And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:2 Chronicles 15:1-2. The Spirit of God came upon Azariah — Both to instruct him what to say, and to enable him to say it plainly and boldly. And he went out to meet Asa — Now returning victorious, with his army, from the war with the Ethiopians. And he said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa and all Judah, &c. — He does not come out to meet them in order to compliment them, or congratulate their success, but to excite them to their duty: which is the proper business of God’s ministers, even with princes and the greatest men. The Lord is with you — To defend you against all your enemies, as ye now have seen, and may hereafter expect; while ye be with him — While ye persist in that good course upon which you have entered. For the continuance of his presence with you depends upon your perseverance in the way of your duty. If you seek him he will be found of you — If you sincerely desire his favour, and seek it in the way he hath appointed, especially by prayer and supplication, and complying with his will in all things, you shall obtain it: but if you forsake him — And his commandments and ordinances of worship; he will forsake you — And then you will be undone, and will find that your present triumphs were no security to you. Let not this victory, then, make you presumptuous, or self- confident: for you are upon your good behaviour; and if you leave God, he will leave and destroy you, after he has done you all this good.
And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.
Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.2 Chronicles 15:3-4. For a long season Israel hath been, &c. — Hebrew, many days have been to Israel without the true God, &c. — The prophet’s design here is evidently to set before them the miserable consequences of forsaking God and his ordinances, and that if they should forsake him, there would be no way of having their grievances redressed, but by repenting and returning to him. In proof of this point he argues from facts, and observes, that in time past, when Israel forsook their duty, they were overrun with a deluge of atheism, impiety, irreligion, and all irregularities; and were continually embarrassed with vexations, and destructive wars, foreign and domestic. But when their troubles drove them to God, they found it not in vain to seek him. He seems to refer especially to the times of the judges. For then they were frequently, though not wholly and universally, yet in a very great measure, without God and his law, and teaching priests: and then, indeed, they were brought to suffer all the exigencies and calamities here mentioned. They were harassed by grievous wars, both foreign and domestic, and frequently oppressed by one enemy or other, as by the Moabites, Midianites, Ammonites, and other neighbouring nations, and were vexed with all adversity, 2 Chronicles 15:6; yet when, in their perplexity, they turned to God by repentance, prayer, and reformation, he raised up deliverers for them. Thus that maxim, that God is with us, while we are with him, was often verified in those times. This seems to be the most obvious sense of the passage, taking Israel for the whole nation, and not for the ten tribes merely, who had revolted under Jeroboam, to whom part of the prophet’s speech is not at all applicable; for it could not with truth be said of them, that when they were in trouble they turned unto the Lord, and sought him, and he was found of them. Some think, among whom is Houbigant, that the whole passage is prophetical, and looks forward to future times; and that it ought to be read in the future tense, thus: Now, for a long season, Israel shall be without the true God, &c. But when, in their trouble, they shall turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and seek him, he will be found of them: see Hosea 3:4. But the former explication seems to be more agreeable, both to the Hebrew text, and to the context preceding and following, and to be much more suitable to the design of the prophet, as stated above.
But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.
And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.2 Chronicles 15:5. In those times — When Israel lived in the gross neglect of God and his law; there was no peace to him that went out, &c. — Men could not go abroad about their private business without great danger; as it was in the days of Shamgar, the events of which time are a good comment on this text, Jdg 5:6. Great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries — Hebrew, Of these countries: that is, the various parts of the land of Israel, both within and without Jordan.
And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.2 Chronicles 15:6. Nation was destroyed of nation — One part of the people of Israel destroyed the other by civil wars; of which see instances, Jdg 9:23, &c., and 2 Chronicles 12:1, &c. As all Israel, so the several tribes of them are sometimes called nations.
Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.2 Chronicles 15:7. Be ye strong therefore — Go on resolutely to maintain God’s worship, and to root out idolatry, as you have begun to do; for this is the only method of preserving yourselves from such calamities as your predecessors have felt. And let not your hands be weak — Be not discouraged with the opposition which you may possibly meet with. For your work shall be rewarded — What you do for God, and for his honour and service, shall not be overlooked, or go unrequited.
