corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.11.18
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
1 Kings 15

 

 

Verses 1-8

THE REIGNS OF ABIJAM, ASA, NADAB, AND BAASHA

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—

1Ki . Abijam—Original form of his name was Abijah (2Ch 12:16), the sacred terminal "jah" being connected therewith. But, probably on account of his evil reign, his name was altered to Abijam.

1Ki . Maachah, daughter of Abishalom—i.e., Michaiah, daughter of Absalom; more properly, granddaughter of Absalom, by Uriel and Tamar, who was Absalom's daughter (vide 2Ch 13:2).

1Ki . Give him a lamp in Jerusalem—An Oriental figure of speech. Having a lamp in the house indicates the continuance of the family name.

1Ki . And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam, &c.—i.e., rancorous rivalry, and consequent frequent border skirmishes. A mistake to think that "Rehoboam" is a scribe's blunder for Abijam, as given in end of 1Ki 15:7. The feudal autagonism is reasserted here, having been already stated in chap. 1Ki 14:20. The two records respecting Rehoboam (1Ki 15:6) and Abijam (1Ki 15:7) simply denote that the hostile feeling between Israel and Judah continued through the reigns of both father and son.

HOMILETICS OF 1Ki

THE PERMANENT INFLUENCE OF A GOOD EXAMPLE

1Ki . That a good example is acquired by a life of obedience to the Divine commandments. "David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life" (1Ki 15:5). David became the pattern and model to all kings of right conduct towards Jehovah. Great and many as were his defects and failures, he was never guilty of idolatry, nor did he permit it to exist under his rule. A good example is not formed by aiming at it as a distinct object, but by quietly and faithfully doing the duty of the moment, without reference to ulterior results. The beautiful is unconscious of its own beauty, the sublime knows not its own sublimity; so the obedient and the good are unconscious of the impressions made by their upright example. It is always safest and best to obey God.

1Ki . That a good example may be marred by serious blemishes. "Save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite" (1Ki 15:6). This was David's great crying offence, which drew down on him the judgments of God, and is ever mentioned to his shame. But he was guilty of other sins: as the neglect to properly disciplining his sons, the primal cause of Absalom's and Adonijah's ruin; his falsehoods before Achish (1Sa 27:10); and his fin in numbering the people (2Sa 24:10). But all these are, in comparison with his guilt in adultery with Bathsheba and in the murder of Uriah, as sins of infirmity and ignorance. Lange points out' that "the sin of David against Uriah was great indeed, but, apart from the fact that he repented of it bitterly, it was not one which broke the fundamental law of the theocracy, the covenant and its chief commandment, and it did not, therefore, undermine the foundation of the Israelite nationality." David is not held up as a perfect example of goodness; it is only the Sinless One who can be so considered. How often does it happen that in great natures, great virtues and great vices are unhappily commingled! Their sins are beacons to warn; their virtues indicate the possibilities of goodness to which human nature may rise.

III. That a good example is not always imitated.

1. Because of the feebleness of the religious principle. His heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father (1Ki ). Yet Abijam prepared precious offerings for the temple service (1Ki 15:15), probably to replace vessels which Shishak had carried off, and in his war with Jeroboam professed himself a faithful servant of Jehovah (2Ch 13:10; 2Ch 13:12). Many boast of their profession of godliness who are strangers to the power of it, and plead the truth of their religion who yet are not true to it. He seemed to have zeal for the worship of Jehovah, but he lacked sincerity: he still sanctioned idolatry. In order to have the courage to follow a good example, we must have deep and forceful religious convictions: these are to the soul what the ballast and the driving power are to the steamship. What is wanted is a strong, deep, faith-compelling conviction of the awful truth and saving power of the Divine Word.

2. Because of the demoralizing influence of a bad example. "He walked in all the sins of his father which he had done before him" (1Ki ). It is easier to copy a bad example than a good one, especially when bad examples are abundant and are continually before us, and when good examples are so rare. Amid the prevalent idolatry of Israel there was only one Abijah in whom was "found some good toward the Lord God of Israel." Iniquity is a common weed: goodness is an exotic. One evil example has many imitators, and its pernicious influence is long continued. It aggravates the sin of a degenerate seed that they fare the better for the piety of their ancestors, and owe their blessings to it, and yet will not imitate it.

