II Chronicles 33

 

 

 

The first twenty verses of this chapter are taken up with the account of

Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah and Hephzibah, who, beginning to reign at

the early age of twelve years, reigned in all fifty-five years; the remaining

five verses with the account of the reign of his son Amon. The parallel to

this chapter is II Kings 21. The repeated references in this chapter to

Manasseh’s neglect, and to his people’s neglect, after his example, of

injunction, promise, and threat of the Word of the Lord and of the Law,

make it a prominent instance of the spirit of the compiler, and an indication

of one of the main objects he had in view, and kept in view in writing these

chronicles.

 

 

1 “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he

reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem:”  The parallel adds the name of

Manasseh’s mother, the well-omened name Hephzibah, “My delight is in her”

(II Kings 21:1; Isaiah 62:4).

 

2 “But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the

abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before

the children of Israel.” The abominations of the heathen (see

Deuteronomy 18:9-14).

 

3 “For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had

broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves,

and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.”

He built again; literally, returned and built — the ordinary

Hebrew idiom for “took again to building,” etc. Made groves; i.e. as often

before the stocks that set forth Ashtoreth (Deuteronomy 16:21). The

parallel gives prominence to the one Asherah, ten times offensive, as set up

in the house of the Lord (v. 7 there). The mention of his pantheon of the

host of heaven is an addition to the wickedness of former wicked kings. It

is also noted in the parallel.

 

4 “Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD

had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever.  5 And he built altars

for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD.”

In Jerusalem (so ch. 6:6; 7:16). The quotation is from Deuteronomy 12:11.

 

6 “And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of

the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and

used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he

wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.”

Caused his children. Parallel (II Kings 21:6), “his son,” in the singular number

(see also ibid. ch. 16:3 compared with our ch. 28:3). There can be no doubt that

this worst of cruel abominations, learned from Ammon and Moab, amounted

to nothing less than the sacrifice of the child in the fire. It is, perhaps, something

remarkable that we do not encounter anywhere any description of the exact

manner of administration of this cruelty, and of its taking effect on the

pitiable victim. The solemn commands of Leviticus 18:21 and

Deuteronomy 18:10 bespeak sufficiently distinctly the prevision and

earnest precaution of the Divine Ruler of Israel, through Moses, on behalf

of his people. The following references all bear on the subject, and will be

studied with advantage in order given: II Kings 3:27; 17:17; Ezekiel 20:26;

Micah 6:7; Amos 5:26; Jeremiah 7:32; 19:4-5; Ezekiel 16:20; 20:26. In the

valley of the son of Hinnom (Joshua 15:8; 18:16). On an elevation at the

eastern extremity of this valley it was that Solomon erected “high places”

to Moloch, entailing on himself a long and dire responsibility (I Kings 11:7).

Consult also our ch. 28:3 and note there; with added reference, Stanley’s ‘Sinai

and Palestine,’ pp. 172, 482. Also he observed times; Revised Version, and he

practiced augury. The Hebrew word is ועְונֵן. This root is found once in

piel infinitive (Genesis 9:14), and is rendered (Authorized Version), “when

I bring a cloud,” etc.; beside, it is found in all ten times, always in poel, in

preterite twice (the present passage and parallel), future once (Leviticus

19:26), participle seven times (Deuteronomy 18:10, 14; Judges 9:37, margin),

in which six places it is rendered (Authorized Version) “observing times,”

once in Isaiah and Micah with rendering “soothsayers,” again in Isaiah

sorcerers,” and in Jeremiah “enchanter.” There is difficulty in

fixing its exact meaning, though its general meaning may be embraced in

the words of the Revised Version. A likely meaning, judging from

derivation, may be the practicing augury from observing of the clouds. The

passages in Leviticus and Deuteronomy are those that of old solemnly

prohibited it. And used enchantments; Hebrew, וְנִחֵשׁ - the root is the

familiar word for “serpent.” The verb occurs eleven times, always in piel.

The prohibition to practice such “enchantment” or divination is found in

Leviticus 19:26 and 18:10; the five occasions of the use of the word in

Genesis, however (Genesis 30:27; 44:5, 15), argue that it was not a

thing intrinsically bad, but bad probably from certain, so to say,

simoniacal/simony (defined to be a deliberate act or a premeditated will and desire

of selling such things as are spiritual, or of anything annexed unto spirituals,

by giving something of a temporal nature for the purchase thereof); possibilities

to which it lent itself. There lay in it some assumption, no doubt, of

superhuman help, and the wickedness may have consisted in assuming it

where it was not real. And used witchcraft; Hebrew, וְכִשֵּׂפ; Revised

Version, and practiced sorcery. (In the New Testament it is associated

with drug usage and a sin of the flesh – Galatians 5:20 - (φαρμακεία -

pharmakeiathe use of drugs – CY – 2016).  The word is

found six times in piel. The prohibition is found in Deuteronomy 18:10;

the rendering of the word (Authorized Version) is by the term “sorcery”

three times, and “witch” or “witchcraft” the other three times. Dealt with

a familiar Spirit, and with wizards. The prohibitions are in Leviticus

19:31; 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18:11. See as illustrations I Samuel

28:3-21; and notice the language of Isaiah 8:19, “that chirp and

mutter;” and 19:3.

 

Vers. 7-8 (Compare Psalm 132:13-14; II Samuel 7:10.)

 

7 “And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the

house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his

son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all

the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:  8 Neither will I any

more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have

appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that

I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes

and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.  9 So Manasseh made Judah

and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen,

whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.”

A carved image, the idol; translate, a carved image of the idol; i.e. the Asherah;

for see the parallel (II Kings 21:7). The idol; Hebrew, סֶמֶל. This name is found

here and in v. 15; in Deuteronomy 4:16, translated (Authorized Version) “figure;”

and Ezekiel 8:3, 5, translated (Authorized Version) “image.”

 

 

 

The Apostate (vs. 1-9)

 

Well indeed was it for King Hezekiah that he did not foresee, though he

may have feared (see previous homily), the character and the course of his

son and successor. Had he done so, not all his riches and honor, not all his

treasuries and storehouses, not all his flocks and herds, not all his

watercourses and other works, would have removed sorrow from his heart.

There has never, in any land, been a greater change, a sadder reaction, than

that experienced by Judah when the godly Hezekiah was succeeded by the

apostate Manasseh. It is true, indeed:

 

  • THAT PITY AS WELL AS BLAME MAY BE EXTENDED TO THE

YOUNG KING. He was but twelve when he ascended the throne of Judah.

He was far too young to encounter the peculiar temptations of sovereignty;

and there was much excuse for him if, at that tender age, he allowed his

own youthful inclinations to be overborne by the counsels of those so much

older and so much more experienced than himself. In view of his

circumstances, we may commiserate as much as we condemn him. No one

need wish to occupy a higher position than his years, his experience, his

training, have fitted him to fill. Its honors and its emoluments, however

great they may be, are of no account at all in view of the immense

disadvantage at which such a one is placed, and of the temptations to

which he is exposed. Let youth wait its time; let it not seize the opportunity

before the hour is ripe; let it understand that the position of subjection, of

apprenticeship, of culture (special or general), is a far happier and far wiser

one for the present, and that it is the one hope of a really prosperous and

honorable career.

