For all those parents who try to raise their children well, but find they’ve wandered far from God in their adulthood; Joash is proof that the best upbringing can’t overcome a determinedly sinful heart. Joash was raised by the priest, and while the priest remained alive, Joash honored that upbringing by rebuilding the temple.
But as soon as Jehoiada died, Joash turned away from what he had learned growing up and followed the counsel of leaders who plied him with flattery.
Maybe the parenting message in this story is the importance of going beyond teaching your children to obey your wise counsel, to teach your children to seek God’s counsel for themselves.
From a very young age, Joash was under the influence and teaching of the high priest, Jehoiada. Historians suggest that Joash was essentially a puppet king with Jehoiada pulling his strings.
The priest taught him to follow, rather than to lead.
So when the priest was no longer there to guide him wisely, others stepped in to offer their counsel, and Joash eagerly followed them as well.
He followed them into pagan worship and eventually repaid Jehoiada’s kindness in saving him from Athaliah, raising him, and orchestrating his ascension to the throne by having Jehoiada’s son stoned to death.
One of the most difficult challenges in parenting is allowing your adult children to make bad decisions. Of course, we can’t just smile and wave as they drive over a cliff, but there comes a point where we may share our concerns, but place the burden of the decision on their shoulders.
We allow them to make decisions and experience the consequences of those choices.
We trust the Lord to allow them to go only as far as absolutely necessary to bring them back with a greater appreciation of grace.
We pray the consequences won’t be too severe and that the detour won’t be too costly.
But the cost of stunting their ability to choose wisely by insulating them from the results of their choices is far too great for us to fail in this final parenting task.
Like Jehoiada, we may not always be there.