And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)REIGN OF ASA (2 Chronicles 14-16.)
(2) That which was good and right.—Literally, The good and the right, an expression defined in 2Chronicles 14:3-4. It is used of Hezekiah, 2Chronicles 31:20. See 1Kings 15:11, “And Asa did the right in the eyes of the Lord, like David his father.”
For (and) . . . the altars of the strange gods.—Literally, altars of the alien. Vulg., “altaria peregrini cultus.” Comp. the expression, gods of the alien (Gen. xxxv, 2, 4). (Comp. 1Kings 15:12 b, and he took away all the idols that his fathers had made; a summary statement, which is here expanded into details.) But both here and in 2Chronicles 12:1-2, the chronicler has omitted to mention the qedēshîm (Authorised Version, “Sodomites”) (1Kings 15:12 a)
And the high places.—i.e., those dedicated to foreign religions. It is clear from 2Chronicles 15:17, as well as 1Kings 15:14, that high places dedicated to the worship of Jehovah were not done away with by Asa.
Brake down the images.—Brake in pieces (or shattered) the pillars. They were dedicated to Baal, and symbolised the solar rays, being, no doubt, a species of obelisk. (See Genesis 28:18; Exodus 34:13; Judges 3:7.)
The “high places, images, and groves” of this verse are all mentioned in 1Kings 14:23.
ASA’S REFORMATION, AND CONSEQUENT PEACE AND VICTORY
2 Chronicles 14:2 - 2 Chronicles 14:8.
Asa was Rehoboam’s grandson, and came to the throne when a young man. The two preceding reigns had favoured idolatry, but the young king had a will of his own, and inaugurated a religious revolution, with which and its happy results this passage deals.
I. It first recounts the thorough clearance of idolatrous emblems and images which Asa made. ‘Strange altars,’-that is, those dedicated to other gods; ‘high places,’-that is, where illegal sacrifice to Jehovah was offered; ‘pillars,’-that is, stone columns; and ‘Asherim,’-that is, trees or wooden poles, survivals of ancient stone- or tree-worship; ‘sun-images,’-that is, probably, pillars consecrated to Baal as sun-god, were all swept away. The enumeration vividly suggests the incongruous rabble of gods which had taken the place of the one Lord. How vainly we try to make up for His absence from our hearts by a multitude of finite delights and helpers! Their multiplicity proves the insufficiency of each and of all.
1 Kings 15:13 adds a detail which brings out still more clearly Asa’s reforming zeal; for it tells us that he had to fight against the influence of his mother, who had been prominent in supporting disgusting and immoral forms of worship, and who retained some authority, of which her son was strong enough to take the extreme step of depriving her. Remembering the Eastern reverence for a mother, we can estimate the effort which that required, and the resolution which it implied. But 1 Kings differs from our narrative in stating that the ‘high places’ were not taken away-the explanation of the variation probably being that the one account tells what Asa attempted and commanded, and the other records the imperfect way in which his orders were carried out. They would be obeyed in Jerusalem and its neighbourhood, but in many a secluded corner the old rites would be observed.
It is vain to force religious revolutions. Laws which are not supported by the national conscience will only be obeyed where disobedience will involve penalties. If men’s hearts cleave to Baal, they will not be turned into Jehovah-worshippers by a king’s commands. Asa could command Judah to ‘seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to do the law,’ but he could not make them do it.
II. The chronicler brings out strongly the truth which runs through his whole book,-namely, the connection between honouring Jehovah and national prosperity. He did not import that thought into his narrative, but he insisted on it as moulding the history of Judah. Modern critics charge him with writing with a bias, but he learned the ‘bias’ from God’s own declarations, and had it confirmed by observation, reflection, and experience. The whole history of Israel and Judah was one long illustration of the truth which he is constantly repeating. No doubt, the divine dealings with Israel brought obedience and well-being into closer connection than exists now; but in deepest truth the sure defence of our national prosperity is the same as theirs, and it is still the case that ‘righteousness exalteth a nation.’ ‘The kingdom was quiet,’ says the chronicler, ‘and he had no war in those years; because the Lord had given him rest.’ 1 Kings makes more of the standing enmity with the northern kingdom, and records scarcely anything of Asa’s reign except the war which, as it says, was between him and Baasha of Israel ‘all their days.’ But, according to 2 Chronicles 16:1, Baasha did not proceed to war till Asa’s thirty-sixth year, and the halcyon time of peace evidently followed immediately on the religious reformation at its very beginning.
Asa’s experience embodies a truth which is substantially fulfilled in nations and in individuals; for obedience brings rest, often outward tranquillity, always inward calm. Note the heightened earnestness expressed in the repetition of the expression ‘We have sought the Lord’ in 2 Chronicles 14:7, and the grand assurance of His favour as the source of well-being in the clause which follows, ‘and He hath given us rest on every side.’ That is always so, and will be so with us. If we seek Him with our whole hearts, keeping Him ever before us amid the distractions of life, taking Him as our aim and desire, and ever stretching out the tendrils of our hearts to feel after Him and clasp Him, all around and within will be tranquil, and even in warfare we shall preserve unbroken peace.
