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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
1 Kings 15

 

 

Verses 1-34

ABIJAM'S MUCH SHORTER REIGN

(vs.1-8)

Though Rehoboam's reign was short, that of Abijam was much shorter, only three years (v.2). His mother's name was Maacah, who must have had no good influence over him, for Abijam followed his father's example in practicing the same sins of disobedience to God (v.3).

In spite of the sins of Abijam, however, the Lord honored his great grandfather David by allowing Abijam to reign this short time in Judah (v.4). Thus, though the Lord often visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third or fourth generation (Exodus 34:7), He also gives benefits to the children of godly people unto the third and fourth generation. God remembered the faithfulness of David through his lifetime, though we are reminded that David failed badly in the case of Uriah the Hittite (v.5). God takes everything into account in His actions, whether good or bad.

The wars that had taken place between Rehoboam and Jereboam continued over into the days of Abijam, who had wars with Jereboam. In fact, 2 Chronicles 13:1-22 records that in one battle 400,000 chosen men of Judah fought against 800,000 men of Israel. Judah defeated Israel, killing 500,000! No battle in history approaches this for the number of people killed. How sad that this took place between brethren! How much more proper it would have been if the battle was against the enemies of Israel! Do Christians spend more time quarreling amongst themselves than in resisting the enemy from outside and winning the lost for the Lord? But this battle in which 500,000 Israelites were killed is the one outstanding event in Abijam's reign. May God grant that we have more positive results to show in our own lives!

THE REIGN OF ASA

(vs.9-24)

At Abijam's early death his son Asa took the throne over Judah (v.8). His mother's name is not mentioned, but we are reminded in verse 10 that his grandmother was Maacah the granddaughter of Abishalom (v.9). He reigned much longer than his father - 41 years, - but in contrast also to his father, he did what was right in the sight of the Lord (v.11). Though he had his father's mother as his grandmother, he did not follow his father's ways.

Since he acted rightly, he acted negatively in regard to the perverted worship of idols, that is, he banished those who practiced sodomy and prostitution in their religious ceremonies, and he removed all the idols his father had made (v.12). This was no light matter, for the idol worshipers would strongly resist him, claiming that he was dishonoring his father. But he intended to honor the Lord and would not allow natural relationships to interfere with obedience to God's Word.

Asa did not spare even his grandmother. She had made on obscene image of Asherah, so he removed her from being the queen mother and cut down and burned the image she had made. She would certainly be angered by the faith of her grandson, but Asa did not fear popular opinion that contradicted the truth of God.

However, Asa stopped short of removing the high places, so that he was not as wholehearted as Hezekiah was later (2 Kings 1:5), who surpassed all the kings in his devotedness to God. Yet Asa is still commended for his loyalty to the Lord all his days (v.14).

If, on the negative side, Asa judged the glaring evils in Judah, he did not stop with this, but did good work positively also in bringing into the house of the Lord the things his father had dedicated and the things he himself had dedicated, silver and gold and utensils (v.15). The silver symbolizes redemption, speaking therefore of Asa's appreciation of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Gold, speaking of the glory of God, shows his positive appreciation of that which brings glory to God. The utensils were containers that illustrate the faith of holding the truth in love. May we who are believers today have much concern to positively honor our God and Father. While the negative side must not be ignored, the positive is much more fruitful.

When war threatened Asa from Baasha and Israel, the faith of Asa sadly faltered. Baasha built Ramoth with the object of hindering any traffic between Judah and Israel. Why did Asa not simply commend this matter to the Lord in prayer? But he failed badly by enlisting the help of the Lord's enemies against his own brethren the Israelites. Nor only this, for he took the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the house of the Lord to pay for this help of Syria (v.18). God will not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8), but Asa virtually gave God's glory (the gold) to Ben Hadad! Thus Asa made the fatal mistake of enlisting the world's help to fight against his own brethren, the children of Israel (v.19). Instead of making a treaty with Syria, how much better if would have been for Asa to seek the restoration of Israel! But too often, in our day, believers use shocking means of fighting against other believers who have offended them. They also use things that belong to God (as Asa used the gold and silver from the house of the Lord) to accomplish their own selfish ends.

Ben Hadad agreed to be hired by such wealth as Asa offered him, and therefore attacked some cities of 'Israel, Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maacah and all Chinneroth and the land of Naphtali (v.20). This did accomplish what Asa desired, because Baasha had to give up the building of Ramah (v.21). Then Asa send his people to remove from Ramah the building materials Baasha had collected, and used them for building two other cities, Geba and Mizpah (v.22).

Very likely Asa considered he had made a wise move in what he did, for it worked out just as he planned. Many people will say that the end justifies the means, but this is far from the truth. We may find at the judgment seat of Christ that things that produced results that were satisfactory to us were actually "wood, hay straw" (1 Corinthians 3:12), and will be burned up because they were not the fruit of faith toward the Lord Jesus. Asa's lack of faith in this case did not honor God.

Other matters in Asa's history are recorded in 2 Chronicles. But verse 23 reports that Asa was diseased in his feet in his old age. Though he was a comparatively good king, yet his foot disease is a reminder that in his later years his walk was deficient. Sadly, 2 Chronicles 16:12 records that he did not seek the Lord for his disease, but the physicians. It is not that God objects to physicians, for Luke was a "beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14), but to seek the help of physicians (perhaps many of them), in preference to consulting the Lord, is sad lack of faith. If it is necessary for a believer to consult a physician, he should pray that the Lord will give the physician wisdom to know how to treat his case. Thus, though Asa's reign began well, he did not have a bright end to his life. When he died after reigning 41 years, his son Jehoshaphat succeeded him as king of Judah (v.24).

THE SHORT REIGN OF NADAB

(vs.25-28)

Nadab, the son of Jereboam, reigned over the ten tribes of Israel only two years (v.25). He followed his father's example of refusing the Word of God and continuing the worship of idols, thereby making Israel sin as his father did (v.26). Nothing else is said about his two year reign, so that there is no suggestion of anything that was a credit to him.

Another man, Baasha, of the tribe of Issachar, conspired against Nadab and killed him at Gibbethon, a Philistine city which Nadab was besieging (v.27). Baasha was on the side of the besiegers, but used the occasion to murder his own king! Then he took Nadab's place as king. In all of this the weakness of the people of Israelis apparent. They accept the authority of a murderer. Perhaps they thought his authority was better than that of Nadab, but both were rebellious against the authority of God.

THE REIGN OF BAASHA

(vs.29-16:7)

Baasha made sure that none of Jereboam's descendants would challenge him. He killed them all. On his part this was vicious cruelty, but by killing them he fulfilled the Word of the Lord by Abijah the prophet (v.29), who had given the message of judgment to Jereboam's wife (ch.14:10-11) to be conveyed to Jereboam. Verse 30 is a reminder that this judgment was because of Jereboam's many sins by which he made Israel sin, provoking the Lord God of Israel to anger.

War between Asa and Baasha (Judah and Israel) is a sad testimony to the weakness of both peoples, for they were brothers (v.32). Why was their time not spent rather in fighting the common enemies of Israel?

In spite of the evil life of Baasha, the Lord allowed him to reign 24 years (v.33). Thus, he was given much time to repent and change his ways, but he followed the ways of Jereboam who made Israel sin (v.34).

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Kings 15:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/1-kings-15.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 14th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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