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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
1 Kings 15

 

 

Verse 1-2

1 Kings 15:1-2. Reigned Abijam over Judah — So his reign began with Jeroboam’s eighteenth year, continued his whole nineteenth year, and ended within his twentieth year, in which also Asa’s reign began; and thus one and the same year may be attributed to two several persons. Three years reigned he, &c. — That is, part of three years. The daughter of Abishalom — Or, of Absalom, as he is called 2 Chronicles 11:21; and because he is here mentioned as a known person, without any addition of his kindred or quality, some conceive that this was Absalom’s daughter, called properly Tamar, (2 Samuel 14:27,) and from her royal grandmother, (2 Samuel 3:3,) Maacah.


Verse 4

1 Kings 15:4. And the Lord gave him a lamp — A son and successor, to perpetuate his name and memory, which otherwise had gone into obscurity. Jerusalem — That he might maintain that city, and temple, and worship, as a witness for himself in the world, against the Israelites and heathen world.


Verse 5

1 Kings 15:5. Save only in the matter of Uriah — This, and the like phrases, are not to be understood as exclusive of every sinful action, but only of an habitual and continued apostacy from God, as the very phrase of turning aside from God, or from his commands, doth generally imply: and thus it is most true; for David’s other sins were either sudden and transient acts, soon repented of and blotted out, as in the cases of Nabal and Achish, or mistakes of his judgment, which was not fully convinced of the sinfulness of such actions; whereas that which concerned Uriah’s wife was a designed and studied sin, long continued in, defended with a succession of other sins, presumptuous and scandalous to his government, and to the true religion.


Verse 6

1 Kings 15:6. This was mentioned before, (1 Kings 14:30,) and therefore may seem to come in here improperly, because the historian is not speaking of Rehoboam, but of his son Abijam. Bochart thinks that Rehoboam stands here for the son of Rehoboam. But the meaning of these words seems rather to be, that though God was pleased, for David’s sake, to continue a lamp, that is, a successor, to him in Jerusalem; yet these successors were vexed with continual wars, as appeared both in the reign of Rehoboam and of Abijam, and did not enjoy their kingdom peaceably.


Verse 10-11

1 Kings 15:10-11. His mother’s name — That is, his grandmother’s, as appears from 1 Kings 15:2. She is called his mother in the same sense in which David is called Abijam’s father, 1 Kings 15:3; that is, his progenitor. And his grandmother’s name may be here mentioned, rather than his mother’s, because his mother was either an obscure person, or was dead, or unwilling to take care of the education of her son, and so he was educated by the grandmother, who, though she poisoned his father Abijam with her idolatrous principles, (1 Kings 15:12,) yet could not infect Asa, nor withhold him from prosecuting his good purposes of reforming religion. Asa did that which was right — As to the government of his kingdom, and the reformation and establishment of God’s worship; in the eyes of the Lord — That is right indeed which is so in God’s eyes. Those are approved whom he commendeth. As did David his father — Whom he made his pattern; worshipping the Lord alone, and taking away all idols, as it here follows.


Verse 12

1 Kings 15:12. He took away the sodomites — All whom he could find out; but some escaped his observation, as appears from 1 Kings 22:46. And removed all the idols his father had made — If his father had made them, he had the more need to remove them, that he might cut off the entail of the curse.


Verse 13

1 Kings 15:13. Her he removed from being queen — He took from her either the name and authority of queen regent, which she, having been Rehoboam’s wife, and Abijam’s mother, took to herself during Asa’s minority, or the dignity of the queen-mother, and those guards, or instruments of power, which she had enjoyed and misemployed. She had made an idol — Hebrew, a terror, or horror, that is, a horrible idol; which, it may be, is so called, because it was of a more terrible shape than ordinary, and not to be seen without horror. Kidron — That when it was burned to powder, it might be thrown into the water, and be unfit for any use.


