Study Notes

2Kings 15:1-38


As you recall from last week's study, Am-ats-YAW - the king of Judah - had gotten overconfident after his victory over the Edomites. He had picked a fight with the northern kingdom of Israel, and lost terribly. The temple was looted, and he was taken captive.

Later, his own people conspired against him. They waited for his son to turn 16, then killed the king, that his son would replace him. This week, we begin by seeing that son become king.

15:1-2 Azariah Becomes King Over Judah

Az-ar-YAW was the son of King Am-ats-YAW and his wife Yek-ol-YAW. Although his 52-year reign is only discussed in these few verses, he actually figures quite prominently in the Bible. "Why haven't I heard of him before," you might be asking. I think you may have. You see, Az-ar-YAW is also known in the Scriptures as Uzziah, whom you have no doubt heard of.

All of 2Chronicles 26 is spent talking about him, and we will turn there frequently tonight for a fuller understanding of his rule and reign. Also don't forget that, as we discussed last week, these were the same days that many of the prophets prophesied. The book of Hosea starts by saying,

Hosea 1:1 The word of the LORD which came to Hosea the son of Be-ay-REE, during the days of Uzziah, Yo-THAWM, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah...

And of course Isaiah was prophesying during this time as well. His book begins,

Isa. 1:1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Aw-MOHTS, concerning Judah and Jerusalem which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Yo-THAWM, Ahaz, an} Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

Not such an obscure king after all.

15:3-4 He Did Right

Az-ar-YAW was very much like his father. He was a good king, lived righteously, and worshiped the Lord. But again we see that the high places were not taken away during his reign. This has become a common theme in the book of Kings, hasn't it?

Each time we've come to a verse that says this, I have wondered why the high places were not taken away. Why were houses of the worship of idols allowed to remain on the hilltops? If the kings were really kings, why didn't they see that it was done?

What was it? Was it an unwillingness to be unpopular? Was it not having a complete heart for God? Were there financial considerations? Were there political undercurrents or powerful lobbyists? And it was just this week that I realized, "It doesn't matter." Each person will give an account to God for what they had the power to do but did not. Excuses won't matter.

Jesus told the parable of the talents, telling us of a man who entrusted his three servants with money. One had five talents, one two, and another, one. The first two used the money to make more money, but the third just buried his in the ground. When the master returned, he rewarded the first two for their faithfulness to use the money, but the third was rebuked. Oh, the servant tried to explain. He said,

Matt. 25:24-27 "And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground; see, you have what is yours.' But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my {money} back with interest.

The excuse was not heeded, for there was no excuse for not using what had been given to him.

Each of us has the power to change this world. We can lead one person to Christ. We can make a difference in one life. We can minister to one person that is hurting. You have the power - are you using it? There will be no excuses when God calls you to account. As Jesus said,

John 15:22 "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.

God has given you power to change the world, and there will be no excuse for not using it.

15:5 The Lord Struck The King

The Lord struck Az-ar-YAW with leprosy, which he was never healed of. It kept him from being able to act as the king, so his son Yo-THAWM stepped in as acting king.

Now, it seems very strange that the writer of Kings would only take one verse to tell us the details of something that seems so monumental, so strange, so intriguing. In all fairness, he has about 40 kings to write about, and can't devote a lot of space to any of them.

Fortunately, we also have the book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah, which gives us a whole lot more detail about the king's situation. Why was he struck with leprosy? The Chronicler tells us. (Remember that the king was also called Uzziah, probably in part because the high priest of the day was also named Az-ar-YAW.)

2Chr. 26:16-20 But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. Then Azariah the priest entered after him and with him eighty priests of the LORD, valiant men. And they opposed Uzziah the king and said to him, "It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful, and will have no honor from the LORD God." But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged; and while he was enraged with the priests, the leprosy broke out on his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the altar of incense. And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he {was} leprous on his forehead; and they hurried him out of there, and he himself also hastened to get out because the LORD had smitten him.

Uzziah was smitten with leprosy because his pride led to unfaithfulness and corrupt action. God is very effective at dealing with men's pride. Those who boast in their riches are made poor. Those who boast in their strength are made weak. Those who boast in their position are brought low. Uzziah was probably feeling pretty full of himself until everyone saw leprosy on his forehead!

15:6-9 Zechariah, King Of Israel

During Az-ar-YAW's reign, several kings came and went up north in Israel. Jeroboam the second's son Zechariah followed in his forefather's terrible footsteps when he became king.

