Study Guide

The Good Kings of Judah in 2 Chronicles

The Good Kings of Judah

There are 21 rulers of Judah in 2 Chronicles and God's put them all on the throne. In fact, many of them have names that include God's name—"Yah," in Hebrew. All the names that begin with "J" or end in "iah" reflect that, like "Uzziah" ("God is my strength" ) and Abijah ( Yah is my father"). Despite their religiously symbolic names, we're dealing with a pretty mixed bag here. Let's try dividing them up like Clint Eastwood might—into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

When it comes to great kings, David and Solomon are clearly the most devoted to God, even without "Yah" in their names. David's story gets covered more fully in 1 Chronicles and we've already talked a whole bunch about Solomon elsewhere in this section, so let's skip ahead and deal with those other super competent and capable rulers who didn't happen to be named David or Solomon. In chronological order, they are:

King Abijah

This guy defeated Israel in battle and was described as a ruler who "grew strong" (13:21).

King Jehoshaphat

He was one of the first major kings after Solomon. Jehoshaphat worshipped God and made sure that his people did, too. He also tried to get a truce going between Israel and Judah. (It didn't work out well in the end, but at least he gave it a shot.) He also "had great riches and honor" (18:1).

King Jotham

We don't get a lot of info about this king, but what little we do hear is good. He built towers, defeated enemies, and "did what was right in the sight of the Lord" (27:2). That's a lot more than we can say for some other kings.

King Hezekiah

Many generations later, this king restored the Temple in Jerusalem to its former glory, started Passover celebrations in Jerusalem, and tried to unite the north and south again by calling a truce and a throwing a huge party. He also managed to defeat the Assyrian Empire (a feat that Israel couldn't manage—they got pummeled out of existence). In the end, he got sick, but "Hezekiah humbled himself" (32:26) and God healed him.

King Josiah

He was only 8 years old when he took over control of Judah, but he quickly became a royal powerhouse. Not only did he "wal[k] in the ways of his ancestor David" (34:2), but he destroyed all the idols in Judah. He continued with the Passover celebrations that Hezekiah initiated and he even discovered a new book of laws written by Moses. That's a big find. In the end, he ignored a couple warnings from God and was killed in battle, but all in all, he deserves our admiration.

And… That's It

Out of 20 kings, only 5 of them were righteous. That's not a very promising track record. Let's look at what they have in common. What in the Chronicler's opinion makes someone a successful king?

Well, all these kings are strong. Many of them are wealthy and able to defeat their enemies in battle, even powerful nations like the Assyrians. But the most important thing is that these guys all follow God. Notice how they honor and restore God's house, celebrate his holy days, and revere the laws he gave Moses. Sure, they're rich and powerful and mighty, but without their faith, they'd be none of that.