Monday, June 6, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 117. Amon King Of Judah

Prophets And Kings
Day 117
Amon King Of Judah

Today we meet Amon, the son of King Manasseh, who only reigned two years.

2 KINGS 21:19-26
"Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. His mother's name was Meshullemeth daughter of Haruz; she was from Jotbah." (2 Kings 21:19) Some scholars believe the idolatrous Manasseh named his son after the Egyptian diety Amon-Ra, but Amon is also a Hebrew name meaning something like "builder" or "master builder". If so, Amon failed to live up to his name, for he accomplished little during his reign except to cling to the idols his father previously rejected. 

"He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done. He followed completely the ways of his father, worshiping the idols his father had worshiped, and bowing down to them." (2 Kings 21:20-21) After his conversion, Manasseh instituted religious reforms in Judah but I think it was a case of doing too little too late. We don't know what year Manasseh repented but it was probably somewhere within the last half or last third of his long reign, which could mean Amon was young and impressionable when his father was still worshiping idols. Even during the years of reform his heart must have clung to the gods of his youth, so that when he became king at twenty-two, he no longer had to pretend to follow his father's God. 

Amon completely rejected the God of Israel. "He forsook the Lord, the God of his ancestors, and did not walk in obedience to Him." (2 Kings 21:22) The Chronicler adds this statement, "But unlike his father Manasseh, he did not humble himself before the Lord; Amon increased his guilt." (2 Chronicles 33:23) If Amon was guiltier than Manasseh, then we can only imagine how much sin he must have packed into his two short years as king. He must have been exceedingly wicked. He must have worked overtime undoing the reforms of his father.

Amon's brief reign comes to a violent end. "Amon's officials conspired against him and assassinated the king in his palace." (2 Kings 21:23) The palace is probably where Amon felt safest but he had mortal enemies there. There are no surviving historical records to indicate why this palace intrigue arose. Some scholars and historians believe he was assassinated because he was undoing the good his father had brought about in his later years, that the officials wanted to put his son Josiah on the throne. Josiah was only eight years old when he became king, and although he would be a very godly king, he was too young to have displayed this quality to the people. If those in high places wanted Josiah on the throne at eight years of age, it must have been so they could mold him into the leader they wanted, so they could influence all his beliefs and policies. Other commentators believe the conspiracy came about because Amon was very pro-Assyria in a time when nations around Judah were throwing off Assyria's shackles. At that time Egypt was actively working to expel all Assyrians from the nation and refusing to be subject to Assyria any longer. They were successful in doing so, becoming sovereign over their own country once again.

Whatever the reason, the author of Kings and Chronicles seems to indicate that the Lord allowed Amon to be assassinated because he was so evil and was so intent on undoing the changes his father had made. The Lord is going to give Judah another opportunity to turn from idols under the reign of Josiah, for he will institute more sweeping reforms than his grandfather Manasseh. Josiah will be so faithful to the Lord that the Bible will compare him to David. He will be one of the best kings Judah ever had, a king who does everything he can to turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord. Because of Josiah the people of Judah, when later taken into captivity, will never be able to say they didn't know the law of the Lord. They won't be able to claim they didn't know the right way to live. 

After Amon's officials assassinate him in his own home, they are brought to justice by being executed. "Then the people of the land killed all who had plotted against King Amon, and they made Josiah his son king in his place." (2 Kings 21:24) This verse leads me to believe that the officials didn't kill Amon in order to put Josiah on the throne, as some scholars think, because Josiah is placed on the throne by those who bring the officials to justice. Perhaps the officials had some other man in mind for king. They may have intended to wrest the throne from the tribe of Judah and put a man not of the royal line on the throne. If so, we can understand why they had to be stopped. The Lord had promised David that the kings would come from his tribe of Judah, so as long as there was a throne, there had to be a man of David's line on it. There is no throne at Jerusalem today but when it is once again established, the Lord Jesus Christ of the royal tribe of Judah will sit on it and rule the world in righteousness. The Lord will not break His word to David. 

"As for the other events of Amon's reign, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? He was buried in his tomb in the garden of Uzza. And Josiah his son succeeded him as king." (2 Kings 21:25-26) Amon is buried in the family tomb his father cut out. Neither of these men is buried with the kings of Judah. We don't know why Manasseh made a tomb near the palace but I wonder if maybe he did this in his younger years when he was living in opposition to God. Perhaps he didn't want to be identified with the kings of Judah who followed the Lord. He may have regretted this after he converted.

Tomorrow we begin our study of Josiah, a man who will plead with the hearts of the people to turn back to the living God. The Lord will appeal to His people through this king, displaying His grace and patience and mercy.

No comments:

Post a Comment