The history of Joash here is actually the history of Jehoiada. Jehoiada is the main character in this chapter. He must be over ninety years old here and a venerable appearance at his performance. When he dies, the appreciation for him turns out: he is buried with the kings (2Chr 24:16).
1 - 3 The Covenant With the King
1 Now in the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and took captains of hundreds: Azariah the son of Jeroham, Ishmael the son of Johanan, Azariah the son of Obed, Maaseiah the son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat the son of Zichri, [and they entered] into a covenant with him. 2 They went throughout Judah and gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah, and the heads of the fathers’ [households] of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem. 3 Then all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And Jehoiada said to them, “Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as the LORD has spoken concerning the sons of David.
“The seventh year” (verse 1) is the year after the six years mentioned in the last verse of the previous chapter (2Chr 22:12). Joash has been hidden in the temple for six years. The time of his open performance to accept his kingship has come. During his being hidden two women, Jehoshabeath and the nurse, took care of Joash. Now that he will openly come forth as king, Jehoiada comes to the fore.
Jehoiada is a careful man. He keeps the boy hidden until the time is ripe to show him. Before that time, he strengthens his position. He begins by involving in a covenant the commanders over a hundred – the army officers, by whom he assures himself of the support of the army – and five named men. If we have a plan to do something for the Lord, it is also important to involve the right people. These are collaborators who share the same goal and who know themselves called by the Lord. Paul also makes careful choices about who he wants to take with him and who he does not want to take along on his missionary journeys.
The next step of Jehoiada is that he makes the five men mentioned travel around in Judah to call upon the Levites and the family heads to come to Jerusalem (verse 2). It will not be said that the call is to have a protest meeting. Maybe it has been said that it is to have a feast day. Such a thing will arouse the least suspicion in Athaliah.
If we know that the Lord has said something, it is enough to go in faith. A revival begins, just like here with Jehoiada, with a few, in a small circle, but who has or gets knowledge of the hidden Christ. The circle is getting bigger and bigger and many are involved in it – so there can be chaff under the wheat and the revival fades away again. After the commanders and five men follow the Levites, the family heads and all the assembly.
Then the whole gathered assembly enters into a covenant with the king (verse 3). This happens in the house of God, that is, before God’s face. With the words “behold, the king’s son” Jehoiada turns the eyes of all to Joash. He underlines his action with a reference to what the LORD Himself has said. It is not a selfish act, but in accordance with what “the LORD has spoken concerning the sons of David”.
In this little boy lies the hope for the future. Christ is not of value either, yet He is “the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). As it was tried to kill Joash, but who escaped by “fleeing” into the house of the LORD, so it is tried to kill the Lord Jesus and He escaped by fleeing to Egypt. Then He grew up in secret, in the things of His Father, until the time of His public performance had come.
So it is with Joash. Until his open appointment as king he dwells “in the shelter of the Most High” and spends the night “in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psa 91:1). He dwells in his younger years “in the house of the Lord all the days” of his life (Psa 27:4). Let this also be our refuge and our life, for our “life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3).
4 - 11 Joash Proclaimed King
4 This is the thing which you shall do: one third of you, of the priests and Levites who come in on the sabbath, [shall be] gatekeepers, 5 and one third [shall be] at the king’s house, and a third at the Gate of the Foundation; and all the people [shall be] in the courts of the house of the LORD. 6 But let no one enter the house of the LORD except the priests and the ministering Levites; they may enter, for they are holy. And let all the people keep the charge of the LORD. 7 The Levites will surround the king, each man with his weapons in his hand; and whoever enters the house, let him be killed. Thus be with the king when he comes in and when he goes out.” 8 So the Levites and all Judah did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded. And each one of them took his men who were to come in on the sabbath, with those who were to go out on the sabbath, for Jehoiada the priest did not dismiss [any of] the divisions. 9 Then Jehoiada the priest gave to the captains of hundreds the spears and the large and small shields which had been King David’s, which were in the house of God. 10 He stationed all the people, each man with his weapon in his hand, from the right side of the house to the left side of the house, by the altar and by the house, around the king. 11 Then they brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him, and [gave him] the testimony and made him king. And Jehoiada and his sons anointed him and said, “[Long] live the king!”
After the presentation of the king in a closed circle of insiders, the open presentation of the king must now take place. For this presentation Jehoiada also has a plan of approach and gives instructions (verse 4). He determines that three groups must be formed. One third of the priests and Levites must serve as doorkeepers. They must take the guard at the gates of the temple, where the king is hidden, to ward off all intruders.
Another third is to supervise the course of events relating to the palace, the future residence of the king (verse 5). The last third must be at the Gate of the Foundation. It is assumed that through this gate the king goes from his house to the temple. Finally, all the people who are in Jerusalem, possibly on the occasion of the proclaimed feast day, must stand “in the courts of the house of the LORD”.
