It is said of king Amaziah that he “did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David his father [ancestor]” (2 Kings 14:3). He was handed the throne of Judah at only 25 years old, an age when young men often set out with great optimism but little wisdom. It seems he intended to rule with faith in God and justice toward men, but he just didn’t go far enough.
He immediately brought the murderers of his father to justice and, respecting the Law, was careful not to go too far and harm their children. Then war with Edom loomed, as it often did, and God helped Amaziah win a solid victory. Enthused by his successes, he became proud and foolish.
His first of many mistakes came when he challenged king Jehoash of Israel to fight a battle and see who was strongest. Jehoash replied that this was unnecessary. “You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has become proud. Enjoy your glory and stay at home; for why should you provoke trouble so that you, even you, should fall and Judah with you?” (14:10). A smart warning. However, Amaziah insisted and the battle did not go in his favour. He was captured, Jerusalem invaded, the temple robbed of valuables, and hostages taken back to Samaria.
What a foolish disaster! Amaziah started out well but let his pride lead him to a fall. He didn’t consider the trouble he could inflict on his army, his capital city and its citizens. He died in shame.
There’s a warning for us in these verses. We, too, can provoke unnecessary trouble around us if we’re not careful. Like Amaziah, we may have faith in God and intend to follow good principles in life, but our own pride and lack of wisdom can lead us to anger people, annoy those who live close to us, and cause irreparable harm. It can easily come back on us.
God gave us good advice to avoid such mistakes. “He who would love life and enjoy good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile; let him shun wrong and do right, let him seek peace and make peace his aim. For the eyes of the Lord are on the upright, and his ears are open to their cry; but the face of the Lord is set against wrongdoers” (1 Peter 3:10-12).
– Tim Johnson