15:10-12 Zechariah Struck Down

A man named Shal-LOOM, the son of Yaw-BASHE killed Zechariah and became king. There would be no more of his line on Israel's throne. This was a fulfillment of the prophecy which Jehu was given back in chapter 10.

15:13-15 Shallum, King Of Israel

Shal-LOOM's reign didn't last long - just one month. Then Men-akh-AME, the son of Gaw-DEE went up from Teer-TSAW to Samaria, and did the same to him that he had done to the king just a month before.

15:16-18 Menahem, King Of Israel

Men-akh-AME was wicked as well, steeped in the immoral and idolatrous practices of the day. During his military conquest of Tif-SAKH, the city resisted. He used their failure to surrender as an excuse to commit terrible atrocities.

In him we see a perfect example of those that have rejected the Lord committing great wickedness. In the first chapter of Romans, the progression is described. Mankind is born with a knowledge of God. But if they do not honor Him, their hearts are darkened. They fall into idolatry and immorality. As they continue to forsake the Lord, their sexual immorality becomes even more perverted - falling into homosexuality. They stop acknowledging God whatsoever, and Paul tells us...

Rom. 1:28-32 those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; {they are} gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Men-akh-AME had lived apart from God for so long that he had no qualms about ripping up pregnant women.

15:19-22 Bribing Pul

The king of Assyria moved into position to attack Israel, but Men-akh-AME deferred the war by offering him a fortune in silver. He then taxed the people to pay what he had promised.

After Men-akh-AME died, his son Pek-akh-YAW became king in his place.

15:23-26 Pekahiah, King Of Israel

When it came to the kings of Israel, it was always, "Like father, like son." Pek-akh-YAW was just as wicked a king as his father Men-akh-AME had been.

An officer in his army named PEH-kakh - the son of Rem-al-YAW - conspired against and killed him along with two guys named Ar-GOBE and Ar-YAY, with the aid of 50 men of Ghil-AWD.

15:27-28 Pekah, King Of Israel

So PEH-kakh was now king, and managed to hang onto the throne for 20 years.

15:29 Carried Away To Assyria

Pul, the king of Assyria who had been bribed by a thousand talents of silver during the days of Men-akh-AME, was also called Tig-LATH Pil-EH-ser. The Assyrian king had no allegiance to or agreement with the murderer of Men-akh-AME's son, and attacked Israel.

We read that he captured Ee-YONE, Aw-BALE Bayth Ma-a-KAW, Yaw-NO-akh, KEH-desh, Khaw-TSORE, Ghil-AWD, and Galilee. If you're not familiar with these place names, the Chronicler explains it in plainer English:

1Chr. 5:26 So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, even the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away into exile, namely the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh...

The sin of the northern kingdom of Israel is being judged. They are being taken away into captivity after hundreds of years of rebellion against the Lord. The first to go were the first to compromise. Remember that Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh were the ones who opted not to enter the Promised Land, but to establish themselves on the opposite side of the Jordan River. The first to compromise was the first to fall.

15:30-31 Hoshea, King Of Israel

Twenty years into his reign as king, PEH-kakh's rule ended in the same way it had started: a murderous conspiracy. Ho-SHAY-ah, the son of Ay-LAW, assassinated the king and took the throne.

The rest of the chapter will take us back down to the southern kingdom of Judah.

15:32-38 Jotham, King Of Judah

Yo-THAWM, the son of King Uzziah and Yer-oo-SHAW, daughter of Tsaw-DOKE, was standing in for his dad, who had been stricken with leprosy. Now he is king, and doing right in the sight of the Lord. But like his forefathers Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoash, Amaziah, and Azariah, Jotham began with a heart for God, but did not see to it that the high places were removed.

The incomplete reform, the failure on the part of the nation to be wholly devoted to God, would ultimately bring the judgment of God on this southern kingdom as well.

Saints, like these kingdoms that had hope in each new king, we are about to start a new year: 2001. An opportunity to bring changes into our lives. Will this be another year in which we are described as "having a heart for the Lord, but not our whole hearts?" May we learn from the mistakes of the kings, since,

Rom. 15:4 ...whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

15:37-38 Rezin

Rets-EEN, the king of Aram, and PEH-kakh, king of Israel formed an alliance against the southern kingdom of Judah, which we will see in chapter 16.

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