Zedekiah, the king dominated by others

Zedekiah the fickle

One thing is striking in the character of Zedekiah: it is his inconsistency. For example, after putting Jeremiah in prison because of the words he spoke from the Lord (Jeremiah 32:3), he still goes to see him in secret to hear the word of the Lord (37:17). When Jeremiah asks him not to be send back to the house where he was a prisoner, he grants him to be kept in the prison yard (vv. 20–21). After having cowardly allowed the princes to throw Jeremiah into a pit (38:5–6), he grants Ebed-melech to take 30 men to get him out (v. 10). And after all this, he once again secretly brings Jeremiah to hear again the word of the Lord (v. 14). Prisoner or not? Traitor or not? Prophet or not? Sometimes he says yes, afterwards he says no, or at least his behaviour does not quite agree with his previous decisions.

This inconsistency could also be a symptom of a conscience at work. He was looking for different voices for advice. But even then, his inconsistency also manifests itself in the things he heard from the Lord. If you knew that something would end well by taking choice A and that it would end very badly by taking choice B, which of the two choices would you take? But “because the anger of Jehovah was against Jerusalem and against Judah, until He had cast them out from His presence, Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon” (2 Kings 24:20).

Could the Lord have intervened to help Zedekiah make the right choice and avoid all this? He certainly could have. But he left Zedekiah to his own devices. This is an important reminder for us. When something bad happens, the men of this world often complain about God. It is a misunderstanding, for “every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation nor shadow of turning” (James 1:17). When God—who is always constant in his ways—leaves man to his own works and the consequences of his choices, there is always much evil that comes out of it. The purpose of God’s intervention, apart from judgment, which is his strange work (Isaiah 28:21), is always to curb the development of evil (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:6–7) and to act in grace and mercy toward man (Isaiah 30:21). Let us never forget this. If we harden ourselves, there comes a time when God will leave us to our own choices and the consequences of those choices.

Zedekiah, knowing in advance the result of one choice or another, and knowing what he had to do to make the right choice, did not act in accordance with what he knew. But there are also other reasons for this to be discovered in this last video which closes this series on the kings of Judah.