Azariah's prophecy concerning Israel, and his exhortation to Asa, 2 Chronicles 15:1-7. Asa completes the reformation which he had begun, his kingdom is greatly strengthened, and all to people make a solemn covenant with the Lord, 2 Chronicles 15:8-15. His treatment of his mother Maachah, 2 Chronicles 15:16. He brings into the house of God the things that has father had dedicated, 2 Chronicles 15:17, 2 Chronicles 15:18. And he has no war till the thirty-fifth year of his reign, 2 Chronicles 15:19.
And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:Azariah the son of Oded - We know nothing of this prophet but what is related of him here.
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.The Lord is with you, while ye be with him - This is the settled and eternal purpose of God; to them who seek him he will ever be found propitious, and them alone will he abandon who forsake him. In this verse the unconditional perseverance of the saints has no place: a doctrine which was first the ruin of the human race, Ye shall not die; and ever since the fall, has been the plague and disgrace of the Church of Christ. The Targum is curious: "Hearken to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Word of the Lord shall be your helper, while ye walk in his ways. If ye seek doctrine from his presence he will be found of you in times of trouble; but if you cast away his fear, he will abandon you."
Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.Now for a long season Israel - "Israel hath followed Jeroboam, and they have not worshipped the true God. They have burnt incense to their golden calves; their priestlings [כומריא cumeraiya, their black, sooty sacrificers] have burnt perfumes with a strange worship, and have not exercised themselves in the law." - Targum. These priests could not teach, because they had not learnt; and as they had abandoned the law of the Lord, consequently they had no proper matter for instruction.
There is a great diversity of opinions concerning the meaning of this text. Some consider it a prophecy relative to the future state of this people, and the final destruction of the Jews as to their political existence: others consider it as referring to the state of the people under the reigns of Rehoboam and Abijah, which were happily changed under that of Asa; and this appears to me to be the most natural sense of the words.
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.But great vexations - Does not our Lord allude to this and the following verse in Matthew 24:6, Matthew 24:7, Matthew 24:9, Matthew 24:13?
And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.
Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.
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.Renewed the altar - Dedicated it afresh, or perhaps enlarged it, that more sacrifices might be offered on it than ever before; for it cannot be supposed that this altar had no victims offered on it till the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa, who had previously been so zealous in restoring the Divine worship.
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.And the strangers - Many out of the different tribes, particularly out of Simeon, Ephraim, and Manasseh, having reflected that the Divine blessing was promised to the house of David, and finding the government of Jeroboam founded in idolatry, would naturally, through a spirit of piety, leave their own country, and go where they might enjoy the worship of the true God.
So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.The third month - At the feast of pentecost which was held on the third month.
And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.The spoil which they had brought - The spoil which they had taken from Zerah and his auxiliaries, 2 Chronicles 14:14, 2 Chronicles 14:15.
And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;They entered into a covenant - The covenant consisted of two parts:
1. We will seek the God of our fathers with all our heart, and with all our soul.
2. Whosoever, great or small, man or woman, will not worship the true God, and serve him alone, shall be put to death. Thus no toleration was given to idolatry, so that it must be rooted out: and that this covenant might be properly binding, they confirmed it with an oath; and God accepted them and their services.
That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.
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.
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.Concerning Maachah - See the matter fully explained in the note on 1 Kings 15:13 (note).
The Jews imagine that Maachah repented, and her name became changed into Michaiah, daughter of Uriel of Gibeah; and that this was done that there might be no mention of her former name, lest it should be a reproach to her: but we have already seen another gloss on this name. See on 2 Chronicles 11:20 (note).
But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.The high places were not taken away - He had totally suppressed or destroyed the idolatry; but some of the places, buildings, or altars, he permitted to remain.
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.The things that his father had dedicated - As it was a custom to dedicate a part of the spoils taken from an enemy to the service and honor of God, it is natural to suppose that Abijah, having so signally overthrown Jeroboam, (2 Chronicles 13:15-19), had dedicated a part of the spoils to the Lord; but they had not been brought into the temple till this time.
Silver, and gold, and vessels - The word כלים kelim, which we translate vessels, signifies instruments, utensils, ornaments, etc.
And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.The five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa - Archbishop Usher thinks that this should be counted from the separation of the kingdom, and that this fell on the fifteenth year of Asa's reign. To settle in every respect these chronologies is a most difficult undertaking; and the difficulty does not belong to the sacred books alone, all other chronological tables of all the nations in the world, are in the same predicament. With those of our own history I have often been puzzled, even while I had access to all the archives of the nation. Probably we should read here the five and twentieth year. See the note on 1 Kings 15:16.