2 Kings: Every once in a while a really evil or stupid king arises

Dr. D.A. Carson on 2 Kings 16 (from “The Love of God, Vol 1, Nov 3”)

THE BOOKS OF 1 AND 2 KINGS, though they follow the fortunes of both Judah and

Israel (the southern and northern kingdoms, respectively, after the division that

followed Solomon’s death), lay more emphasis on Israel, the northern ten tribes.

More space is devoted to Israel’s kings than to Judah’s. Eventually, of course, the

northern kingdom collapses (see tomorrow’s meditation), and then all the atten-

tion is focused on the south. By comparison, 1 and 2 Chronicles recount more or

less the same history, but turn the spotlight primarily on the southern kingdom

of Judah.

Even in 2 Kings, however, substantial attention is sometimes focused on one

of the kings of Judah. So it is in 2 Kings 16.By and large, the northern kings

degenerated morequickly than in the south. In the south, many kings are

described as following the Lord, but not as David had done; in the north, many

are described as following in the footsteps of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who

caused Israel to sin. But every once in a while a really evil or stupid king arises in 

the south. And such is Ahaz. 

Religiously and theologically, Ahaz was a disaster. “Unlike David his father,

he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORDhis God. He walked in the

ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, following the

detestable ways of the nations the LORDhad driven out before the Israelites”

(16:2-3). Politically he fared no better.Harried by Israel and Syria to his north,

King Ahaz of Judah decided to strip the temple of its wealth and send it to King

Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria. Assyria was the rising superpower. Sending money to

him as a kind of tribute, with a plea to get him to lean on Syria and Israel so as to

reduce pressure on Judah, was a bit like throwing a hunk of meat to a crocodile:

you could be sure that this crocodile would want more. Worse, King Ahaz

became so enamored of Assyria that he introduced some of its pagan ways into

the temple service. Fear turned Ahaz toward pagan power, and “deference to the

king of Assyria” (16:18) fostered fresh compromises.

Contrast Hezekiah, two chapters later, who, while facing a far more serious

threat from the Assyrians, brought on in no small part because of the stupidity

and faithlessness of Ahaz, brooks no compromise but diligently seeks the face

of God. Therehe discovers, in line with the experience of Moses and the fathers

of Israel, that God is able to defend his people against few or many—it is all the

same with him.

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