The Lord had another servant to bring a solemn message to Baasha. Jehu, the son of Hanani, was the messenger at this time (v.1). Though the history records that Baasha had murdered his master to take his place as king, yet God tells Baasha that He (God) had lifted him out of the dust to make him ruler over Israel. We may be sure Baasha had not considered God at all in his taking the kingdom, but now he is faced with the fact that God required something of him because God had given him the place of rule. But Baasha had walked in the same way that Jereboam had walked, the man whose descendants he killed.
Jehu then tells Baasha the Word of the Lord, that God had lifted Baasha out of the dust to make him ruler over Israel, but Baasha had followed Jereboam in his evil and idolatrous course, causing Israel to sin just as Jereboam did (v.2). Therefore God would take away the posterity of Baasha, reducing his house to the same solemn judgment as the house of Jereboam. Instead of proper burials, Baasha's descendants who died in the city would be eaten by dogs and those who died in the fields would be eaten by ravenous birds (vs.3A).
Baasha personally was buried when he died (v.6), and his son Elah took the throne, though only for a short time (2 years). Verse 7 adds that Baasha's judgment was not only because he committed the same evils as Jereboam, but because he killed Jereboam's descendants.
ELAH'S SHORT REIGN
Elah was no different than his father in his evil character. For two years he evidently reigned only for his own pleasure, for the only specific action we read of on his part is that he was "drinking himself drunk" (v.9). It is not surprising that his own servant conspired against him and killed him. Elah left himself open to any kind of assault by his drunkenness, and his own servants had reason to despise him.
Zimri followed Baasha's example by killing both Elah and all the male descendants of Baasha (v.11). More than this, he killed the friends of Baasha. The motives of Zimri were selfish and evil, but the Lord used Zimri's wickedness to accomplish the prophecy He had sent Baasha by Jehu (v.12). This slaughter of the whole house of Baasha and of Elah and his friends was because of the sins of both of these men who provoked the Lord to anger by idol worship (v.13).
ZIMRI, KING FOR SEVEN DAYS
By his treason Zimri gained the dubious honor of reigning for seven days (v.15). But he had little following. When the people of Israel heard that Zimri had killed Elah, they chose to make Omri king (v.16). He was the commander of the army, so there was little chance that Zimri could survive. Omri, with the armies of Israel, came and besieged Tirzah, where Zimri had established himself (v.17). Zimri knew his case was hopeless, so he committed suicide by burning down his house while he was inside.
Again, his death was retribution from the Lord for his own sin in walking in the way of Jereboam who caused Israel to sin against God. But the judgment in his case was more swift and abrupt than that of those who preceded him. Yet, whether the time is short or long, those who sow the wind will reap the whirlwind. This history of the kings declares that God is not mocked. Whatever one sows he will also reap (Galatians 6:7).
The whole history of Israel from Jereboam was marked by confusion, with kings being deposed and evil men contending for the throne. Omri was challenged by Tibni, the son of Ginath, both of them having large followings (v.21). Omri's faction prevailed, however, and Tibni died. Omri reigned then for only 12 years, six of these being in Tirzah. (v.23). Of course this was in opposition to God's decree that Jerusalem was the center of the nation Israel. Judah recognized this, but the ten tribes had given themselves up to accept any substitute.
Omri had another place in mind, so he bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer. There he built a city and called it Samaria (v.24), where he evidently reigned for the remaining six years of his life. This is similar to the energy of many people today in professing Christendom. They conceive of a plausible center of gathering that is not Christ. It may be baptism, pentacostalism, presbyterianism, catholicism or any other name that seems appropriate for their purpose. But if Christ is not our Center, we shall be exposed to dangers of the worst kind, and specially so if we are proud of a sectarian name.
Omri not only followed the wicked ways of Jereboam, but did worse than all the kings who were before him (v.25). Jereboam began the wickedness of idol worship in the ten tribes, but evil does not stand still: it progresses from bad to worse. 2 Timothy 3:13 tells us, "Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." A man who is a deceiver will find himself deceived also.
Two things distinguished Omri. He built a city as Israel's center in opposition to God's center, Jerusalem, and his evil ways were worse than all the kings before him. He died and was buried in Samaria. He seized control of Israel for 12 years, but what of eternity? His son Ahab then reigned in Israel.
Ahab reigned over the ten tribes for 22 years, and more is written concerning him than any of the previous kings of the ten tribes. Not that he did anything commendable, for his evil was greater than that of Omri or any others before him (v.30).
Ahab was not content with following the wicked course of Jereboam, but he married an evil wife, Jezebel, who encouraged him in greater evil still, including the worship of Baal. Samaria was the center supposedly built for the worship of God, but there Ahab built a temple for Baal and an altar to go with it (v.32). Added to this, he made a wooden image, deliberately and willfully provoking the Lord to anger (v.33).
An interesting note is added in verse 34. The rebellion against God's authority in Israel gave to Hiel of Bethel the ungodly incentive to rebuild Jericho. God had warned against any rebuilding of that city of the curse, which pictures the world in its character of appealing to the flesh. But Hiel brought God's judgment on himself. When he laid the foundation of Jericho his eldest son died, and when he set up the gates his youngest son died (v.24). Joshua prophesied that this would happen (Josh 6:34).
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany