Jotham’s father, Uzziah, was exemplary for his long reign, his varied achievements, and an outbreak of foolish pride that led to leprosy. After he became leprous, his son Jotham ruled over Judah with him. Perhaps because of his contact with his father, Jotham “did not enter the temple of the Lord.” Even with such a significant shortcoming, Jotham is remembered as a king who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.”
Despite a favorable divine assessment of the man who sat on David’s throne, the Chronicler informs us that “the people still followed corrupt practices.” In a difficult era, Jotham managed to find much blessing from the Lord for Judah. He was successfully engaged in great building projects and received substantial tribute from a neighboring nation. We should not miss this important point: “Jotham became mighty because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.”
The exiles that were returning from Babylon needed to learn from these accounts of the kings from former days. Did they want the Lord’s blessing as they were coming back into the land? Then they needed to structure their lives according to the Word of God.
Disciplined habits of life are important for success in any goal. We are seeking to serve the King of kings who died and rose again to establish a new world. We have been given a purpose in life that fits into His overarching divine plan. We need to live out our days with decency and discipline.
But there is more to the account of Jotham than good habits of life. Jotham ordered his ways “before the Lord his God.” Jotham’s system began with the One who was first: the Almighty King, the Lord God. Keeping God first is a necessary and primary step in a godly pattern for a settled life of obedient devotion. It was an especially difficult priority for a man who did not participate in temple worship. Even though Jotham did not come together with the covenant people on Mount Zion, he lived his life before the face of Almighty God.
There were times when Jesus went off by Himself to pray. Why did He do this? Can there be any doubt that He was daily ordering His life before the Lord His God? How can we follow Him without pursuing that same pattern of divine priority? Right living in the Kingdom of Jesus includes this important directive: “Pray without ceasing.” God must always be first in our lives. We cannot build His kingdom without the practice of prayer.