For all his faults, King David was described by God as "a man after my own heart", and then came King Solomon. After such an auspicious beginning, God had to tell King Solomon that because he had turned away from God, Solomon's son would only rule one tribe, the tribe of Judah. When King Solomon died, the kingdom was split, with Israel in the north and Judah in the south and ruled by King Rehoboam whose epitaph read ' he did evil in the sight of the Lord'.
King Abijam ruled for three years and then came King Asa who started well by following God's ways, but during his 41 year reign, he gradually turned away from God. King Jehoshaphat was classed as a 'good king' but his son, Jehoram was a disaster and no wonder, having married the daughter of Queen Jezebel. When he died, there were no mourners and he was not even buried with the kings of Judah.
Jehoram's son Ahaziah only managed to reign for a few months before being assassinated and that is when wicked Queen Mother Athaliah seized the opportunity to grab the throne by killing off all remaining heirs - her own grandsons!
King Joash (a surviving grandson) took the throne when he was seven with the help of Jehoida the priest. His series of reforms started so well, but gradually he turned against God's ways. After 40 years on the throne, he was assassinated. This left his son, Amaziah to reign but unfortunately he lost the plot along the way and after 29 years, he also was killed.
King Uzziah became king at the age of 16 and started off well, but became proud of his position, attempting to take over the role of the priests in the temple. This didn't go down well with God, and suddenly King Uzziah discovered he had leprosy, a contagious disease which would leave him isolated for the rest of his days.
King Jotham followed God's ways but his son, Ahaz immediately let everyone know that following God was not on his agenda eventually boarding up the temple. He was not buried with the revered kings of Judah. King Hezekiah set about to rectify Ahaz's mistakes and after restoring the temple and worship of God, great religious festivals were held much to the joy of the people - the land also prospered. However, King Hezekiah became weak in the latter part of his reign, and the prophet Isaiah had to tell the king that Babylon would eventually invade Judah.
King Hezekiah's 12 year old son Manasseh reigned for 55 years. He commenced his reign as 'the most evil monarch in Judah's history' but later realised his mistakes, repented and with God's help, restored God's rightful place in Judah. Unfortunately his son Amon did not continue his father's reforms and was assassinated after two years. This led to 8 year old Josiah becoming king and he is credited with pleasing God, just as King David had done. He died in an unnecessary battle after 31 years on the throne.
King Jehoahaz only reigned for three months before being deported to Egypt, thus ending the independence of Judah. Jehoiakim was installed as king by the Egyptians, then later his son, Jehoiachin took over but only for three months. He surrendered to the Babylonians who appointed his uncle, Zedekiah as king, but he was captured by the Babylonians as he tried to escape. He was taken in chains to Babylon and blinded, but not before seeing his sons executed so as to prevent any further kings in what was left of the land of Judah.
Many years later, a carpenter named Joseph, also from the tribe of Judah, leaped into the pages of history when the promised Messiah was born. As he could trace his family tree back to these kings, he could have been a king himself if Judah had not been taken captive - an interesting thought. Instead his 'son' became a king, but with a kingdom 'not of this world.'