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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

2 Chronicles 15

Verse 2

DISCOURSE: 404
THE EQUITY OF THE DIVINE PROCEDURE

2 Chronicles 15:2. And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.

AS in a season of affliction it may be sometimes necessary to blend reproof with consolation, so in a season of joy and triumph it may sometimes be proper to temper our congratulations with prudential advice. When Asa was returning with his victorious army after the destruction of his Ethiopian enemies, the prophet Oded was sent forth to meet him, and was directed by God himself not to salute him with fulsome compliments, but to impress upon his mind a salutary admonition.
In this concise and pointed address, we see,

I.

The rule of God’s procedure—

God is not necessarily bound by any rules; for he both may do, and actually “does, according to his own will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth:” yet has he been pleased to prescribe rules to himself,

1.

In the dispensations of his providence—

[The Jews, as God’s peculiar people, were governed by him according to the strictest rules of equity. They were taught to look for temporal rewards or punishments according as they were obedient or disobedient to his word: and their whole history may serve to illustrate the correspondence there was between their dealings towards him, and his towards them [Note: See this exemplified in Asa, 2 Chronicles 14:5-7; 2 Chronicles 14:11-12; 2 Chronicles 15:10-15; 2 Chronicles 15:19. with 16:7–9; in Jehoshaphat, 17:3–6, 10 and 20:3, 30. with 19:2 and 20:35–37; in Joash, 24:20.] — — — Indeed, God himself expresses peculiar jealousy on this head; and appeals to them, whether the inequality which there was in his providence, did not originate in themselves; and whether it was not perfectly agreeable to the rules which he had established for his conduct towards them [Note: Compare Ezekiel 18:24-29. with Lev 26:3-45 and Deuteronomy 31:16-17.].

Somewhat of the same procedure is yet visible in the dispensations of God towards us. Nations at this time are often prospered or punished according as they pay due allegiance to God, or revolt from him: and individuals not unfrequently experience even here a recompence suited to their conduct. But as, under the law, God sometimes deviated from this rule, in order to direct the views of men to a future day of retribution [Note: Psalms 73:3-14.], so now he has laid it aside in a great degree, in order that our motives to action may be more spiritual, and that we may look forward to the day of judgment as the period fixed for the display of his righteousness, and for the rewarding of our actions.]

2.

In the communications of his grace—

[God’s conduct towards the Jews in respect of temporal things was intended to shadow forth his dealings with us in respect of spiritual things. In relation to these we may see, that the rule which God has laid down to himself is almost invariably observed. It is true, that he is often “found or them that sought him not:” but when once he has revealed himself to any man, he regulates himself towards him according to a principle of perfect equity, rewarding him for his fidelity, or punishing him for his neglect. Who amongst his people ever sought his face in vain? Who ever diligently walked with him in a state of humble dependence, and did not find God with him in the tokens of his love, and the supports of his grace? God indeed reserves in his own power the times and the seasons when he shall reveal himself more fully to the soul; and he apportions to every one such trials as he in his wisdom knows will be productive of good: but he never did, nor ever will, forsake them that seek him [Note: Psalms 9:10.].

On the other hand, who is there that has not experienced the hidings of God’s face, when fresh contracted guilt, or repeated neglect of duty, has given him offence? Who has not found on such occasions that God has withdrawn the aids of his Spirit both in public and private ordinances; and perhaps left him for a season to the power and influence of his own corruptions? We know indeed that God has said, he will not finally cast off his people [Note: 1 Samuel 12:22.Hebrews 13:5; Hebrews 13:5.Isaiah 54:7-10; Isaiah 54:7-10.]: and we believe he will not: we believe he will “visit them with the rod” till he has brought them back to him with deep contrition [Note: Psa 89:30-35]: but as long as they forsake him, he will, as far as respects any manifestations of his favour, forsake them; and if any who have thought themselves his people, forsake him utterly, they shall also be utterly abandoned by him. Nor can any be assured that they themselves shall not suffer eternal dereliction, any longer than their adherence to God justifies the hope that they are his children.]

To impress this rule the more deeply on our minds, let us consider,

II.

The universal importance of it—

The prophet in a most solemn manner called the attention both of the king and all his army to the subject before us; intimating thereby, that there were none who were not interested in it, nor any occasion when the consideration of it would not be useful to their souls.
It is suited to us,

1.

