Verses 17-21 (2 Kings 12:17-21)

When Joash had revolted from God and become both an idolater and a persecutor the hand of the Lord went out against him, and his last state was worse than his first.

I. His wealth and honour became an easy prey to his neighbours. Hazael, when he had chastised Israel (2 Kgs. 10:32), threatened Judah and Jerusalem likewise, took Gath, a strong city (2 Kgs. 12:17), and thence intended to march with his forces against Jerusalem, the royal city, the holy city, but whose defence, on account of its sinfulness, had departed. Joash had neither spirit nor strength to make head against him, but gave him all the hallowed things, and all the gold that was found both in his exchequer and in the treasures of the temple (2 Kgs. 12:18), to bribe him to march another way. If it were lawful to do this for the public safety, better part with the gold of the temple than expose the temple itself; yet, 1. If he had not forsaken God, and forfeited his protection, his affairs would not have been brought to this extremity, but he might have forced Hazael to retire. 2. He diminished himself, and made himself very mean, lost the honour of a prince and a soldier, and of an Israelite too, in alienating the dedicated things. 3. He impoverished himself and his kingdom. And, 4. He tempted Hazael to come again, when he could carry home so rich a booty without striking a stroke. And it had this effect, for the next year the host of Syria came up against Jerusalem, destroyed the prince, and plundered the city, 2 Chron. 24:23, 24.

II. His life became an easy prey to his own servants. They conspired against him and slew him (2 Kgs. 12:20, 21), not aiming at his kingdom, for they opposed not his son?s succeeding him, but to be avenged on him for some crime he had committed; and we are told in Chronicles that his murdering the prophet, Jehoiada?s son, was the provocation. In this, how unrighteous soever they were (vengeance was not theirs, nor did it belong to them to repay), God was righteous; and this was not the only time that he let even kings know that it was at their peril if they touched his anointed and did his prophets any harm, and that, when he comes to make inquisition for blood, the blood of prophets will run the account very high. Thus fell Joash, who began in the spirit and ended in the flesh. God usually sets marks of his displeasure upon apostates, even in this life; for they, of all sinners, do most reproach the Lord.

- Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary