Six years Athaliah tyrannised. We have not a particular account of her reign; no doubt it was of a piece with the beginning. While Jehu was extirpating the worship of Baal in Israel, she was establishing it in Judah, as appears, 2 Chron. 24:7. The court and kingdom of Judah had been debauched by their alliance with the house of Ahab, and now one of that house is a curse and a plague to both: sinful friendships speed no better. All this while, Joash lay hid, entitled to a crown and intended for it, and yet buried alive in obscurity. Though the sons and heirs of heaven are now hidden, the world knows them not (1 John 3:1), yet the time is fixed when they shall appear in glory, as Joash in his seventh year; by that time he was ready to be shown, not a babe, but, having served his first apprenticeship to life and arrived at his first climacterical year, he had taken a good step towards manhood; by that time the people had grown weary of Athaliah’s tyranny and ripe for a revolution. How that revolution was effected we are here told.
I. The manager of this great affair was Jehoiada the priest, probably the high priest, or at least the sagan (as the Jews called him) or suffragan to the high priest. By his birth and office he was a man in authority, whom the people were bound by the law to observe and obey, especially when there was no rightful king upon the throne, Deut. 17:12. By marriage he was allied to the royal family, and, if all the seed-royal were destroyed, his wife, as daughter to Joram, had a better title to the crown than Athaliah had. By his eminent gifts and graces he was fitted to serve his country, and better service he could not do it than to free it from Athaliah’s usurpation; and we have reason to think he did not make this attempt till he had first asked counsel of God and known his mind, either by prophets or Urim, perhaps by both.
II. The management was very discreet and as became so wise and good a man as Jehoiada was.
1. He concerted the matter with the rulers of hundreds and the captains, the men in office, ecclesiastical, civil, and military; he got them to him to the temple, consulted with them, laid before them the grievances they at present laboured under, gave them an oath of secresy, and, finding them free and forward to join with him, showed them the king’s son (2 Kgs. 11:4), and so well satisfied were they with his fidelity that they saw no reason to suspect an imposition. We may well think what a pleasing surprise it was to the good people among them, who feared that the house and lineage of David were quite cut off, to find such a spark as this in the embers.
2. He posted the priests and Levites, who were more immediately under his direction, in the several avenues to the temple, to keep the guard, putting them under the command of the rulers of hundreds, 2 Kgs. 11:9. David had divided the priests into courses, which waited by turns. Every sabbath-day morning a new company came into waiting, but the company of the foregoing week did not go out of waiting till the sabbath evening, so that on the sabbath day, when double service was to be done, there was a double number to do it, both those that were to come in and those that were to go out. These Jehoiada employed to attend on this great occasion; he armed them out of the magazines of the temple with David’s spears and shields, either his own or those he had taken from his enemies, which he devoted to God’s honour, 2 Kgs. 11:10. If they were old and unfashionable, yet those that used them might, by their being David’s, be reminded of God’s covenant with him, which they were now acting in the defence of. Two things they were ordered to do:—(1.) To protect the young king from being insulted; they must keep the watch of the king’s house (2 Kgs. 11:5), compass the king, and be with him (2 Kgs. 11:8), to guard him from Athaliah’s partizans, for still there were those that thirsted after royal blood. (2.) To preserve the holy temple from being profaned by the concourse of people that would come together on this occasion (2 Kgs. 11:6): Keep the watch of the house, that it be neither broken through nor broken down, and so strangers should crowd in, or such as were unclean. He was not so zealous for the projected revolution as to forget his religion. In times of the greatest hurry care must be taken, Neh. detrimentum capiat ecclesia—That the holy things of God be not trenched upon. It is observable that Jehoiada appointed to each his place as well as his work (2 Kgs. 11:6, 7), for good order contributes very much to the expediting and accomplishing of any great enterprise. Let every man know, and keep, and make good, his post, and then the work will be done quickly.
3. When the guards were fixed, then the king was brought forth, 2 Kgs. 11:12. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion! for even in thy holy mountain thy king appears, a child indeed, but not such a one as brings a woe upon the land, for he is the son of nobles, the son of David (Eccl. 10:17)-- a child indeed, but he had a good guardian, and, which was better, a good God, to go to. Jehoiada, without delay, proceeded to the coronation of this young king; for, though he was not yet capable of despatching business, he would be growing up towards it by degrees. This was done with great solemnity, 2 Kgs. 11:12. (1.) In token of his being invested with kingly power, he put the crown upon him, though it was yet too large and heavy for his head. The regalia, it is probable, were kept in the temple, and so the crown was ready at hand. (2.) In token of his obligation to govern by law, and to make the word of God his rule, he gave him the testimony, put into his hand a Bible, in which he must read all the days of his life, Deut. 17:18, 19. (3.) In token of his receiving the Spirit, to qualify him for this great work to which he before was called, he anointed him. Though notice is taken of the anointing of the kings only in case of interruption, as here, and in Solomon’s case, yet I know not but the ceremony might be used for all their kings, at least those of the house of David, because their royalty was typical of Christ’s, who was to be anointed above his fellows, above all the sons of David. (4.) In token of the people’s acceptance of him and subjection to his government, they clapped their hands for joy, and expressed their hearty good wishes to him: Let the king live; and thus they made him king, made him their king, consented to, and concurred with, the divine appointment. They had reason to rejoice in the period now put to Athaliah’s tyranny, and the prospect they had of the restoration and establishment of religion by a king under the tuition of so good a man as Jehoiada. They had reason to bid him welcome to the crown whose right it was, and to pray, Let him live, concerning him who came to them as life from the dead and in whom the house of David was to live. With such acclamations of joy and satisfaction must the kingdom of Christ be welcomed into our hearts when his throne is set up there and Satan the usurper is deposed. Hosanna, blessed is he that comes: clap hands, and say, “Let King Jesus live, for ever live and reign, in my soul, and in all the world;” it is promised (Ps. 72:15), He shall live, and prayer shall be made for him, and his kingdom, continually.