A 7-year-old vs. Psycho Granny

2 Kings 11:1-12 (New Living Translation)

1 When Athaliah, the mother of King Ahaziah of Judah, learned that her son was dead, she began to destroy the rest of the royal family. 2 But Ahaziah’s sister Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Ahaziah’s infant son, Joash, and stole him away from among the rest of the king’s children, who were about to be killed. She put Joash and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah, so the child was not murdered. 3 Joash remained hidden in the Temple of the Lord for six years while Athaliah ruled over the land. 4 In the seventh year of Athaliah’s reign, Jehoiada the priest summoned the commanders, the Carite mercenaries, and the palace guards to come to the Temple of the Lord. He made a solemn pact with them and made them swear an oath of loyalty there in the Lord’s Temple; then he showed them the king’s son. 5 Jehoiada told them, “This is what you must do. A third of you who are on duty on the Sabbath are to guard the royal palace itself. 6 Another third of you are to stand guard at the Sur Gate. And the final third must stand guard behind the palace guard. These three groups will all guard the palace. 7 The other two units who are off duty on the Sabbath must stand guard for the king at the Lord’s Temple. 8 Form a bodyguard around the king and keep your weapons in hand. Kill anyone who tries to break through. Stay with the king wherever he goes.” 9 So the commanders did everything as Jehoiada the priest ordered. The commanders took charge of the men reporting for duty that Sabbath, as well as those who were going off duty. They brought them all to Jehoiada the priest, 10 and he supplied them with the spears and small shields that had once belonged to King David and were stored in the Temple of the Lord. 11 The palace guards stationed themselves around the king, with their weapons ready. They formed a line from the south side of the Temple around to the north side and all around the altar. 12 Then Jehoiada brought out Joash, the king’s son, placed the crown on his head, and presented him with a copy of God’s laws.They anointed him and proclaimed him king, and everyone clapped their hands and shouted, “Long live the king!”

I was reading this last night, and it struck me. First, there’s Joash’s aunt, who knows she’ll be killed by her own mother, but she hides her baby nephew and his nurse as a last act of heroism. Then, you have the priest, who hides this kid for seven years. And then there’s the “coming out.” It’s really kind of epic, if you think about it. Joash is only seven. He’s spent his entire childhood locked up and hidden in a room. He may not have even understood he was supposed to be king. And even if he had been told that he was royalty, undoubtedly he wondered what king of royalty would have to be hidden in a room in the Temple, and why his grandma would want to kill his entire family. The revelation of Joash was what struck me the most. It’s a powerful metaphor. Somehow, Jehoiada knew this was the time. Maybe Joash was getting too noisy, or asking too many questions, or maybe the priest just knew he couldn’t hide the kid forever. But he makes this decisive move to defy the ruling queen and expose her grandson–the rightful heir–to the palace guards. He makes them swear their loaylty before God, and suddenly, this little kid who wasn’t even supposed to be alive is there, and they have to contend with that.

The priest knows who Joash really is–even if he doesn’t. Jehoiada brings strong, loyal men around him and makes them swear their loyalty to help and not harm.

We need people in our lives who see in us what we can’t yet see in ourselves. We also need strong brothers and sisters placed around us for the purpose of walking beside us to help and not to harm.

Jehoiada told the guards to make sure Joash was safe. Undoubtedly, if psycho granny got word of this, she would be sending her people out quickly, so these guys were ordered to more or less be a physical wall around this kid to protect him from the enemy. They followed orders and took up the weapons Jehoiada offered, which just happened to be weapons stored in the Temple.

We need to have people who value our lives, and in whose care we know we are completely safe–people who will be a wall of protection around us, fighting for us when we can’t fight for ourselves, and using weapons stored in the realm of God to ward off the enemy.

Once all this protection was in place, Jehoiada could bring out Joash and proclaim him to be who he was all along–not a boy hiding in a closet, but a king waiting to be revealed. He was crowned and given a copy of God’s law, which would be the authority he was to answer to for the rest of his life. I kinda wonder if Joash really understood what was happening. I mean, he was only seven. When I was that age, I had barely started dressing myself–forget running a country. But I have little doubt that even if he didn’t understand the full measure of what had just happened, he knew that this was the beginning of a journey that would shape not just his life, but the lives of an entire nation.

We need to be brought out of hiding, redeemed and revealed for who we really are–God’s agents of transformation and reconciliation in this world. We are under the authority of His word, which will guide us through a journey that will hopefully shape not just ourselves, not just a nation, not just a world, but an eternity.

If you read on in that chapter, you’ll see that Joash goes on to make a covenant with God that his people will be God’s people. And he makes a covenant with his subjects, too; we don’t know what that was about, but in reading what is said about him, I’d guess it had a lot to do with loyalty (after all, he had learned a great deal about loyalty when his aunt hid him at the cost of her life): his loyalty to his people, their loyalty to God together, and their loyalty to their nation. Joash gets rid of the idols and those perpetuating them, and goes on to be a great king.

The chapter concludes: “Joash was seven years old when he became king.” This tells me several things. One, Joash had a great responsibility put upon him at a young age (externally). Two, that for whatever reason, Jehoiada was right: on that one day, when Joash was seven years old, something in him changed; something within him became king (internally). At seven years old, Joash was ready to be revealed. Three, Joash had the heart for it; even starting the job at his young age, he brought the nation back to God–something that other kings two and three times his age either failed to do or deliberately chose not to do.

We aren’t all seven years old. And our enemy is a lot scarier than a psycho granny, because his work is more sinister, and he get under our skin in such a way that we can unknowingly help him advance all the terrible things he would have for this world. But if we could all go through a process like Joash, I’d pretty much be willing to bet on the 7-year-olds every time.

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