Asa teaches us, too, the right use of tranquillity. He clearly and gratefully recognised God’s hand in it, and traced it not to his own warlike skill or his people’s prowess, but to Him. And he used the time of repose to strengthen his defences, and exercise his soldiers against possible assaults. We do not yet dwell in the land of peace, where it is safe to be without bolts and bars, but have ever to be on the watch for sudden attacks. Rest from war should give leisure for building not only fortresses, but temples, as was the case with Solomon. The time comes when, as in many an ancient fortified city of Europe, the ramparts may be levelled, and flowers bloom where sentries walked; but to-day we have to be on perpetual guard, and look to our fortifications, if we would not be overcome.2 Chronicles 14:2. Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord — Happy they that walk by this rule; that do not only that which is right in their own eyes, or in the eyes of the world, but which is so in God’s eyes. Asa saw that God’s eye was always upon him, and therefore he kept his eye always upon God, studied to approve himself to him, and endeavoured in all things to please him.1 Kings 12:8 note) not more than 21 years old at his accession, Asa, when he mounted the throne, must have been a mere boy, not more than 10 or 11 years of age.
The land was quiet ten years - The great blow struck by Abijah 2 Chronicles 13:15-19, his alliance with Syria 1 Kings 15:19, and the rapid succession of sovereigns in Israel during the earlier part of Asa's reign 1 Kings 15:25-33, would naturally prevent disturbance on the part of the northern kingdom. The tender age of Asa himself would be a bar to warlike enterprises on the part of Judah.See Poole "1 Kings 15:11" See Poole "1 Kings 15:12" 1 Kings 15:11. And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 2. - That which was good and right. Our Authorized Version does not omit to mark the first three words with italic type, the simple and emphatic original being, the good and the straight. Joshua 7:2; Jeshanah, occurring only here, and the position of which has not yet been ascertained; and Ephron (עפרון, Keth.; the Keri, on the contrary, עפרין). This city cannot well be identified with Mount Ephron, Joshua 15:9; for that mountain was situated on the southern frontier of Benjamin, not far from Jerusalem, while the city Ephron is to be sought much farther north, in the neighbourhood of Bethel. C. v. Raumer and others identify Ephron or Ephrain both with Ophrah of Benjamin, which, it is conjectured, was situated near or in Tayibeh, to the east of Bethel, and with the Ἐφραΐ́μ, John 11:54, whither Jesus withdrew into the wilderness, which, according to Josephus, Bell. Jud. iv. 9. 9, lay in the neighbourhood of Bethel. See on Joshua 18:23.
(Note: The account of this war, which is peculiar to the Chronicle, and which de Wette declared, on utterly insufficient grounds, to be an invention of the chronicler (cf. against him my apol. Vers. ber die Chron. S. 444ff.), is thus regarded by Ewald (Gesch. Isr. iii. S. 466, der 2:Aufl.): "The chronicler must certainly have found among his ancient authorities an account of this conclusion of the war, and we cannot but believe that we have here, in so far, authentic tradition;" and only the details of the description are the results of free expansion by the chronicler, but in the speech 2 Chronicles 13:4-13 every word and every thought is marked by the peculiar colouring of the Chronicle. But this last assertion is contradicted by Ewald's own remark, i. S. 203, that "in 2 Chronicles 13:4-7, 2 Chronicles 13:19-21, an antiquated manner of speech and representation appears, while in the other verses, on the contrary, those usual with the chronicler are found," - in support of which he adduces the words בליּעל בּני, 2 Chronicles 13:7, and מלח בּרית, 2 Chronicles 13:5. According to this view, Abijah's speech cannot have been freely draughted by the chronicler, but must have been derived, at least so far as the fundamental thoughts are concerned, from an ancient authority, doubtless the Midrash of the prophet Iddo, cited in 2 Chronicles 13:22. But Ewald's further remark (iii. S. 466), that the author of the Chronicle, because he regarded the heathenized Samaria of his time as the true representative of the old kingdom of the ten tribes, seized this opportunity to put into King Abijah's mouth a long denunciatory and didactic speech, addressed at the commencement of the battle to the enemy as rebels not merely against the house of David, but also against the true religion, is founded upon the unscriptural idea that the calf-worship of the Israelites was merely a somewhat sensuous form of the true Jahve-worship, and was fundamentally distinct from the heathen idolatry, and also from the idolatry of the later Samaritans. In the judgment of all the prophets, not only of Hosea and Amos, but also of the prophetic author of the book of Kings, the calf-worship was a defection from Jahve, the God of the fathers, - a forsaking of the commands of Jahve, and a serving of the Baals; cf. e.g., 1 Kings 13; 2 Kings 17:7-23. What Abijah says of the calf-worship of the Israelites, and of Judah's attitude to Jahve and His worship in the temple, is founded on the truth, and is also reconcilable with the statement in 1 Kings 15:3, that Abijah's heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord, like David's heart. Abijah had promoted the legal temple-worship even by consecratory gifts (1 Kings 15:15), and could consequently quite well bring forward the worship of God in Judah as the true worship, in contrast to the Israelitic calf-worship, for the discouragement of his enemies, and for the encouragement of his own army; and we may consequently regard the kernel, or the essential contents of the speech, as being historically well-founded. The account of the war, moreover, is also shown to be historical by the exact statement as to the conquered cities in 2 Chronicles 13:19, which evidently has been derived from ancient authorities. Only in the statements about the number of warriors, and of the slain Israelites, the numbers are not to be estimated according to the literal value of the figures; for they are, as has been already hinted in the commentary, only an expression in figures of the opinion of contemporaries of the war, that both kings had made a levy of all the men in their respective kingdoms capable of bearing arms, and that Jeroboam was defeated with such slaughter that he lost more than the half of his warriors.)
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