18 June 2010

2 Kings 11:1-20

"Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and people, that they should be the Lord's people; also between the king and the people." (v.17)


In this passage we are given a picture of a very brutal world. Athaliah, the mother of the dying king, kills all pretenders to the throne (who presumably included some of her own family). Eventually (in verses 13-20) she suffers a brutal death. Events in Bosnia and Kosovo, in Rwanda and Burundi, in southern Sudan, remind us how brutal people can be still.

Even in what we refer to as a sophisticated contemporary world, we see such brutality. Some of it is deliberate and much of is the consequences of a world in which the 20-80 formula is true. It is a blunt instrument, but in round terms, 20% of the world's population consume 80% of the world's resources and vice versa. The absence of wealth and good building methods in Haiti means a huge proportion of the population is wiped out when, in other places, in similar earthquakes, few buildings are wrecked and fewer people killed. Are these the modern form of killing fields?

In the midst of the brutality of this passage a woman successfully hides her nephew for six years. It becomes a parable for the protection of God's people and a challenge to us to care for those most at risk.

The boy-king is revealed and considerable care is made for his protection in three shifts of an elite bodyguard. This created stability and enabled justice, even though the wicked Athaliah is disposed of summarily.

The call comes to return to the Lord and to repent of the idol worship of Baal (a local god), whose temples are now torn down. The Covenant is re-established. This affects worship, the rule of justice and the whole community. The covenant with Yahweh (another name for God) was always more than worship. It had a profound impact on the rule of the king and the running of the community for the good of all people. It did not always work out that way for them however...

To Ponder

What are the ways we can join with others to seek justice and peace for all people?

Who are the people most at risk today and how can we help them?

How do we mitigate the unforeseen elements of our 'oppression' of others through our lifestyle?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Howard Mellor

Howard Mellor is a Methodist presbyter. Together with his wife Rosie they are currently serving as Mission Partners in Hong Kong.