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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 15

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-8

4. Abijam’s evil reign in Judah 15:1-8

Abijam (or Abijah, lit. my father is Yah[weh]) reigned from 913 to 911 B.C. while Jeroboam ruled over Israel. [Note: Various charts of the kings, including those referred to previously, visualize their overlapping reigns.]

"The accession formulae from this reign onwards make cross-references between Judah and Israel. It is not clear whether this was to correlate the sources for the reader or to emphasize the essential unity which should have marked both peoples." [Note: Wiseman, p. 154.]

The king’s mother was a descendant of "Absalom," a variant spelling of "Abishalom" (1 Kings 15:2). According to 2 Chronicles 13:2, Maacah was the daughter of Uriel and therefore the granddaughter of Absalom. Abijam continued to tolerate the pagan worship reintroduced to Judah during his father’s reign (1 Kings 14:23-24). He experienced chastening from the Lord because his heart did not fully belong to Yahweh (1 Kings 15:3; 1 Kings 15:6; cf. 2 Chronicles 13:2-20). God’s patience with Abijam was due to His promises to David more than to Abijam’s own character (1 Kings 15:4-5; cf. 2 Samuel 21:17; 1 Kings 11:36). [Note: For the full biblical accounts of the reigns of these kings, consult the harmonies of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles listed in the bibliography of these notes. The histories of Israel listed in the bibliography also give this information plus data from extrabiblical sources pertaining to their reigns.]

Verses 9-15

Asa’s godliness 15:9-15

Asa came to power close to the end of Jeroboam’s reign over Israel in 910 B.C. Asa reigned from 911-870 B.C., 41 years, an unusually long reign that probably began when he was quite young (cf. 1 Kings 15:2). It was his grandmother (NIV), not his mother (NASB), who bore the name Maacah (cf. 1 Kings 15:2). The queen mother (dowager), not the king’s wife, was the first lady in the kingdom. [Note: Gray, p. 106.]

The rightness of Asa’s acts is clear from his removing the pagan worship practices of Rehoboam and Abijam (1 Kings 15:12-13; cf. Deuteronomy 9:21). He did away with some of the high places (2 Chronicles 14:3), but not all of them (1 Kings 15:14). However, his heart was true to Yahweh all his days (1 Kings 15:14), even though he became somewhat self-reliant later in his life (2 Chronicles 16:7-10).

Verses 9-24

5. Asa’s good reign in Judah 15:9-24

Asa was the first of eight kings of Judah whom the writer of Kings judged as good. Four of them were reformers who sought to bring the nation back to the Mosaic Covenant, and Asa was the first of these. The other reformers were Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. The writer of Chronicles described Asa’s reforms more fully in 2 Chronicles 14-16.

Verses 16-22

Asa’s victory over Israel 15:16-22

Antagonism continued between Israel and Judah in Asa’s day. Ramah was a border town just north of Judah. Many Israelites were leaving Israel to live in Judah, an indication of God’s blessing on the Southern Kingdom (cf. 2 Chronicles 11:13-17). Baasha may have been building a Berlin wall type of structure at Ramah. Asa’s plan to divert Baasha’s attention to Ben-Hadad (ca. 900-860 B.C.) worked. His treaty evidenced some lack of trust in Yahweh (2 Chronicles 16:7-9). Asa’s strategy was one that God blessed, however, and it enabled him to break down Baasha’s fortifications and use their materials to rebuild two towns on Judah’s side of the border (1 Kings 15:22).

"Tabrimmon (1 Kings 15:18) means ’good is Rimmon’, the Thunderer-god, a title of Baal." [Note: Wiseman, p. 156.]

Verses 23-24

Asa’s death 15:23-24

Asa experienced some personal discipline for his trust in the flesh (1 Kings 15:23; 2 Chronicles 16:12). It may have been because of his ill health (gout?) that Asa’s son, Jehoshaphat, became coregent with him late in his reign (873-870 B.C.). [Note: See Edwin Thiele, "Coregencies and Overlapping Reigns Among the Hebrew Kings," Journal of Biblical Literature 93 (1974):174-200.] McFall believed Jehoshaphat’s coregency began in 872 or 871. [Note: McFall, p. 45.] When Asa died, Ahab was reigning in Israel (874-853 B.C.).

Asa’s heart was right with God his whole reign (1 Kings 15:14), as David’s had been. Nevertheless, like David, he also sinned. He experienced personal blessing in the form of a long reign and victory over his enemies because of his commitment to Yahweh. He also became a source of blessing to Judah.

Verses 25-32

6. Nadab’s evil reign in Israel 15:25-32

Nadab ruled Israel from 910-909 B.C. Evidently Baasha assassinated him during a battle with the Philistines. Gibbethon stood three miles west of Solomon’s stronghold city of Gezer near the border where Israel, Philistia, and Judah met. Baasha not only killed Nadab but also all of Jeroboam’s male descendants (1 Kings 15:29). This was a fulfillment of Ahijah’s prophecy that God would cut off Jeroboam’s dynasty (1 Kings 14:14).

"Nothing is more characteristic of the northern state than its extreme internal instability." [Note: Bright, p. 218.]

The writer of Kings noted carefully the prophecies of the blessings and curses on the kings because of their obedience or disobedience to Yahweh’s authority. This is one of the major motifs in Kings. [Note: See Ziony Zevit, "Deuteronomistic Historiography in 1 Kings 12 -2 Kings 17 and the Reinvestiture of the Israelian Cult," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 32 (1985):57-73.]

7. Baasha’s evil reign in Israel 15:33-16:7

Baasha’s 24-year reign (909-886 B.C.), which was the third longest of any king of the Northern Kingdom, fell within that of Asa’s rule over Judah (911-870 B.C.). The Israelite king who rule the longest was Jeroboam II (41 years) and the second longest was Jehu (28 years).

Baasha had an outstanding opportunity to lead Israel back to true covenantal worship after he had killed Nadab and terminated Jeroboam’s dynasty. However, he chose not to do so. He evidently regarded his elevation from a lowly origin (1 Kings 15:2) to Israel’s throne as an opportunity to fulfill personal ambition rather than to glorify Yahweh. For Baasha’s failure, God announced that He would cut off his line as He had Jeroboam’s (1 Kings 15:3-4; cf. 1 Kings 14:11). God ended Baasha’s reign for two primary reasons: his continuation of Jeroboam’s cult, and the motive and manner with which he assassinated Nadab (1 Kings 15:7).

"Besides providing information on Baasha’s death, these verses [1 Kings 16:5-7] reemphasize the author’s theological approach to history. Three issues deserve mention. First, God’s word dictates history, a fact Jehu’s prophetic rebuke and prediction divulges. Second, Jeroboam and Baasha are judged unfavorably because they use their God-given political authority to preserve their own position rather than to glorify God among the people. Third, the text stresses cause and effect, not fatalistic determinism. God gives both Jeroboam and Baasha the opportunity to follow the covenant. Baasha eliminates Jeroboam’s family, as God said would happen, yet becomes like Jeroboam, which makes him a murderer, not a reformer." [Note: House, p. 200.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Kings 15". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/1-kings-15.html. 2012.
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