IV. That the influence of a good example is a permanent blessing to a nation (1Ki , comp. with 1Ki 11:36). For David's sake, Jehovah did not utterly abandon Jerusalem, but, from time to time, provided a successor to the throne who should be as a light in the midst of surrounding darkness. Asa, the immediate successor of Abijam, was such a light. It was a promise made to David that his house should be made a perpetual light (Psa 18:28; Psa 132:17); and the history of God's people records the fulfilment of the promise, notwithstanding much individual unfaithfulness and sin. The influence of a good man is immortal.

LESSONS:—

1. Every facility is provided for living a holy life.

2. A pious ancestry entails great blessing and great responsibility.

3. A good example does not always restrain from flagrant sins.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES

1Ki . The fruit falls not far from the tree. What the old sing, the young chirp. The parental house is, for the child, the preparatory school of life; what he there sees and hears is never forgotten through life. No example is so weighty and important as that of the parents. How great, then, is their responsibility! Abijam followed not after the example of David, great and glorious as it was; but after that of his father Rehoboam, which he saw immediately before him.—Lange.

The throne of David oft changeth the possessors, and more complaineth of their iniquity than their remove. Abijam inherits the sins of his father Rehoboam, no less than his crown; and so spends his three years as if he had been no whit of kin to his grandfather's virtues. It is no news that grace is not traduced, while vice is: therefore is his reign short, because it is wicked. It was a sad case when both the kings of Judah and Israel, though enemies, yet conspired in sin. Rehoboam, like his father Solomon, began graciously, but fell to idolatry; as he followed his father, so his son, so his people, followed him. Oh! what a face of a church was here when Israel worshipped Jeroboam's calves, when Judah built them high places, and images, and groves on every high hill, and under every green tree! On both hands God is forsaken, His temple neglected, His worship adulterate, and this not for some short brunt, but during the succession of two kings: for, after the first three years, Rehoboam changed his father's religion, as his shields, from gold to brass; the rest of his seventeen years were led in impiety. His son Abijam trod in the same miry steps, and Judah with them both. If there were any (and doubtless there were some) faithful hearts yet remaining in both kingdoms during these heavy times, what a corrosive it must needs have been to them to see so deplored and miserable a depravation!—Bp. Hall.

1Ki . The idolatry of Abijam deserved the same punishment as that of Jeroboam (1Ki 14:10-14), of Baasha (1Ki 16:2-4), or of Zimri (ib. 1Ki 15:19), the cutting off of his seed and transfer of the crown to another family. That these consequences do not follow in the kingdom of Judah is owing to the faithfulness of David, which brings a blessing on his posterity. Certainly, few things are more remarkable and more difficult to account for, or more ground of human reason, than the stability of the succession in Judah, and its excessive instability in the sister kingdom. One family in Judah holds the throne from first to last, during a space but little short of four centuries; while in Israel there are nine changes of dynasty within two hundred and fifty years.—Speaker's Comm.

—The blessing of pious, God-fearing forefathers often falls to the advantage of even degenerate children, through the mercy of God.

1Ki . No human example, however glorious it may be, is perfect, for even the greatest and best are wanting in the sight of God, and miserable sinners. Therefore, we are referred to the example of Him who alone is sinless, and out of whose mouth proceeds no guile. He alone can say: "He who follows Me walketh not in darkness, but has the Light of Life" (1Pe 2:21; Joh 8:12). The children of this world often quote and excuse their sins by citing the example of good and holy men who have fallen, but never take pattern after their repentance and humiliation, and refuse to know anything of the wrong and smitten heart of a David (Psa 51:19), or of the tears of a Peter (Mat 26:75).—Lange.

1Ki . The enmity, strife, and war between the sister-kingdoms was the result of their broken covenant with the Lord God. Wheresoever, be it amid a nation, a community, or a family, the fear of the living God and the bond of union with Him is destroyed, there will ever be strife and discord; peace is only to be found where the God of peace reigns in the heart (Col 3:15). To go out of the world at enmity is not a blessed death.—Ibid.

1Ki . Sharp wars by a just hand of God upon both those kingdoms for their idolatry. And for like cause the dissensions between England and Scotland consumed more Christian blood, wrought more spoil and destruction, and continued longer than ever quarrel we read of did between any two people of the world.—Trapp.


