Wicked reign of Abijam, king of Judah. (1-8) Good reign of Asa, king of Judah. (9-24) The evil reigns of Nadab and Baasha in Israel. (25-34)
Verses 1-8 Abijam's heart was not perfect with the Lord his God; he wanted sincerity; he began well, but he fell off, and walked in all the sins of his father, following his bad example, though he had seen the bad consequences of it. David's family was continued as a lamp in Jerusalem, to maintain the true worship of God there, when the light of Divine truth was extinguished in all other places. The Lord has still taken care of his cause, while those who ought to have been serviceable thereto have lived and perished in their sins. The Son of David will still continue a light to his church, to establish it in truth and righteousness to the end of time. There are two kinds of fulfilling the law, one legal, the other by the gospel. Legal is, when men do all things required in the law, and that by themselves. None ever thus fulfilled the law but Christ, and Adam before his fall. The gospel manner of fulfilling the law is, to believe in Christ who fulfilled the law for us, and to endeavour in the whole man to obey God in all his precepts. And this is accepted of God, as to all those that are in Christ. Thus David and others are said to fulfil the law.
Verses 9-24 Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. That is right indeed which is so in God's eyes. Asa's times were times of reformation. He removed that which was evil; there reformation begins, and a great deal he found to do. When Asa found idolatry in the court, he rooted it out thence. Reformation must begin at home. Asa honours and respects his mother; he loves her well, but he loves God better. Those that have power are happy when thus they have hearts to use it well. We must not only cease to do evil, but learn to do well; not only cast away the idols of our iniquity, but dedicate ourselves and our all to God's honour and glory. Asa was cordially devoted to the service of God, his sins not arising from presumption. But his league with Benhadad arose from unbelief. Even true believers find it hard, in times of urgent danger, to trust in the Lord with all their heart. Unbelief makes way for carnal policy, and thus for one sin after another. Unbelief has often led Christians to call in the help of the Lord's enemies in their contests with their brethren; and some who once shone brightly, have thus been covered with a dark cloud towards the end of their days.
Verses 25-34 During the single reign of Asa in Judah, the government of Israel was in six or seven different hands. Observe the ruin of the family of Jeroboam; no word of God shall fall to the ground. Divine threatenings are not designed merely to terrify. Ungodly men execute the just judgments of God upon each other. But in the midst of dreadful sins and this apparent confusion, the Lord carries on his own plan: when it is fully completed, the glorious justice, wisdom, truth, and mercy therein displayed, shall be admired and adored through all the ages of eternity.
1 Kings 15:1-8 . ABIJAM'S WICKED REIGN OVER JUDAH.
1. Abijam--His name was at first Abijah ( 2 Chronicles 12:16 ); "Jah," the name of God, according to an ancient fashion, being conjoined with it. But afterwards, when he was found "walking in all the sins of his father" [ 1 Kings 15:3 ], that honorable addition was withdrawn, and his name in sacred history changed into Abijam [LIGHTFOOT].
2. Three years reigned he--(compare 1 Kings 15:1 with 1 Kings 15:9 ). Parts of years are often counted in Scripture as whole years. The reign began in Jeroboam's eighteenth year, continued till the nineteenth, and ended in the course of the twentieth.
his mother's name was Maachah--or Michaiah ( 2 Chronicles 13:2 ), probably altered from the one to the other on her becoming queen, as was very common under a change of circumstances. She is called the daughter of Abishalom, or Absalom ( 2 Chronicles 11:21 ), of Uriel ( 2 Chronicles 13:2 ). Hence, it has been thought probable that Tamar, the daughter of Absalom ( 2 Samuel 14:27 , 18:18 ), had been married to Uriel, and that Maachah was their daughter.
3. his heart was not perfect with the Lord . . . , as the heart of David his father--(Compare 1 Kings 11:4 , 14:22 ). He was not positively bad at first, for it appears that he had done something to restore the pillaged treasures of the temple ( 1 Kings 15:15 ). This phrase contains a comparative reference to David's heart. His doing that which was right in the eyes of the Lord ( 1 Kings 15:5 ) is frequently used in speaking of the kings of Judah, and means only that they did or did not do that which, in the general course and tendency of their government, was acceptable to God. It furnishes no evidence as to the lawfulness or piety of one specific act.