And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.2 Chronicles 15:8. When Asa heard these words of Oded the prophet — Of Azariah, the son of Oded, who was also called by his father’s name; he took courage — For it required great courage to put away all the idols, to which so great a number of his people were still attached, and among others Maachah, the queen, his mother, whom, for this reason, he deposed, 1 Kings 15:13. And out of the cities which he had taken — Or, which had been taken, namely, by Abijah his father. And renewed the altar of the Lord — Which had been either decayed by time and long use of it, or broken by his idolatrous mother’s means. Or the expression may signify, He consecrated, or dedicated, the altar, &c., which, possibly, had been polluted by idolaters, and now needed some purification.
And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.2 Chronicles 15:9. And out of Simeon — For the generality of this tribe, though they had their inheritance out of the portion of Judah, revolted to Jeroboam with the other tribes, as appears from many passages of Scripture. This they might conveniently do, because, as their portion bordered, on one side, on the tribe of Judah, so, on the other, it touched on that of Dan, and therefore could easily join with the one or the other. For they fell to him out of Israel in abundance — Namely, from the king of Israel.
So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.2 Chronicles 15:10. They gathered themselves at Jerusalem, in the third month — Namely, of the sacred year, in which month the feast of weeks, or of pentecost fell; in the fifteenth year of Asa — Asa had peace ten years, (2 Chronicles 14:1,) after which, probably, there were some bickerings and skirmishes, which seem to have been composed; and after that, Zerah came against him and was discomfited. Upon this great success, many of the Israelites fell to him, and in the fifteenth year he called this assembly.
And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.2 Chronicles 15:11-12. They offered of the spoil which they had brought — Taken from Zerah, and his army and allies. They entered into a covenant, &c. — Repenting that they had violated their engagements to God, and resolving to attend to, and endeavour to fulfil them in future. The matter of this covenant was nothing but what they were before obliged to. And though no promise could lay any higher obligation upon them than they were already under, yet it would help to increase their sense of the obligation, and to arm them against temptations: and, by joining all together in this, they strengthened the hands of each other. To seek the God of their fathers — In the way their fathers had sought him, and in dependence on the promise made to their fathers; with all their heart, and with all their soul — For only those seek God acceptably and successfully, who seek him thus. God demands all the heart: and when such an inestimable blessing as the divine favour is to be found, it is proper that the whole heart should be engaged in the pursuit of it.
And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;
That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.2 Chronicles 15:13. That whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel — Would either worship other gods, or refuse to join with them in the worship of the true God; that was either an obstinate idolater, or an obstinate atheist, should be put to death — Which was not a new law of their own making, but an order to put in execution the law of God to this purpose, contained Deuteronomy 18:2, &c., which, if it had been duly executed in former times, would have kept the land clear of those many abominable idols which were found in and brought God’s wrath upon it: compare Hebrews 10:28. But though they might do well in executing the sentence of the law upon idolaters, this ought not to be pleaded by any persons professing Christianity as a precedent for persecuting any of their fellow-Christians, much less for putting them to death who may happen to differ from them in any point of doctrine, or mode of worship; because all Christians, as such, however they may disagree as to some lesser points, yet worship one and the same living and true God; and, added to this, the spirit of the gospel is very different from that of the Jewish law: see Luke 9:55. Nor may we, under our mild dispensation, attempt to compel by force any man to become religious. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.
And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.
And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about.2 Chronicles 15:15. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath — That is, a great number of the people; as such general expressions are frequently to be understood: for, doubtless, there were many dissemblers, and ungodly men, at this time among them. For they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire — They professed to do so, and, no doubt, many of them did at this time, though afterward they apostatized from his love and service. Thus the times of renewing our covenant with God should be times of rejoicing. It is an honour and happiness to be in bonds with God, and the closer the better. It was an extraordinary good frame that Judah was now in: O that there had always been such a heart in them!
And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.2 Chronicles 15:16. And also concerning Maachah — Of this and the following verses, see on 1 Kings 15:13-15.
But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.
And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.
And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.2 Chronicles 15:19. There was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of Asa — No open, general war, though there were constant bickerings between Judah and Israel upon the frontiers, 1 Kings 15:16. National piety procures national blessings.