Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah.3. Abijam and Asa, Kings of Judah
1. Abijam of Judah (1Kings 15:1-8; 2 Chronicles 13)
2. Asa of Judah (1Kings 15:9-24; 2 Chronicles 14-16)
Abijam is called in Chronicles Abijah; in 2Chronicles 13:21 he is called Abijahu. Abijam was undoubtedly the older form. It is possible that on account of his great address of rebuke to Jeroboam (2Chronicles 13:4-12) they may have called him Abijah (Jehovah is my father). He ascended the throne in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s reign and was king for three years. Here we find the statement that he walked in all the sins of his father and that his heart was not perfect with the Lord as the heart of David his father. The statement in chapter 11:36 is repeated, that for David’s sake did the LORD his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem. It was a custom (and is still so among the Fellaheen in Palestine) to keep a lamp constantly burning in the tent. The extinction of the lamp signified the removal of the family. The Lord remembered the house of David and his covenant and on account of that covenant the deserved judgment was held back. The war he fought with Jeroboam is not given in Kings but in Chronicles. We shall follow his history with the text in Chronicles.
Then his son Asa (who will heal), a mere boy, began to reign. During the first ten years of his reign the land had rest (2Chronicles 14:1). He is the first King of Judah of whom it is said, he did right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father. A great reformation took place. The Sodomites with their abominations, the result of idolatry, he ended; the idols were removed. His grandmother, Maachah, was removed by him from being a queen because she had made an idol, which Asa destroyed and burnt. (Most likely on account of his youth Maachah was regent during Asa’s minority.) And in Chronicles we read more of his good work. He was faithful to Jehovah, though he also failed in the end. The war with Zerah the Ethiopian is recorded in 2 Chronicles 14, as well as other deeply interesting events during his reign. We do not touch those at this time. Our book here only records the war with Baasha, King of Israel, and Asa’s strange alliance with Ben-hadad, King of Syria, to whom he presented the silver and gold which Shishak had left in the house of the LORD, and also the treasures of the King’s house. Baasha had fortified Ramah, which meant the complete isolation and domination of Jerusalem. Asa, forgetful of his experience with Zerah and the manner of getting the victory (see his beautiful prayer, 2Chronicles 14:11), and that the Lord who had smitten Zerah could also smite Baasha, feared the rival king and renewed the God-dishonoring league with Syria which his father Abijah had made. What followed after this league, the divine exhortation and judgment delivered through Hanani the prophet and Asa’s end, we shall follow in Chronicles. Asa’s sin and failure consisted in not trusting the Lord wholly, but using other means for deliverance. Hanani told him “thou hast relied on the King of Syria, and not on the LORD thy God,... For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show 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” (2Chronicles 16:7-9). Then Asa imprisoned the faithful messenger. Alas! how often the failure of Asa has been repeated among God’s people! Many begin well but lose the freshness of their faith. In our own days we behold on all sides Asa-movements, no perfect confidence in the Lord, but reliance upon all kinds of world schemes and alliances which make it impossible for the Lord to manifest the fullness of His power.
4. Kings of Israel
1. Nadab, King of Israel (1Kings 15:25-32)
3. Elah, King of Israel (1Kings 16:8-14)
4. Zimri, King of Israel (1Kings 16:15-20)
5. Divisions (1Kings 16:21-22)
6. Omri, King of Israel (1Kings 16:23-28)
7. Ahab (1Kings 16:29-34)
Six kings of Israel are now mentioned. Asa saw them all ascending the throne of Israel. The first mentioned is Nadab, the son of Jeroboam, who followed in his father’s footsteps. His reign was cut short by an uprising of one of the house of Issachar, Baasha. He smote Nadab at Gibbethon (Joshua 19:44; Joshua 21:23). Baasha then smote all the house of Jeroboam. Thus was the prediction of Ahijah, the prophet of Shiloh, fulfilled. “Because of the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin, by his provocation wherewith he provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger.” God’s predicted judgments never fail in the end. The judgments written over against our own age, this evil age, will some day be executed by the Lord as all other judgments which were threatened against Israel.
The new dynasty headed by Baasha began in the third year of Asa’s reign. Baasha reigned twenty-four years. He sinned as Jeroboam did, though he had been the executer of God’s judgment upon the descendants of the wicked king. He had not heard Jehovah’s voice speaking in the events of the past. Then came the message of the Lord to Baasha through Jehu, the son of Hanani (2Chronicles 19:2; 2Chronicles 20:34). He reminds him that the Lord had raised him out of the dust (his family was unknown) and He had made him prince over Israel. He followed Jeroboam and Rehoboam’s fate, and the fate of his house would now also be the fate of Baasha, who had executed the divine sentence. “I will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat.” Such is divine justice.
Elah his son followed. His rule lasted not quite two years. He was in Tirzah. While the army was away fighting the Philistines, Elah in the house of his steward Arza (“earthliness”) became drunk and was killed by his captain, Zimri, who at once began to reign in his place. He only reigned seven days and the only deed mentioned, besides his awful death, is the slaying of all the house of Baasha “according to the Word of the LORD, which He spake against Baasha by Jehu the prophet.” Omri was made king by all Israel and with him began another dynasty. His first act was to besiege Tirzah where Zimri was, who set the king’s palace on fire and perished in the flames. A division followed, but Omri prevailed. In all these sad records the fruits of the departure from God and from His Word are seen. They can easily be traced in the history of other nations down to our own times, the days which have brought the most awful bloodshed in the world’s blood drenched history. It is all the result of sin. And Omri was worse than all that were before him, and his son Ahab was the climax of all wickedness in the Kingdom of Israel. There was no improvement, but a steady decline till God’s hand smote them in judgment. Ahab introduced Baal-worship in Israel. This was the result of his marriage to Jezebel (dunghill), the daughter of Ethbaal (with Baal), King of Zidonians. “Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the Kings of Israel that were before him.” The last verse of this chapter records a presumptuous action. Hiel (God liveth) built Jericho. He found out that the word of God spoken 500 years before (Joshua 6:26) was true.