Verses 9-15

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—

1Ki . The sodomites—vide Notes on 1Ki 14:24. All the idols— גִּלּוּלִים, a word for despicable things. The Rabbins render it mud-gods; Ewald renders it doll-images; Gesenius, idol-blocks.

1Ki . An idol in a grove—This is a word of far different meaning from that in 1Ki 15:12. מִפְלֶצֶת means horrendum, as from the verb פלץ, to terrify, horrify. It Is conjectured that this was an obscene figure, a phallus image, a symbol of the productive powers of nature, specially (according to the Rabbins) revolting to the Hebrews. "In a grove, may read, unto Asherah; but this "grove" was one of similar scenes of licentious indulgence practised in the name of religion.

HOMILETICS OF 1Ki

RELIGIOUS REFORM

I. That religious reform is a commendable work, in which even a monarch may engage. As the evil which had debased the nation originated from the throne, it was fitting that the remedy should issue from the same potent source. Asa was the first monarch who made a bold and determined stand against the prevalent idolatry. The sin of the nation had grown into colossal proportions, and it required no ordinary courage and strength of will to attack it. Asa threw all the authority of the crown on the side of reform, and was himself the zealous leader of the movement. The king can do himself no greater honour, nor confer upon his people a greater good, than by making the interests of true religion his chief care. If persons in the highest rank refuse to use their influence in the removal of acknowledged abuses, the Lord will raise from obscurity an agent who will faithfully and effectually do the work. The humble peasant may be raised up to rebuke the careless and unfaithful monarch.

II. That religious reform is inspired by a desire to do the right. "Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord; his heart was perfect with the Lord all his days" (1Ki , comp. with 1Ki 15:14). The need of reform is suggested by the wide divergence observed in the actual state of things from the inner consciousness of right. The man who studies the law of God, and conscientiously strives to keep its commandments, cannot fail to have a sense of what is right; and this sense of right will be the guide and inspiration of all his actions. This was the case with Asa, though the standard of perfection by which we are to measure the perfect ones of the Old Testament history is not the fulness of spiritual light and religious attainment which is set before us in the New Testament. It is rather a singleness and earnestness of pious purpose to obey God and maintain the honour of His name and worship. "All these were noble and excellent acts," writes Bishop Hall concerning the reform of Asa: "but that which gives true life unto all these is a sound root. ‘Asa's heart was perfect with the Lord all his days.' No less laudable works than these have proceeded from hypocrisy, which, while they have carried away applause from men, have lost their thanks with God. All Asa's gold was but dross to his pure intentions." Holiness—a perfect heart towards God—is the strongest motive to work, and imparts a courage which no difficulties can daunt.

III. That religious reform aims at the suppression of the most glaring forms of public vice.

1. It uproots gross immorality (1Ki ). In a time of reformation the most flagrant abominations are the first to fall; the rising tide of righteous indignation sweeps them away. No prince or people can prosper while the festering pest-houses of immorality are suffered to exist.

2. It destroys idolatry (1Ki ). Asa removed all the idols, demolished their temples, and devastated their groves; and doubtless many of the idol worshippers would take part in this work of destruction. When the mind is once undeceived, its anger against the instrument of its deception is sometimes terrific and unbounded. During the tyranny of the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands, in the sixteenth century, a spirit of fury suddenly arose in Antwerp and elsewhere against the images used in the Romish worship: the cathedrals and churches were dismantled, the images and religious relics broken to shivers, and yet not a single coin of the church treasures was appropriated; the destructive mania was wholly confined to objects of idolatrous worship. Terrible, indeed, is the vengeance which will, ere long, overtake the idols and their worshippers (Isa 2:18).

3. It purifies the court (1Ki ). Maachah was deposed from being queen-mother because of her idolatry, and the disgusting image to which she did homage was burnt, and its ashes cast into the river. "The idols which his fathers had made" were all destroyed. All respect for flesh and blood must be subservient to the duty we owe to God. A good king who would promote religion among his subjects must begin by discountenancing all wickedness at court. A pure court is a great safeguard to a nation.

