The Thistle and the Cedar Tree
JUNE 10 - Nº 161 2 Kings 14:1-22; 2 Chronicles 25
After Joash was murdered (see #159), his son Amaziah became king of Judah. At first Amaziah followed most of God’s commandments, but he never completely got rid of all the idols. He allowed the people to openly offer sacrifices to their false gods. Eventually Amaziah decided to regain control of Edom. This territory had rebelled against Judah earlier, when his great grandfather (Jehoram) was the king of Judah (see #154). Since then, the Edomites had become a real nuisance. So Amaziah organized an army of 300,000 soldiers from among his own people to subdue them. Then he hired an additional 100,000 soldiers from Israel and paid them to fight with him. But a prophet of God came to Amaziah with this message: “Don’t use soldiers from Israel. If you do, no matter how well you fight, God will surely cause you to lose the battle.” “But what about the money I already paid them?” Amaziah wanted to know. “Don’t worry about the money,” the prophet replied. “God can give you much more than that!” So the king of Judah sent the soldiers he had hired from Israel back to their homes. This made them very angry. As they headed back to Israel, they raided several cities and killed more than 3,000 people. Meanwhile, Amaziah marched the army of Judah south toward Edom. He met the Edomite army in the Valley of Salt. Judah won the battle decisively, killing 10,000 Edomite men, then throwing 10,000 more off the cliffs. Unfortunately, when Amaziah returned home, he brought with him the gods that the people of Edom worshiped. He set them up as his own gods, bowing down to them and offering sacrifices. This was unacceptable to God, so He sent a prophet to Amaziah with an obvious question: “Why do you worship gods that weren’t even able to protect their own people from you?” Amaziah cut him short, “Stop talking!” he said. “You are not one of my counselors. Leave—or I will have you killed.” As the prophet left, he responded, “Since you would not listen to my counsel, God will destroy you!” But Amaziah didn’t seem to care. When Amaziah realized how much damage the Israelite soldiers had caused on their way out of Judah, he decided it was time to go to war against Israel. He challenged King Jehoash (who was now the king of Israel) to face him on the battlefield. Jehoash responded by sending this story to Amaziah: “A thistle sent a message to a cedar tree: ‘Let’s arrange a marriage between my son and your daughter.’ Suddenly a wild beast accidentally stepped on the thistle and crushed it. You are being arrogant like the thistle. Enjoy the great victory you had against Edom, but stay home or you will be crushed.” Amaziah refused to listen, so Israel and Judah went to war. Judah was defeated so badly that Amaziah’s men ran home from the battlefield. Jehoash captured Amaziah. He smashed the walls of Jerusalem and plundered all the gold and silver. Although he took many hostages, Jehoash decided to leave Amaziah behind, signifying how insignificant he was. Later some of Amaziah’s own men conspired against him and put him to death.
Arrogance results from claiming credit for ourselves that should only be given to God. It is thinking we are more important than He is. God detests arrogance. Amaziah’s arrogance cost him his freedom, God’s protection, the kingdom’s security and wealth, and eventually his own life. Is your life characterized by humility or arrogance?