1 Kings 16:28
And Omri rested with his fathers and was buried in Samaria, and his son Ahab reigned in his place.
Sermons
Omri and AhabJ. Hall, D. D.1 Kings 16:28
Change Without ImprovementJ. Urquhart 1 Kings 16:21-34
Omri's ReignJ.A. Macdonald 1 Kings 16:23-28
After a four years' contest with Tibni, the son of Ginath, for the crown of Israel, the followers of Omri prevailed over the adherents of his rival. The issue, then, was that "Tibni died and Omri reigned." Whether Tibni died in battle, or whether, when his followers were overcome, he was taken and put to death, is not written; but the record illustrates how in the revolutions of the wheel of fortune the fall of one makes way for the rise of another. Let us now view this new monarch -

I. IN HIS PALACES.

1. "Six years reigned he in Tirzah."

(1) This was once a lovely palace. Beautiful for its situation like Jerusalem (Song of Solomon 6:4), and beautified during the reign in it of all the earlier kings of Israel. For it was the third and last palace built by Jeroboam, the first of these kings, to which he removed from his palace at Penuel.

(2) But it was now damaged by fire. When Zimri shut himself up in it as his defences were driven in by the forces of Omri in the siege of the city, he set it on fire and perished in the conflagration. Thus in a moment the labour of years was demolished. Destruction is easier than construction. This principle also holds in morals.

(3) Still for six years Omri held his court in this city. Whether he occupied a portion of the palace which escaped the flames, or resided temporarily elsewhere in the city, is not revealed. The omissions of Scripture are instructive. Things of minor importance must not be allowed to divert attention from momentous things.

2. Six years he reigned in Samaria.

(1) The origin of this new capital is here recorded (ver. 24). Seven hundred pounds of our money seems a small price for a hill considerable enough to be the site for the capital of a kingdom. (Compare 1 Chronicles 26:25: 600 shekels of gold = £1,095.) Perhaps Shemei was animated by public spirit when he disposed of his hill for so trifling a sum. Perhaps he did so to perpetuate his name. His motive is withheld from us. Herein also is instruction. We are not judges of the motives of our fellows. God surveys the motives of all hearts.

(2) Henceforth Samaria figures prominently in the history of Israel. It gives its name to the middle portion of Canaan. Tirzah, Penuel, Shechem, are henceforth little heard off Men give importance to places rather than places to men. The importance even of heaven will be rather that of its inhabitants than of its situation. Learn the paramount value of spiritual qualities,

II. AT THE ALTAR.

1. "He walked in all the ways of Jeroboam."

(1) This means that he encouraged the worship of the calves, if not that he even appeared at the altar as high priest (see 1 Kings 12:33; 1 Kings 13:1).

(2) It means further that he was moved by the same state policy. He desired to keep his people from Jerusalem lest they should repent of their revolution from the house of David.

(3) Note: Satan has his opportunities. While the pride of Israel smarted under the insolence of Rehoboam, Jeroboam could impose his calves upon them. Had he missed that opportunity, it might have been impossible afterwards to have effected his purpose. Omri could not have done it. We should be wise as serpents, viz., in avoiding the snare of the devil, in availing ourselves of our opportunities for good.

2. He "did worse than all that were before him."

(1) He "made Israel to sin" as Jeroboam did, persuading them to halt at Bethel or visit Dan, for that Jerusalem was too far from them. Persuading them also that his calves were images of the true God (see 1 Kings 12:28).

(2) He bound them by statute to worship the calves (compare Micah 6:16). In this he went farther than Baasha, who had set about building Ramah to prevent the people from going to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 16:1).

III. IN HIS EXIT.

1. He "was buried."

(1) He had a state funeral. Money might procure that. He left a son to succeed him on the throne who would pay this public respect to his remains.

(2) How variously is the same subject viewed by men in the flesh, and by the inhabitants of the spiritual world! The funeral of the corpse is the event upon earth; the destiny of the spirit is the event yonder.

2. He "slept with his fathers."

(1) This expression does not mean that he was buried with them in their sepulchre, for Omri was buried in Samaria, a city which had no existence in the days of his fathers. Of Baasha also it is said that he "slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tirzah" (ver. 6), though there is no evidence that any of his fathers were buried in Tirzah.

(2) It seems to import that he died upon his bed, as the generality of mankind finish their course. This expression does not appear to be used when any die by the hand of violence as a judgment of the Lord upon their sin.

(3) Yet a violent death was deserved by Omri, as it was also by Baasha and Jeroboam, who, like him, came peacefully to the grave. They laid up sin for their posterity (see Job 21:19). But are they thus to escape the punishment of their own iniquity 2 Surely there must be a "judgment to come!" - J.A.M.