IV. That religious reform is not always thorough and complete. "But the high places were not removed" (1Ki ): such as were set up for the worship of God; for as for those that were set up in honour of idols, he removed them. But he should have done both, as did afterwards zealous Hezekiah and Josiah. It is with the saints as with Jonathan's signal arrows, two fell short, and but one beyond the mark; so where one shooteth home to the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus, many fall short.—Trapp. Reformation often proceeds slowly and under great difficulties. It may leave untouched institutions that may become a snare and a source of corruption to future generations. Vested interests in a superstitions system are hard to slay.

V. That religions reform enriches the temple of God (1Ki ). The practical evidence of a genuine reformation is shown in costly free-willing offerings to God. The true riches of a temple are not the silver and gold and superb furniture, but the gratitude, praise, and devotion of which these are but the outward manifestations. The soul is only rich in what it really lays up in the treasury of God. We must not only cast away the idols of our iniquity, but cheerfully dedicate ourselves and our substance to the cause and glory of God.

LESSONS:—

1. Abuses will creep into the best organized religious systems.

2. The work of the reformer is one of great sacrifice and labour.

3. The monarch who is zealous for religious reform deserves the gratitude and support of his people.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES

1Ki . It is to be regarded as a merciful providence of God, when a son who has grown up with evil surroundings and the bad example of a father and mother, yet holds steadily to His word and commandments, and resists firmly all ungodly influences.

—The standard of right. I. Is the will of God. II. By it every act of man is unerringly estimated. III. Is but imperfectly represented by the best human examples.

—In vain should he have hoped to restore God to his kingdom, while these abominations inhabited it. It is justly the main care of worthy and religious princes to clear their coasts of the foullest sins. O, the impartial zeal of Asa! There were idols that challenged a prerogative of favour, the idols that his father had made. All these he defaces: the name of a father cannot protect an idol; the duty to his parent cannot win him to a liking, to a forbearance of his misdevotion: yea, so much the more doth the heart of Asa rise against these puppets for that they were the sin, the shame of his father. He doth not more honour a father than hate an idol. No dearness of person should take off the edge of our detestation of the sin.—Bp. Hall.

1Ki . Against sins of licentiousness no authority can be powerful enough, for where this evil has crept in, there comes a moral corruption which works destructively upon all relations of life. Authority being ordained of God, as the Apostle says, its duty and task is to oppose with severity all godless conduct, without fear or favour of man, and to vindicate the eternal Divine laws. Therefore it is that we have the church prayer for those in authority.—Lange.

1Ki . There can be no queen-consort where there is more than one wife; and in the East, where there is no more than one, she is not a queen, she is simply the Zan-i-shah, the king's wife—that is all. There is, however, in most cases, some one in the harem who, on one account or other, is recognised as the chief lady. There was one whose claim to be chief lady, or queen, was superior to all others, and that was the MOTHER of the king. The prevalent usage of the East assigns the first rank in every household, not to the wife of the master, but to his mother, to whom the wife merely becomes another daughter. And so the rank of the king's mother was the nearest approach to the rank and dignity of a non-regnant queen.—Kitto.

—Nature is worthy of forgetfulness and contempt in opposition to the God of nature: upon the same ground as Asa removed the idols of his father Abijam, so for idols he removed his grandmother Maachah. She would not be removed from her obscene idols; she is therefore removed from the station of her honour. If all the world had been an idolater, he knew how little that precedent could avail for disobedience. Practice must be corrected by law, and not the law yield to practice. Maachah, therefore, goes down from her seat, her idols from their grove; she to retiredness, they to the fire, and from thence to the water. Woeful deities that could both burn and drown!—Bp. Hall.

1Ki . True reformation.

1. Is wrought for the divine glory.

2. Is not to be hindered by family considerations.

3. Should be national in its progress and results.

4. Should destroy every vestige of corruption.

5. Is evidenced by practical generosity.

1Ki . To remove deep-rooted and long-standing evils suddenly and completely is impossible, even for a well-intentioned and powerful ruler; for in that case he would bring about resistance to the good rather than further it.