 

  • THAT MORAL EVIL MAY BE HIT VERY HARD, AND YET NOT

BE SLAIN. Nothing will account for the speedy apostasy of Judah but the

supposition that there was a vigorous idolatrous party at court, or that

beneath the outward conformity of the previous reign there was a secret

and yet strong inclination toward the practices of the time of Ahaz,

Hezekiah did well to put down the altars and the “high places” with the

unsparing energy he showed. But it was proved once more that it is one

thing to remove the temptation and another thing to change the character.

No reformer must be satisfied until he has reason to be convinced that sin

is rooted out of the heart as well as taken out of the hand, that

righteousness is loved within as well as manifested without.

 

  • THAT SIN LEADS RAPIDLY DOWN FROM BAD TO WORSE. It

is painful, indeed, to think of the lad carefully cultured in Hebrew ways of

piety and morality going down into such sad depths of sin and shame as are

indicated in the text (vs. 3-5, 7). Not all at once, but by somewhat

rapid stages, he went on and down from the piety and purity of his

boyhood to the “depths of Satan,” as they may be called. That is too often

the lamentable course of sin. It takes but a few years for the soul that was

taught to hate iniquity and to shrink from its touch to become familiar with

its phases and to become an adept in its practices. The “monster of the

hideous mien,” when we have become

 

familiar with its face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”

 

Shun the first step that leads down THE EVIL SLOPE!

 

  • THAT SIN BECLOUDS THE INTELLECT WHILE IT

DEGRADES THE SOUL. Manasseh “used enchantments, and used

witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit,” etc. (v. 6). When men leave

the rational service of the one Lord of all, and betake themselves either to

superstition or to unbelief, they are very apt to yield themselves up to the

greatest follies; to accept theories and to practice arts which a very

moderate share of intelligence condemns as childish and vain. Only in the

way of Divine truth shall we tread the path of human wisdom; once out of

that track we lose our way, and wander in labyrinths of folly and of error.

With Jesus Christ for our Teacher, we shall shun those byways of folly

which would dishonor and degrade us.

 

  • THAT ONE SINFUL SOUL MAY WORK A WORLD OF HARM.

“So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and

 to do worse than the heathen,” etc. (v. 9). Perhaps those who first used

their influence to withdraw him from the service of Jehovah shrank from

some of the “developments” of their own work; but when we send a human

spirit on a downward course, we little know whither that course will lead,

or in what it will end. There are scarcely any limits to the evils which one

bad life may work or start. Heavy indeed is the responsibility, great is the

guilt, of those who lead the young astray, and send them along a path

where they not only err and fail themselves, but scatter broadcast THE

SEEDS OF SIN AND SORROW!

 

10 “And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they

would not hearken. (See parallel, II Kings 21:11-15.)

 

11 “Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host

of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns,

and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.

12 And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God,

and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,”

These verses through v. 17 are not in the parallel, though their place there is plain.

That parallel, however, supplies in its v. 16 a very forcible narration of the evil

conduct of Manasseh in Jerusalem itself, so that he “filled” it with

innocent blood” from “one end to another.” The King of Assyria; i.e.

either Esarhaddon, B.C. 680, or (though it is not probable) his son, Assurbanipal,

B.C. 667-647. Among the thorns; i.e. with hooks or rings (so II Kings 19:28,

where the same word is used; as also in Exodus 35:22; Isaiah 37:29; Ezekiel 19:4, 9;

29:4; 38:4).

 

13 “And prayed unto Him: and He was intreated of him, and heard his

supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his

kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD He was God.

And prayed unto him. The apocryphal “Prayer of Manasses

is not at all likely to be authentic. And brought him again to Jerusalem.

The Targum gives many mythical tales as to how this deliverance was

effected. Then Manasseh knew that. Did he not know, well know,

before? So far as the mode of expression may in any degree warrant such a

stretch of charity, what an idea it gives of the force with which grossest

error will captivate even the taught; and with what force of a furious wind

did the contaminating influence of idolatries all around sweep betimes

before them — these very kings and chief men of Judah and Jerusalem! It

is evident that there was always among the people a “remnant” who kept

the faith. See here, e.g., the reference to the innocent blood” shed in

Jerusalem, no doubt blood of those who would not consent to idolatry —

blood of noble martyrs.

 

14 “Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the

west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish

gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great

height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah.”

The wall without; or, Revised Version, the outer wall, is probably one

with that of Hezekiah (ch. 32:5), which now Manasseh repairs, or rebuilds,

and perhaps lengthens as well as heightens.  The fish gate (Nehemiah 13:16),

left on the north of Jerusalem, and opened on the main road for the sea

(Conder’s ‘Handbook,’ etc., p. 343).  The wall traversed the north and east

sides to Ophel, “on the wall” of which, it is said (ch. 27:3), Jotham built much.”

Hezekiah also built much there, and now Manasseh raised it up a very great

height.

 

15 “And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of

the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the

house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city.

16 And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace

offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the

LORD God of Israel.”  It will be noted how the mount of the house of the Lord

is here differenced from the city. “The city” seems to have comprised the two

hills east and west of the Tyropoean valley, and the “fore” city enclosed by

the new wall (see Dr. Murphy’s valuable little ‘Handbook to Chronicles’).

The strange gods, the idol, and the altars have all been mentioned in vs. 3-7.

 

17 “Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet

unto the LORD their God only.”  Compare Hezekiah’s good work (ch. 31:1)

with his son’s bad work (v. 3); the latter could undo his father’s good, but now

could not undo his own evil! The illegitimate worshippings and offerings of

high places, though they had been “winked at” from time to time by some

of even the better of the kings, were of course essentially counter to the one

national worship in the one temple, and to the offerings and sacrifices of the

one national altar.

 

 

The Penitent (vs. 10-17)

 

In these words we have:

 

  • THE LAST AND WORST SYMPTOM OF DEPARTURE FROM

GOD — OBDURACY. “The Lord spake to Manasseh, and to his people:

but they would not hearken” (v. 10). Sin reaches its extremity when it

deliberately and determinately closes its ear against the recognized

VOICE OF GOD!   A defiant refusal to listen when God is speaking to

us is surely the ne plus ultra (most extreme example of its kind) of iniquity;

guilt can go no further (see Proverbs 1:24-33).

 

  • THE DESCENT OF THE DIVINE PENALTY. When other means of

instruction and of influence have been tried and failed, God visits in severe

discipline. To Manasseh this came in defeat, humiliation (he was bound in

fetters), and captivity; he had to leave the city of David and the land of his

fathers, and become a show in the distant land of the enemy. To us the

Divine discipline comes in various ways, of which the most common are:

 

Ø      bodily affliction,

Ø      the vision of death,

Ø      substantial loss,

Ø      the estrangement of those who had been near and dear to us,

Ø      some form of bitter humiliation, bereavement and consequent

loneliness.

