Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Jotham was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Jerushah, the daughter of Zadok.2 Chronicles 27:6
The circumstances of Jotham's day make it all the more remarkable that this should be the record of his life. He ascended the throne as regent at the time of Uzziah's removal, when the sovereign and the State alike were suffering from the perils of prosperity. National life had deteriorated, for national ideals were lowered, and but little place was given in the life of the people to the true worship of God. The new king, however, having somehow caught a vision of the only certain strength of any man or nation, took the singular course which the man must ever take who seeks to be true to the light which has shone upon him from God. Despite the current worldliness he steadfastly set himself to realize the highest type of life and leadership, and sought power for this in the sanctuary by there preparing his ways. It is always interesting to discover the secret springs which, gathering force as they go, ultimately form some great river—and here is one of them. Jotham's attitude towards the serious facts of life is the secret of the strength which he acquired and by means of which he exercised such beneficent influence over his people. It is an anticipation—one of the clearest which the Old Testament affords us—of the Saviour's precept to His followers to seek 'first the kingdom of God,' and is likewise one of the most arresting illustrations of its force. For to prepare his ways before the Lord will always assure the pure and permanent quality of any man's life.
I. Power is not so much an acquisition as an accumulation. God does not bestow strength, at any rate in the moral and spiritual realms, in the same way as he bestows sunlight and rain. A man becomes mighty only according as he adopts a right attitude toward the claims of God, and according also as he exerts the whole strength of his life toward their obedience.
II. There is perhaps no greater peril than that of unconsciously drifting into a haphazard attitude toward life, the temper of the man who takes neither thought for the morrow nor for the day, but is content to take things as they turn up. Such an one failing to recognize the seriousness of life, even in its most trivial details, enfeebles and unfits himself for the strenuous service to which God has appointed His people. The unprepared man is the unfruitful man, and indeed is often the defeated man when confronted with the ordinary temptations to which each of us is subject. The conflict comes upon him unawares, and finds him unarmed, surprised and easily overcome. Occasional immunity from severe test, or, on the other hand, a mere casual success, saps the strength of many an one by deceiving him as to the necessity of honest preparation of all his ways—personal, social, commercial and religious—in view of the constant adverse influence of the enemy. But it is victory indeed when, as with Jotham, such chance success is valued at its right worth, and is not suffered to deceive nor blind a man as to the absolute necessity of living before the Lord his God continually.
III. To rightly understand the necessity of this preparation of our ways brings a new conception of the nature and value of the daily prayer-appointment. It is not merely the presentation of petition, the proffering of request, the seeking for personal benefit, but a subjective exercise also of inquiry and discrimination. It is, or should be, the occasion for testing motive, for judging relative worth, for scrutiny of ideal. Just as the mariner adjusts his compasses before a voyage, just as the musician tunes his instrument before playing upon it, just as the soldier primes his arms before a contest, so the Christian must prepare his ways before each day's life.
IV. The outcome of such faithful preparation as unto which Jotham gave himself is certain to be with us as it was with him. Such a life is bound to wax stronger and stronger, and cannot but be in vivid contrast to the anaemic lives of the mere drifters, who are content to be borne on the waves of passing impulse and fleeting emotion in what they hope is a heavenward direction. It brings an increased sense of dependence which is not a contradiction but a complement of true strength. It develops a faculty of discrimination by which a man discerns the things which are worth while, and has power both to choose them and to refuse the others. It invests life with true dignity; for a man cannot daily go forth from the secret place, having there prepared his ways before the Lord, without having the springing step and buoyant heart of one who knows himself to be God's son and servant. This is the might which is possible to all who will thus daily learn to face life by first facing Him. And since we have 'boldness to enter into the Holiest by the Blood of Jesus,' while there must be no presumption there need be no fear. The strength of the redeemed is in the Redeemer, and is theirs as they set themselves with honest intent of heart to do those things that please Him.
—J. Stuart Holden, The Pre-Eminent Lord, p. 111.
References.—XXVII. 6.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 207. J. McNeill, Regent Square Pulpit, vol. iii. p. 329. XXVIII. 1-16.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxix. No. 2305. XXVIII. 10.—Ibid. vol. vi. No. 294. XXVIII. 19, 22, 23, 25.—A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book for All Ages, p. 100. XXVIII. 22.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. li. No. 2993, xxviii. 23.—Ibid. vol. xliv. No. 2565. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 215. XXIX. 1, 2.—A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book for All Ages, p. 111. XXIX. 1-11.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 225. XXIX. 7.—D. T. Young, The Crimson Book, p. 88. XXIX. 15.—H. Hensley Henson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxix. 1906, p. 5. XXIX. 18-31.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 232.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah did: howbeit he entered not into the temple of the LORD. And the people did yet corruptly.
He built the high gate of the house of the LORD, and on the wall of Ophel he built much.
Moreover he built cities in the mountains of Judah, and in the forests he built castles and towers.
He fought also with the king of the Ammonites, and prevailed against them. And the children of Ammon gave him the same year an hundred talents of silver, and ten thousand measures of wheat, and ten thousand of barley. So much did the children of Ammon pay unto him, both the second year, and the third.
So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God.
Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all his wars, and his ways, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.
He was five and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem.
And Jotham slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.