Verse 14

1 Kings 15:14. The high places were not removed — 2 Chronicles 14:3. He took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places where they were worshipped: but as for those high places where the true God was worshipped, he did not take them away; partly, because he thought there was no great evil in them, which had been used by David and Solomon, and other good men; partly because he thought the removal of them might do more hurt than their continuance, by occasioning the total neglect of God’s worship by many of the people, who either could not, or through want of faith and zeal would not, go up to Jerusalem to worship; now especially, when the Israelites, formerly their friends, were become their enemies, and watched all opportunities to invade or molest them. Asa’s heart was perfect — That is, he sincerely and constantly adhered to the worship of God. Though he could not hinder the people from using the high places, yet he entirely devoted himself to the worship of God in the manner and place prescribed by him.


Verse 15

1 Kings 15:15. He brought in the things which his father had dedicated — Namely, Abijam, when he was in distress, and going to fight with Jeroboam, (2 Chronicles 13.,) though afterward he did not perform his vows, nor bring into the house of the Lord what he had devoted: probably he was prevented by death. Asa his son, however, made good his vow; and also himself brought in what he had dedicated to holy uses, namely, silver, and gold, and vessels, having gotten great spoil in his war with the Ethiopians, 2 Chronicles 14:13-14.


Verse 17

1 Kings 15:17. Baasha built Ramah — That is, repaired and fortified it. It was a city in the tribe of Benjamin, which either belonged to the kingdom of Israel, or he had taken it from Judah. That he might not suffer any to go out, &c. — That he might hinder all communication between his people and the people of Judah, and that his people might not go up to Jerusalem to worship. For this place lay in the confines of both kingdoms; and in such a strait, that a fortification being made there, none could pass to or fro without a license from Baasha.


Verse 18

1 Kings 15:18. Asa took all the silver and gold that were left — Which either Shishak had left, or Abijam or Asa or others, of both Israel or Judah, had dedicated; which probably was not inconsiderable, because Asa had got great spoils from Zarah, (2 Chronicles 14.) and he, and his numerous and prosperous people, did at this time express a great zeal for the house and worship of God. Sent them — Wherein he committed three great faults, among many others; 1st, He alienated things consecrated to God, without necessity. 2d, He did this out of distrust of that God whose power and goodness he had lately experienced. 3d, He did this for an ill intent, to hire him to the breach of his league and covenant with Baasha, (1 Kings 15:19,) and to take away part of that land which by right, and the special gift of God, belonged to the Israelites.


Verse 19

1 Kings 15:19. There is a league between me and thee — In the latter end of Solomon’s reign, the Syrians were enemies to him, 1 Kings 11:24-25 : but when he was dead, and the kingdom was divided, both Judah and Israel made peace with the Syrians; having enough to do to settle themselves in their own dominions. Behold, I have sent thee a present, come, break thy league with Baasha — It is strange that Asa’s conscience would suffer him, or that he, a professor of the true religion, was not ashamed to be guilty of such a wicked piece of policy as to tempt with money even a heathen to break his word, or league rather, which, no doubt, he had sworn to observe. This certainly was not the way to recommend the worship and service of Jehovah to the heathen nations around.


Verse 20-21

1 Kings 15:20-21. And smote Ijon and Dan, &c. — He fell upon the northern part of the kingdom of Israel, which was nearest to Damascus; while Baasha was busy at Ramah, which was in the more southern part. And dwelt in Tirzah — Now the royal city of Israel. There he abode to defend his own kingdoms, and durst not return to oppose Asa, lest the Syrian king should make a second invasion. So Asa met with success in this ungodly course, as good men sometimes meet with disappointment in a good cause and course. So there is no judging of causes by events.


Verse 22

1 Kings 15:22. None were exempted — All sorts of persons were obliged to come, except those who were disabled by age, or infirmity, or absence, or by the public service of the king and kingdom in other places. Built Geba, &c. — Repaired and strengthened them, for they were built before; which he judged better than to perfect the fortifications of Ramah, which would have been a perpetual bone of contention (as we speak) between Judah and Israel.


