Proverbs 19:20 ESV instructs, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” I think children are conditioned from parents, school teachers, societal rules, etc. that they are to listen to and accept instruction. However, it is crucial as parents that we are teaching our children to seek out wise counsel and advice.
As we continue the series, “Children in the Bible”, I want to use King Joash as a great example to our children on how important it is to seek out counsel from those who know God and use His Word as their guiding principle in life. His life is a contrast in the results of positively listening and obeying sound advice and negatively listening and following unwise instruction.
Background on King Joash in the Bible
“Joash was seven years old when he began to reign.”2 Kings 11:21 NIV
You read that right, Joash was 7 years old when he became king, making him the youngest king in Judah’s history. Although this seems strange to us for a child to be the leader of a nation, it was not uncommon for monarchs to be crowned at a young age if they were next in line and the predecessor died an early death.
You can read about King Joash in Bible in the book of 2 Chronicles chapters 22-24 and also in 2 Kings 11-12.
Unfortunately, the tale surrounding Joash’s early rise to royalty is a sad and twisted. His grandmother, Athahlia, was the daughter of the wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel of Israel. To say she was crazy would be an understatement. Upon finding out that her son, Joash’s father, King Ahaziah, had been killed, she flies into a murderous rage and orders all of the royal family killed. She then sets herself up as Queen of Judah.
So, how did Joash survive?
When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family of the house of Judah. But Jehosheba the daughter of King Jehoram, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes who were about to be murdered and put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Because Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and wife of the priest Jehoiada, was Ahaziah’s sister, she hid the child from Athaliah so she could not kill him. He remained hidden with them at the temple of God for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.2 Chronicles 22:10-12 NIV
We read that, Joash’s aunt who was married to a priest, hid him away in the temple. And, for six years, he lived and grew under the safety and guidance of his uncle the priest. When Joash was seven years old, the people of God decided they had enough of Athahlia’s evil reign and idolatry. They had her and the prophets of Baal killed and crowned Josiah king.
Lesson on King Josiah-Teaching Our Children to Seek Wise Counsel
Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest.2 Chronicles 24:2 NIV
Did you catch what this verse says? Joash did what was right all the years of Jehoiada the priest. As long as Joash listened to the wise counsel of Jehoiada, God was pleased. Remember that Jehoiada raised him so there was a level of trust and also experience in seeing the priest do what was right.
1. Teach Them to Listen to Those Who Walk with God
This is important when teaching our children to seek wise counsel, we don’t want them just listening to anyone in authority or with a title but those who truly walk with God. How do we know they walk with God? We can trust them to do right based on God’s word and we have seen them chose this over and over again.
Have these conversations with your children about what wise counsel looks like and also name people in their lives who they can be sure to get godly guidance from faithfully.
Teach your children the scriptures so that they can test any advice or teachings against what God’s word says.
2. Teach Them to Stand Firm in Their Own Faith
Now Jehoiada was old and full of years, and he died at the age of a hundred and thirty. He was buried with the kings in the City of David, because of the good he had done in Israel for God and his temple.
After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them.2 Chronicles 24:15-17 NIV
This is the saddest part of the whole of Joash’s life. He started out so strong. A child saved, raised and taught the ways of God, reigning well under the instruction of the priest, but once the priest has died, he listens to foolish counselors.
While we teach our kids to listen to wise counsel, those counselors are not their only source of guidance, wisdom does not leave or die with them. We must teach them to stand firm in their own faith.
They can do this because once they have placed their faith in Jesus, they have the Perfect Counselor with the all the time. In John 14:16-17, Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”
3. Teach Them the Negative Effects of Foolish Counsel
They abandoned the temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger came on Judah and Jerusalem. Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.2 Chronicles 24:18-19 NIV
Because King Joash chose to listen to those who flattered him and gave bad advice, God’s temple was abandoned, idolatry was on the rise, and God’s prophets (who spoke wise counsel) were ignored.
When we listen to any instruction that is not in line with the Bible, we are in direct rebellion against God and in sin. This not only clouds future decisions on our part, but also causes others that we have influence with to go down a path of sin as well.
And when sin is full grown….
King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, “May the Lord see this and call you to account.”
At the turn of the year, the army of Aram marched against Joash…When the Arameans withdrew, they left Joash severely wounded. His officials conspired against him for murdering the son of Jehoiada the priest, and they killed him in his bed. So he died and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.2 Chronicles 24:22-23, 25
It gives birth to death. (James 1:15 NIV) Not only did following really bad advice lead him further into sin, but it caused lots of death. First, Joash doesn’t like the message of the priest Zechariah so he has him killed. Next, an invading army kills many of Judah’s leaders and injures Joash. Finally, Joash is executed by his own officials.
As parents, we must give our kids the full counsel of God’s word, and that includes teaching them the consequences of disobedience and sin. Romans 3:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Prayer to Seek Wise Counsel
Lord, I want to see my children grow wise and understanding in You. Please help me to point them to wise counsel in Your word and to wise counsellors they can trust. Show _______________ who can be a source of good advice and knowledge. Keep foolish people’s talk far from their ears. Reveal to them sin that might lead them to make poor choices and put a multitude of godly advocates around them. Guide them by your Spirit as they walk with you. Amen.
Resources for Teaching Kids and Teens about Seeking Wise Counsel
This is a quick list of some free resources that will help reinforce the story of King Joash and seeking wise counsel. Due to the nature of his story, I have felt this lesson better for older kids and teens so the resources reflect that.
Games and Activities:
- Wisdom Treasure Hunt from Kids of Integrity
- Bible Decision Making Activities for High school Students from ACCounseling
Scriptures to Memorize:
- The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7 NIV
- To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his. Job 12:13 NIV
- If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 NIV
- Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22 NIV