Of all the people, according to the precepts of the LORD, no one may enter the temple (verse 6). Entering the temple is only allowed to the priests and Levites who serve, “for they are holy”, that is, they are separated from the people for that purpose. Also now, only those who form a holy priesthood may offer up sacrifices to God (1Pet 2:5).
The Levites, the servants of the priests, must protect the king (verse 7). They must be armed and have those weapons in their hands to be able to use them directly to repel an attack on the king. They may not for a moment deviate from the king’s side, “when he comes in and when he goes out”. This is about going into the temple and coming out again from the temple. The life of the king is completely connected to the temple. He is God’s representative, and in order to represent Him well, he must regularly seek His presence.
This assignment also applies to us. Each of us is not only a priest, but also a Levite. We must protect our Lord, Jesus Christ, from attacks on His Person. The weapons given in our hands are spiritual weapons (2Cor 10:4; Eph 6:10-17). We are good soldiers when we protect the interests of our Lord. For this it is necessary that we are and stay close to Him. To be close to Him we will have to be wherever He goes or stands, wherever He sends us or wherever He lets us stay.
The Levites and all Judah do exactly what Jehoiada commanded (verse 8). Obedience is of the utmost importance to truly serve the interests of the king. It is obedience that is connected with service on the sabbath. The rule is that there is one team on duty, while another team is off duty. In this case, Jehoiada has cancelled all leaves. The Levites who will serve and the Levites who will be relieved must remain ready.
With regard to the Lord Jesus, to us obedience is also of the utmost importance. In that obedience there is no time for leave, for there is a fight to fight for Christ. Here the word from Ecclesiastes 8 applies: “There is no discharge in the time of war” (Ecc 8:8). For us the sabbath speaks of the rest for our souls which the Lord Jesus has worked for us through His work on the cross (Mt 11:28-30). There must be inner rest in order to be able to obey and fight.
The weapons that Jehoiada hands over to the commanders are from the time of King David and come from the sanctuary (verse 9). For us, this means that we can only fight with weapons that have also been used by the Lord Jesus, of whom David is a picture. He used the Word of God to defeat the devil (Mt 4:1-10). The Word of God is the Word that has its home in the house of God, the dwelling place of God. When we read and study the Word of God, if our mind is good, we are in the sanctuary. There we learn through God’s Spirit the meaning of God’s Word and how to use it.
After the instructions to the priests and the Levites regarding their place and task in view of the king, Jehoiada finally stations all the people, … around the king” (verse 10). Every member of the people is in contact with the king and every other member. They also each have their weapons in hand, ready for immediate use. The safety cordon stands for the full width of the house. The arrangement is such that they have an eye on the altar and on the house.
This attitude shows us how important each member of the people of God is for the protection of the king. We can apply this to the church and its members. We have to be “united” (1Cor 1:10), no member should be missing or neglecting his task (1Cor 12:14-19). Each member must be able to use the spiritual weapons made available to him.
Together they must stand before the whole house of God, that is the church of the living God, to defend the truth of it. In that house is the Lord Jesus, “the mystery of godliness” (1Tim 3:15-16). In doing so, we must keep an eye on the Lord’s Table, of which the altar is a picture, while also keeping an eye on the house, the whole church (1Cor 10:16-18).
11 Then they brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him, and [gave him] the testimony and made him king. And Jehoiada and his sons anointed him and said, “[Long] live the king!”
When all the preparations have been made and each has taken his place, the great moment is there that the king is presented to the whole people (verse 11). The crown is put on Joash that gives him royal dignity and symbolizes his power over the people. He also receives “the testimony” in his hands, which is a copy of the law. Every king must have this to attune his reign to it (Deu 17:18). The law designates his dependence and submission. Authority and power are exercised in God’s mind only when it happens in dependence on and obedience to Him. After that, Jehoiada and his sons – Jehoiada involved his family in this event – anoint Joash king.
For us it is a matter of acknowledging the Lord Jesus as Lord. We are made a kingdom over which He reigns. To behave royally we must read the Bible (Rev 1:3). It tells us what the Lord Jesus expects of us. Then we will also be preserved for arrogant and autonomous action. It is important that we involve our children in our acknowledging of the Lord Jesus as Lord. If that is our desire, we will give them God’s Word as young as possible to become familiar with it.
12 - 15 Athaliah Put to Death
12 When Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king, she came into the house of the LORD to the people. 13 She looked, and behold, the king was standing by his pillar at the entrance, and the captains and the trumpeters [were] beside the king. And all the people of the land rejoiced and blew trumpets, the singers with [their] musical instruments leading the praise. Then Athaliah tore her clothes and said, “Treason! Treason!” 14 Jehoiada the priest brought out the captains of hundreds who were appointed over the army and said to them, “Bring her out between the ranks; and whoever follows her, put to death with the sword.” For the priest said, “Let her not be put to death in the house of the LORD.” 15 So they seized her, and when she arrived at the entrance of the Horse Gate of the king’s house, they put her to death there.
Athaliah hears the sound of the cheers of the people for the just anointed king (verse 12). She goes for the sound and comes to the people in the house of the LORD, for there everything is happening so far. The revival that is going on starts there. The opponents are also going there. So she sees what is going on, who it is about, where he stands, who is involved, and how they express themselves (verse 13).
Her reaction to her observations is that she tears her clothes. She does not do this because she is convinced of her sins in her conscience, but because she has lost her power. Her exclamation “Treason! Treason!” brings out how she is inwardly. She describes what happens as high treason.
If there is a revival in our lives, if we subject our lives completely to the authority of the Lord Jesus and honor Him again, we can count on the interest of our adversaries. They do not want to share it, but see it as treason. The calling of ‘Treason!’ is the typical reaction of religious men and politicians who do not want to give up any of their power when they see that others give themselves completely to the Lord and want to do obediently what He says. We can notice such reactions in personal lives as well as in the life of a church.
We can think of not participating in all kinds of good actions in the world and in the church and point to our submission to the Lord as a motive for this. Of course people who do not have the Spirit cannot understand this. They see as us traitors, because they think that a Christian should work for those good things. We do not have to feel obliged because of their attitude to participate or to donate. The Lord must be our Client and not a charity organization.
Jehoiada orders to put Athaliah to death (verse 14). However, this must not happen in the house of the LORD. With this house she hasn’t had any bond in her life. That connection may not be there in her death either. She is seized in the king’s house that she has presumptuously occupied and there she is killed (verse 15). This has put an end to the reign of this wicked woman who claimed this reign for herself at the expense of the lives of many.
16 - 21 Service to God Restored
16 Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and all the people and the king, that they would be the LORD’s people. 17 And all the people went to the house of Baal and tore it down, and they broke in pieces his altars and his images, and killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. 18 Moreover, Jehoiada placed the offices of the house of the LORD under the authority of the Levitical priests, whom David had assigned over the house of the LORD, to offer the burnt offerings of the LORD, as it is written in the law of Moses—with rejoicing and singing according to the order of David. 19 He stationed the gatekeepers of the house of the LORD, so that no one would enter [who was] in any way unclean. 20 He took the captains of hundreds, the nobles, the rulers of the people and all the people of the land, and brought the king down from the house of the LORD, and came through the upper gate to the king’s house. And they placed the king upon the royal throne. 21 So all of the people of the land rejoiced and the city was quiet. For they had put Athaliah to death with the sword.
When the pretentious woman is killed, first a covenant is made (verse 16). Jehoiada is taking the initiative. It is a covenant between the LORD on the one hand and all the people and the king on the other hand. In this covenant the people and the king commit themselves “that they would be the LORD’s people”. Then the idols are torn down and they kill Mattan, the priest of Baal, at the place where he offered to the idols (verse 17). It is not possible to recognize the king in his rights and God not. Therefore, she who wanted to be queen is killed in favor of the true king, the idols are torn down in favor of the true God, and the imitation priest is killed in favor of the true priests.
When all counterfeiting has been eradicated, there is room for true service to God (verse 18). Now sacrifices can be made “as it is written in the law of Moses”. To that end, Jehoiada reinstated the offices to do that service. He dedicates the care of the temple to the priests so that they may bring sacrifices. The main objective is to offer the burnt offerings of the LORD. The burnt offerings are made “with rejoicing and singing” i.e. with joyful songs. This is done by the Levites, who follow “the order of David” and do not work according to their own insight.
It shows us that a true revival is centered around Christ and that it is about presenting Him to God as a true burnt offering. For us, this is the service of worship, in which we worship the Father “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:23), which means in a spiritual manner and in accordance with the truth of God’s Word. There are revivals that bring dedication, or interest in the Word. However, here it is about worship. Unfortunately, Christians in general do understand little what this means.
Jehoiada also makes sure that nobody enters the temple who is unclean (verse 19). He stations gatekeepers for this purpose. There must be supervision and discipline. On the one hand there is joy and song in the sanctuary and on the other hand there is an awareness of God’s holiness. What Jehoiada does is an indictment of the often light-hearted way in which Christians today can participate in the Supper in many groups. Without any investigation one can participate in the Supper in many places, because one leaves this to no more than the own responsibility of the participant. It is not thought that the Supper is celebrated at the Lord’s Table. The Table is the Lord’s Table. He decides who may participate and who may not.
Then it is time for the accession to the throne (verse 20). A large and diverse group is taken by Jehoiada to the house of the LORD, which until then was the residence of the king. The whole company is united, because they all have the same goal. It’s about giving the king the place where he belongs: the king’s throne. If all believers today have that goal in relation to the Lord Jesus, they will also go up together harmoniously.
When the king has taken his place on the throne, all of the people of the land rejoice (verse 21). The city has peace after Athaliah is killed. So there will be peace and joy when we judge evil and separate ourselves from religious corruption because we have given the Lord Jesus the place on the throne of our lives.