Joash has been assassinated and his son Amaziah takes the throne. Although his father’s demise was the Lord’s doing, there is still a price to pay for his murder.
The first thing I always want to know about a new king was if they were a godly king or not. So many of the kings of Judah had a great start but a poor finish. Jehoshaphat was the closest to a good finisher since David. I have a feeling Amaziah is going to be another of those poor finishers. He started out doing “what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with his whole heart” (verse 2). This already has me feeling defeated on Judah’s behalf. I want them to have a GOOD king who will follow the Lord with his whole heart. I know there are a few of them in their history but not as many as the poor finishers. And being this is history there is nothing I can do to change it. I just have to ride the waves with them and see what I can learn from their mistakes.
Amaziah’s first act is to punish the two servants who conspired against his father and murdered him. Apparently he had inherited these servants upon his father’s death because our text calls them “his servants.” These men took it upon themselves to be the ‘hand of vengeance’ for Zechariah. I applaud their sense of justice but not their methods. God was already in process of punishing Joash through the hand of Syria. Who is to say He wasn’t going to allow him time with his wounds to turn and repent. Or maybe He was going to allow him time to truly feel the effects of his sin; suffering.
In justice, blood calls for blood. But there are restrictions on who is allowed to shed that required blood. For a family member it is “the avenger of blood” that is empowered to shed the blood of the offender. It is a matter of judgement not retribution or revenge. The two servants were not Israelites. They were foreigners in service to the king. And their actions were those of revenge not justice. Therefore Amaziah had a right to call for their blood.
Because Amaziah followed God he kept the punishment meted out to those two servants alone. The Law stated that each was responsible for his own sin, and not his family. Amaziah left the men’s family’s untouched, other than the loss of that one member. How that loss impacted their future is not told to us. I wonder if the rest of the family was also in the king’s service so the loss of the fathers had little effect on their livelihood. No doubt it still brought grief to the families but their futures weren’t endangered if they were also servants.
In the history of Israel’s kings there was much bloodshed. This happened especially when the throne passed from one house to another. The incoming king did away with ALL of the former king’s family. The kingdom of Judah didn’t pass outside of the family of David, so this wasn’t generally an issue. There was a lot of bloodshed in Judah though when Ahab’s line infected Judah. Jehoram and Athaliah shed as much blood as possible in the house of David to ensure their reigns. Amaziah is NOT following their or Israel’s example. He is executing justice alone.
I think the biggest thing we can take from today’s story though is “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). We never know what God has in store for a person. His hand is one of correction and He can bring about that correction until the last breath is drawn. Also, because of Jesus’ blood that was shed for us, the penalty for sin has already been paid. This DOES NOT mean that there are no consequences for man’s actions. Man’s justice still requires legal punishments be enacted against those who harm another. But God has ways of bringing about justice in ways we would never expect.
One of my favorite examples of God taking up for one of His children comes from my own family history. My parents were looking at buying a house. They were in the last days of the deal when another offer was made to the seller of just a few hundred dollars more. The sellers took the second offer and left my parents high and dry. Not a week later (or I believe that was the timing anyway) the seller’s refrigerator broke down and it cost them exactly the difference between the two offers to repair it. My parents didn’t have to lift a finger to repay that couple’s breach of promise. My mom thought it a fitting punishment too.
From this side of the event, I wonder if God wasn’t also sparing us from living in that neighborhood. It was a subdivision with tight lots. Where we moved instead had room for us children to play and grow without intruding on the neighbors. We had a full acre of land to do as we pleased instead of a small plot governed by some home owner’s association. You never know what God can do when You leave it in HIS hands!
Father God, thank You for always looking out for me. For choosing the BEST for my future and somehow slipping it in, even when I was pushing for something else. Even as I sit here today, I see Your hand and how it brought me to this place. It wasn’t always easy and I certainly didn’t take the direct route. But You got me here anyway. You put me in a place where I can spend time caring for the ones I love without having to worry about running around chasing a job. You provided enough for my little family’s needs and the ability to care for others that You bring into my life. I don’t know what the future holds for me but I KNOW You do and that YOU hold my future. THAT is enough for me.
As for any injustices I face, I leave them in YOUR hands. Thank You for even taking the memories of them from me and for cleaning my heart of bitterness. Keep working on those roots Father God. I DON’T want a return crop to ever spring up.