In prosperity—

[Of this there can be no doubt, since it was in a season of peculiar triumph that the prophet was sent to give this admonition. Indeed we are never more apt to forget ourselves, yea, to forget God also, than when we are elated with great prosperity. We are apt to “sacrifice to our own net, and burn incense to our own drag [Note: Habakkuk 1:16.].” When “Jeshurun waxed fat, he kicked [Note: Deuteronomy 32:15.]:” when “Uzziah was made strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction [Note: 2 Chronicles 26:5; 2 Chronicles 26:16.].” Strange as it may seem, even the manifestations of God’s love to the soul are calculated to puff us up with pride, if we have not some thorn in the flesh given us to counteract this evil tendency, and to keep us from abusing the divine mercies [Note: 2 Corinthians 12:7.]. The more sail a ship carries, the more ballast it requires. The very deliverance that Asa had experienced was likely to render him careless and secure, as though he were now beyond the reach of harm. But by this admonition he was taught, that his security was in God alone, and that he must continue to “walk humbly with God,” if he would have the divine protection continued to him.

Similar admonitions are also given to us, to counteract the pride of our hearts. “Be not high-minded, but fear [Note: Romans 11:20-21.].” “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall [Note: 1 Corinthians 10:12.],” “Blessed is the man that feareth always [Note: Proverbs 28:14.].” Even the great Apostle himself, though he knew himself to be a chosen vessel unto God, yet felt the necessity of “keeping under his body, and bringing it into subjection, lest, after having preached to others, he himself should become a cast-away [Note: 1 Corinthians 9:27.].” Let us therefore exercise the same caution; and, whether we rejoice on account of national or personal mercies, “rejoice with trembling [Note: Psalms 2:11.].”]

2.

In adversity—

[As in prosperous circumstances we need to be guarded against presumption, so in heavy trials we need to be cautioned against despondency. If we appear to be forsaken of our God, we are apt to think that he has altogether “shut up his tender mercies, and will be favourable to us no more [Note: Psalms 77:7-9.].” But in the words before us we see, that no nation or individual can be in so low a state, but that their recovery is certain if only they wait patiently upon God. He will assuredly be found of them that seek him: yea, at the very time that they perhaps are bewailing his absence, he “is actually present with them,” working in them that very contrition, and enabling them to wait upon him, when their unassisted nature would have fainted in despair.

Let every one then apply to himself the text in this view. Are we ignorant? let us look to God for the teachings of his Spirit. Are we guilty? let us cry to him for remission through the blood of Christ. Are we in any strait or difficulty whatever? our way is clear; let us wait upon God in assured expectation of succour and support. This promise shall never fail us [Note: Hebrews 11:6.]: though we had a million [Note: 2 Chronicles 14:9.] of men or devils to encounter, we should be “more than conquerors [Note: Romans 8:37.].” “Believe in the Lord; so shall ye be established: believe his prophets; so shall ye prosper [Note: 2 Chronicles 20:20.].”] [Note: The subject may be further improved: 1. For caution; to guard against any secret evil in the heart, or any remissness of duty in the life, which may offend God. See 1 Chronicles 28:9. with the first clause of ver. 10. Mark this passage carefully. And, 2. For encouragement; since, if he be for us, we need not fear, however many there may be against us.]


Verses 7-8

DISCOURSE: 405
ENCOURAGEMENT TO EXERTION

2 Chronicles 15:7-8. Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded. And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage.

THERE are two extremes to which mankind are prone—presumption, and despondency. To the former the ungodly are inclined; to the latter, the righteous. King Asa was a man who “did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God [Note: 2 Chronicles 14:2.],” and “his heart was perfect all his days [Note: ver. 17.]:” yet did he need encouragement from a prophet of the Lord, to sustain his fainting mind.

In the passage before us, we have,

I.

An historic record—

Asa had been enabled to vanquish an host of not less than a million of Ethiopians, with an army of little more than one half their number. But in his own kingdom there was a great work to perform, a work which he despaired of ever being able to accomplish. God, however, mercifully sent him a prophet, to raise his drooping spirits, and to animate him to his appointed work. Hear the message delivered to him—
[“Be strong, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.” Think nothing too arduous to be attempted, provided the Lord call you to it [Note: Joshua 1:6-7; Joshua 1:9. 1 Chronicles 28:20.] — — — And never doubt of success in any thing that you undertake for Him — — —]

Mark, too, the effect produced upon his mind—
[“He took courage.” And how did he evince the power of that grace which had been bestowed upon him? He put down idolatry throughout his dominions [Note: ver. 8.] — — — He summoned all his people to enter into a solemn “covenant with God, to serve Him with all their heart [Note: ver. 12,]” — — — and “he deposed his mother from her throne, because she had made an idol; which he cut down, and stamped, and burned at the brook Kidron [Note: ver. 16,]” — — —]

In this noble conduct he has left to us,

II.

