Tag Archives: 2 Kings 15

The Simple Lesson Between the Lines

[Azariah] was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years.
2 Kings 15:2 (NIV)

Sometimes the greatest lessons that come out of the chapter are not within the text but within the context. The lesson isn’t within the lines, but between them.

The scribes who penned 2 Kings were chronicling the history of the kings of both divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah. They wrote it so that I, as a reader, can get a sense of the timing of the overlapping reigns between the two kingdoms.

Today’s chapter begins with Judah’s king Azariah (aka Uzziah) who came to the throne at 16 and reigned for 52 years (FYI: He was a co-regent with his father for the first 25). A leper, he lived a relatively quiet and secluded life. The scribes point out that Azariah, while not perfect, “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.

The bulk of today’s chapter then goes on to describe a string of kings of Israel:

  • Zechariah (6 months) publicly assassinated by…
  • Shallum (1 month) assassinated by…
  • Menahem (10 years) handed the throne to his son…
  • Pekehiah (2 years) assassinated by…
  • Pekah (20 years) assassinated by…
  • Hoshea

Yikes! Talk about political chaos. In each listing of the this bloody string of successors the scribes point out the monarchs of the northern kingdom of Israel “did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”

A long my spiritual journey I’ve learned that there is a balance between embracing that some things of the Spirit are very simple while also accepting that there are no simple answers to some of life’s complexities. It’s too simplistic say that Azariah had a long and prosperous reign because he did good and the kings of Israel had comparatively short reigns marked by violent ends because they did evil. That easily leads down the dualistic, transactional mindset of “If I’m good God will like me and bless me and I will succeed, and if I do bad God will punish me and I won’t succeed.” Both life and the spiritual journey are far deeper and more mysterious.

At the same time, there is simple wisdom in understanding that I experience a certain peace and stability to life when I’m following Jesus and actively attempting to conform my life to His will and His teaching (like Azariah). There is also a certain fear, anxiety and chaos to life when I’m living only for myself and the indulgence of my self-centric appetites for power, pleasure, and personal gain (like the kings of Israel).

This morning I’m reminded that it’s easy to get sucked into our popular culture and the obsession for power, popularity, prestige and worldly success. A quiet life in pursuit of Jesus may not make an exciting movie script, but there’s a peace and continuity to the path which shields me from a lot of other problems and cares.

 

Chapter-a-Day 2 Kings 15

I80 western nebraska. Shallum son of Jabesh became king in the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah. He was king in Samaria for only a month. 2 Kings 15:13 (MSG)

Bear with me today, as my impressions from the chapter are more wholistic instead of being linked to a particular verse.

I've had a case of the blues for the past couple of weeks. Life feels a bit stagnant at the moment. It's sort of like driving through western Nebraska. You know that you are moving down the road, but you wouldn't know it from looking out the window. The view isn't changing. This has been a very long, very cold, very snowy winter. I feel a bit snowbound. I'm tired of gloomy, snowy days and long, dark nights. The days all seem the same. I feel like hope blew away in one of the three-storms-a-week blizzards a while back. [I'll stop whining now]

At the same time, I feel a whirlwind in the lives around me. A friend with an exciting new job. Another friend shocked to be released from his job. Yet another friend and his family struggling through the whirlwind of activity and emotion which accompanies the journey's home stretch. Surgeries, pregnancies, illness, divorces, changes, and moves. I watch them all from my computer screen inside Vander Well Manor. [Did I mention I was going to stop whining?]

I was struck, as I read today's chapter, of the contrast between Judah's experience and Israel's experience during this section of the historical timeline. Uzziah becomes king in Judah and rules for an impressive 52 years. Israel, on the other hand, becomes a revolving door of leadership. There is no clear royal line. It appears that, if you had the gonads to pull off an assassination, anyone had a shot at the throne. Of course, your reign might be as brief as Shallum because there were plenty of guys with gonads lining up in the queue to take their shot and off you.

One nation with a long, steady, even monotonous experience while next door there is a flurry of chaos and change. It reminds me today that there is a time for everything; a season for every purpose under heaven.

God, be near my friends who journey on a much different road than mine right now. Be near me on my own long, flat path as the experience that feels so different, and a bit lonely. Amen.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and gjs