—Yet, in 2Ch , we read that Asa "took away the altars of the strange gods and the high places," and in 1Ki 15:5 that "he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images," which would seem at first sight to imply that he entirely put down the worship. The author of Chronicles, however, himself afterwards allows that "the high places were not taken away out of Israel," though the heart of Asa was perfect all his days. The explanation would seem to be, either that the idolatry was at one time put down, but crept back afterwards; or that, while Asa endeavoured to sweep it wholly away, his subjects would not be controlled, but found a means of maintaining it in some places—not, perhaps, in the cities, but in remote country districts, where the royal authority was weaker, and secresy more practicable.—Speaker's Comm.

1Ki . Hence noble and pious princes should bethink themselves of using their gold and silver, not only for worldly objects, but to enrich churches and schools, necessary to the accomplishment of godly designs.


Verses 16-24

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—

1Ki . Baasha, king of Israel—Third sovereign of the kingdom of Israel, son of Ahijab, probably of lowly origin (chap. 1Ki 16:2). Built Ramah—In the tribal territory of Benjamin, about six miles (Roman) from and on the highway to Jerusalem, thereby cutting off king Asa's communication with the north.

1Ki . All the silver, &c., left in the treasures—Shishak had "left" but little (chap. 1Ki 14:26); indeed, he "took away all." So that the הַנּוֹתָרִים, the remainder, means what Asa had placed therein; τὸ εὑρεθὲν, as the Sept. gives it, what he found.

1Ki . With all Naphtali—Or, unto the land of Naphtali.

1Ki . Made a proclamation throughout—or, called together. None excepted—The Septuagint has misapprehended the adverbial sense of אֵין נָקִי, "none excepted," and given it as a proper name— εὶς ἑνακίμ.

HOMILETICS OF 1Ki

SYMPTOMS OF RELIGIOUS REACTION

I. Seen in a growing distrust of the protecting power of God. The building of a fortress by his rival Baasha, which would have the effect of interrupting a free and open intercourse with his capital, filled Asa with fear; and instead of putting his trust in that God whom he had so zealously served, he relied on his own crooked and short-sighted policy. He bribed the king of Syria to break the league existing between his own kingdom and the two rival Jewish kingdoms, so that Baasha was compelled to abandon the building of Ramah, and Asa used the stones for the fortifying of his own cities (1Ki ). "O, what great and many infirmities may consist with uprightness! what alloys of imperfection will there be found in the most refined soul! Asa doth not only employ the Syrian, but relies on him, relies not on God: a confidence less sinful cost his grandfather David dear." Religion is losing its influence over the soul when man is trusted more than God. A dishonest and wicked project may succeed, but the success is always embittered sooner or later. It is a dangerous thing to be too clever.

II. Seen in the misappropriation of consecrated treasure (1Ki ). It is sad to notice that he who so recently dedicated these spoils to the Lord should make such use of them as is here described. Only on extraordinary occasions was the king justified in employing the temple treasures; but it was downright sacrilege for Asa to use them in bribing a foreign and heathen king, for whose help there was no urgent necessity. "What is bestowed in faith must be regarded as sacred, and under no pretext must it be diverted to worldly purposes. Nothing but a rude power, knowing neither fear nor awe of God, could commit such a robbery, and no blessing can ever rest upon it. He who gives with one hand, and takes back with the other, has his just recompense therein." The money power of the world is largely in the hands of the Christian church, and there is an immense responsibility resting upon the wealthy members of that church as to the righteous use of their riches. They are but stewards, and that only for a brief space, when they will be called to render an account of their stewardship to God. Indifference to financial responsibilities is a sure token of religious decay.

III. Seen in the disrespect and cruelty shown towards God's faithful messengers (2Ch ). An important incident in the life of Asa, omitted by the writer of Kings, is supplied by the author of Chronicles. Hanani, the seer, was sent to rebuke and threaten the king for his sin in forsaking the Lord and in relying upon the Syrian for aid. To be thus chided and exposed when his diplomatic policy had seemed to prosper so well, was more than one so little used to contradiction could bear, and in his rage he thrust the too faithful prophet into prison, adding to his original fault the grievous sin of persecuting an inspired messenger of Jehovah. "Here we have the melancholy spectacle of a prophet of God imprisoned, not by an idolatrous or notoriously wicked king, but by one who has hitherto borne a noble character, and whose heart was substantially right with God. Not so did David receive Nathan's more stern rebuke. This descendant of his does that for only attempting to do which Jeroboam had his arm palsied." There is little power of religion left when the servants of God are treated with contempt and hardship.