 

  • THE RISE OF TRUE PENITENCE IN THE HUMAN HEART. At

length Manasseh had his eyes opened, and he saw his folly and his sin; at

length he learned that he had not only forsaken the good way of his father

Hezekiah, but had grievously and guiltily departed from the living God. We

can never tell what will humble the heart of a man; one is affected and

subdued by one affliction, another by another. But at length the blow falls,

and the edge of the sword enters in, and the heart bleeds, and it is wounded

not unto death, but unto life.

 

Ø      Then comes recognition of the truth. Then God is recognized — His

nearness, His claims, His displeasure, His fatherly purpose. Then guilt

also is discerned its greatness, its heinousness.

 

Ø      Then comes acknowledgment and appeal. The heart humbles itself

before God, even as Manasseh now “humbled himself greatly before

the God of his fathers” (v. 12); and the soul prays for mercy, asks

that its guilt may be forgiven, and itself restored.

 

Ø      And then comes self-surrender; for if there be not a willingness, a

readiness to yield ourselves unto God, an exhibition of penitence is

only artificial; it is unreal and untrue. If it is genuine, it must be

 accompanied by a pure desire and a firm resolve to return unto Him

whom we have guiltily forsaken.

 

  • THE BESTOWAL OF DIVINE MERCY. Manasseh soon found how

immeasurable had been his mistake in his great apostasy. For the God of

his fathers proved to be a God full of compassion and of great mercy, and

He heard the humbled suppliant and restored him, and brought him back to

his kingdom. So God now hears and pardons and restores; He forgives us

our sin, and He takes us back to His Divine favor, and He restores to us our

peace, our hope, our joy, our life in Him and with Him. For there is one

invariable and inseparable sequence, viz.:

 

  • NEWNESS OF LIFE ON THE PART OF THE FORGIVEN.

Manasseh goes back to Jerusalem, takes away the strange gods and the

altars he had built, and casts them out of the city; and he repairs the altar of

the Lord, and re-establishes the worship of Jehovah (vs. 15-16). We

return unto God, and at the same time to all purity, to all temperance, to all

uprightness, to all reverence both in spirit and in action, to all piety of

thought and of behavior. This is precious indeed, beyond all price, this

restoration to God and to our true self; yet is there:

 

ONE SERIOUS DRAWBACK. Manasseh could not altogether UNDO

WHAT HE HAD DONE!  Nevertheless the people did sacrifice,” etc. (v. 17).

He could not, by one enactment or by a number of them, bring back the

situation he had so completely broken up. It takes a long time to restore a

people to THE HABITS THEY HAVE FORSAKEN!   Nor could Manasseh

recall to life the brave and faithful men whom he had “done to death” with

his cruelties (II Kings 21:16). There are some things which the most genuine

repentance will not effect. It will not recall the wasted years; nor undo the

malign and death-bearing influences which have been at work in human

hearts and lives; nor compensate the wronged for the injuries they have

suffered in body or in spirit. Therefore let all remember that, while

repentance and restoration are blessed, a life of holy service from the

beginning is far more blessed still.

 

 

 

Manasseh’s Repentance (vs. 11-17)

 

  • ITS IMPELLING CAUSE.

 

Ø      The grace of God. That the regeneration and conversion of a soul is A

WORK OF DIVINE GRACE  is taught hardly less clearly in the Old

Testament (Deuteronomy 30:6; I Kings 8:58; Psalm 110:3; Isaiah 26:12;

Jeremiah 13:23; 24:7; 31:33; Ezekiel 11:19; Zechariah 12:10) than in

the New Testament (John 1:13; 3:3; 6:44, 63, 65; Ephesians 2:1-10; 5:14;

Philippians 1:6).

 

Ø      The judgments of Providence. “The Lord brought upon him and his

people the captains of the host of the King of Assyria (v. 11).

 

o        The King of Assyria here referred to was either Esarhaddon

(B.C. 681-668), who succeeded Sennacherib, and therefore

was contemporary with Manasseh during the first years of his

reign (Sayce, ‘Fresh Light,’ etc., p. 152; Rawlinson, ‘Egypt and

Babylon,’ p. 25); or Esarhad-den’s son and successor,

Assur-bani-pal, B.C. 668 — the Sardanapalus of the Greeks

(Schrader, ‘Die Keilinschriften,’ p. 367; Kleinert, in Riehm’s

Handworterbuch,’ p. 948). An inscription of the former monarch

mentions Manasseh King of Judah as one of his tributaries

(‘Records,’ etc., 3:107), while a similar inscription of the latter

sovereign introduces as one of his tributaries the same Manasseh

King of Judah (Schrader, p. 355).

 

o        The occasion of this expedition against Manasseh is not specified.

If it happened under Esarhaddon, the monuments afford no

information of any rising of the Palestinian states against Assyrian

supremacy during his reign — Rawlinson (‘Kings of Israel and Judah,’

p. 207) conjectures that he may have “entered into negotiations with

Tirhakah of Egypt;” if under Assurbani- pal, Manasseh may have

been suspected of sympathizing with Saulmugina of Babylon,

Assur-bani-pal’s rebellious brother, who about B.C. 648 (and

therefore when Manasseh had been forty years upon the

throne) endeavored to assert his independence.

 

o        The capture and deportation of Manasseh, whom the Assyrian king’s

generals “took in chains,” or “with hooks,” and “bound with fetters,”

accords exactly with the representations given by the monuments.

“The practice of bringing prisoners of importance into the presence of

a conquering monarch by means of a thong attached to a hook or ring

passed through their upper or their under lip, or both, is illustrated by

the sculptures both of Babylonia and Assyria. Sargon is seen in his

palace at Khorsahad receiving prisoners whose lips are thus perforated;

and one of the few Babylonian sculptures still extant shows us a vizier

conducting into the presence of a monarch two captives held in

durance in the same way.  Cruel and barbarous as such treatment of

a captured king seems to us, there is no doubt that it was an Assyrian

usage. To put a hook in a man’s mouth and a bridle in his jaws

(II Kings 19:28) was no mere metaphor expressive of defeat and

capture, but a literal description of a practice that was common

in the age and country — a practice from which their royal

rank did not exempt even captured monarchs” (Rawlinson,

Egypt and Babylon,’ p. 27). The ‘Annals of Assur-bani-pal

speak of two Cimmerian chiefs whom Gyges King of Lydia,

in strong fetters of iron and bonds of iron, bound and with

numerous presents caused to bring to his (Assur-banipal’s)

presence” (‘Records,’ etc., 1:70).

 

o        The destination of Manasseh’s deportation — Babylon instead of

Nineveh, as one might have supposed — is explained by the

circumstance that Esarhaddon and Assur-bani-pal both assumed

to themselves the title of “King of Assyria and Babylon,” and

instead of governing Babylon by means of a viceroy, themselves

resided there a part of the year in a palace built by the former

(Sayce, ‘Fresh Light,’ p. 152; Rawlinson, ‘Egypt and

Babylon,’ p. 25; Smith, ‘Assyrian Discoveries,’ p. 316;

Schrader, ‘Keilinsehriften,’ p. 368).

 

  • ITS ACCOMPANYING SIGNS.