4. for David's sake did the Lord his God give him a lamp--"A lamp" in one's house is an Oriental phrase for continuance of family name and prosperity. Abijam was not rejected only in consequence of the divine promise to David
1 Kings 15:9-22 . ASA'S GOOD REIGN.
10-13. his mother's name was Maachah--She was properly his grandmother, and she is here called "the king's mother," from the post of dignity which at the beginning of his reign she possessed. Asa, as a constitutional monarch, acted like the pious David, laboring to abolish the traces and polluting practices of idolatry, and in pursuance of his impartial conduct, he did not spare delinquents even of the highest rank.
13. also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen--The sultana, or queen dowager, was not necessarily the king's natural mother (see 1 Kings 2:19 ), nor was Maachah. Her title, and the privileges connected with that honor and dignity which gave her precedency among the ladies of the royal family, and great influence in the kingdom, were taken away. She was degraded for her idolatry.
because she had made an idol in a grove--A very obscene figure, and the grove was devoted to the grossest licentiousness. His plans of religious reformation, however, were not completely carried through, "the high places were not removed" (see 1 Kings 3:2 ). The suppression of this private worship on natural or artificial hills, though a forbidden service after the temple had been declared the exclusive place of worship, the most pious king's laws were not able to accomplish.
15. he brought in the things which his father had dedicated--Probably the spoils which Abijam had taken from the vanquished army of Jeroboam (see 2 Chronicles 13:16 ).
and the things which himself had dedicated--after his own victory over the Cushites ( 2 Chronicles 14:12 ).
16, 17. there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days--Asa enjoyed a ten years' peace after Jeroboam's defeat by Abijam, and this interval was wisely and energetically spent in making internal reforms, as well as increasing the means of national defense ( 2 Chronicles 14:1-7 ). In the fifteenth year of his reign, however, the king of Israel commenced hostilities against him, and, invading his kingdom, erected a strong fortress at Ramah, which was near Gibeah, and only six Roman miles from Jerusalem. Afraid lest his subjects might quit his kingdom and return to the worship of their fathers, he wished to cut off all intercourse between the two nations. Ramah stood on an eminence overhanging a narrow ravine which separated Israel from Judah, and therefore he took up a hostile position in that place.
18-20. Then Asa took all the silver and the gold that were left in the . . . house of the Lord--Asa's religious character is now seen to decline. He trusted not in the Lord ( 2 Chronicles 16:7 ). In this emergency Asa solicited the powerful aid of the king of Damascene-Syria; and to bribe him to break off his alliance with Baasha, he transmitted to him the treasure lying in the temple and palace. The Syrian mercenaries were gained. Instances are to be found, both in the ancient and modern history of the East, of the violation of treaties equally sudden and unscrupulous, through the presentation of some tempting bribe. Ben-hadad poured an army into the northern provinces of Israel, and having captured some cities in Galilee, on the borders of Syria, compelled Baasha to withdraw from Ramah back within his own territories.
22. Then king Asa made a proclamation--The fortifications which Baasha had erected at Ramah were demolished, and with the materials were built other defenses, where Asa thought they were needed--at Geba (now Jeba) and Mizpeh (now Neby Samuil), about two hours' travelling north of Jerusalem.
23. in the time of his old age he was diseased in his where an additional proof is given of his religious degeneracy.)
1 Kings 15:25-34 . NADAB'S WICKED REIGN.
25. Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign--No record is given of him, except his close adherence to the bad policy of his father.
27. Baasha smote him at Gibbethon--This town, within the tribe of Dan, was given to the Levites ( Joshua 19:44 ). It lay on the Philistine borders, and having been seized by that people, Nadab laid siege to recover it.
29. when he reigned, he smote all the house of Jeroboam--It was according to a barbarous practice too common in the East, for a usurper to extirpate all rival candidates for the throne; but it was an accomplishment of Ahijah's prophecy concerning Jeroboam ( 1 Kings 14:10 1 Kings 14:11 ).