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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 16

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


This chapter relates nothing of the history of Judah but wholly concerns the kingdom of Israel. Jehu comes with an alarming message from the Lord to Baasha. His ruin and death; the reign of his son Elah; the conspiracy of Zimri; the division of Israel after the death of Zimri between Tibni and Omri; the beginning also of the reign of Ahab; and more especially the rebuilding of Jericho which fulfilled the curse of Joshua.

Verses 1-4

(1) ¶ Then the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, (2) Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust, and made thee prince over my people Israel; and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger with their sins; (3) Behold, I will take away the posterity of Baasha, and the posterity of his house; and will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. (4) Him that dieth of Baasha in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth of his in the fields shall the fowls of the air eat.

It is remarkable that while Hanani the father was sent on a commission to the king of Judah, (See 2 Chronicles 16:7 .) Jehu his son is here sent on a like errand of reproof to the king of Israel. But Reader! it becomes a more interesting remark of the gracious dealings of God with sinners when sending his faithful servants to such characters at all. Are not all the Lord's expostulations to this amount? "I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, said the Lord God!" Ezekiel 18:32 . And I beg the Reader to take notice of this further mark which those verses record of God's love, notwithstanding all the sin, and idolatry, and rebellion, of Israel, the Lord still calls them his people. I made thee prince over my people Israel. Oh the wonderful condescension and unparalleled grace of God!

Verses 5-7

(5) Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, and what he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? (6) So Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tirzah: and Elah his son reigned in his stead. (7) And also by the hand of the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani came the word of the LORD against Baasha, and against his house, even for all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD, in provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam; and because he killed him.

Such is the sure end of impiety. Strange that as Baasha had seen in the instance of Jeroboam and his house, the dreadful effects of idolatry, that his heart should have been so lifted up as to forget the Lord's mercy towards him. But alas! what is man, what is every man, unless renewed by grace, but the servant of sin, and the slave of Satan!

Verses 8-10

(8) In the twenty and sixth year of Asa king of Judah began Elah the son of Baasha to reign over Israel in Tirzah, two years. (9) And his servant Zimri, captain of half his chariots, conspired against him, as he was in Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza steward of his house in Tirzah. (10) And Zimri went in and smote him, and killed him, in the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his stead.

This is the famous, or rather infamous Zimri, concerning whom it almost became a proverb in Israel. Had Zimri peace who slew his master? 2 Kings 9:31 . What a solemn lesson is here read to drunkards in the sudden death of Elah! Reader! what an awful thought is it to meditate on the multitudes that are going out of life daily from the effect of this one detestable vice; some by sudden, and some by lingering consequences! and what can charity itself plead in apology for such conduct, which sinks men into the brute, and in itself, if the word of God had not so decidedly spoken upon the subject, proves a total disqualification for all the pure joys of heaven. Oh! that Paul's words were put up in golden letters in all the haunts of drunkenness in the kingdom. Know ye not that drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 .

Verses 11-14

(11) And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, that he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends. (12) Thus did Zimri destroy all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake against Baasha by Jehu the prophet, (13) For all the sins of Baasha, and the sins of Elah his son, by which they sinned, and by which they made Israel to sin, in provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities. (14) Now the rest of the acts of Elah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

What a quick transition of government from father to son, and from the master to the servant, do these few chapters, and even these few verses bring before us. And is it for such short lived honors, and interrupted, as they are, with continued disquietude, men in all ages lose their immortal souls! oh! blessed Jesus! how striking are thy sacred words; What is a man profiled to gain the whole world, if it were possible, and in the end thus lose his soul? Mark 8:36-37 .

Verses 15-22

(15) ¶ In the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah did Zimri reign seven days in Tirzah. And the people were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines. (16) And the people that were encamped heard say, Zimri hath conspired, and hath also slain the king: wherefore all Israel made Omri, the captain of the host, king over Israel that day in the camp. (17) And Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah. (18) And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king's house, and burnt the king's house over him with fire, and died, (19) For his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, to make Israel to sin. (20) Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and his treason that he wrought, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? (21) Then were the people of Israel divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king; and half followed Omri. (22) But the people that followed Omri prevailed against the people that followed Tibni the son of Ginath: so Tibni died, and Omri reigned.

