2 Chronicles 23 – Jehoiada and the Crowning of Joash
A. The plan is put into practice.
1. (1-7) Jehoiada and his plan to restore Joash to the throne of Judah.
In the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and made a covenant with the captains of hundreds: Azariah the son of Jeroham, Ishmael the son of Jehohanan, Azariah the son of Obed, Maaseiah the son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat the son of Zichri. And they went throughout Judah and gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah, and the chief fathers of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem. Then all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said to them, “Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as the LORD has said of the sons of David. This is what you shall do: One-third of you entering on the Sabbath, of the priests and the Levites, shall be keeping watch over the doors; one-third shall be at the king’s house; and one-third at the Gate of the Foundation. All the people shall be in the courts of the house of the LORD. But let no one come into the house of the LORD except the priests and those of the Levites who serve. They may go in, for they are holy; but all the people shall keep the watch of the LORD. And the Levites shall surround the king on all sides, every man with his weapons in his hand; and whoever comes into the house, let him be put to death. You are to be with the king when he comes in and when he goes out.”
a. Jehoiada strengthened himself, and made a covenant with the captains: Jehoiada was a godly man who was concerned with restoring the throne of David to the line of David, and taking it away from this daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. He was also the husband of Jehoshabeath, the woman who hid the young boy Joash and protected him from Athaliah’s massacre.
i. “The easiest thing for Jehoiada would have been to shut himself up in the temple, and leave things to take their course. The noblest thing was to come forth, and boldly confront the rampant evil of his time.” (Meyer)
ii. “The world is full of Athaliahs, and it is not befitting that the Jehoiadas should remain at their holy rites and services if there is a paramount need for action in the world’s battlefield, in the strife against wrong.” (Meyer)
b. Then all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God: From the place where the oath was made and the context of the oath, we learn that the worship of the true God was not dead in Judah. These captains could respond to their responsibility before the LORD.
c. Behold, the king’s son shall reign: This was a dramatic moment. For six years everyone believed there were no more surviving heirs of David’s royal line and there was no legitimate ruler to displace the wicked Athaliah. The secret had to be secure because the king’s son would be immediately killed if his existence was revealed. The captains must have been shocked by the sight of this six-year-old heir to the throne.
i. One reason Athaliah was able to reign for six years was that no one knew any alternative. Many people live under the reign of Satan because they don’t really know there is a legitimate king ready to take reign in their lives.
d. This is what you shall do: Jehoiada had a plan to depose the wicked Queen Athaliah and to replace her with the boy king. These leaders needed to follow his plan carefully, and to do it on the Sabbath. Jehoiada chose the Sabbath for the day of the coup, because that was the day when the guards changed their shifts and they could assemble two groups of guards at the temple at the same time without attracting attention.
i. “It was a weighty work he went about, and therefore he took the wisest course, the fittest time; on the Sabbath, when the congregation met; and in the temple, wither Athaliah and her courtiers seldom came.” (Trapp)
2. (8-11) Joash is crowned king.
So the Levites and all Judah did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded. And each man took his men who were to be on duty on the Sabbath, with those who were going off duty on the Sabbath; for Jehoiada the priest had not dismissed the divisions. And Jehoiada the priest gave to the captains of hundreds the spears and the large and small shields which had belonged to King David, that were in the temple of God. Then he set all the people, every man with his weapon in his hand, from the right side of the temple to the left side of the temple, along by the altar and by the temple, all around the king. And they brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, gave him the Testimony, and made him king. Then Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, and said, “Long live the king!”
a. So the Levites and all Judah did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded: This was an important plan that had to be followed carefully. Athaliah was a powerful enemy and many had a vested interest in her corrupt reign.
b. The spears and the large and small shields which had belonged to King David, that were in the temple of God: These men were equipped with weapons dating from the days of King David. It was fitting for these soldiers, who would set the heir of David’s royal line back on the throne of Judah, to use these weapons which had belonged to King David.
c. And they brought out the king’s son: First the king’s son had to be revealed. No one could support him, and he could not take his rightful throne, until he was brought out before the people.
d. Put the crown on him: Next, the king’s son had to be crowned. This was the public and official recognition of him as king.
e. Gave him the Testimony: The king’s son had to come with the word of God. Joash appeared before the people holding the scrolls of God’s word.
i. Deuteronomy 17:18 says that the king should have his own copy of the Scriptures. “This is the basis for the British custom of presenting the monarch with a copy of the Bible during the coronation service.” (Wiseman)
f. And made him king: The king’s son had to be received. He had the royal right to impose his reign, but he instead allowed his rule to be received.
g. Anointed him: The king’s son could never fulfill his office without a divine anointing.
h. And said, “Long live the king!” The king’s son received praise once he was recognized as their king.
i. We can and should follow the same pattern in our reception of Jesus Christ, the true king’s son.
ii. “Is not the spiritual condition of too many children of God represented by the condition of the Temple, during the early years of the life of Joash? The king was within its precincts, the rightful heir of the crown and defender of the worship of Jehovah: but as a matter of fact, the crown was on the head of the usurper Athaliah, who was exercising a cruel and sanguinary tyranny. The king was limited to a chamber, and the majority of the priests, with all the people, had not even heard of his existence. There needs to be an anointing, an enthroning, a determination that He shall exercise his power over the entire Temple of our Being.” (Meyer)
B. Athaliah’s demise.
1. (12-13) Her distress upon discovering the plot against her.
Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king, she came to the people in the temple of the LORD. When she looked, there was the king standing by his pillar at the entrance; and the leaders and the trumpeters were by the king. All the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets, also the singers with musical instruments, and those who led in praise. So Athaliah tore her clothes and said, “Treason! Treason!”
a. When she looked, there was the king: For the usurper queen mother this was a horrifying sight. For six years she ruled because she believed there were no legitimate claimants to the throne of David. Now she sees that one son of Ahaziah – Joash, her own grandson – escaped her murderous intent.
b. All the people of the land were rejoicing: They were obviously weary of the wicked reign of Athaliah.
c. Treason! Treason! The charge was not unfounded. This was treason against her government, but it was a well-founded and godly treason against a tyrannical, wicked ruler.
2. (14-15) She and her supporters are executed
And Jehoiada the priest brought out the captains of hundreds who were set over the army, and said to them, “Take her outside under guard, and slay with the sword whoever follows her.” For the priest had said, “Do not kill her in the house of the LORD.” So they seized her; and she went by way of the entrance of the Horse Gate into the king’s house, and they killed her there.
a. Take her outside under guard, and slay with the sword whoever follows her: This was both righteous and prudent. It was a just sentence against this woman who had murdered so many, and prudent precautions were taken so she could not mount a resistance.
b. Do not kill her in the house of the LORD: As a priest, Jehoiada had a great concern for the sanctity and reputation of the temple. Yet in the place where horses entered, they killed her there.
i. “Her own treason against the true and abiding King of the nation was defeated. Thus, sooner or later, and in ways equally dramatic, the moment arrives when those who plot and plan against Heaven and righteousness, find themselves looking at the evidences of the triumph of God and of goodness over all their wickedness.” (Morgan)
C. The reforms of Jehoiada the priest.
1. (16-17) Jehoiada makes a covenant.
Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself, the people, and the king, that they should be the Lord’s people. And all the people went to the temple of Baal, and tore it down. They broke in pieces its altars and images, and killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars.
a. A covenant between himself, the people, and the king: This shows that God intends that both kings and citizens have mutual obligations towards the other. Neither have absolute rights over or against the other.
i. “Along with Jehoiada’s political revolution came a corresponding religious revival – that king, priest, and citizenry would together ‘be the LORD’s people.’” (Payne)
ii. “The climax is not Joash’s coronation but a covenant renewing the nation’s relationship with God.” (Selman)
b. That they should be the Lord’s people: The covenant was between the LORD and the king and the people. They re-committed themselves to honor, obey, and serve God.
c. And all the people went to the temple of Baal, and tore it down: In 2 Kings 10 Jehu supervised the destruction of the temple of Baal in Samaria. Here the temple of Baal in Jerusalem was destroyed, and appropriately destroyed by the people.
i. They didn’t stop at destroying the building itself; they went on to destroy both the sacred objects dedicated to Baal and to kill Mattan the priest of Baal. “The execution of ‘Mattan the priest of Baal’ carried out the requirement of God’s Word directed against those who should lead others into false religion (Deuteronomy 13:5-10).” (Payne)
2. (18-21) Jehoiada restores the proper plans of worship and service.
Also Jehoiada appointed the oversight of the house of the LORD to the hand of the priests, the Levites, whom David had assigned in 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 with singing, as it was established by David. And he set the gatekeepers at the gates of the house of the LORD, so that no one who was in any way unclean should enter. Then he took the captains of hundreds, the nobles, the governors of the people, and all the people of the land, and brought the king down from the house of the LORD; and they went through the Upper Gate to the king’s house, and set the king on the throne of the kingdom. So all the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet, for they had slain Athaliah with the sword.
a. Whom David had assigned…as it is written in the Law of Moses: The priest Jehoiada was careful to reinstitute these practices and customs according to Biblical patterns, based on what God had revealed to David and Moses.
i. So that no one who was in any way unclean should enter: “Oh that we also had store of such porters, to keep out the unclean from holy ordinances!” (Trapp)
b. And set the king on the throne of the kingdom: After more than six dark years, now the rightful king of Judah once again ruled over his grateful people. No wonder, the people of the land rejoiced.
i. “The people’s rejoicing augmented the joy of temple worship, and sounded a note unheard since the days of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:27). That the city was quiet was a sign of God’s blessing, which often followed special acts of faith and obedience (cf. 1 Chronicles 4:40; 22:9; 2 Chronicles 13:12; 14:4-5; 20:30).” (Selman)