2 Kings 12:4-6
And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the LORD…
At an early period of his reign, Joash, instigated no doubt by the good Jehoiada, took steps to have the temple put in a proper state of repair.
I. THE REPAIR OF THE TEMPLE PROJECTED.
1. The need of repair. What is stated in Chronicles of the condition of the temple shows how terrible had been the blight which had fallen on true religion in Judah during the reign of Athaliah. "That wicked woman," we are told, "had broken up the house of God" - probably carried away its stones to build or adorn her own house of Baal; or, perhaps, had broken down part of the courts to make room for her temple on the same hill. Moreover, she had taken away all the dedicated things to bestow upon the house of Baal (2 Chronicles 24:7). There was thus much work to be done in repairing the temple, as the numbers of workmen afterwards employed show. Many are the inroads of the world upon the Church - God's spiritual temple; and any breaches found in its walls should give rise to earnest desires and efforts to see them mended.
2. The resolve to repair. Joash gave orders that the repairing of the temple should be proceeded with. He had, perhaps, by this time attained his majority. But it is a singular thing that, with such a wave of reforming zeal as passed over the nation at the time of his accession, the people themselves should have been content to let the temple lie out of repair so long. Care for God's house is one of the ways of showing honor to God himself. Yet how slow men are to move, or make sacrifices, that God's worship may be suitably provided for! They are content to dwell in ceiled houses, while God's house lies waste (Haggai 1:4).
II. THE REPAIR OF THE TEMPLE PROVIDED FOR.
1. By sacred dues. In ordaining that the temple should be repaired, Joash showed also how the funds for the work were to be obtained. The Chronicler gives prominence to the half-shekel tax, which in the days of Moses was levied for the benefit of the sanctuary (2 Chronicles 24:6, 9), and there were the other moneys to be paid on occasion of the fulfillment of vows (Leviticus 27:2-8). It is well when religion is not left to be supported by haphazard contributions, but when there is some definite principle of giving - some portion of income which is regularly set apart for the Lord's use. This creates a fund which can be readily drawn upon when any good work requires aid.
2. By free-will offerings. The stated dues were not to be the only source of revenue. There is named also "all the money that cometh into any man's heart to bring into the house of the Lord." It is expected that religion will touch the heart of a man, and make him willing to part with a portion of his substance for the service of God. If it does not, it is not of much value. On the other hand, it is the heart which is the source of true religious giving. The gifts which come from the hand, not from the heart, do not count for much in Heaven's reckoning. "God loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).
III. THE REPAIR OF THE TEMPLE STILL UNEXECUTED. Years passed on. Joash had now been twenty-three years upon the throne, yet the repairs of the temple had not so much as begun. It seems unaccountable that in so holy a work such apathy should have prevailed. The fact may be attributed:
1. To the inertia of the priesthood. Everything seems at first to have been left to the priests and Levites. They were to go through the land, make proclamation of the king's purpose, and collect the money for the work. In this duty they appear to have been slack. "The Levites," the Chronicler says, "hastened it not" (2 Chronicles 24:5). Large bodies of men are slow to move. Some of the priests and Levites were probably men of no great religious enthusiasm. One can sympathize with them in their shrinking from the task of collecting money. There are few tasks more thankless.
2. To the distrust of the people. The people appear not to have had the requisite confidence in the priests to entrust them with large sums of money. At least the money seems to have come in more freely after Jehoiada made his chest with the hole in the lid of it, than it did before. The distrust of the people was natural, for the priests were in no hurry to lay out the revenues they collected.
3. To the self-interest of a privileged class. The priestly dues would suffer serious diminution during the reign of such a queen as Athaliah. Irregularities would creep in, and the priests and Levites, deprived of their proper income, would feel justified in appropriating primarily to their own support whatever moneys came to hand. Joash's decree had the effect of cutting off these perquisites, and of restoring them to their original use in keeping up the sanctuary. It could not be expected that the classes who were to suffer would be very eager in carrying out this decree. It is never safe to trust a privileged class to carry out measures which tell against its own interests. Average human nature is not so disinterested as to act enthusiastically for the promotion of reforms which injure itself. - J.O.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the LORD, even the money of every one that passeth the account, the money that every man is set at, and all the money that cometh into any man's heart to bring into the house of the LORD,
WEB: Jehoash said to the priests, "All the money of the holy things that is brought into the house of Yahweh, in current money, the money of the persons for whom each man is rated, and all the money that it comes into any man's heart to bring into the house of Yahweh,