 

Ø      Humility. “He humbled himself greatly before the Lord God of his

fathers(v. 12). This grace, beautiful in all who come before God

(Job 25:5-6; Ecclesiastes 5:2), is absolutely indispensable to a

penitent (Job 40:4; Isaiah 6:5; Romans 7:18), and is the certain

highway to spiritual promotion (Proverbs 15:33; Isaiah 66:2;

Luke 18:13-14).

 

Ø      Prayer. “He besought the Lord his God” (v. 12); “he prayed unto

Him” (v. 13) — no doubt with the language and feeling of:

 

o        confession, acknowledging his trespasses (Job 7:20; Psalm 32:5;

51:3; Isaiah 59:12; Daniel 9:5),

 

o        submission, owning the just judgment of God upon himself and

his people, without which no repentance can be sincere

(Psalm 51:4; Daniel 9:7);

 

o        supplication, entreating Jehovah’s favor and forgiveness,

and in proof thereof restoration to his land and kingdom

(compare Manasseh’s prayer in the Apocrypha below:)

 

O Lord, Almighty God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,

and of their righteous seed; who hast made heaven and earth, with

all the ornament thereof; who hast bound the sea by the word of thy

commandment; who hast shut up the deep, and sealed it by thy

terrible and glorious name; whom all men fear, and tremble before

thy power; for the majesty of thy glory cannot be borne, and thine

angry threatening toward sinners is importable: but thy merciful

promise is unmeasurable and unsearchable; for thou art the most

high Lord, of great compassion, longsuffering, very merciful, and

 repentest of the evils of men. Thou, O Lord, according to thy great

goodness hast promised repentance and forgiveness to them that

have sinned against thee: and of thine infinite mercies hast appointed

repentance unto sinners, that they may be saved. Thou therefore,

O Lord, that art the God of the just, hast not appointed repentance

to the just, as to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, which have not

sinned against thee; but thou hast appointed repentance unto me

that am a sinner: for I have sinned above the number of the sands

of the sea. My transgressions, O Lord, are multiplied: my transgressions

are multiplied, and I am not worthy to behold and see the height of

heaven for the multitude of mine iniquities. I am bowed down with many

iron bands, that I cannot lift up mine head, neither have any release:

for I have provoked thy wrath, and done evil before thee: I did not thy

will, neither kept I thy commandments: I have set up abominations,

and have multiplied offences. Now therefore I bow the knee of mine

heart, beseeching thee of grace. I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned,

and I acknowledge mine iniquities: wherefore, I humbly beseech thee,

forgive me, O Lord, forgive me, and destroy me not with mine iniquities.

Be not angry with me for ever, by reserving evil for me; neither condemn

me to the lower parts of the earth. For thou art the God, even the God

of them that repent; and in me thou wilt shew all thy goodness: for thou

 wilt save me, that am unworthy, according to thy great mercy. Therefore

I will praise thee for ever all the days of my life: for all the powers of the

heavens do praise thee, and thine is the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

                                                (from the Septuagint via Wikipedia)

 

 

  • ITS CONSEQUENT FRUITS.

 

Ø      Acceptance. Jehovah “was entreated of him, and heard his supplication,

and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom” (v. 13). So God

still listens to the cries of sincere penitents when they call upon him for

forgiveness and salvation, for emancipation from the condemnation of the

Law and the enslaving yoke of sin (Job 33:27-28; Isaiah 55:6-7; 57:15;

Jeremiah 3:12-14; Luke 18:14; James 4:8 – Very good and encouraging

references extolling the goodness and mercy of God – CY - 2017). That

Manasseh should have been restored to his throne and kingdom harmonized

well with the mild character of Esarhaddon, who appears from the monuments

to have accorded similar treatment to a son of Meredach-Baladan, and to an

Aramaean chief of the Gambalu, both of whom on submitting to his authority

were forgiven and reinstated in their former positions (Rawlinson, ‘Egypt and

Babylon,’ pp. 27, 28). Like clemency was extended by Assur-bani-pal to the

King of Arvad’s Vakinlu’s sons, who, on kissing the great king’s feet after

their father’s death, were favorably received — Azibahal the eldest

being appointed to the kingdom of Arvad, and the others presented

with clothing of linen and bracelets of gold (‘Records,’ etc., 1:69).

Tammaritu King of Elam likewise experienced the great king’s favor

on making humble submission and acknowledgment of his offence

(ibid., p. 78).

 

Ø      Illumination. “Then Manasseh knew that Jehovah He was God” (v. 13).

 

o        The discovery Manasseh made was true even before he made it, at the

very time when he thought it to be false. That Jehovah alone was

God had been distinctly claimed by Jehovah Himself (Exodus 9:14;

20:3), by Moses (Deuteronomy 4:35), by Hannah (I Samuel 2:2),

by David (II Samuel 7:22), by Solomon (I Kings 8:23, 60), and by

Isaiah (Isaiah 44:5-6, 21). So the fact that men may sometimes say

or think there is no GOD (Psalm 14:1) does not prove that there is

none.  (One of my favorite scriptures is “...if we deny Him, He also

will deny us.  If we believe not, YET HE ABIDETH FAITHFUL:

HE CANNOT DENY HIMSELF!” – II Timothy 2:12-13   All

these references are outstanding in making the point - CY –2017)

 

o        The ignorance of this sublime truth of the unity and soleity (not

involving anyone or anything else) of Jehovah lay at the basis

of Manasseh’s devotion to idolatry. So the “Gentiles walk in the

vanity of their minds… through the ignorance that is in them”

(Ephesians 4:17-18).

 

o        Manasseh’s apprehension of this truth was rather the result than

the cause of his repentance. Manasseh turned to God when in

distress out of a sense of sin, with an earnest desire after mercy,

and (it may be assumed) with a sincere resolution after new

obedience. It is not certain that at that stage he realized the

theological fact that Jehovah alone was God. This dawned on

him first, it would seem, in all its clearness when, in answer to

his prayer, he became a conscious recipient of the Divine mercy.

His experience in dealing with Jehovah — so different from that

he had been acquainted with in serving idols — convinced him

that these were nothing, and that Jehovah alone was God; and

the discovery of this truth rendered his relapse into idolatry

impossible. So men never clearly know God till they become

participants of His mercy.

 

Ø      Reformation. “He took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the

house of the Lord (v. 7), and all the altars that he had built in the mount

of the house of the Lord,… and cast them out of the city” (v. 15).

Compare the earlier reformations of Joash (ch. 23:17), and Hezekiah

(ch. 31:1), and the later of Josiah (ch. 34:3-4). So in every case of true

conversion there must be a putting away of known sin (Isaiah 1:16; 55:7;

Matthew 3:8).

 

Ø      Separation. The people continued to sacrifice on the high places, though

only unto the Lord their God (v. 17). On their part it was a compromise.

Willing to advance half-way on the path of reformation, they would not

make a clean severance between themselves and idolatry. Manasseh did not

so.

 

Ø      Consecration. “He repaired the altar of the Lord, and sacrificed thereon

peace offerings and thank offerings” (v. 16). So far as he himself was

concerned, he was done with the high places; and his regal authority,

backed up by his personal example, he faithfully employed to induce his

subjects to have done with them also.

