Lessons To Be Learned From Those Who Failed
“For everything that was written in the past was
written to teach us, so that through endurance
and the encouragement of the Scriptures we
might have hope.” Romans 15:4
During the days of the Divided Kingdom in the history of the Jewish nation, the kings of Israel (Northern Kingdom) all departed from the Lord and His direction. The Southern Kingdom (Judah) had some good kings but some notable failures as well. There are three lessons for our lives that we may learn from observing three different kings.
The first of these was Amaziah. It is recorded that he started well. “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD but not wholeheartedly.” (II Chronicles 25:2) In verse four, he “acted in accordance with what was written in the law.” Later in life, he forsook the law, and bowed down to the gods of the people of Seir. (Verse fourteen) In verse seventeen it is written that he “consulted his advisors.” In verse twenty seven it records that he was killed by his own countrymen. The beginning of his reign was governed by the law and he later forsook the law. What happened? It is recorded in Deuteronomy 17:18-19 that the kings of the nation of Israel were to write for themselves on a scroll a copy of the law. It was to be always with him, to be read all the days of his life, so that he “may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees.” It is unlikely that his cessation of this practice happened all at once. Most probably a few days would go by, then a week, then a month, and then he no longer consulted the LORD but sought advice and counsel from others. His declension was gradual but describes the total abject failure that occurs from neglecting God’s word. It is from his life that we learn the importance of God’s word in our lives.
Examples of what God’s word is able to do in our lives is seen in Psalm 119. In verse nine and eleven it enables us to avoid sin, and in verse eighteen, we behold wondrous things. In verse twenty five, we find encouragement and in verse thirty six, our covetousness is decreased. In verse fifty, we are comforted, in verse sixty two, we are enabled to be thankful and in verse ninety eight we find wisdom. In verse 105, we experience His guidance. Jerry Bridges, in his book Practice of Godliness, mentions three ways that the LORD guards our lives through His Scripture. It develops the Fear of God (Genesis 11:24-27), the Vision of God (Hebrews 11:24-27), and Humility before God. (I Corinthians 15:10)
The second king from whose life we may learn lessons is Jehoshaphat. His story is recorded in II Chronicles 17-20. The beginning of his reign is described in II Chronicles 17:3-4. “The LORD was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel.” In chapter eighteen, however, we find that he allied himself with Ahab by marriage. In II Chronicles 19:2, it is recorded that he helped the wicked and loved those who hated the Lord. In chapter 20 verse 35 he was seen to have made an alliance with Ahaziah, who was guilty of wickedness. His life is best described by a verse in the New Testament found in I Corinthians 15:33. “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”
The contrast to this corruption is to be found when we “have fellowship with one another” (I John 1:7) We daily need the encouragement of others (Hebrews 3:13), as well as the comfort we bring to one another. (II Corinthians 1:4) This is why we are told to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. (Hebrews 10:24-25) To turn away from this fellowship and seek it elsewhere is, again, a recipe for failure.
The third king from which we may learn lessons is Joash. We read about his life in II Chronicles chapter twenty four. The following is recorded in verse two. “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years of Jehoiada the priest.” In verses seventeen and eighteen, however, we read this account of his life. “After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king and he listened to them. They abandoned the temple of the LORD, the god of their fathers, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols.” In verse twenty two, we read that Joash killed Jehoiada’s son. Later it is recorded that his own officials killed him as he lay in his bed. (Verse twenty five)
Jehoiada’s influence in the life of Joash was remarkable. When he was gone, however, there was no one to step in and provide direction and accountability for the king. The impact of the individual life made a difference initially in the life of Joash. When this was no longer available to him, his life deteriorated. I have known of many people whose lives have been altered by the impact of another individual. We see this progression clearly in the book of Acts, where Barnabas invested in Paul, who in turn was used by the Lord in the lives of Aquila and Priscilla, who in turn were used in the life of Apollos. We should never under estimate our own individual need to interact with another person for encouragement and accountability, nor should we neglect the opportunity to meet with those individuals with whom the Lord has called us to invest time and resources. No interaction with them is wasted. Our time, talents, and totality of our lives will be used for His Glory in establishing His Kingdom.
From these three kings, then, we are able to understand the value of the word of God daily in our lives, the importance of regular contact with the body of Christ, that is, the church, and those individuals who minister to you as well as those to whom you are called to minister. May the Lord so develop these patterns in your life to the end that He will be continually glorified through your life.
In Christ, Richard Spann