An encouraging example—

We also have difficulties, every one of us, to encounter—
[Great are the corruptions by which we are assailed — — — And fierce will be the opposition which will be made to us, if we exert ourselves for the reformation of others — — —]
But to us, no less than to Asa, are the prophet’s words addressed [Note: See Isaiah 35:3-4.]—

[We should “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might [Note: Ephesians 6:10.]:” and if we “hold fast our confidence in him, we shall have a great recompence of reward [Note: Hebrews 10:35.].” We are assured that “our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:58.].”]

In us, also, should they produce a similar effect—
[They should encourage us to serve the Lord alone — — — to serve him with our whole hearts — — — to serve him “without partiality, and without hypocrisy [Note: James 3:17. 1 Timothy 5:21.].” The nearest friends must be withstood, and the most endeared lust be mortified. Not a right hand, or right eye, must be retained: every thing that is offensive to God must be sacrificed without reserve.]

Application—

[If Asa acted thus on one single word of encouragement, what may be expected of you, who have had all the promises of God set before you from Sabbath to Sabbath, through many successive years? If He, under that dark dispensation, acted so noble and consistent a part, what may be expected of you, who live under the full light of the Gospel, and are instructed in all the wonders of redeeming love? — — —]


Verses 12-15

DISCOURSE: 406
ASA’S COVENANT WITH GOD

2 Chronicles 15:12-15. And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; that whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. And they sware unto the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the Lord gave them rest round about.

FEW persons have any just idea of the use and efficacy of ministerial exertions, when accompanied with power from on high. In the context, we see one man, a prophet of the Lord, standing up in Jehovah’s name, and by one single address turning a whole nation to the Lord their God. Doubtless the prophet Oded [Note: In ver. 1. he is called “Azariah the son of Oded:” and we apprehend that when, in ver. 8, he is called “Oded,” the son of Oded is meant; this being a common abbreviation in the Scriptures. But in a popular discourse it is not necessary to notice this.] had a peculiar commission, and was honoured with a far greater measure of success than any minister in this day is authorized to expect: nevertheless every servant of the Lord, to whomsoever he may be sent, whether to kings or subjects, should deliver his message with fidelity; and in so doing., may expect that God will render his word effectual for great and extensive good. In the hope that our message shall not be altogether in vain, we come to you now in Jehovah’s name, and call upon you to covenant with him as Asa and his subjects did: and, that we may prevail with you to comply with our injunctions, we will distinctly consider,

I.

What covenant they made—

Here we shall separately notice,

1.

The covenant itself—

[This related to nothing which they were not previously bound to fulfil. To “seek the Lord God of their fathers” was their duty: the law of Moses, yea, the law of nature, bound them to it: and reason, no less than revelation, told them, not only that they should seek after God, but that they should seek him with their whole hearts.]

2.

The manner in which they made it—

[Their zeal was very remarkable; yet it was precisely what the occasion called for. That they should all solemnly swear to this covenant, and devote to death every soul that should refuse to concur in it, seems an instance of unparalleled harshness and intolerance; yet were both the oath which they took [Note: Deuteronomy 29:10-15.], and the proscription which they agreed to [Note: Deuteronomy 17:2-5.], expressly required in the law of Moses: if a husband or a wife were to propose a departure from God, it was the duty of the party who was so tempted to give information to the magistrate, and, on conviction of the offender, to take the lead in executing the sentence of death upon him.]

But it will be asked, Would you propose this as a pattern for us? We answer, Yes: we would propose it as a pattern, both in the matter and the manner of it:–

1.

In the matter of it—

[Let us covenant “to seek the Lord God of our fathers with our whole heart, and with our whole soul.” To seek him thus is our duty, independently of any covenant: it is due to God as our Creator; it is due to him also as our Redeemer. Did our God come down from heaven to seek us; and shall not we seek him? Did he give up himself to the accursed death of the cross for us; and shall we content ourselves with offering him a divided heart? What is the thing that deserves to be put in competition with him? What has done so much for us, or what can? Have the vanities of this world, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life,” any pretension to be his rivals? O let a sense of his unbounded love and mercy lend us to consecrate ourselves altogether to his service! If the Jews, on account of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage by the exertions of Omnipotence, were bound to seek and serve God with their whole hearts, much more are we, who have been redeemed from sin and Satan, death and hell, by the blood of God’s co-equal, co-eternal Son.]