 

  • LESSONS.

 

Ø      The benefits and design of affliction.

Ø      The value and use of prayer.

Ø      The graciousness of God towards penitents.

Ø      The marvellous illumination that comes with the new life.

Ø      The certainty that holiness will flow from a personal experience

of mercy.

Ø      The intermixture of imperfection with the best services of saints.

 

18 “Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God,

and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD

God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel.

19 His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his

sins, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places,

and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled:

behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers.”

The parallel again obtains (II Kings 21:17-18), but in

shorter form. His prayer. This is for the present, at any rate, lost, the

apocryphal and the Septuagint manuscript version of it alike not genuine.

The words of the seers. So again our compiler shows undesigned

correspondence with the writer of the parallel, as above quoted (II Kings

21:10-15). As to the original authorities quoted here, book of the

kings, etc., and next verse, “the sayings of the seers.”

 

20 “So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own

house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.”  In his own house.

The parallel has, “In the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza;”

i.e., with little doubt, what had been formerly the garden of one Uzza.

 

 

Lessons from the Life of Manasseh (vs. 18-20)

 

  • A LURID LIGHT UPON THE NATURAL HISTORY OF SIN.

Manasseh’s career brings into prominence certain truths upon the subject

of human depravity which in these days of so-called culture and refinement

are prone to be pushed aside, ignored, and forgotten.

 

Ø      That sin, wickedness, a disposition to go astray from the paths of virtue,

is an inborn characteristic of the human soul in its fallen condition; is a

native product springing up out of the soil of man’s interior being, and

does not simply come upon him from without as the result of his

environment, as the combined effect of the circumstances by which he is

surrounded and of the examples by which he is directed. This is what

theologians are accustomed to call the doctrine of original sin — a doctrine

which Scripture with perfect clearness announces (Psalm 51:5), which

experience everywhere attests (I Kings 8:46; Ecclesiastes 7:20),

which modern science with its law of heredity strikingly confirms, and

which lends peculiar emphasis to the teaching of Christ as to the new birth

(John 3:7).

 

Ø      That this inborn principle of sin frequently reveals itself at unexpected

times and under totally unlooked-for conditions. Concerning Manasseh

one would have felt disposed to reason that if ever a child had the chance

of being good, or at least of keeping down the evil that was in him, that

child was the son of Hezekiah. Yet scarcely had he come to the throne at

the early age of twelve than the wickedness of his nature began to break

forth in almost full-blown violence. It is a warning to parents not to slacken

in their diligence or abate in their efforts to promote the godly education of

their children, since the season for impressing them with right views of

truth and instilling into them right principles of action is at the longest

extremely short, and if neglected may lead to irreparable disaster in afterlife;

while it is a much-needed reminder that not even pious parents can

infallibly secure the conversion of their children, and that after all these

have the determination of their future characters and destinies largely in

their own hands.

 

Ø      That the development of evil in human hearts and lives is often rapid

and always downward. At least it was so with this infatuated prince, who

began by exhibiting a singular precocity in sin, and ended not until he had

all but exhausted the catalogue of crime. If he proceeded no further in his

downward career than sacred story represents, the reason likely was that

his ingenuity could devise nothing more atrocious. Indeed, one cannot help

discovering in him a prototype of Shakespeare’s Aaron, who says-

 

Tut! I have done a thousand dreadful things

As willingly as one would kill a fly!

And nothing grieves me heartily indeed,

But that I cannot do ten thousand more.”

(‘Titus Andronicus,’ act 5. sc. 1.)

 

  • VALUABLE COUNSEL AS TO THE MORAL AND SPIRITUAL

USES OF ADVERSITY.

 

Ø      It is always intended as a means of religious and moral improvement,

whether it be laid on saint or sinner. The Lord doth not afflict men

willingly, but for their profit, that they might be partakers of His holiness

(Lamentations 3:33; Hebrews 12:10). In the case of saints it has

this for its primary end (Ibid. v. 11); but even in the case of sinners

this end is not neglected or overlooked. Calamity may fall on them directly

as punishment; yet it always aims at their arrestment, reformation, and

conversion.

 

Ø      It frequently succeeds when every other means of improvement fails. In

the case of Manasseh nothing appeared potent enough to arrest him on his

mad career — not the memory of his good father or of his pious mother,

not the infinite folly of the idolatries he was keeping up, not the shame in

which his immoralities involved him before the people, not the blood of his

innocent victims, not the mourning and lamentation of his bereaved

subjects, not the feelings of his own parental bosom, not the reproofs of

Jehovah’s prophets, not the terrors of his own conscience, Nor until God

put a hook into his nose and led him off to captivity in Babylon did he

pause and begin to reflect on his wickedness. And the same function is

performed by affliction yet. God frequently employs it to pull up those

whom He perceives rushing headlong to perdition, when other and milder

methods have been used in vain.

 

  • A SPLENDID ILLUSTRATION OF THE FREENESS AND THE

POWER OF DIVINE GRACE,

 

Ø      The steps of Manassehs recovery.

 

o        Penitence. He was awakened to a sense of his past ungodly career,

and filled with sincere and heartfelt contrition on its account.

 

o        Prayer. He was moved to cry for mercy from that God against whom

he had offended.

 

o        Pardon. The Lord was entreated of him, and he was forgiven. He

was restored to his kingdom.

 

The ground of Manassehs recovery.

 

o        Certainly not good works in the sense of meritorious actions,

because penitence and prayer are both good in the sense of

being  commanded duties.

 

o        Solely the grace or loving-kindness of God, which besides was

magnified in pardoning so great a transgressor.

 

  • NECESSARY INSTRUCTION AS TO THE ONLY SUFFICIENT

EVIDENCE OF CONVERSION AND SALVATION.

 

Ø      Illumination. “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.” This

was true all the same, whether Manasseh knew it or not, and all the while

Manasseh was doing his best by the worship of idols to show that he

believed the opposite. That which convinced him of his error was his

experience of the Divine clemency. Whereas his service of idols had not

been able to prevent his deportation to Babylon, no sooner had he

transferred his allegiance to Jehovah than his captivity was ended. This

sufficed to draw the veil from Manasseh’s eyes. So men never really come

to know God till they have been made partakers of OF HIS MERCY

IN CHRIST!   That which renders nugatory and worthless much of

present-day objection to God and Christ, the Bible and the gospel,

is that it commonly proceeds from them that know neither the one

nor the other.

 

Ø      Reformation. Manasseh’s conversion was authenticated by change of

behavior as well as change of mind. He took away the foreign gods out of

the house of the Lord, and removed from both the temple and the city all

the altars he had built for their worship. He repaired also the altar of the

Lord, and commanded his subjects to serve the Lord God of Israel only.

So in all cases of true conversion there must be the putting away of every

known sin, the consecration of every individual power, and the

performance of every known duty.

