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Thursday, June 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 16

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-7

First Kings - Chapter 16

Evil Prediction on Bsasha, Verses 1-7

Now appears another father and son prophet team. It was Hanani who preached to Asa, only to get thrown into prison for opposing him (2 Chronicles 16:7-10). Now his son comes preaching a message of judgment on the house of Baasha. It reminds one of the message God sent to Jeroboam by Ahijah through his wife who came to inquire of the welfare of her sick child (1 Kings 14:7-11). In fact it was very similar to what the Lord had said to Jeroboam, and it had the same evil consequence pronounced for his sinful leadership of Israel.

The Lord, as He had with Jeroboam, reviewed how He had blessed Baasha, raising him out of the dust, from a mere nobody without any previous notoriety, to make him king of Israel. He is charged with making the people of Israel to sin, just like Jeroboam had done, and having angered the Lord to whom he owed his position. Baasha knew what the Lord thought of Jeroboam’s provocation, and how He had judged him by the awful curse of eradication and abuse of the bodies even in death. Yet he had persisted in doing just the same. Now, says the Prophet Jehu, the son of Hanani, God will also judge Baasha’s house with the same kind of judgment. Those who die in the cities will be eaten of the dogs and those who die in the fields by the fowls of the air.

The account of Baasha’s reign comes to an abrupt close here, not much of what was recorded in the chronicles of the kings being thought worthy of inspired record. He was accorded a burial, though what may have later happened to his body does not appear. Baasha’s son, Elah, assumed the kingship briefly, and the word of Jehu began to come to pass. God was judging the dynasty of Baasha for his evil leadership of the kingdom of Israel and for his bloodiness in exterminating the house of Jeroboam.

The student might question why the Lord would judge Baasha’s house for his murder of the dynasty of Jeroboam, when the Lord had foretold through the Prophet Ahijah just such a destruction. One needs to realize that God does not bring evil calamity on anyone. He is not the author of evil (James 1:13). He does allow men to bring calamity on themselves by their evil deeds, and He foreknows what they will do. He knows beforehand that other evil men will rise up and commit wicked acts to advance themselves. Thus He knew what Baasha would do to Jeroboam’s house and made it known before it happened through Ahijah. He now does the same thing through Jehu in respect to Baasha. God did not condone these wicked deeds, and since all wickedness is judged, Baasha is judged for his eradication of Jeroboam’s house. It is the same course of sin which has repeated itself throughout history, and is especially apparent in the history of the northern kingdom of Israel (Numbers 32:23).

Verses 8-20

Israel in Turmoil, Verses 8-20

While Asa still reigned over Judah Israel acquired still another king. Elah ensconced himself in Tirzah in his father’s palace and proceeded to live in vanity (verses 9, 13). He maintained himself in his debauchery for two years, upon which another evil man rose up to seize the kingdom. While Elah was drinking and rioting in the palace one of his two chariot captains raised a conspiracy against him. Zimri found him drunk in the house of the steward in the palace compound, went in boldly and assassinated him, proclaiming himself the new king of Israel.

Zimri did not hesitate to carry out the Prophet Jehu’s prediction. In short order he slaughtered all the family-of Baasha, not sparing, either, the kinfolk and friends of the late king. It is astounding what swift retribution Zimri effected. In one week the word of the prophet had come to pass. God allowed it to happen because of the vain and empty living they were indulged in and were leading Israel to adopt also (Proverbs 2:22).

Wicked Zimri lasted only seven days. Word came to the army, which was again besieging the Philistines at Gibbethon, that Zimri had assassinated the king and had set himself in his stead. It turned out that Zimri was not acceptable to the military, who at once elected the captain of the host, Omri, to be king in the stead of Elah. Omri raised the siege and marched with all the army to Tirzah and laid siege to the capital. It was soon apparent to Zimri that he lacked the force to defend the city from Omri and the army. Rather than face his enemies he elected to bring about his own death by burning the palace over his head. God had allowed swift judgment to come upon Zimri, and Israel entered another period of anarchy, which would last for several years before another king was secure on the throne (Psalms 34:21).

Verses 21-28

Omri Triumphs, Verses 21-28

As the sinfulness of Israel increased, their troubles multiplied also. Two dynasties had ruled since the division of the kingdoms at the accession of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. Both of them had been violently terminated, by the extinction of all male members of the families of Jeroboam and Baasha. The kingdom of Israel had suffered calamities as a result. There has been war with Judah with disastrous results, religious fornication, political upheaval, regicide, rebellion, and now there is to be civil war following the coup of Omri, the captain of the host.

The fervor for Omri to be their king was by no means unanimous in Israel. The people were about evenly divided, with half of them choosing a man named Tibni in preference. Nothing more is known of Tibni, but he challenged the followers of Omri for about four years (compare verses 15 and 23). Israel must have been in a state of anarchy, with two men claiming to be king and fighting against one another. The Scriptures simply relate, in the settlement of the issue, that the followers of Omri prevailed, "so Tibni died, and Omri reigned." It is not said how that Tibni died. It could have been a natural death, but the implication is that Omri overcame him and slew him.

Omri continued to rule from Tirzah for six of the twelve years of his reign, but he had no proper palace for a king. Zimri had destroyed the palace by burning it down and perishing in it himself. As soon as Omri could, after consolidating his kingdom, he looked around for a good, strategic place to build a new capital. He picked the hill of Samaria, named after its owner, Shemer, to whom Omri paid two talents of silver (equivalent to about $43,680 today). It was a huge sum for the times. Omri built his capital on the hill he had bought and called it Samaria. It is situated atop a small mountain surrounded by a plain. It would be practically impossible for such a city to be surprised by enemies.

But a very bad thing is recorded of 0mri. He did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all the kings who had preceeded him in Israel. This means he was worse than Jeroboam, who started Israel on her sinful downgrade. He was also worse than Baasha, who bloodily destroyed all Jeroboam"s kinfolk Omri did all the wicked things these kings had done, and it will be found that he adopted the wicked Baal worship of the Phoenicians, marrying his son to the daughter of Eth-baal, king of Zidon, whose name was Jezebel. Very little can be said for Omri, and his death may have been considered good riddance. But Ahab and Jezebel will be still worse.

Verses 29-34

Evil Reign of Ahab, Verses 29-34

The forty-one year reign of Asa in Judah extended from the reign of Jeroboam, the first king of Israel, to Ahab, the eighth. This indicates the unstabilized conditions that existed in the northern kingdom because of the sin of Jeroboam in leading them to depart from God’s true worship. Each king seemed to bring Israel into a worse and worse spiritual condition. Ahab on the contrary should have brought about better conditions there, for he was allowed twenty-two years on the throne, and even then was cut short by death on the battlefield. However, his reign turned out to be the worst of the lot.

Ahab not only continued the practices of calf worship instituted by Jeroboam, but married a wicked, idolatrous seductress from Zidon. Jezebel, his wife, was the daughter of Eth-baal, the king of Zidon, a notorious center of Baal worship. Jezebel was totally devoted to the worship of Baal, and by her uncanny influence over her husband set herself on a program to impose Baal worship as the official religion of Israel. She prevailed upon Ahab to erect a Baal temple in Samaria. He also established a grove for the occultic prostitution which was related to it. For all this the divine record proclaims that Ahab did more to provoke God than all the kings before him, from Jeroboam to his own father, Omri.

As an indication of the extent to which men were willing to go to defy God and ignore His word the account of the rebuilding of Jericho is related. When the city fell to Israel as the first obstacle faced by them after they crossed the Jordan (Joshua 6:26), Joshua had uttered a curse on any man who rebuilt (that is, refortified) it. Certainly people had lived in it as an unwalled town heretofore, but none had dared turn against the Lord in again strengthening it by raising its walls.

The man who did this was Hiel, the Bethelite. His town of nativity seems to indicate that he was an adherent of the calves, placing no faith in the true God of Israel. The curse said that he who rebuilt Jericho would lay the foundation in his firstborn and raise the gates in his youngest, which means that these sons would die during the time of these events. Some commentators say the prophecy indicates that all the builder’s sons would perish in the course of the building, beginning with the oldest and ending with the younger. Still others point out the probability that the sons were sacrificed by their father on these occasions in open defiance of God and in keeping with his pagan, occultic worship.

Hiel definitely opposed God. He should have been well familiar with God’s curse, and even if ignorant is inexcusable in his having neglected to learn the will of God. On the other hand he portrays many fathers stubbornly bent on their own careers to the loss of sons and daughters to all sorts of evils of the present day. The admonition of the law (De 6:6-9) was ignored by Hiel; And that of Paul (Ephesians 6:4) is ignored by men today.

Lessons: 1) Men who refuse to profit from other men’s mistakes are destined to suffer the same judgment; 2) God does not condone sin in any sense, but He allows it to run its course against those who are unrepentant; 3) a nation which allows bad rulers to hold power can expect to share in their evil judgment; 4) division in a nation which should promote harmony for the sake of the unit will ultimately destroy it; 5) those who put personal advancement ahead of God and family will destroy themselves at last.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-kings-16.html. 1985.
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