Jehoiada had now got over the harlot part of his work, when, by the death of Athaliah, the young prince had his way to the throne cleared of all opposition. He had now to improve his advantages for the perfecting of the revolution and the settling of the government. Two things we have an account of here:—
I. The good foundations he laid, by an original contract, 2 Kgs. 11:17. Now that prince and people were together in God’s house, as it should seem before they stirred, Jehoiada took care that they should jointly covenant with God, and mutually covenant with each other, that they might rightly understand their duty both to God and to one another, and be firmly bound to it. 1. He endeavoured to settle and secure the interests of religion among them, by a covenant between them and God. King and people would then cleave most firmly to each other when both had joined themselves to the Lord. God had already, on his part, promised to be their God (Jehoiada could show them that in the book of the testimony); now the king and people on their part must covenant and agree that they will be the Lord’s people: in this covenant, the king stands upon the same level with his subjects and is as much bound as any of them to serve the Lord. By this engagement they renounced Baal, whom many of them had worshipped, and resigned themselves to God’s government. It is well with a people when all the changes that pass over them help to revive, strengthen, and advance the interests of religion among them. And those are likely to prosper who set out in the world under fresh and sensible obligations to God and their duty. By our bonds to God the bonds of every relation are strengthened. They first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us, 2 Cor. 8:5. 2. He then settled both the coronation-oath and the oath of allegiance, the pacta conventa—covenant, between the king and the people, by which the king was obliged to govern according to law and to protect his subjects, and they were obliged, while he did so, to obey him and to bear faith and true allegiance to him. Covenants are of use both to remind us of and to bind us to those duties which are already binding on us. It is good, in all relations, for the parties to understand one another fully, particularly in that between prince and subject, that the one may understand the limits of his power and prerogative, the other those of his liberty and property; and never may the ancient landmarks which our fathers have set before them be removed.
II. The good beginnings he raised on those foundations. 1. Pursuant to their covenant with God they immediately abolished idolatry, which the preceding kings, in compliance with the house of Ahab, had introduced (2 Kgs. 11:18): All the people of the land, the mob, got together, to show their zeal against idolatry; and every one, now that they were so well headed, would lend a hand to pull down Baal’s temple, his altars, and his images. All his worshippers, it should seem, deserted him; only his priest Mattan stuck to his altar. Though all men forsook Baal, he would not, and there he was slain, the best sacrifice that ever was offered upon that altar. Having destroyed Baal’s temple, they appointed officers over the house of God, to see that the service of God was regularly performed by the proper persons, in due time, and according to the institutional manner. 2. Pursuant to their covenant with one another they expressed a mutual readiness to and satisfaction in each other. (1.) The king was brought in state to the royal palace, and sat there on the throne of judgment, the thrones of the house of David (2 Kgs. 11:19), ready to receive petitions and appeals, which he would refer it to Jehoiada to give answers to and to give judgment upon. (2.) The people rejoiced, and Jerusalem was in quiet (2 Kgs. 11:20), and Josephus says they kept a feast of joy many days, making good Solomon’s observation (Prov. 11:10), When it goes well with the righteous the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there is shouting.