IV. Seen in the way in which God is ignored even in affliction (1Ki , comp. with 2Ch 16:12). From the whole narrative of Chronicles we gather that the character of Asa deteriorated as he grew old, and that while he maintained the worship of Jehovah consistently from first to last, he failed to maintain the personal faith and piety which had been so conspicuous in his early youth. In his great and fatal affliction "he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians." Not that he was blamed for adopting the best means within his reach for his recovery, but he was blamed for relying more upon the skill of the physicians instead of upon the Lord's blessing upon the means they employed. It is in affliction that man realises his helplessness and need, and when, more than at any other time, he is called upon to depend upon the gracious interference and help of God. It is a lamentable proof of how sadly and deeply the religious spirit has declined when God is forgotten at a period of great extremity, and in the near prospect of death!

LESSONS:—

1. A time of high religious tension is usually followed by a time of reaction.

2. Religious reaction is fraught with great danger, and calls for patient and skilful treatment on the part of the church. 3. In a time of religious reaction there is always much to disappoint and grieve the hearts of God's people.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES

1Ki . The enemies who rise up against us and bring us into straits must often serve, in the hand of God, to try and prove whether our faith is rooted in the deepest soil of the heart, and our zeal in religious things no fleshy one, but a high and holy one.

1Ki . The devices of the wicked. I. Are maliciously planned to place hindrances in the way of the good. II. Are prodigal of labour and expense in accomplishing the desired end. III. Will be ignominiously defeated.

1Ki . The eloquence of gold.

1. Is often more potent than words.

2. Is an irresistible argument to the avaricious.

3. Has made many a one a traitor to the most solemn engagements.

4. Will set an army in motion for any purpose.

5. Rarely fails in winning a victory.

1Ki . To confront his rival of Israel, Baasha, this religious king of Judah fetches in Benhadad, the king of Syria, into God's inheritance, upon too dear a rate, the breach of his league, the expilation of the temple. All the wealth wherewith Asa had endowed the house of the Lord was little enough to hire an Edomite to betray his fidelity and to invade Israel. Leagues may be made with infidels: not at such a price, upon such terms. There can be no warrant for a wilful subornation of perfidiousness. In these cases of outward things, the mercy of God dispenseth with our true necessities, not with the affected. O Asa! where was thy piety while thou robbest God, to corrupt an infidel, for the slaughter of Israelites? O princes! where is your piety while ye hire Turks to the slaughter of Christians, to the spoil of God's church?—Bp. Hall.

1Ki . This is the curse resting upon the strife of brethren: each forms a league with the common enemy rather than resolve upon peace with each other. The least reliable friend and companion in need is he who can be bought with gold, and is always at the disposal of the highest bidder. He who persuades another to break faith must be prepared to find that he will not maintain the word given to him. In every strait, seek first the support and aid of thy God, without whom no man can help thee.

1Ki . Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein, and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him (Pro 26:27). Baasha wished to become possessed of an additional city, and thus lost a series of his own cities; with the same stones with which he purposed to strengthen Ramah, Asa built two strong cities.—Lange.

1Ki . Factious opposition.

1. Is ever short-sighted and short-lived.

2. Is liable to a sudden collapse.

3. May have the materials it gathered used against itself.

1Ki . As the life, so the deathbed of Asa wanted not infirmities, long and prosperous had his reign been: now, after forty years' health and happiness, he that imprisoned the prophet is imprisoned in his bed. There is more pain in these fetters which God put upon Asa, than those which Asa put upon Hanani. And now, behold, he that in his war seeks to Benhadad, not to God, in his sickness seeks not to God, but to physicians. We cannot easily put upon God a greater wrong than the alienation of our trust. Earthly means are for use, not for confidence; we may, we must, employ them; we may not rely on them. Well may God challenge our trust as his peculiarly, which, if we cast upon any creature, we deify it. Whence have herbs and drugs and physicians their being and efficacy, but from that Divine hand? No marvel, then, if Asa's gout struck to his heart, and his feet carried him to his grave, since his heart was miscarried, for the cure of his feet, to an injurious misconfidence in the means, with neglect of his Maker.—Bp. Hall.

—The teachings of affliction.

