Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a loyal heart. (2 Chronicles 25:1-2)
The Folly Of Amaziah
It had been a little over 140 years since Solomon died and the nation of Israel was divided with ten tribes to the north and the remaining two in the south. The northern tribes of Israel would be served by wicked kings who turned their hearts away from the Lord. Judah would enjoy a few good kings who followed in the path of their father David but many kings would be like their northern counterparts. Amaziah was the ninth king of Judah following four decades of rule by a good king, Joash. The reign of Amaziah would be twenty-five years and he would do right in the sight of the Lord. While his rule is characterized as a time of the good kings, he was not fully devoted to the Lord. He was a good king but his heart was not loyal to the word of God. When he became king, his first order of business was to execute all those who conspired and killed his father Joash. However he refrained from killing the children of the conspirators as the Law of Moses forbade such action. He was a noble king to restrain from doing what so many other kings would have done. His army was quite large. Three hundred thousand choice men, able to go to war were at his disposal. These men were proficient in the use of the spear and shield making a formidable army. Amaziah also hired one hundred thousand mighty men of valor from Israel to fight for him.
When Amaziah amassed his great army, a man of God came to him and warned him against hiring soldiers from the northern nation of Israel. He was told to rely upon the strength of the Lord and to send the mercenaries home. The men from Ephraim were discharged with their payments and told to return to their homes which they did reluctantly. Going to battle against the people of Seir, Amaziah’s army killed ten thousand in the Valley of Salt. Taking captive another ten thousand, they took them to the top of a rock and cast them down to their deaths. The army of the Lord achieved a great victory that day. By the power of God triumph was given to Amaziah and the people of Judah over the Edomites. And then the king of Judah did a remarkable thing. Returning from the battle with the Edomites Amaziah brought the gods of the people of Seir, set them up to be his gods and bowed down before them and burned incense to them. He had just shown the world what an army can do with the power of Jehovah God and then shows the same world what happens to a man of God who is not loyal in his heart to the Lord.
The folly of Amaziah is seen in destroying twenty thousand people by the power of the Lord and instead of returning home to worship the glory of God, Amaziah brings home the gods of the people of Seir. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord but his heart was not loyal. Doing righteousness is an important part of serving the Lord. Worship has always required doing the right things in the right way according to the right pattern. Sadly what is lost on the minds of many of God’s children is that doing what is right also requires having a heart that is faithful. Loyalty of heart is having the fidelity of spirit to devote the mind, soul and body fully to the purpose of the Lord. Paul would remind the saints at Corinth that taking the supper of the Lord required more than eating some bread and drinking some juice. If the heart is not loyal to examine deeply the meaning of the supper, sin lies at the door. Singing praises to God can sound as harmonious and grand as the ear can enjoy but if the heart is lost the praise is empty. Saying the right words and expressing in literary platitudes a prayer to the Father will fall short of its glory when the heart is cast with hypocrisy. Walking through the doors of a building to have a name checked off a list to show attendance is serving a god of denial. Amaziah did what was right but his heart was not loyal.
Bringing the gods of the people of Seir back, Amaziah exemplified the problem that challenges the hearts of the people of God. It is easy to do right but to have a loyal heart requires purpose and devotion. What a person lives outside the confines of the building defines the heart of the individual. Being loyal in heart is a daily exercise in communing with the word of God, imbibing the Spirit of God and setting forth an example of light in a community of darkness. The Lord knows the loyal hearts. He does not look on the outside to see what men see as right. Only from His eternal eye can the Lord see the heart of man whether he truly believes, accepts and challenges the soul to trust him. Amaziah trusted God to win the victory but turned his heart away from his Deliverer. That was the folly of Amaziah.