2.

In the manner of it—

[If it be thought that we are not called to swear, we answer, that we all have sworn already in our baptism; and have renewed our oath when we were confirmed: and, as often as we have attended at the table of the Lord, we have again repeated our oath to renounce the devil and all his works, and to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as our only Lord [Note: The term Sacramentum was used to signify the oath by which the Roman soldiers engaged never to desert the General under whom they fought.].

With respect to the proscription, we acknowledge that we are not at this time to enforce Christianity by an appeal to the civil power: and that to inflict the penalty of death on any persons on account of their neglect of Christ, would be to oppose the plainest dictates of his religion: but yet we may, and must, declare, that the judgments of God shall overtake all who either reject him altogether, or seek him with a divided heart: yea, the sentence of eternal misery denounced against them in the Scriptures must receive our most unqualified approbation: we must say with St. Paul, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maran-atha [Note: 1 Corinthians 16:22.];” that is, let him be accursed; and God will surely come ere long to inflict that curse upon him. Thus, notwithstanding the abrogation of penalties to be inflicted by the civil arm, under the Christian dispensation, we do in fact proceed even further than the Jews did in the covenant before us: for the judgments denounced by them related to overt acts only, whereas ours relate to the heart: and the penalties inflicted by them extended only to the body, whereas ours relate to the soul; and that too of every creature to whom the Gospel is sent, “whether small or great, whether man or woman.”

If it be thought that such covenants are needless, we reply, that they are of the greatest possible utility, if solemnly entered into in our secret chamber before God: for, they contain a solemn recognition of our duty, and a deliberate vindication of God’s justice in punishing all who will not seek him in his appointed way: they moreover tend exceedingly to impress our own minds with a sense of the heinousness of departing from God, and to fortify us against all the temptations to which at any time we may be exposed: and it is owing to the low state of religious attainments amongst us, that such covenants are so rarely made.
As to the idea of legality, it is no better than an excuse for our own sloth and lukewarmness. For, nothing can be more suited to the spirit of the Gospel than such covenant-transactions are; they are a strict compliance with the Apostle’s exhortation “to yield our bodies unto God a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable unto God, as our reasonable service [Note: Romans 12:1.].”]

That we may be stirred up to enter into this covenant, let us contemplate,

II.

The benefits resulting from it—

For the discovery of these, we need go no further than the passage before us.
In the very act,
[They were filled with great and exalted joy; “they sware, with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets; yea, all Israel rejoiced at the oath.” This mode of testifying their joy was suited to the dispensation under which they lived. The joy which Christianity inspires is of a more refined nature; it is less tumultuous, but more spiritual, and more abiding: and we will venture to appeal to all who have ever solemnly devoted themselves to God in their secret chamber, embracing the Lord Jesus Christ as their only Lord and Saviour, and surrendering up themselves to him as his redeemed people, whether they did not find in that transaction a peace and a joy which nothing else in the whole universe could impart? Do they not at this moment look back to such seasons as the happiest periods of their lives? — — — We have no fear of contradiction upon this point: we are well assured, that “all who sow in tears do reap in joy [Note: Compare Psalms 126:5-6. with Jeremiah 29:12-13.];” and, for the most part, “the reaper treads upon the very heels of the sower [Note: Amos 9:13.];” so speedily do they enjoy the reward of their labours.]

After the act was performed,
[God gave them undoubted testimonies of his acceptance. How he manifested it to them on this occasion, we know not: there were a great variety of ways in which he was wont to give his people an evidence of his approbation: at one time, by a lamp passing between the divided pieces of the sacrifice [Note: Genesis 15:10; Genesis 15:17.]; at another, by a special messenger from heaven [Note: Daniel 9:21.]; at another, by a voice from heaven [Note: John 12:28-29.]; and frequently by sending fire from heaven to consume their sacrifice [Note: Leviticus 9:24.]. But whatever means he used, we are well assured, that he left them no room to doubt of his approbation of the act they had performed; for we are told, “He was found of them.” And will he not be found of us also? and has he not still many ways of manifesting himself to us? Yes; by the secret operation of his Spirit he will reveal himself to our souls, and shed abroad his love in our hearts, and “say unto our souls, I am thy salvation.”]