Verse 23

1 Kings 15:23. Nevertheless he was diseased in his feet — Notwithstanding the great things which he had done, and the glory and prosperity which he had enjoyed, he felt the effects of human infirmity, and of his own sins. He probably had the gout, which made him less active than he had been before this disease seized him.


Verse 25-26

1 Kings 15:25-26. And reigned over Israel two years — Not complete, as appears from 1 Kings 15:28-33. And walked in his sin — In the worship of the calves which his father had made. If the death of his brother Abijah had had a due influence upon him, to make him religious, and the honour done to that well-disposed young man at his death had engaged him to follow his good example, his reign might have been long and glorious; but he walked in the way of his father, kept up the worship of the calves, and forbade his subjects to go up to Jerusalem to worship; sinned and made Israel to sin; and therefore God brought ruin upon him quickly, in the second year of his reign.


Verse 27-28

1 Kings 15:27-28. Baasha smote him at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines — This was a city in the tribe of Dan, given to the Levites, (Joshua 19:44; Joshua 21:23,) who quitted it, as they did the rest of their cities, when Jeroboam would not suffer them to execute their office, 2 Chronicles 11:14; and the Philistines, it is likely, seized upon it, being adjoining to their country. But it appears, Nadab was now endeavouring to recover it out of their hands, as of right belonging to him; and here, in the midst of his army, did Baasha, with others, conspire against him, and kill him: and so little interest had he in the affections of his people, that his army not only did not avenge his death, but chose his murderer his successor. Whether Baasha did this upon a personal pique against Nadab, or to be revenged on the house of Jeroboam for some affront received from them; or whether under pretence of freeing his country from the tyranny of an ill prince; or whether purely from a principle of ambition, to make way for himself to the throne, doth not appear; but having slain him, he reigned in his stead.


Verse 28

1 Kings 15:28. Even in the third year of Asa did Baasha slay him — It was threatened, (1 Kings 14:15,) that Israel should be as a reed shaken in the water. And so they were, when, during the single reign of Asa, their government was in seven or eight different hands. Jeroboam was upon the throne at the beginning of his reign, and Ahab at the end of it; between whom were Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Tibni, and Omri, undermining and destroying one another. This they got by deserting the house both of God and of David.


Verse 29

1 Kings 15:29. He smote all the house of Jeroboam — The first thing he did when he came to the crown was, to cut off all that had any title to it, that he might secure himself in his usurped government. He did not think it enough to imprison or banish them, but he destroyed them; and carried his vengeance so far, that he left not only no males, as was foretold 1 Kings 14:10, but not any that breathed. Herein he was barbarous; but God was righteous; and Jeroboam’s sin was punished: for they that provoke God do it to their own confusion, Jeremiah 7:19. According to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Ahijah — Baasha had no thought about fulfilling Ahijah’s prophecy, but God overruled his ambition and cruelty to that end, and thereby executed, on the house of Jeroboam, the judgments he had threatened, and that as speedily as Ahijah had foretold, (1 Kings 14:14,) for no word of God shall fall to the ground.


Verse 30

1 Kings 15:30. Because of the sins of Jeroboam — Thus that same wicked policy which he used to establish the kingdom in his family, proved his and their ruin; which is very frequently the event of ungodly counsels.


Verse 34

1 Kings 15:34. And he walked in the way of Jeroboam — This makes it evident that Baasha did not cut off Jeroboam’s family because they were idolaters, but because he aspired to the throne; which, when he had obtained, he endeavoured to establish himself in by the same impious policy which Jeroboam had used: for he reformed nothing in religion, but continued the idolatrous worship of the calves which Jeroboam had set up, to keep the people from going to worship at Jerusalem.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 15:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-kings-15.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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