 

 

 

The Reign of Manasseh (vs. 1-20)

 

  • ITS EARLY COMMENCEMENT. Manasseh, “One who forgets”

(Gesenius) — an exceedingly appropriate name for one who in his lifetime

forgat God and every good thing; in the inscriptions Minasi; perhaps so

called “in allusion to the zeal with which the northern tribe had joined in

Hezekiah’s reforms” (ch. 30:11), or to the desire which prevailed in

Hezekiah’s reign for a union of the two kingdoms” (Stanley)

— was twelve years old when he ascended his father’s throne (v. 1). A

wise child may be better than a foolish king (Ecclesiastes 4:13); but, as

a rule, “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child” (Proverbs

22:15), while wisdom is the ripe fruit of age and experience (Job 32:7).

The experiment of boy-kings — unless where these have been placed

under regents or guided by wise counselors, as were Joash (II Chronicles

24:2) and Uzziah (ibid. ch. 26:5) — has seldom been successful

(Ecclesiastes 10:16); though Manasseh’s grandson, Josiah, must be

pronounced an honorable and brilliant exception (ch. 34:2).

 

  • ITS EVIL CHARACTER. Manasseh “did that which was evil in the

sight of the Lord” (v. 2).

 

Ø      In imitation of the heathen. Whether he endeavored to become

acquainted with all the heathen religions he could find, and to

introduce them into Judah, and “for this purpose sent into the most

distant lands where there was any famous cultus, and grudged no

pains for his one object” (Ewald, ‘History of Israel,’ 4:208) —

which seems a pure conjecture on the part of the learned author

who propounds it — it is undoubted that he resuscitated paganism

and carried it to a higher degree of prevalence than it had ever

before attained in Judah.

 

o       He restored all the Canaanitish abominations, i.e. the

ancient worship on hill-tops, which had flourished

under Ahaz, but which his father Hezekiah had

destroyed (vs. 2-3).

 

o       He revived the Baal and Moloch worship of Phoenicia,

which Ahab had introduced into Israel, rearing up

altars for the Baalim, making Asheroth, or male and

female statues, with their accompanying abominable

houses (v. 3), and setting up a Moloch idol in the

vale of Hinnom, to which he sacrificed one, if not

more, of his own sons (v. 6), and encouraged his

people to offer theirs (Jeremiah 7:31-32; 19:2-6;

32:35).

 

o       He extended the Assyrio-Chaldean star-worship,

which his grandfather Ahaz had introduced (II Kings

23:12); he “worshipped all the host of heaven, and

served them” (v. 3). (On the nature of this worship,

consult Exposition.)

 

o       “He plunged into all the mysteries of sorcery, auguries,

and necromancy” (Stanley); “he practiced augury,

and used enchantments, and practiced sorcery, and

dealt with them that had familiar spirits” (v. 6).

“Magic occupied an important place in the regards

of the upper classes in Assyria, Babylonia, and Egypt.

At Babylonia the interpretation of omens was reduced

to a science” (Rawlinson, ‘Kings of Israel and Judah,’

p. 206).

 

Ø      In dishonor of his father. “He built again the high places his father

Hezekiah had thrown down’ (v. 3). Two things may have accounted

for this sudden outbreak of paganism after Hezekiah’s death.

 

o        The superficial character of Hezekiah’s reformation, which,

though extensive enough, reaching to the furthest limits of

Judah (ch. 31:1), does not appear to have been sufficiently

intensive (see Isaiah chapters 28-32.). The heathen party

which had the upper hand during Ahaz’s reign, though

suppressed by Hezekiah with Isaiah’s help, was not

destroyed. The spirit of idolatry, compelled to be quiet and

in a measure hold itself in abeyance, was neither eradicated

from the community nor greatly weakened in its energy —

merely it was waiting a convenient opportunity to start up

with renewed life and vigor. To this party belonged Shebna,

the treasurer whose deposition Isaiah demanded (Isaiah

22:15-25).

 

o        The youth of Manasseh on acceding to the throne. Whether

Hezekiah’s only son (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 10:2. 1) or not (Ewald,

‘History of Israel,’ 4:206, note), Manasseh was only twelve

years of age on assuming the regal dignity, and must have

been born three years after the illness referred to in the

preceding chapter (ch. 32:24). His father’s death,

therefore, having thrown him into the hands of the heathen

party at a tender and susceptible age, he was quickly

perverted from the right way of the Lord. Even the example,

teaching, and prayers of his mother, Hephzibah (II Kings

21:1), traditionally reported to have been Isaiah’s

daughter, were powerless to resist the corrupting influences

of the statesmen and courtiers who surrounded him. “The

young years of Manasseh gave advantage to his miscarriage;

even while he might have been under the ferule, he swayed

the sceptre. Whither may not a child be drawn, especially

to a gairish and puppet-like superstition? As infancy is

capable of all impressions, so most of the worst” (Bishop Hall).

 

Ø      In defiance of Jehovah. Not content with re-establishing idolatry in

general, he proceeded to put a special affront upon Jehovah.

 

o        He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts

(outer and inner) of the house of the Lord (v. 5), thus

desecrating the city of which Jehovah had said, “In

Jerusalem shall my Name be for ever” (v. 4).

 

o        In the house of God, perhaps in the holy place, he set the

graven image of the idol he had made (v. 7), i.e. of the

Phoenician Astarte, so dishonoring the city and the temple

of which God had said, “In this house and in Jerusalem,

which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I

put my Name for ever” (v. 7), and braving the Divine

threatening Jehovah had pronounced against apostasy from

His Law and worship (v. 8). That he “went so far as to

remove the altar from the forecourt of the temple, and the

ark from the holy of holies” (Ewald), though not certain, is

at least probable (compare v.16; ch. 35:3; Jeremiah 3:16).

 

o        He along with his people rejected the admonitions of

Jehovah’s prophets (v. 10; compare II Kings 21:10).

Whether one of these was Hozai, who survived Manasseh’s
reign and recorded its chief events (v. 19), whether Isaiah

lived into the times of Hezekiah’s son, and whether

Habakkuk was one of those who remonstrated with

Manasseh, cannot be determined. Their message, however,

has been recorded (II Kings 21:12-15) — a prediction of

impending destruction for Jerusalem because of her

sovereign’s and her people’s sins. Yet neither Manasseh

nor his people would hearken. “They loved the darkness

rather than the light, because their deeds were evil.”

(John 3:19)  They refused to be warned of the perilous

career upon which they had entered. “They hated

knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord:

they would none of His counsel; they despised

all His reproof” (Proverbs 1:29-30).

 

o        He employed against the prophets and professors of the

true religion the unhallowed instrument of persecution.

“He shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled

Jerusalem from one end to another” (II Kings 21:16).

“He barbarously slew all the righteous men that were

among the Hebrews; nor would he spare the prophets,

for he every day slew some of them, till Jerusalem was

overflown with blood” (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 10:3. 1).

Not the first instance in Scripture of a state persecution

on account of religion (I Kings 18:13); unhappily not

the last (ch. 34:5).

 

  • ITS LONG CONTINUANCE. The worst king had the longest reign

fifty-five years. Perhaps:

 

Ø      To discover the true character of the nations sin, to reveal the

essentially evil nature of idolatry, the inherent wickedness of such apostasy

from Jehovah as Manasseh and his subjects had been guilty of. For this

reason God bore long with the antediluvian world, and still at times permits

wicked men to cumber the ground through long years, while good men, on

the other hand, appear to be cut off before their time.

 

Ø      To signalize the Divine forbearance, to make known to Manasseh and

his subjects the Divine long-suffering, the desire on Jehovah’s part that he

and they should repent; as God still, for a like reason, exercises patience

with wicked men (I Timothy 1:16; II Peter 3:15), being unwilling

that any should perish, but that all should turn unto him and live

(Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11; I Timothy 2:4; II Peter 3:9).

 

Ø      To vindicate the Divine justice, in case the threatened judgments against

Judah and Jerusalem should come to be fulfilled. After such an exhibition

of the hideous character and bitter fruits of idolatry as had been given by

Judah’s king and people, and after such a display of patient forbearance on

the part of Jehovah, when the stroke of judgment fell upon the apostate

land, it would be impossible to say that it was either undeserved or

premature; that either Judah’s cup of iniquity was not full, or everything

had not been done to secure her recovery from the evil path upon which

she had entered (Isaiah 4:3-6).

 

  • ITS PEACEFUL CLOSE.

 

Ø      The king was converted. “Manasseh humbled himself greatly before

the God of his fathers” (v. 12). “Manasseh knew that the Lord

He was God” (v. 13; see next homily on vs. 11-17).

 

Ø      The people were reformed. In part at least a check was given to their

idolatry. Though they continued to sacrifice on the high places, they

did so “unto the Lord their God only” (v. 17).

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      That early promotion, except in grace, is frequently a grievous

misfortune.

Ø      That piety in parents is no guarantee of piety in children.

Ø      That the alternation of good and evil rulers in the Church and in the

state is not without its uses — on the one hand of comfort, on the

other hand oftrial.

Ø      That “length of days is no true rule of God’s favor” (Hall).

Ø      That “we may not measure grace by means” (ibid.).

Ø      That “that mischief may be done in a day which many ages cannot

redress” (ibid.).

Ø      That no degree of wickedness is beyond the reach of grace to

forgive or remove.

 

 

Uncertain Repentances (vs. 1-20)

 

While the father Hezekiah filled one of the niches of the three typical best

kings, his son Manasseh, the thirteenth King of Judah, by mournful

contrast, occupies one of those of the three worst of all the kings of both

lines, the other two being Jeroboam and Ahab. His reign, filling the longest

space of all, viz. fifty-five years, occupies but a very unequal space on the

page of the present history, and a yet shorter in the parallel (II Kings

21:1-18). Eventful as it was, its eventfulness was of such a character that

the historians may be pardonably credited with the very natural disposition

to get over it as quickly as was possible. But from another point of view,

the brevity marks significantly enough one unrelieved tale, one catalogued

accumulation of personal sin, and sin against his high office and position,

sin against his nation, and that sin — some of the worst of all sin — which

consisted in seducing (v. 9 and II Kings 21:9) others to sin. The

phenomena spread before the student in this chapter exhibit the King

Manasseh:

 

  • TOUCHING THE LOWEST DEPTHS OF SIN THAT HAD

DISTINGUISHED EITHER THRONE OF THE RENDED KINGDOM.

The following particulars may be identified, as e.g.:

 

Ø      The general type of his evil work resembled him to “the heathen, whom

God” had actually driven out as intolerable, while making room in the land

for His own people.  (This was a judgment on the Canaanites for their

cumulative iniquity.  See Genesis 15:16 – CY – 2017)

 

Ø      The evil work which he did was an undoing of good work, and that the

good of his own father before him. “He built again what Hezekiah his

father had broken down” (v. 3).

 

Ø      The evil work which he did was so much worse than that of King Ahaz

(ch. 28:24), who shut up “the house of the Lord,” in that it

proceeded to the sacrilegious profanity of “building altars” for idolatrous

worship, and “for all the host of heaven” in that house itself, “whereof the

Lord had said, In Jerusalem shall my Name be for ever.” In “that house”

also he set “a carved image… idol.”

 

Ø      The evil work which he did was a persuading and seducing of the people

(over whom he was presumably shepherd) to sin, so strong as to amount to

little less than compulsion. Note how often the peculiar circumstances

surrounding a tempter’s tempting make the tempting so called, in nothing

appreciable to fall short of compulsion. The serpent’s tempting of Eve was

discretion itself as compared with the brute force and the overpowering

force with which evil and sin itself are proffered (?) to the mind, heart,

hand, of many a helpless one, many a helpless thousand in the vortex of

modern civilization, its methods and systems.

 

Ø      The evil work did not shrink or stay before the enormity of “shedding

innocent blood” (II Kings 21:16) — that triumph of devilishness — but

even carried it to such excess that could make it possible for the historian

to write, that with the wickedness “he filled Jerusalem from one end to

another,” making it to ring again with its sorrows and “cries from the

ground (Genesis 4:10) and with his sin.

 

  • WARNED IN AN EXCEPTIONALLY FORCIBLE MANNER.

Allusion is made to this interposition in our vs. 10, 18; but fuller

information respecting it is given in II Kings 21:10-15, and especially

vs. 12-13, in language that has indeed made its mark. For the expression

(v. 12), “both his ears shall tingle,” see I Samuel 3:11; Jeremiah 19:3;

and upon the latter verse (v. 13), see Rogers’s ‘Superhuman Origin

of the Bible,’ p. 268 (1st edit., 8vo). Note what real force, though so often

neglected, warningSHOULD BE!

 

  • SUFFERING THE MOST ABJECT DEGRADATION OF

CAPTURE AND HUMILIATION OF PUNISHMENT. This is expressed

in v. 11, compared with II Kings 19:28; Amos 4:2; Job 41:2;

see also again Rogers’s ‘ Superhuman Origin of the Bible,’ p. 286. The

retribution in the mode and the place of punishment is to be observed. It is

the Assyrians who carry him away, but his captivity is to Babylon.

 

  • HIS EXCEEDING HUMBLING OF HIMSELF WITH

ENTREATIES AND PRAYER BEFORE GOD IN HIS AFFLICTION,

AND BECAUSE OF AFFLICTION. There are sufficient reasons for

believing that there were present alike some penitence and some

repentance in this humbling of himself, and beseeching “of the Lord his

God,” and “prayer to the God of his fathers.” For God heard the prayer, in

some sense also undeniably answered it, — brought Manasseh again to

Jerusalem and to his throne there. It is also said that Manasseh came to be

convinced of what he should never have doubted, that “the Lord He was

God” (v. 13); that he reversed his former idolatrous practices and

commands, cast out idols and altars from the city, repaired God’s altar and

offered peace offerings and thank offerings (vs. 15-16), and began other

useful works for the defense of Jerusalem and his country. If he cleared

himself, however, it is plain that he could not succeed in winning the

people away with a perfect heart from “the high places,” and their

sacrifices and worship there (v. 17), which temptation it was he who had

again put in their way at the beginning. How often has God’s ready mercy

and abundant pity run to meet and to help and to receive a penitence that

did not prove itself after all pungent and intrinsically deep and lasting! How

often does He still manifest Himself thus “ready to forgive,” while the

strictest and severest self- searchings of our own hearts as to their sincerity

and purity remain to be challenged! It is indeed to be noted, and it is a

thing unexplained, and painfully, warningly suggestive, that one of the

inspired histories (our parallel) has not a single word to say of his

repentance and amendment; as though, whatever it were personally, and

not a case “where tears of penance came too late for grace” for the

individual, yet such repentance was all too late to rehabilitate his character,

redeem his reign, or undo for a miserable nation the worst of his sins’

consequences!

