2 Kings 12:9
But Jehoiada the priest took a chest, and bored a hole in the lid of it, and set it beside the altar…
This chapter takes us away from those confusions up in northern Palestine, which seemed to be getting a little overcrowded with murder and warfare and theft. There is a deep spiritual apathy in the city and the land everywhere. The people have still idolatrous practices; around on some of the hills there are altars and groves where decorous men and women would think it not nice to go. The worst of this terrible ungodliness is found in the greediness of the priests. Evidently they are self-seekers of the vile sort. They exhaust all the income of the sanctuary, slender as it is, in their own emoluments and perquisites. The king is inefficient, as should be expected; what could a little boy do? The temple is all out of repair; there are breaches in many parts of the building. A dull period of sixteen years has been slowly drifting along. The picture is not encouraging; but let us turn ourselves to the instruction it offers for us in these modern times. The force of the story will come out in a series of observations.
I. SOMETIMES RELIGIOUS DEPRESSION SHOWS ITSELF IN MATERIAL DILAPIDATIONS. Everything is running behind-hand in the public spirit of the town, the city, or the congregation.
1. It is a bad sign when the church edifice is going into ruinous condition. Can it be said that the zeal of the Lord is eating any one up there?
2. It is a worse sign when the income of any congregation has begun to fail. In the story here, somebody must have pushed up that little seven-year-old king Jehoash to try to collect some money, for he issued a call almost at once for help to put the temple under repair. But it all came to nothing; the house of the Lord continued to discourage and chill the devotions far more than to awake them, because it was so forlorn and unclean.
3. It is a worse sign still when the minister and the employees exhaust the funds in their own uses and luxuries. That was the trouble during those sad sixteen years of Jehoash's infancy. Money went in, but the priests swallowed it up.
4. It is the worst sign of all when the people's heart is unmoved; when everybody knows and nobody cares about the cheerlessness of the facts or the prospects.
II. SOMETIMES THE SPEEDIEST RELIEF IS FOUND IN THE PEOPLE'S TAKING THE REFORM WHOLLY INTO THEIR OWN HANDS.
1. In this case, it was the young king and the people who did the work, though the high-priest organised the new movement, under royal direction. Let us look into the whole facts and philosophy of this uprising of the community there in Jerusalem. The religious and ordained officers in the congregation of the temple cheerfully arose to say, "Let anybody do this great and needed thing that can do it better than we can." They consented to receive none of the money, and they withdrew from ordering the repairs. In that historic hour there came first to light the earliest contribution-box used in the service of God. Was there ever anything imagined so rude or inartistic as an instrument of devotion?
2. But before you smile at the prosaic expedient, pause a moment to do simple justice to one of God's instruments of good. From that day the contribution-box has been an institution for the Church under the Old Testament and the New, probably as well known as any other in the range of our experience. It deserves now and then a decent eulogy. Its record is honourable and fair.
(1) The contribution-box exhibits the wide reach of religious obligation. This one stood beside the altar.
(2) The contribution-box kindles the fires of love and hope in the believer's heart. For it seems to say, "All are at work now, and all together; what are you doing for your Lord?"(3) The contribution-box keeps good and true men up to the exact end in view.
(4) The contribution-box develops and commissions the most capable workers in the Lord's cause. When men have given hopeful hearts and open hands alike to the service of the Master, it is not necessary to guard them; they will surely deal faithfully.
III. SOMETIMES PIETY IS BROUGHT BACK TO ITS LEVEL UNDER A FRESH IMPULSE OF MATERIAL PROSPERITY. This is a reflection also that we might expect to be suggested by the history here.
1. The philosophy underlying such a conclusion is simple. We are all creatures of human build and constitutional weakness in relation to the practical world we live in. When the church is repulsive and the services dull, when the carpets are soiled with long using, when the prayer-circle is languishing; then, good friends, it is almost hopeless for even the best of saints to try and keep up his spirits.
2. The relief is close at hand.
3. The facts, which might be offered in illustration, are without limit.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.).
Parallel VersesKJV: But Jehoiada the priest took a chest, and bored a hole in the lid of it, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one cometh into the house of the LORD: and the priests that kept the door put therein all the money that was brought into the house of the LORD.
WEB: But Jehoiada the priest took a chest, and bored a hole in its lid, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one comes into the house of Yahweh: and the priests who kept the threshold put therein all the money that was brought into the house of Yahweh.