For a long period afterwards,
[There was peace to the land; for “God gave them rest round about.” By comparing different dates in this chapter, we find that the land had rest twenty years [Note: ver. 10. with ver. 19,]. It is true, in another part of the inspired volume, we are told, that “there was war between Asa and Baasha all their days [Note: 1 Kings 15:16.]:” but this, for the space mentioned in our text, was only in small contentions or skirmishes on the borders: there was no serious assault upon him from any quarter. This exhibits in a most striking point of view the rest which God will give to his believing and obedient people. Our spiritual enemies will not be so put down as to leave us no occasion for vigilance: their enmity will remain the same as ever; and there will still be occasional skirmishes on the borders [Note: Galatians 5:17.]: but they shall not so come against us as to overwhelm us, or even to destroy our happiness: we shall “know in whom we have believed;” and feel safety in his protection. “Weapons may be formed against us; but they shall not prosper:” and “men may fight against us; but they shall not prevail against us.” It is surprising to what an extent some are delivered from painful conflicts for a considerable time after they have devoted themselves in a solemn covenant to the Lord: their very lusts which once led them captive seem almost to be slain, and “Satan himself to be bruised under their feet.” True it is, that this will not always continue; but the more frequently and cordially we devote ourselves to God, the more abundantly will he fill us with grace and peace, and give us a foretaste of that rest which remaineth for us in a better world.]

We shall conclude with two proposals, in reference to the covenant we have been considering; and we shall make them to two distinct classes:
1.

To those who think such an entire devotion of themselves to God unnecessary—

[If God do not require this service at our hands, we need not render it to him: and, if we need not render it to him, we may resolve, and even covenant to withhold it from him. We propose then to those who think there is no necessity to seek after God with their whole hearts, Let us make a covenant together, that we never will seek him thus: let us confirm it with an oath; and let us swear aloud that heaven and earth may hear. Let us go further still, and covenant to prevent every one to the utmost of our power from seeking him, in this way. let us hate, and revile, and persecute them, and, by every means that the law of the land will admit of, let us deter them from such unnecessary, fanatical, and injurious proceedings. The law will not suffer us to put them to death; but let us at least shew, that we would do it if we dared; and by the whole of our conduct towards them let us say, “Away with such fellows from the earth, for it is not fit that they should live!” Or, if any of you think that we ought to leave others at liberty, then we will wave this part of our proposal, and only covenant that we will never seek after God ourselves. Now then let us begin: let us address ourselves to the sacred Majesty of heaven: let us tell him that he has no such claim upon us as he pretends to in his word, and that we are determined never to render him the service he requires. — — — What! Do you hold back? Do you shudder at the proposal? Do you tremble at the thought of entering into such a covenant? Yes; methinks, there is not one person present that is bold enough to give it his sanction: yet there are many who act agreeably to the tenour of that covenant; many who seek God in a mere formal way, or at best with a divided heart. Know then, all ye who violate your duties to your God, that you stand condemned in your own consciences; and, “if your own hearts condemn you, God is greater than your hearts,” and will condemn you also. Attend then with becoming reverence to the proposal which we next make,]

2.

To those who desire to approve themselves to God in the way that he requires—

[The making of covenants in our own strength is in no respect advisable: but in humble dependence on the grace or Christ we may make them, and ought to make them. We read of the Christians in Macedonia, that, previous to serving God with their properly, “they gave their ownselves to the Lord [Note: 2 Corinthians 8:5,].” And this is what the Prophet Jeremiah foretells as characterizing the godly under the Christian dispensation; “Come, let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant, that shall not be forgotten [Note: Jeremiah 50:4-5.].” Now then let us do it: let us all be of one heart and one mind in this particular [Note: Here the persons confirmed might be particularly addressed.]: let us look up to God for his grace, that we may be enabled to keep the vow which we are about to make: and may “God be found of us,” whilst we are thus seeking him; and “give us rest” in our souls, even that rest which our blessed Lord has promised unto all that come to him in truth [Note: Matthew 11:28-29.]!

O thou gracious and ever-blessed God, “who hast formed us for thyself,” and hast moreover redeemed us by the blood of thine only dear Son, thine we are by every tie. We are conscious that “we are not our own; and that, having been bought with a price, we are bound to glorify thee with our bodies and our spirits, which are thine.” We desire then now to consecrate ourselves to thee; and engage, as in thine immediate presence, “no longer to live unto ourselves, but unto Him that died for us and rose again.” May we never forget this vow, or act for a moment inconsistent with it! We avouch thee this day to be our God; and we give up ourselves to thee as thy people: and we desire, that “thou wouldest sanctify us wholly; and that our whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ [Note: 1 Thessalonians 5:23.].”]


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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 15". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/2-chronicles-15.html. 1832.