Voices

A king’s reign, forty years, captured in about nine-hundred words. That’s what you have in 2Chronicles 24. The reign of King Joash summarized in but a few paragraphs. And as you read the account you can’t help but notice the peak to pit nature of Joash’s tenure over Judah. He was a kid king . . . placed on the throne at only seven years of age . . . clearly protected of God and called of God as part of God’s promise to David. He started well . . . really well. Under the first part of his rule he restored the house of the LORD. But he ended badly . . . really badly. Later in his reign he executed the high priest of the LORD. And the LORD cut short his reign because of it.

What a turnaround. You’ve got to ask yourself, “What causes such a turnaround?” In big part, I think, it was voices.

Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them. And they abandoned the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols.
(2Chronicles 24:17-18a ESV)

The death of Jehoiada was a turning point in the life and rule of King Joash. The chronicler records that “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest” (24:2). The high priest and his wife had been instrumental in protecting Joash from an uprising against the throne of Judah which saw the elimination of all other heirs. Jehoiada not only protected and reared the lad, not only was he used of God to establish Joash on the throne, but he was also a trusted advisor through much of Joash’s reign. But then he died . . . and then Joash crashed and burned as a godly leader. What a difference a godly counselor can make. How important the right voices.

After Jehoiada’s death, a new set of voices caught the ear of the king. Rulers of Judah who “paid homage”–is that a nice way of saying, “kissed up”–to the king. Flattery, apparently, got them everywhere. The young king so enamored with the praise that he lost track of the program. Instead of focusing on the house of the LORD, the king now served statues of stone. He abandoned the house of the LORD . . . and the LORD of the house. Ultimately leading him to order the execution of Jehoiada’s son, the high priest Zechariah, a man clothed with the Spirit of God but entirely disregarded by the king (24:20-22). And all because of the voices the king listened to.

And I think back on the role that counselors played in the lives of previous kings. Nathan a faithful voice to David . . . proclaiming the promises of God concerning David’s throne . . . faithfully rebuking David for his sin. Rehoboam lost half his kingdom because he listened to the wrong voices . . . disregarding the counsel of grey-haired wisdom and opting, instead, for the voices of youthful impetuosity. And there are others . . . kings whose reign was heavily impacted by the counsel they heeded . . . the legacy of their lives, in large part, determined by the voices they listened to.

True for them . . . and, I’m thinking, true for me. Whether it’s family, close friends, the media, the blogosphere, or the innumerable other sources of influence and advice, that which I choose to listen to . . . that which I surround myself with . . . will have a profound impact on how I live my life . . . and, quite frankly, how I live for God.

“Do not be deceived,” Paul writes to the Corinthians, “bad company ruins good morals” (1Cor. 15:32). Don’t kid ourselves . . . if we don’t surround ourselves with godly voices, we won’t be godly. If we are wooed by the world’s flattery of how great we are and what we deserve, then we’ll listen also to the world’s bad counsel about how we should live for ourselves. But if our closest advisors and mentors are those who seek the voice of God, then we’ll walk in a way that pursues the kingdom and brings delight to the King.

Voices. I’d do well, from time to time, to check those I’m listening to.

That I might continue to seek the way that is lived by the grace of God . . . so that I might continue to serve the way that, in the end, brings all glory to God.

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