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the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 16

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Verses 1-7

Prophecy About and End of Baasha

The history of the ten tribes realm is tragic. One after the other king is murdered, “bloodshed follows bloodshed” (Hosea 4:2). The murderer becomes the new king. All sin and do Israel sin, but it is getting worse and worse. Baasha hears the prophet Jehu express God’s judgment on him. If kings become unfaithful, God sends prophets. If kings become unfaithful, the people also become unfaithful. The prophet Jehu – so not to be confused with the king who bears this name – is the son of the prophet Hanani (2 Chronicles 16:7).

Jehu reminds Baasha that he owes his kingship not to himself, but to God, and that God has raised him up from deep meanness. Here again we see God’s sovereignty on the one hand and man’s responsibility on the other. We cannot combine these two sides, but God knows how to bring them together, doing perfect justice to both sides. Baasha is a servant who has become king. The earth quakes under such a person (Proverbs 30:21-Song of Solomon :). True kings are not only appointed by God, but also formed by Him.

He provoked the LORD to anger, as Jeroboam did. He is also judged for the murder of Jeroboam (1 Kings 16:7). God had determined that Jeroboam’s house had to be eradicated. He even raised Baasha from the dust to be leader (1 Kings 16:2). But the motives Baasha used were not right. He did it for himself and not because the LORD had said it. He also did more than the LORD had said. The judgment was announced on all that was male (1 Kings 14:10), but Baasha killed the whole house of Jeroboam.

We see more often that an instrument in the hand of God, by whom He executes the judgment over others, is himself punished by God. Jehu brings God’s judgment over the house of Ahab, but is also judged himself for the anger with which he does so. Also the Assyrians who are used by God to discipline His people are in turn judged by God, because of their wicked conduct (Isaiah 10:7; Isaiah 10:12-Nehemiah :).

Verses 8-14

Elah King Over Israel

Baasha dies a natural death. It seems like an exception that he is not killed. Elah, his son, becomes king. The only thing that is mentioned of him is that he is at home, and not with the army, and that he is drinking there. He’s a rake that uses his power to celebrate.

Zimri, a commander, sees his chance to come to power. He uses his military power to exterminate Baasha’s house. In this way he executes the verdict pronounced by God, but he acts with the same motives as Baasha did.

Verses 15-20

Zimri King Over Israel

Zimri is not king for a long time. Only seven days he tasted the power. Then also his end is there. The army now seizes power and makes Omri king. The siege against the Philistines is ended to take Zimri’s power away. A civil war arises instead of a common approach against the enemy. Zimri is so trapped that he commits suicide. He burns himself. After Saul, he is the second king to commit suicide.

Verses 21-28

Omri King Over Israel

Omri is not immediately ruler over all of Israel. There is a part of Israel that is following Tibni, possibly a peaceful man. Omri is the strongest, i.e. literally has the longest breath. Tibni probably died a natural death. If he is a dead, the people who follow Tibni are without a leader and have to submit to Omri and the people who chose him. Omri becomes king. He builds the city of Samaria and settles there.

With Omri a period begins that leads to an even worse low point. It says of him that he makes it worse than all who have been before him (1 Kings 16:25). He has not only maintained idolatry, but has commanded it. He has connected statutes to it for the whole people and thereby made idolatry obligatory for the whole people (Micah 6:16). It is exactly what we find in the letter to the church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:20), which prophetically refers to the roman-catholic church, which also imposes her statutes on the people.

Verses 29-33

Ahab Becomes King Over Israel

After Omri’s death, his son Ahab becomes king. The period that started with Omri is developing rapidly in an even worse direction. Ahab is even worse than his father. He leads the people to an absolute low point in their history. The sin of Jeroboam fades with what this man performs by what he introduces in the midst of the people of God. He marries the full-blown idolatress Jezebel. That woman guarantees that from that moment on Baal will become the official god of Israel. Ahab builds a house and an altar for Baal. What an abominable insult to the God of Israel. This is worse than anything that has happened before.

Verse 34

Jericho Rebuilt

The government of Ahab over Israel, or perhaps better the government of Jezebel over Israel, is possible because king and people have put God’s Word aside. The last verse of this chapter makes that clear. Someone from Bethel (= house of God), Hiel (= God lives), is so audacious to defy the word spoken by God five centuries before and to rebuild Jericho as a fortress city (Joshua 6:26). The city itself has been inhabited for some time.

Although man may have forgotten what God said, God does not forget what He said. He does what He has said. When the man has laid the foundations of Jericho, his eldest son dies. However, there does not ring a bell. Tirelessly he continues to work on the execution of the curse. When he has raised the gates, his youngest son also dies. Still there is no memory of what God once said. For anyone who wants to be faithful to God’s Word, there is a warning and encouragement in what is happening here: God makes His Word come true, both in judgment and in blessing.

The five kings of this chapter show a descending line. The cause is forgetting God, not taking into account what He has said.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Kings 16". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/1-kings-16.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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