A Brief Look at Kings Good and Bad
We may learn from both the good and bad things done by the Kings of Judah and Israel. About half the kings of Judah were good at some part of their reigns, while all of the kings of Israel did evil.
Among the early kings of Judah, Abijah and Asa began well. They were each attacked by an enemy with superior numbers. However, when they cried unto Jehovah, they became victorious. Yet later Abijah practiced the sins of Rehoboam, and still later, Asa sought help from Syria. Similarly, when we have appealed to God, let us not return to our old ways. Let us not appeal to the world for help and so, become more obligated to it.
After good king Jehoshaphat, Kings Jehoram and Ahaziah, and the usurper Queen Athaliah, were all consistently wicked. Then Kings Joash (see article on Joash) and Amaziah each started well but stumbled.
Next came King Azariah (known as Uzziah because Azariah the priest had priority), who had the second‑longest reign over Judah (see article on Manasseh). “He did … right in the eyes of Jehovah, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.” “But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up,” and he went into the Holy of the Temple to burn incense, instead of Azariah the priest (2 Chronicles 26:4, 16 ASV). It is thought Jehovah sent an earthquake (Amos 1:1, perhaps in his 41st year); Uzziah was suddenly a leper and was quarantined for the rest of his life. We similarly need to not think of ourselves more highly than of others.
Jotham effectively began reigning when his father, Uzziah, turned leprous and was quarantined. He was a rare king of whom it is said, “He did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah; he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done” (2 Kings 15:34 ASV). Yet the people did not.
Following Jotham, Ahaz “did not that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah his God, like David his father” (2 Kings 16:2 ASV).
Hezekiah followed and “did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, according to all that David his father had done” (2 Kings 18:3 ASV). At the first opportunity, he reopened the Temple and invited all Israel to join in observing Passover. After King Sargon of Assyria had taken Israel captive, and many years later Sennacherib invaded Judea, Hezekiah took the problem to Jehovah and was then encouraged by the prophet Isaiah. Egyptian history suggests mice (or rats) ate the Assyrian quivers and bows, brought bubonic plague into the Assyrian camp, thereby slaying 185,000 men and saving Judah (Herodotus II, 141; 2 Kings 19:35‑37).
After Amon’s two years of evil and idolatry, Josiah became Judea’s last good king. “He did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2 ASV). He went to battle to delay Necho of Egypt from a battle with Assyria but was mortally wounded. Still, he died peacefully in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 34:20, 35:20-24).
With Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah, things went from evil to destruction.
Of the 20 rulers of Judah, about five did right from beginning to end. Five were utterly evil. The other ten were a mixture of good and evil.
Of the kings of the ten‑tribe kingdom of Israel, all were bad, in varying degrees. Jehu started well but relapsed (see article below). Of Israel’s last king, Hoshea, it is recorded, “He did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, yet not as the kings of Israel that were before him (2 Kings 17:2). Of the other 18, none is spoken of so well.