries to get through. Stay with the king wherever he might go.”
9The captains carried out Jehoiada’s orders. Each of them brought his men to the priest Jehoiada when they came off duty on the sabbath. 10The priest handed over to them the spears and shields king David had placed in the LORD’s house. 11Every soldier, with his weapons in his hands, stood from the south side of the temple to the north side, around the altar and the building, guarding the king on every side. 12Then Jehoiada brought out the king’s son, placed the crown on his head and gave him a scroll containing the LORD’s covenant, and proclaimed him king. They anointed him, applauded and shouted, “Long live the king!”
13Athaliah heard the commotion and went to the LORD’s house where the people were gathering. 14She saw the king standing by the column, the king’s designated place, with the officers and trumpeters beside the king and all the people celebrating and blowing trumpets. She tore her robe and screamed, “Treason! Treason!”
15The priest Jehoiada ordered the army officers to bring her out between the ranks. “If anyone follows her, kill them!” he said. He had told them earlier not to kill in the temple. 16They took her into custody and led her to the palace through the horses’ gate and there they put her to death.
17Then Jehoiada made the king and the people vow to be the people of the LORD, and made the people swear allegiance to the king. 18Then all the people went together to the temple of Baal and tore it down. Baal’s altars and idols were smashed into pieces and the head priest of Baal, Mattan, they put to death before Baal’s altars.
Jehoiada posted guards at the LORD’s house. 19He gathered all the military forces, Carites and regular army, along with the people, and brought the king from the temple to the palace where he took his seat on the throne.
20All the people of the land celebrated. Then the city was at peace.
21Jehoash was seven years old when he became king.
1-3: We have seen that in some cases the Queen Mother gets special mention as though she has some authority within her son’s government. When Ahaziah is murdered by Jehu, Athaliah (a granddaughter of former King Omri of Israel – see 8:26) decides it is an opportunity to take over the throne for herself. But Jehosheba, King Ahaziah’s sister, hides his year-old son Jehoash and keeps him hidden from Athaliah for six years.
4-8: In the seventh year Jehoiada, the head priest, conspires with the temple guard to place Jehoash on the throne. He has carefully plotted the coup to take place at the changing of the guard on the Sabbath.
9-12: Jehoida has kept a private armory, bless his heart! The temple guards come to him on the Sabbath, and he passes out spears and shields that have been stored away in the temple compound since the reign of David, long enough for everybody to forget about them. You know how things get stored in the church and everybody forgets they’re there? Well, that is the case here, except that Jehoida knew the weapons were there all along; he just keeps that information to himself. They bring out the little boy wearing a crown, anoint him and proclaim him king.
13-16: Athaliah hears the commotion and comes running to the temple. She sees what’s going on and screams, “Treason!” but nobody cares. They grab her and take her out of the temple and put her to death.
17-21: For all practical purposes, Jehoida the priest is now the ruler of Judah. He renews the covenant (presumably the one made when Solomon dedicated the temple) with the people. Then they all go down the street to the Baal temple and tear it down, bust up the idols and kill the priest of Baal. Then they march little seven-year-old Jehoash down the street to the king’s compound and put him on the throne. And everybody is happy, and things are kind of quiet now that Athaliah is dead. She remains the only woman ever to rule Judah.
So, the drama continues. God is hovering over everything still. Evil continues to raise its ugly head, but God is not defeated. God never is defeated. God allows people to do incredibly evil and foolish things, but always God is in the background quietly and persistently steering things towards the fulfillment of God’s will. That is what we see in the history of Israel and Judah. It is also what we see in our own lives today. We try to be faithful, but are perhaps too easily led down selfish paths until something happens to remind us that God is after all in charge. Thank God!