1. Affliction is often sent in mercy.

2. Suggests topics for serious reflection.

3. Is the more admonitory when associated with age.

4. Often leads the wanderer back to God.

5. Can only increase the distress of the obstinately impenitent.

1Ki . Sickness in old age, previous to death, is a Divine chastisement and trial, to wean men from the world and ripen them for eternity. How many men would die unconverted if God did not visit them before death with sickness!


Verses 25-34

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—

1Ki . Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines—A town given to the Levites (Jos 19:44), situate within the tribe of Dan.

1Ki . Smote all the house of Jeroboam—Vide Notes on chap. 14 1Ki 15:10; 1Ki 15:14. Customary in Oriental scenes for usurpers to exterminate all rivals to the throne. But hereby was fulfilled Ahijah's prophecy. Left not any that breathed—A more inclusive description than in 1Ki 14:10, for this embraces both male and female.

1Ki . Now the rest of the acts, &c.—The historian cares not to write them; he aimed not to preserve a detailed record of the reigns and deeds of kings; all he set himself to do was to show the conduct of kings in reference to Jehovah and His worship, and the condign punishment which overtook defiance of the theocratic law; thereby tracing the fact that "sin" (1Ki 15:26), in the odious form of national apostasy, wrought the overthrow of the Israelitish dynasties, until the kingdom of Israel itself perished.—W. H. J.

HOMILETICS OF 1Ki

THE PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED BY THE WICKED

The sacred writer having traced the history of the kings of Judah to the death of Asa, in the sixty-first year of the divided kingdom, proceeds at this point with an account of the contemporary kings, the narrative occupying seven chapters, beginning with Nadab, who ascended the throne in Asa's second year, and concluding with Ahab, in whose fourth year Asa died. During the single reign of Asa, the government of the rival kingdom of Israel was in six different hands, and the record of that period is stained with conspiracy, crime, and bloodshed. In this paragraph we have an example of how the wicked are sometimes punished by the wicked, which suggests a few obvious reflections.

I. That a life of wickedness is full of danger (1Ki ). It was so to Nadab. It made him an incompetent and unreasonable ruler. It multiplied his miseries. It shortened his days. It alienated the attachment of his subjects—not one of them cared to avenge his murder, or seemed to be horrified at the foulness of the crime, though this was the first regicide that was committed in the history of the kingdom. Sin is a state of unnature; it is a breach of the order of the universe, and it is impossible to escape its penalties, except by finding the refuge in Him "who bare our sins, and carried our sorrows." "The seeds of our own punishment," says Hesiod, "are sown at the same time we commit sin."

We rave, we wrestle, with Great Nature's plan,

We thwart the Deity; and' tis decreed,

Who thwart His will shall contradict their own.

A life of wickedness is menaced with a thousand perils, and, if persisted in, will terminate in misery and woe.

II. That the wicked are sometimes used to punish the wicked. Baasha, a hitherto obscure military adventurer, a bold, pitiless conspirator, was the instrument who punished the hapless Nadab, and who carried out the long-threatened vengeance against the house of Jeroboam (1Ki ). He would do this to secure himself on the throne he had so wickedly usurped, without thinking of Ahijah's prophecy (chap. 1Ki 14:10-14)—perhaps without knowing it. He might be influenced by some personal quarrel with Nadab, or to be revenged on the house of Jeroboam for some injury received from them, or to rid the country of the cruel tyranny of an unpopular prince, or to clear the way for carrying out his own ambitious and daring schemes. Yet he signally fulfilled the Divine threatenings with a more savage barbarity than was originally intended. He not only slew every male, but "he left not to Jeroboam any that breathed"; and thus the dynasty of Jeroboam became utterly and hopelessly extinct. It is a terrible thing to be abandoned to the remorseless cruelty of the wicked. The sack of Rome by the Goths (vide Gibbon, c. xxxi.) is a graphic example of the merciless and unbridled ferocity with which one wicked nation may punish another. Well might David pray, "Let us now fall into the hands of the Lord; and let me not fall into the hands of man" (2Sa 24:14).

