There is a long line of kings in the genealogy of Judah and Israel’s rulers back in history. Unfortunately, like it always was with the wayward children of Israel, as went the people, so went the king; and vise-versa. There is a certain trend of good to bad kings, primarily the kings of Judah, it was “like father, unlike son”. Many good kings had evil sons, and many evil kings had good sons.
Here is a chronological list of the days of the kings and a chart showing whether they were good kings or evil.
Not all on this list were kings of Judah. Athaliah is the first and only queen of Judah on the list, ruling when her son was murdered. Athaliah was succeeded by her Grandson when she, herself was murdered.
As you can see, there is a trend of back and forth, long stints of good and evil leadership. You may notice that many of these king’s years of reign overlap. Being that most of these coregencies were of a father and son, it was not uncommon for the son to take a portion of his father’s authority prior to becoming king as a training and mentorship for him; almost like a test drive for ruling a kingdom. I would’ve shown a chart of the kings of Israel also, however, the majority of those kings were evil and it wouldn’t emphasize my point.
The fathers in the list above trusted their sons with the kingdoms before the kingdoms belonged solely to them. And, it wasn’t as if the men on this list were all bad kings, but they were bad men. What I want to talk about today is how your priorities determine your legacy. What will you do to impact those you encounter? What will people think of your life when it is over? What will people say of you who know you now? If you asked your closest friends to describe you in ten words, what do you think they’d be? What would you like them to be? What kind of legacy are you living?
Those are deep questions, but they all relate to how we live our lives even now, and how we will live them in the future. Speaking of lives and legacy, here is a chart showing the length of reign of the kings of Judah.
Now, to start this off, Rehoboam is the son of Solomon. His brother, Jeroboam and he split the nation of Israel into two kingdoms: Israel and Judah. Rehoboam did not start out as an evil king, indeed he was a good king, but a terrible man and a terrible father. The first three years of his reign, the bible says that “they walked in the ways of David and Solomon.” They, meaning the children of Judah and Benjamin: the kingdom of Judah. However, Rehoboam was a great king; he built cities and fortified them, made Judah strong against invasion… But he became too powerful and began to trust earthly power over supernatural power.
And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him.
—2 Chronicles 12:1
Not only was he comfortable and secure, he felt he could defend himself against God’s anger. Not only did Rehoboam forsake God’s law, the Bible says all Israel, (meaning the tribes of Benjamin and Judah), with him. How’s that for legacy? But, Rehoboam had many wives and many more concubines. He had 88 children, 28 sons and 60 daughters, he could not help but neglect them. With so many children, and a newly forming kingdom to build and run, he probably had little time for them. It says that he loved Maachah, his wife above the others and her child he chose to rule. Now, it doesn’t say that her child, Abijah, he loved or favored, only his mother, we can derive that he cared little for his children as they provided him no fleshly pleasure.
Rehoboam lived the legacy of becoming the first wretched king of Judah. Not a bad king, but a bad father. His priority was his kingdom and his job as king. His son, Abijah, went on to be another evil king; a good king, mind you, but an evil one. He followed in his father’s footsteps and married many wives bearing many children. He was a warrior king and his children were, no doubt, neglected often as he waged war against Jeroboam, his uncle. But, through some mysterious design of God, one of his sons discovered a new way to rule. Asa, the son of Abijah was a Godly king, in the beginning of his reign, the Scripture says, “the land was quiet ten years.”. Well, Asa reigned for 41 years and was both a good man and good king, and we see the evidence of that in his son Jehoshaphat.
Good Father, Good King:
I could detail the lives and reigns of every King on that list, but the prevailing theme is: good father, good son. For 107 years, from Joash to Jotham, good fathers left their sons good legacies, and Judah was a righteous kingdom. Not because they were good kings, but because they were good men, their priority was raising their families to love and serve God; and through their sons, that legacy lives on.
With the exception of Joash, who was murdered, and Josiah, who was killed in battle, every good king–whether their son followed after their legacy or no–, shared a coregency with his son. The welfare and protection of the kingdom was a family affair. The collective time of reign for all of the good kings of Judah, including the time of coregency, is 265 years.
Bad King, Bad Father:
There is also a span of time where we have successive evil kings, but the legacy we see with evil kings is a short lived reign that ends in destruction. Passed down from father to son they have now ceased from being good kings yet bad fathers and are now no longer good fathers, nor good kings. The rut into which they had run the kingdom is one that they cannot climb out of. God became fed up with the kingdom of Judah consistently reverting back to its old evils over and over again, to the point where he forsook them. In fact, with the exception of Jehoiachin, no son of an evil King co-ruled during the time of his father. It wasn’t a family thing for these kings, the kingdom came first and family came second or did not place at all. The collective time of reign for all the evil kings of Israel is 133 years.
A bad man makes a bad father, a bad father makes a bad king, perhaps not he himself, but his actions shape his son. What the king’s son becomes is the king he created. Legacy.
The life of one person affects so many others, and in the case of a king, affects a kingdom for countless generations to come. The decision of Rehoboam influenced the decision of every king to follow him. In a way, the degradation and eventual fall of Judah can be laid for blame at his feet. His legacy was a broken family, which led to a broken and forgotten people, dissolved into a world of names and places. History has forgotten the kingdom of Judah, but God has not… It shall live as a terror and example to generations to follow. Legacy, what will your be?
In posts to come I may detail the lives and legacies of some of kings of Judah, but for now, I’ll leave you with the thought: how you live is what you leave. Your priorities will always shape your legacy.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist