God’s Word for You
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, February 11, 2015
A Message About Shallum
10 Do not weep for the dead.
Do not mourn for him,
But weep bitterly for the one who is exiled
for he will never return
or see his native land.
The dead one Jeremiah is talking about is Josiah, the last good king of Judah. Josiah died before the Battle of Carchemish when he tried to stop Pharaoh Neco from traveling north through his western border. Neco’s archers shot Josiah near the hill of Megiddo in July of 609 BC, and Josiah was taken back to Jerusalem where he died. The writer of Chronicles tells us: “All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him. Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments” (2 Chronicles 35:24-25). Those “laments” and the book called “Laments” are not the Lamentations that follow Jeremiah in the Bible; no copy of them has come down to us. But that passage of 2 Chronicles is one of the reasons that Jeremiah is thought to be the author of Lamentations. The book of Lamentations also has many of Jeremiah’s themes, like war, famine and plague (Lamentations 4:9-10), as well as phrases like “terror on every side” (Lamentations 2:22).
11 For this is what the LORD says about Shallum son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned in place of his father Josiah. “He has gone out from this place, but he will never return again. 12 He will die in the place where they have led him captive. He will never see this land again.”
Who was Shallum? He was the fourth and youngest son of Josiah (1 Chronicles 3:15). He was exiled shortly after becoming king (2 Kings 23:30-34). Josiah died in the summer of 609, and after this, we are left with a puzzle: 2 Chronicles 36:1 tells us that Shallum (his throne name was Jehoahaz) was made king by “the people of the land.” Why did the people elevate Josiah’s youngest son to the throne? It is likely that Shallum shared his father’s reforming policies, but since these were anti-Egyptian, Neco removed him from the throne and set up Shallum’s brother, Eliakim (Jehoiakim) as king. When Neco returned from the Battle of Carchemish, he took Shallum prisoner (he had reigned only three months) and took him back with him to Egypt. Shallum never returned to Judah (2 Kings 23:34). Since he was just 23 when he was exiled (2 Chronicles 36:2), he would have been 44 when Jeremiah was also exiled to Egypt in 588 BC (Jeremiah 43:1-7). It is possible that Jeremiah may have known the former king in the later part of his life, unless Shallum had already died.
The judgment of the author of Kings is that despite his father’s policies, Shallum himself “did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” God does not judge a king by his policies or victories, but by his faithfulness. The same will be true of each of us. God will not judge us by our accomplishments or by public opinion, but by our faith. We know that “a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16). Pray that God would increase your faith, and whatever your accomplishments are in life, they will come from faith. Whatever they are, they will sing God’s praises to the world.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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