III. That the use of the wicked as instruments of punishment does not necessarily turn them from their wickedness (1Ki ). Baasha continued in the same evil courses which had brought such frightful sufferings upon his predecessors, and in inflicting which he had been the unconscious instrument—another illustration how little influence the most notable punishments of sin has in deterring the wicked from their sins "The entail of iniquity cannot be cut off but by a thorough conversion of the soul to God; and of this these bad kings seem to have had no adequate notion. The wicked followed the steps of the wicked, and became still more wicked. Sin gathers strength by exercise and age." The sinner cannot reform himself; and he vainly strives to maintain his authority and prestige by the mad, purblind policy of committing still more outrageous acts of iniquity. What would be the condition of the world if wickedness had unchecked and unrestricted sway? What must be the nameless horrors of that Gehenna where all moral restrictions to evil are removed!

LESSONS:—

1. The forbearance of God has its limits.

2. A similar punishment to that which the wicked have inflicted on others may overtake themselves.

3. A life of sin leads to misery and death.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES

1Ki . Nadab, the son of Jeroboam, reigned but two years over Israel. Then Baasha, of the tribe of Issachar, conspired against him and slew him. There is nothing in the records of conspiracies like this which separates the Bible history from ordinary history. We have, on a very small scale, in the annals of a few petty tribes, just what we have expanded to its highest power in the history of the Roman or of the Byzantine Empires. Nor is the result different. The new house is like the old. The rebel and murderer becomes a tyrant. It will be said, There is a grandeur about crimes and miseries which affect a world; but what interest can we feel in the story of men so diminutive in influence, so insignificant in character, as Jeroboam or Baasha? I answer, The Scripture wishes us to feel none, except so far as by a small experiment we may discover a truth for all ages and nations.—Maurice.

1Ki . The ruin of the house of Jeroboam proclaims these two great truths: Sin is the destruction of a people (Pro 14:34); and: He who heareth not My word, of him will I require it (Deu 18:19). God does not punish the innocent children for the sins of their fathers, but those who, despising the Divine patience and long-suffering shown to their fathers, perpetuate, without any shame, the sins of their fathers (Exo 20:5-6). A given example of evil is rarely without imitation; as Jeroboam rebelled against the house of David, so did Baasha against the house of Jeroboam. Desire for rule and envy beget first dissatisfaction with the condition in life ordained by God, lead then to breach of faith, and end at last with murder and homicide.—Lange.

1Ki . Conspiracy.

1. Is often provoked by a reckless and tyrannical government.

2. Is often the dangerous policy of the wicked and ambitious.

3. Is often associated with cruelty and murder.

1Ki . It is curious to find Issachar furnishing a king. This tribe had never made, and could have no grounds for making, a claim to pre-eminence. It had furnished one undistinguished judge, Tola (Jud 10:1), who, on obtaining his office, had at once settled himself in the territory of Ephraim. Otherwise the tribe was as little famous as any that could be named. The "ass crouching between two burthens" was a true symbol of the patient, plodding cultivators of the Esdraelon plain, who "saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed their shoulder to bear, and became servants unto tribute (Gen 49:14-15). It cannot have been in consequence of any claims or merits on the part of his tribe that Baasha became king. He probably owed his rise simply to his own audacity and his known valour and skill as a soldier. He appears not to have been even a person of good position in his tribe (chap. 1Ki 16:2).—Speaker's Comm.

1Ki . Divine vengeance. I. Though delayed, is certain. II. May be unconsciously carried out by wicked and cruel men. III. Is not meaningless in its threatenings. IV. Is manifested on account of inveterate wickedness.

1Ki . Conspirators and rebels profess to overthrow tyranny and to throw off its yoke; but when they obtain power and sovereignty they are themselves the most violent and cruel tyrants.

1Ki . Baasha trod in the footsteps of Jeroboam just as if Jeroboam had been good and upright. And yet Baasha himself was an instrument in the hand of God to punish Jeroboam on account of his sins. What folly! When Jeroboam's son, Nadab, did as his father, we can explain it by paternal influence; but that Baasha should have pursued the same course is a proof of monstrous blindness. The world does not allow itself to be interrupted in its purposes; vain conduct after the way of those who live before is always inherited (1Pe 1:18).—Calwer.

—Sin morally blinding. I. Hides from the soul the excessive turpitude of sin. II. Renders the soul incapable of learning lessons from the most terrible punishments of sin. III. Prevents the soul from seeing the danger and misery into which it is surely drifting.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Kings 15:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/1-kings-15.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology