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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

1 Kings 15

Verses 1-34

1 Kings 15:4 . For David’s sake; for the sake of the covenant which God had given to David. Forgetful children may for a time have their father’s mercies. David was indeed the light and joy of Israel.

1 Kings 15:12 . He took away the Sodomites out of the land. That is, he put them to death, though Jeroboam had spared them: 1 Kings 14:24. If the magistrate fail in this duty, heaven will not fail in laying the sin at his door. These men being consecrated, were guilty of the indecent rites performed to Priapus their god.

1 Kings 15:13 . She had made an idol in a grove, Astarte or Venus. Ashtaroth is the plural. See Joshua 23:7.

1 Kings 15:17 . He built Ramah, north of Anathoth; a key to all the north roads, and only a half stage from Jerusalem.


Rehoboam reigned not half the time of his fathers. He distinguished himself by nothing but folly and weakness. Abijam’s reign was also wicked and short. The Lord took him away, that he might elevate the righteous Asa in compassion to his people: and a good king is among the best gifts of heaven to a favoured nation. The first act of this prince was to rase to the ground the houses of wickedness. This was a wise and sacred step. Vice unmans a whole nation, and arms heaven with vengeance against it. The measure was highly politic; for when the wicked have long been permitted to commit iniquity with impunity, they not unfrequently venture to offend against the state, and against the public, deluded by hopes of the same impunity. Yea, and those who languish and pine away with disease, breathe curses on their country, that houses of infamy were suffered to exist.

He purged religion also of idols, and degraded his own mother for having an idol in a grove. Her crime was the greater because of her influence and birth; and though kings should not interfere with God’s prerogative in matters of faith; yet they have an undoubted right to punish crimes in the ministers of religion with peculiar severity, and to compel their people to a due attendance on public worship. Asa, notwithstanding his zeal, left the groves uncut down. It would be pleaded that they were retiring places to the cities, ornaments to the hills, and that Abraham had planted a grove for the shady and retired worship of the Lord. It is true, the groves, when the idols were destroyed, did no harm; yet it is safest rigorously to obey God, and with our sins to cut off all the occasions of relapse. With these views, Constantine the Great, demolished the stately temples, that the church might rise secure in righteousness and truth.

The Lord preserved this faithful prince, conformably to his covenant, from the wicked designs of Baasha, though he was a military man, strong in forces, and popular in the army. This Asa did partly by force, and partly by claiming the alliance which had long subsisted between the house of David and Benhadad king of Syria. This was a mark of the want of faith in God, as he had a strong army; and he is justly blamed for sacrilege in sending this king the specie from the Lord’s house.

This bloody Baasha, probably taking occasion by some military blunder of Nadab, his young master, while besieging Gibbethon, had availed himself of his popularity to induce the army to declare him king. Then, as Jeroboam had conceived his safety to exist in preventing Israel from going to the temple, so this man thought his diadem insecure, if a single branch of Jeroboam’s house remained alive. They were all massacred, and their bodies treated with indignities beyond a name. Hence this man, acting solely for his own safety, fulfilled Ahijah’s prophecy against the house of Jeroboam: 1 Kings 14:11. Lord, how vain are all attempts to seek a refuge out of thee: and how sure are the men who obstinately depart from thee, to meet with death in the error of their way.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 15". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.