 

21 Amon was two and twenty years old when he began to reign, and

reigned two years in Jerusalem.  22 But he did that which was evil in

the sight of the LORD, as did Manasseh his father: for Amon sacrificed

unto all the carved images which Manasseh his father had made, and

served them;  23  And humbled not himself before the LORD, as Manasseh

his father had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more.”

The long reign of Manasseh of fifty-five years — a signal and

merciful instance of space given for repentance — ended, his death met

him presumably at the age of sixty-seven. The son who succeeded him was

twenty-two years old, born therefore not before his father was forty-five

years old. This may be an indication that it was indeed not one son only

whom Manasseh “caused to pass through the fire” (v. 6). He emulated

the sins of the former life of his father, but did not, like him, repent. It will

be noted that in v. 19 of the parallel his mother’s name is given as

Meshulle-meth, the daughter of Haruz, of Jotbah,” of whom nothing is

known.

 

24 “And his servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own

house.” His servants conspired. So also Joash and Amaziah had been

punished, the latter avenging the death of his father on those servants who

had caused it (II Kings 14:5; here ch. 24:25-26; 25:27).

 

25 “But the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against

king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in

his stead.”  The people of the land. The emphatic expression here used

(as also in the parallel), with its repetition in same verse making it more so,

may either betray the unfortunate sympathy that the worse element of the

nation felt with the bad king and his evil ways, or it may mean that the

healthier element of the people insisted on the right respect being observed

to the proper succession. The conduct of Josiah from very tender years,

which could not have been entirely his own, but must be credited in part to

those who taught and influenced him, throws the balance of probability,

perhaps, into this latter and more charitable view. The parallel contains two

closing verses (25-26) additional to what we have, giving the authority as

the “book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah,” and stating that Amon

also “was buried in his sepulchre, in the garden of Uzza.”

 

 

The Forfeited Heritage (vs. 21-25)

 

It is but very little we know or think of Amon: his name is unfamiliar, for

his life was uneventful. And yet why should not he have had as happy, as

glorious, as useful a career as David, or as Hezekiah, or as Josiah? He had

a very fair opportunity before him, but he lost it by his own folly. Let us

look at:

 

  • THE GOLDEN CHANCE THAT WAS BEFORE HIM. He was heir to

the throne of Judah. Measured by some monarchies, ancient and modern,

that was small enough. But it was no despicable fortune.  We must not reckon

the worth of a kingdom by its geographical dimensions. Under David and

Solomon the kingdom of Israel was a real power, if not a “great power” in that

age. And then it was open to Amon to conciliate the tribes of Israel as his noble

grandfather had done, and perhaps to win them back. At any rate, the kingdom

of Judah was itself no mean heritage; its men and women were far above the

average of humanity in intelligence, in civilization, in an appreciation of

freedom, in courage, in all the elements of human power. To govern Judah

might well satisfy the ambition of a strong and aspiring mind. And there

was one thing about Judah that could not be claimed either for Assyria or

Egypt. It was the chosen dwelling-place of God; if he were but worshipped

and honored there, His presence and His power would be a more sure

guarantee of national independence and prosperity than countless hosts of

armed men or of chariots of war. Judah was the home of God, and therefore

of truth and of heavenly wisdom. To reign there was a choice heritage for

a true man.

 

  • THE RECKLESSNESS WITH WHICH HE THREW IT AWAY.

 

Ø      He deliberately chose the evil course. At two and twenty he had not his

father’s excuse for being led astray. The stern discipline through which

Manasseh, had passed, and the mercy he had found in a forgiving God,

surely should have affected and controlled his son. But he disregarded

and defied the lessons which were written in such large characters before

his face, and chose the evil way (v. 22).

 

Ø      He declined to be corrected and restored; he persisted in the path of

wrong (v. 23).

 

Ø      He excited the hatred of those whom he governed, and brought about an

early and ignominious death, enjoying but two brief years of kingly rule

(v. 24).

 

Thus, after a dishonorable and reactionary reign, he came to a miserable

and inglorious end, and thus he forfeited his heritage.

 

Ø      There is a very goodly heritage before us as the children of men. It will

probably include something fair and bright of this world’s estate, some

pure enjoyment of which we may partake gladly and gratefully. It will

certainly include the knowledge of God; the opportunity of worshipping

and of serving Him everywhere and in every relation we sustain; the

means of cultivating a holy and a noble character; openings for

usefulness in many ways, and particularly in the way of helping others

on in the path of life; the opportunity of preparing for a far broader

sphere and a far fuller life in the kingdom of heaven.

 

Ø      We may find ourselves tempted to forfeit this good estate. It is alienable

by a sinful preference of the lower good, by a guilty disregard of Divine

voices, by a perilous postponement of sacred obligation to some future

time.

 

Ø      It is our true wisdom and our bounden duty to take at once that decisive

step (of self-surrender to our Lord) which places us within the kingdom

of God, and secures for us the lasting friendship of a Divine Redeemer.

 

 

 

Manasseh and Amon — Father and Son: A Parallel and a Contrast

(vs. 21-25)

 

  • MANASSEH AND AMON RESEMBLED EACH OTHER. Both were:

 

Ø      Men. No higher dignity attainable on earth than that of manhood; higher

than any purely temporal or social distinction is that of having been made

in the Divine image.

 

Ø      Kings. Though often desecrated and abused, the position of a sovereign

is one of great honor and responsibility. As vicegerents of Jehovah, the

theocratic potentates of Israel and Judah stood upon the highest possible

pinnacle of kingly renown.

 

Ø      Idolaters. Amon did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as did

Manasseh his father (v. 22). “Like father, like son,” is the common

experience — the exceptions only proving the rule.

 

Ø      Sufferers. Manasseh was taken captive by Esarhaddon or Assur-bani-pal;

Amon was conspired against and killed by his own servants.

 

  • MANASSEH AND AMON DIFFERED FROM EACH OTHER. They

contrasted in:

 

Ø      Names. Manasseh was so called (probably, at least) after an Israelitish

tribe (see homiletics on vs. 1-20); Amon was named after an Egyptian

god. The first was most likely traceable to Hezekiah’s piety; the second

due to Manasseh’s impiety.

 

Ø      Reigns. Manasseh ruled Judah for fifty-five years; Amon for two. God

determines to nations and individuals, to kings and subjects, the bounds

of their habitations and the length of their days (Acts 17:26).

 

Ø      Careers. Manasseh repented, turned to Jehovah, and lived; Amon died

as he had lived, an insensate idolater and hardened transgressor.

 

Ø      Ends. Manasseh died a natural, Amon a violent death.

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      the resemblances and

Ø      the differences which exist between man and man,

o       in the home,

o       in the world, and

o       in the Church.

 

 

 

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