Is it not somewhat extraordinary, amidst all these revolutions and contentions for the empire, that no one Israelite had firmness of mind enough to propose to return to the house of David! Reader! Is it not still more extraordinary that amidst all the tyranny of sin and Satan, no one sinner hath grace enough to say "I will return to the Lord?" Alas! until the Lord hedges up our way with thorns that we shall not find our lovers; and until the Lord leads us into the wilderness, in order that after straits and difficulties he may speak comfortably to us, no son of Adam will ever think of returning to the Lord. Grace must first enter into the heart before that any cry of returning to the Lord will arise in the soul; and when in great mercy the Lord doth this, the next thing we hear the sinner say is, I will arise and go unto my Father! We have a beautiful illustration of this precious, truth in the case of the church, as described by the prophet; See Hosea 2:0 throughout.

Verses 23-28

(23) In the thirty and first year of Asa king of Judah began Omri to reign over Israel, twelve years: six years reigned he in Tirzah. (24) And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill, Samaria. (25) But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him. (26) For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities. (27) Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, and his might that he shewed, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? (28) So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria: and Ahab his son reigned in his stead.

As a king of Judah, the good king, had a long and prosperous reign, while all these troubles were going on in Israel. And Omni though successful over Tibni, had but a short triumph, and full of evil. Nay, the Holy Ghost records of him that he did worse than all that were before him: Is it possible that his iniquity could exceed Jeroboam's? Alas! alas! if the Reader be desirous to know the price for which Samaria was bought, it may not be amiss to observe that a talent of silver was in value of our money somewhat about £350. This hill, as it is here called, is the memorable city of Samaria, where our Lord Jesus directed his steps for the conversion of a poor adulteress there. John 4:5 .

Verses 29-33

(29) ¶ And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. (30) And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. (31) And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. (32) And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. (33) And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.

Still going on in the progression of wickedness the son of Omri exceeds his father. Open idolatry, barefaced and impudent, and open alliances with idolatrous princes, formed the leading features in the character of Habakkuk. Sad proofs of which are recorded in the succeeding chapters.

Verse 34

(34) In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.

It was about 500 years before this period when, at the destruction of Jericho, Joshua pronounced a curse on the man that should rise up to build it again. But in the impious reign of Ahab, one of his subjects, more daring in impiety than the rest, calling to mind perhaps this prophecy, as if to make a jest both of God and his servant, undertook it; and the event exactly corresponded to the prediction. See Joshua 6:26 . Who hath hardened himself against God, and hath prospered? Job 9:4 .


PAUSE, my soul, over the reading of this chapter, and carefully mark the dreadful end of all the workers of iniquity! and what doth the history of all ungodly men furnish, whatever rank or situation they move in, but sad examples of the same. Under what striking images and similitudes doth the word of God represent them. They are said to be captives and slaves, the servants of sin, and that cannot cease from sin. And how do their lives give evidence, to the reality of such figures! For what is the wretched effect of carnal pursuit in the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life, but the hire, the wages, the sure reward, in the sorrow that must follow? And are not all characters of this description, however diversified in their different occupations and pursuits, treasuring up unto themselves sure misery, here in this life not unfrequently recompensed to them, and endless sorrow in that which is to come; and are not these like the covenanted wages of the hireling and the servant, which he expects and hath a right to, in the termination of his labour?

Blessed Jesus! how refreshing is the thought to thy people, that thou hast brought them out of the service of Satan, and made them free in thy service. Thou graciously didst search for them in their haunts of sin, when, like others, they were children of wrath, and were wandering far from thee, on the same mountains of iniquity, and vanity, and worldly enjoyments. And now, having brought them, by the illumination and conviction of thine Holy Spirit, into the bond of the covenant, thou preservest them from falling into those depths of sin which swallow up the ungodly. Dearest Jesus! be thou my Guide, my Counsellor, my Keeper, and my supreme joy; then sin shall not have dominion over me, nor the vanities of the world draw me into perdition. Having put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, I shall put on the new man, which after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Kings 16". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/1-kings-16.html. 1828.
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