In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. (2 Samuel 11:14)

Through one piece of writing, David ensured the death of one of his most trusted officers. David (already married to seven women, from Michal to Eglah) wanted Bathsheba (already married to Uriah). He arranged Uriah’s death and married her. It may be appropriate to remember Deuteronomy 17:17’s command to kings from a couple of articles ago: “He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.” Be careful of the power of writing. It can seal someone’s fate, for worse and for better.

In both 1 Kings and 2 Kings, there are various stories of, appropriately enough, kings. The focus is on those specific stories, but we are not to lose sight of the fact that the kings did many other things besides – these acts did not define them entirely. We are told in each instance that the rest of the acts of [insert name of king] are written in [insert name of book]. The invitation is there – go and research this person and his deeds; see what is recorded and note the evidence. In the same way, we can cross-refer when tracing evidence. We have already seen how Erastus is named in Acts as being an Aedile in Corinth, and how cross-referencing evidence was found engraved on paving slabs unearthed in Corinth in 1929. 

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. In those letters she wrote: “Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.” (1 Kings 21:8-10)

Ahab wants Naboth’s vineyard but Naboth refuses to exchange or sell. Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, says she will get the vineyard for him. She writes letters in Ahab’s name that culminates in Naboth’s death with Ahab grabbing the vineyard. There is little that Naboth could have done about this: the letters were in the king’s name and sealed with his seal – how would Naboth know that they had been written without Ahab’s knowledge. But Ahab was quick enough to take advantage and claim the vineyard. The Lord sent Elijah to call him out. Despite behaving in the ‘vilest manner’ Ahab knew when he had been found out and humbled himself in remorse, as a result of which the hand of punishment was stayed. There is a lesson there that the spoken word of God trumps even the written command of a king.

The king gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” (2 Kings 23:21)

Josiah was unlike Ahab. As he honoured God, so he found himself led to honour God further. And this led to Josiah being blessed. After reading the Lord’s command and then celebrating the Passover (which had not happened for many years) he was emboldened enough to rid his kingdom of mediums, spiritists, idols, gods and other ‘detestable things’ until eventually we are told “neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did” and (crucially) that he did so “with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength” (v25). Remember with all your ‘muchness’? What a compliment to be remembered for that! Write that on your heart.

[from Timothy Pitt]

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