‘So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead,’ etc.
Notice the chief lessons which lie in the life of these three kings.
I. Manasseh.—There is no limit to the mercy of God. Sinners the chief are welcome to complete forgiveness. If only great saints got into heaven, we who are great sinners would lose hope. But when we see Manasseh and men like him going in and getting welcome, there is hope for us. If we follow their steps in repentance, we shall be permitted to join their company in rest.
II. Amon.—Beware of turning the riches of God’s grace into a snare. As Manasseh’s case is recorded in the Bible that an aged sinner desiring to turn may not be cast into despair, Amon’s case is recorded beside it that the young may not delay an hour, lest they perish for ever.
III. None of us will be saved or lost in consequence of anything in our parents.—Amon saw his father born again when he was old, but the son did not inherit his father’s goodness. Josiah was the child of an ungodly parent, and yet he became a godly child. These two lessons are plainly written in the history, the one to make the presumptuous humble, the other to give the despairing hope: (1) a Christian father cannot secure the safety of an unbelieving son, and (2) an unbelieving father cannot drag down a child in his fall if that child follows the Lord.
(1) ‘Manasseh is the prodigal son of the Old Testament. He left his father’s house and went into a far country, where he wasted his substance in evil ways. At last in his distress he came to himself, saw what a fool he was, how he had sinned against God, and then crept back to his father’s feet with tears and penitence. This is the only way of hope when one has departed from God. The God of heaven can be found by any one who is living in sin, however far down the grade he has gone, but in all the world the only road that leads to this is the road of penitence. Manasseh was forgiven—any sinner will be forgiven if he truly turns to God.’
(2) ‘It is pathetic to see one part of a life devoted to undoing, or trying to undo, what the other part had done. How much better it is to begin right and give one’s whole life to the things which are right and worthy! Penitence is better than sin, but innocence and holiness are far better than penitence. The story of Manasseh does not stand on the page in any sense as an example, but rather as a beacon, to warn young men everywhere not to depart from God.’