Omri slept with his fathers... Ahab his son reigned in his stead. &&&
A careful study of the two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, compels one to feel that communities do the best when they most honour God, and that forgetfulness of Him, and especially revolt from Him, brings disturbance and destruction. It is true these events transpired more than two thousand five hundred years ago, but they "are written for our learning." Why should they be if there is nothing that we need to learn from them?

1. We need not trouble ourselves with the settling of the periods making up the dozen years of Omri's reign, which had its opening portion in Tirzah, the royal seat (ver. 17). Omri had ability of a certain sort, and hence, probably, was able to secure the adhesion of so many of the people and the conquest of his two rivals. He showed it in the selection of a new capital. Shemer owned a tract of land with a hill of great strategic value. With an opening out into the wider distant plain through the level grounds which divided it elsewhere, all around, from the mountains, it had on one side a gentle slope, and on all the others it was easily made strong against an enemy, when bows and arrows and spears constituted the common weapons of assault. The town got its name from him who owned the hill, and most fitly, for it was the synonym of "watch-tower," the very thing at which Omri aimed, having in mind through the slaughter of how many enemies he had to wade to the throne, and how necessary it was to be strong against any future assaults. They who part with Jehovah as Guide and Protector, and trust to human resources, need to multiply these to the utmost. Jeroboam had not flung off God formally. He had only modified the way of serving Him. He had set up the calves. This was politic, expedient, necessary. It was in harmony too with the ways of the nations. This was "the Way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat" (ver. 26). It was not the way of loyalty to Jehovah; it was not the way of truth. It was the way of disobedience under the inspiration of policy. Between this sin and the others that followed it was only a question of degree, not of kind. Set up taste, usage, popular craving, fashion, artistic completeness, or anything else as changing, modifying the method of Divine appointment, and you enter on the inclined plane. How far down and how fast you will go is determined by circumstances. So Omri's working "evil in the eyes of the Lord," and doing "worse than all that were before him" (ver. 25), is only walking in all "the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat," and in his corrupting and contaminating sin. So it is ever. Given the supremacy of Peter, then his control of all things, secular and sacred; then his infallibility! What was the effect of all these modifications? Toward man, to keep Israel together and from union with Judah. But in the other and higher direction — toward God — the effect was "to provoke (ver. 26) the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities." (See, for the "statutes of Omri," Micah 6:16.) When Omri died, the chronicles of the kings of Israel (ver. 27) containing the record of his deeds, they buried him in his capital, Samaria, and the throne fell to his son Ahab in the thirty-eighth year of Asa of Judah (ver. 29), and about nine hundred and eighteen years before the coming of our Lord. His career is as full of darkness and weakness as a king's life could well be. His reign of twenty-two years was a continued curse to the people. He held on the way of his father, but, according to the common rule in such cases, descending lower and lower. Moral rottenness, like material putrefaction, must increase. "Evil men and seducers wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." He married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, King of the Zidonians. We are not surprised at the character of the daughter when we know the career of her father as it is learned from outside history. Among the innovations of Ahab our version mentions a "grove," a misleading word into which the translators were led from its being really an idolatrous image or group of images, including the "sacred symbolic tree" so frequently seen in Assyrian monuments. That it could not be a grove, a wood, is clear from 2 Kings 22:4, where Josiah brought out "the grove" — asherah in Hebrew — from the house of the Lord. It was doubtless a new and imposing idol, in keeping with the luxurious life now being lived by the Israelites as wealth grew through commerce.(1) There is a real connection between the moral and religious condition of a nation and its temporal affairs. If we as a people defy God or disregard His, laws, He in His government of the world may be expected to show that He is "contrary to us."(2) The temptation is always great to God's people to be like their neighbours; and if these neighbours be cultivated, be deemed standards of excellence in arts, in manners, or in arms; if they be wealthy; if their trade is of importance to us; if they be powerful and it is our interest to stand well with them — the inducements to conformity are all the greater. The distinctive elements of our religion are set aside. Why thrust our Bibles, our family worship, our Sabbaths, on them? True, God says of us that we are to be "holding forth the Word of life." Ah, yes, but that was in other circumstances.(3) The next step is to take up the ways of our friends. Much in their methods can be described as nice, impressive, beautiful — especially if we have taken their standard of "loveliness"; and, having done this, there is a stage of attempted combination. But it is awkward, difficult — in the end possible. One or other must go. And when man is choosing between his own products and God's orders, he prefers his own. So the light is superseded by the darkness; spiritual religion gives place to "impressive" forms, which put no check on tastes or lusts or passions, and make no conscience uncomfortable, while sin is swallowed as a sweet morsel.

(J. Hall, D. D.).

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