2 Chronicles 27 – Jotham’s Godly Reign
A. The good reign of King Jotham.
1. (1-2) An overview of the reign of Jotham.
Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jerushah the daughter of Zadok. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah had done (although he did not enter the temple of the LORD). But still the people acted corruptly.
a. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD: Jotham was another king of Judah who was generally good. This stands in strong contrast to the evil done by the contemporary kings of Israel. Among the kings of Judah, there were good and godly kings.
b. According to all that his father Uzziah had done: The pattern is seen in both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, where the son reigns as his father had before him. While this is not concretely predetermined, certainly this is a principle that shows us the great influence that a father has on a son.
i. Yet, he did not enter the temple of the LORD. “He regarded his father’s sin rather as a beacon to warn him away from that rock on which Uzziah’s life had been wrecked.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “It is a great, mercy for us, when we have seen others sin, if we use their shipwrecks as beacons for ourselves. What fascination should there be in sin?” (Spurgeon)
c. But still the people acted corruptly: The word still is important, because it tells us that this corruption did not begin with the reign of Jotham, but continued from the days of his predecessor, Uzziah. Though he had a bad end, the personal character of Uzziah was generally godly. Yet it seems that he was, in general, more godly than the common people.
i. Payne says of Uzziah and the kings of Israel that reigned in his days, “Below the surface prosperity that was enjoyed by both kingdoms at this time, the contemporary preaching of Hosea and Amos indicates the presence of serious moral and spiritual decay.”
ii. “Though Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, and other holy prophets then living showed them their sin. To this day, people will not leave their old evil customs, though never so much preached down.” (Trapp)
2. (3-6) The accomplishments of Jotham.
He built the Upper Gate of the house of the LORD, and he built extensively on the wall of Ophel. Moreover he built cities in the mountains of Judah, and in the forests he built fortresses and towers. He also fought with the king of the Ammonites and defeated them. And the people of Ammon gave him in that year one hundred talents of silver, ten thousand kors of wheat, and ten thousand of barley. The people of Ammon paid this to him in the second and third years also. So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God.
a. He built the Upper Gate of the house of the LORD: This was always a positive sign in Judah. When kings and leaders were concerned about the house of the LORD, it reflected some measure of spiritual revival.
i. In particular, it seems that Jotham rebuilt the link between the temple and the palace. “He wished free access from his own house to that of the Lord. He would strengthen the link between the two houses – keep his line of communication open (to use a military figure) with the source of his supplies of strength and wisdom. This is one of the secrets of his prosperity and power.” (Knapp)
ii. His father Uzziah misunderstood the link between the royal house and the house of God, demanding priestly authority (2 Chronicles 26:16-21). Many kings before him wanted no link between the royal house and the house of God. Jotham understood that he was a king and not a priest, yet he wanted a good, open link between the palace and the temple.
b. Moreover he built cities in the mountains of Judah, and in the forests he built fortresses and towers: Jotham extended his concern to build Judah beyond Jerusalem and the temple. This made his kingdom strong and able to subdue neighboring peoples such as the Ammonites.
i. “He also turned his attention to urban planning, construction cities in the highlands of Judah that, together with a system of towers and fortification in the wooded areas, could serve both economic and military purposes.” (Patterson and Austel)
ii. “The tribute was substantial, something over three tons of silver and approximately ten thousand donkey loads of barley.” (Selman)
c. So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God. The building of this link between the palace and the temple was one of the chief ways that he prepared his way before the LORD. “That high gate between the palace and the temple was better than a Chinese wall around his kingdom. It is in communion with God that real prosperity and power is found.” (Knapp)
i. “While there was no definite national reform during his reign, he seems to have gone quietly forward along true lines, and his strength is attributed to the fact that he ordered his ways before Jehovah his God.” (Morgan)
ii. “Jotham must have been a man of prayer. He could not have prepared his ways thus anywhere except at the mercy-seat. He must have been in the habit of taking his daily troubles to his God, and of seeking guidance from him in his daily difficulties, and of blessing him for his daily mercies. He must have been in constant communion with his God, or else he could not have ordered his ways aright before him.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Jotham is the only one of all the Hebrew kings, from Saul down, against whom God has nothing bad to record. In this his character is in beautiful accord with his name, Jehovah-perfect.” (Knapp)
iv. “I do not remember ever meeting one who really walked with God who did not make orderliness one of the first principles of life…. They are the habits of the soul that walks before God, and which is accustomed to think of Him as seeing in secret, and considering all our ways.” (Meyer)
3. (7-9) The summary of his reign.
Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all his wars and his ways, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. So Jotham rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the City of David. Then Ahaz his son reigned in his place.
a. All his wars and his ways: 2 Kings 15:37 tells us, In those days the LORD began to send Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the writer of 2 Kings tells us that it was the hand of the LORD that sent these foreign rulers who troubled Judah.
i. “During Jotham’s reign, the combined forces of King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel began their invasion of Judah, but the full impact of these military assaults was not felt until Jotham’s son became king.” (Dilday)
ii. “The reference to ‘all’ Jotham’s wars suggests that prior to the Ammonite campaign, for which as king he had sole responsibility, he may have served as field commander for the alliance that was conceived by his quarantined father, Uzziah.” (Payne)
b. So Jotham rested with his fathers: After the stories of the three previous kings, each of whom started well but finished poorly, it is somewhat of a relief to read of a king who did not have such a disappointing end.