In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.2 Chronicles 16:1. In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa — This date disagrees so much with what is said 1 Kings 15:33, that there seems to be no other way of reconciling the two passages, but allowing that a trivial mistake has been made by the transcribers here, and that instead of the thirty-sixth, we ought to read here the twenty-sixth. This reading is approved by Houbigant, and is evidently adopted by Josephus, lib. 8, cap. 6. Baasha began his reign in the third year of Asa, and reigned no more than twenty-four years. He was, therefore, dead nine years, at least, before the thirty-sixth year of Asa. Baasha came up against Judah, and built Ramah — That is, made a wall about it, and fortified it. The late defection of so many of his subjects to the house of David was the occasion of his fortifying this place, designing hereby both to prevent others of them from revolting, and to hinder Asa’s subjects from coming into his dominions to seduce his people from their obedience to him.
Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the LORD and of the king's house, and sent to Benhadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,
There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.
And Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelmaim, and all the store cities of Naphtali.
And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease.
Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah.
And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.2 Chronicles 16:7. At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa, &c. — Here follows, in addition to what is recorded concerning Asa in the first book of Kings, a remarkable history, which relates his great weakness in his declining years, and God’s displeasure on account of it. Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not on the Lord thy God — It is a great weakness in our nature, which cannot be too much guarded against, to be ever prone to forego our confidence in God for human means; or to put a greater and more assured trust in them, than in the power, love, and faithfulness of God. Therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thy hand — And so reserved to be a scourge to thy kingdom and posterity: whereas, if the Syrians had continued their league with Baasha, and joined him against thee, thou shouldest have overthrown both them and Baasha, as thou didst the Ethiopians, and thereby have prevented all the mischiefs which the king of Syria will do to thy family.
Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand.2 Chronicles 16:8. And the Lubims — Either the Libyans in Africa, or another people possibly descended from them, but now seated in some part of Arabia. See on 2 Chronicles 12:3.
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.2 Chronicles 16:9. The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth — He governs the world in infinite wisdom, the creatures, and all their actions, are continually under his eye, and he exercises a most watchful providence over all those who sincerely commit themselves to his care, and depend upon him in well-doing, and will not fail to protect them. To show himself strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect, &c. — Upright and sincere; who truly desire and endeavour to know and do his will in all things. Such may he sure of his protection and aid, and have all the reason in the world to depend thereon. A firm and lively faith in this brings us near to God, and unites us to him: but a practical disbelief of it produces the contrary effect, and is at the bottom of all our departures from God, and double dealing with him. Asa could not trust God, and therefore made court to Ben-hadad, in which, as the prophet here tells him, he did foolishly, both acting against his own interest, and incurring God’s displeasure, who pronounced that from henceforth he should have wars, as a chastisement of his folly. It is, indeed, a foolish thing to lean on a broken reed, when we have the Rock of ages to rely on. Here we learn in what sense we are to understand this sacred writer, when he says, (2 Chronicles 15:17,) that the heart of Asa was perfect all his days: he was perfect and sincere in the things there spoken of, in the establishment of the outward worship of God; but not in the inward worship of him, trusting in, fearing, and loving him with all his heart. Or, he was upright and sincere in the general course of his life, though in some particulars, whereof this was one, his heart did not perfectly cleave to God as it should have done.
Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.2 Chronicles 16:10. Asa was wroth with the seer — Though the reproof came from God by one that was known to be his messenger; though it was just, and the reasoning fair, and all intended for his good, yet he was wroth with the prophet; nay, he was in a rage with him, for telling him of his folly. Is this Asa? Is this he whose heart is said to have been perfect with the Lord? How needful that advice, Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall! A wise man! and yet in a rage! An Israelite! and yet in a rage with a prophet!
A good man! and yet impatient of reproof, and cannot bear to be told of his faults! Lord, what is man when left to himself! They that idolize their own conduct, cannot bear contradiction; and they that indulge a peevish, passionate temper, may be transported by it into impieties as well as indecencies, and will some time or other, probably, fly in the face of God himself. See what gall and wormwood this root of bitterness bore! Asa put him in the prison-house — Him whom he knew to be a prophet of the Lord, and God’s messenger to him! Or, in the house of the stocks, (as some read it,) in which the feet, or, as some of the Hebrews say, the necks of the prisoners were locked up. God’s prophets meet with many that cannot bear reproof; still, however, they must proceed on doing their duty. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time — Probably such as owned the prophet in his sufferings, or were known to be his particular friends. He that abused his power for the persecuting of God’s prophet, was left to himself further to abuse it for the crushing of his own subjects, whereby he weakened himself, and lost his interest. Most persecutors have been tyrants.
And, behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel.
And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.2 Chronicles 16:12. Asa was diseased in his feet — Afflicted with the gout in a high degree. “He put the prophet in the stocks,” says Henry, “and now God put him in the stocks; so his punishment answered his sin.” Until his disease was exceeding great — עד למעלה חליו, ad lemaalah chaljo, until his disease came to the height, or, until it ascended, namely, to his stomach, or head: and then it became mortal. Yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians — He did not humble himself before God, but put his confidence in the skill and faithfulness of his physicians. His making use of physicians was his duty, but his trusting in them, and expecting that from them which was to be had from God only, was his sin and folly. The help of every creature must be used with an eye to the Creator, and in dependance on him, who makes every creature that to us which it is, without whom the most skilful and faithful are physicians of no value.
And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign.
And they buried him in his own sepulchres, which he had made for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries' art: and they made a very great burning for him.2 Chronicles 16:14. They buried him in his sepulchre which he had made for himself — As one mindful of his grave. And laid him in the bed with sweet odours, and divers kinds of spices — After the manner of those nations, Genesis 50:2; 2 Chronicles 21:19. And made a very great burning — Of precious spices; thereby testifying their respect to him, notwithstanding his miscarriages. The eminent piety and usefulness of good men ought to be remembered to their praise, though they have had their blemishes. Let their faults be buried in their graves, while their services are remembered over their graves.