2 Chronicles 14:11
Then Asa cried out to the LORD his God: "O LORD, there is no one besides You to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on You, and in Your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God. Do not let a mere mortal prevail against You."
The Secret and the Spirit of True DefenceW. Clarkson 2 Chronicles 14:8-15
An Alarming InvasionT. Whitelaw 2 Chronicles 14:9-15
Asa's PrayerA. Maclaren, D.D.2 Chronicles 14:11-12
King Asa's Prayer on the Eve of BattleThe Penny Pulpit2 Chronicles 14:11-12
The All-Sufficiency of God's HelpW. T. Tindley, D.D.2 Chronicles 14:11-12
The Name of God Written in LifeA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Chronicles 14:11-12
The Superiority of Moral to Material ForceW. H. Bennett, M. A.2 Chronicles 14:11-12
Victories Over Superior NumbersW. H. Bennett, M.A.2 Chronicles 14:11-12


1. The invader. Zerah, the Ethiopian (or Cushite), commonly identified with Osorkhon (Usarkon) I. king of Egypt, the second sovereign of the twenty-second or Bubastio dynasty (Rossellini, Wilkinson, Champollion, Lepsius, Rawlinson, Ebers); but, inasmuch as no Ethiopian appears among the monumental kings of this dynasty, a claim to be regarded as the Zerah of Scripture has been advanced in behalf of Azerch-amen, an Ethiopian conqueror of Egypt (Schrader, Brugseh), who, in the reign of Osorkhon, overran the entire dominion of the Pharaohs, and, though unable at that time to retain his hold, nevertheless paved the way for the subsequent conquest of the country by Pianchi, of the twenty-fifth or Ethiopian dynasty. If, however, the former identification be provisionally accepted, Zerah's designation as "the Cushite" may be explained by supposing that his mother was an Ethiopian (Rawlinson), or that he bore the title "king's son of Cush" as crown prince of Egypt and viceroy of the south or Ethiopia (Ebers).

2. His army - 1,000,000 men - 900,000 infantry, with 100,000 cavalry (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 8:12. 1), and 300 chariots. This immense host of Ethiopians and Libyans (2 Chronicles 16:8), only 100,000 fewer than all the fighting men of Israel, and. more than twice as many as the warriors of Judah in the time of David (1 Chronicles 21:5), so far outnumbers the army of Shishak (2 Chronicles 12:3), that it has been set down to popular exaggeration in making a rough estimate (Keil), or to legendary embellishment (Ebers), suggested by the vast armies of the Persians, with which the Chronicler was familiar (Ewald). The largest army o! invasion of which history speaks was probably that of Xerxes, which, when numbered on the Doriscan plain, amounted to nearly two millions and a half of fighting men, military and naval (Herod., 7:60, etc.; Smith's ' History of Greece,' p. 189). Recent calculations show that "the total strength of the German army on a war footing is now rather over three millions and a half of men' (Scottish Leader, January 1, 1889).

3. His camp. At Mareshah, or Marissa, one of Rehoboam's garrison cities, between Hebron and Ashded (2 Chronicles 11:8, which see).


1. A display of splendid courage. "Asa went out against him." On either hypothesis as to Zerah's person, it was an exhibition of noble daring on the part of the King of Judah to confront him, much more to stand up against a million of highly disciplined troops, with only little more than half that number of spearmen and archers (ver. 8). As an instance of heroic fortitude, it was worthy to be placed alongside of the most brilliant feats of valour recorded in either sacred or profane history, as e.g. the pursuit of the victorious kings by Abraham (Genesis 14:14-16), the discomfiture of the Midianitee by Gideon with 300 men (Judges 7:21), the invasion of the Philistines' garrison at Miehmash by Jonathan and his armour-bearer (1 Samuel 14:13-16), the combat of David with Goliath (1 Samuel 17:49, 50), the defeat of the Persians under Darius at Marathon by Miltiades, with a small body of Athenians and Plataeans (s.c. 490), and under Xerxes at Thermopylae, by Leonidas and 300 Spartans (s.c. 480), the victory of Bruce with 80,000 Scotch over Edward II. with 100,000 English (A.D. 1314), of the Black Prince over an army seven times as large as his own at Poictiers (A.D. 1356), of Clive with 3000 men over 50,000 led by the Nabob of Moorshedabad at Plassey (A.D.). 1757).

2. An example of commendable prudence. Asa selected, as the spot on which to join issue with the enemy, the valley of Zephathah, near Mareshah, probably because there the advantage to be derived from superior numbers would less operate. He also disposed his troops in such a fashion as to enable them most efficiently to resist the onset of the foe. In so doing, he only discovered his sagacity and sense both as a general and a man. He knew that, while it was hopeless to expect victory without God's help, it was folly to cry for Divine assistance while neglecting to put his battalions in order. So in ordinary matters and in matters of religion. Prayer cannot supersede the use of common means.

3. A pattern of lofty faith. Having marshalled his forced, Asa prayed - prayed upon the battle-field, as Moses did on the Red Sea shore when pursued by the Philistines (Exodus 14:10), as Jehoshaphat did when invaded by the Ammonites and Moabites (2 Chronicles 20:18), as Cromwell and his Ironsides, Gustavus Adolphus and his Swedes, Colonel Gardiner and his Scotch dragoons, and other God-fearing generals with their regiments have been accustomed to do before entering into engagements with their enemies. Asa's prayer was remarkable for two things.

(1) For the brevity and directness of its petitions. Necessitated in his case by the situation, these qualities are excellent in all petitioners (Matthew 6:7). Asa asked the help of Jehovah against his foes, as David before him had often done (Psalm 59:4; Psalm 71:12; Psalm 35:2), and as Christians may still do (Hebrews 4:16), especially against such foes as are spiritual and threaten the destruction of their souls (Psalm 71:12; Isaiah 49:8; Hosea 13:9; Mark 9:22, 24; Acts 26:22).

(2) For the excellence and strength of its arguments. invites those who address him in prayer to fill their mouths with arguments (Job 23:4), to bring forth their strong reasons (Isaiah 41:21), and to plead with him (Isaiah 43:26). Asa urged:

(a) Jehovah's covenant relation to him and his people. Jehovah was God and their (ver. 11) - a good argument for a Christian suppliant.

(b) The multitude of the foe arranged against them. David derived a plea from the number of his adversaries (Psalm 25:19, 56:2), and so may David's brethren (Ephesians 6:18). Compare the English king's prayer at Agincourt, "O God, of battles," etc. ('Henry V.,' act 4. sc. 1).

(c) The fact that the war was Jehovah's even more than theirs (2 Chronicles 20:15). They were going out against Zerah in his Name, as in his Name David had advanced to meet Goliath (1 Samuel 17:45). In this Name all Christian warfare should be carried on (Psalm 20:5; Acts 4:30; Acts 16:18; Colossians 3:17); when it is, a claim is thereby established upon God to uphold the honour of his Name (Psalm 71:9; John 12:28).

(d) The circumstance that he alone was able to assist them in the tremendous crisis that had come upon them. "There is none beside thee to help, between the mighty and him that hath no strength" (Revised Version); or, "There is no difference with thee to help, whether the mighty or him that hath no strength" (margin); or, "It is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power" (Authorized Version). Whichever reading be adopted - though the first is the best - the sentiment was that Jehovah alone could assist in so unequal a combat, and that he could do so if he would, since it was not necessary for him to be "on the side of the strongest battalions" (Napoleon). He could win battles, as Jonathan long before observed, whether by many or by few. (1 Samuel 14:6). Much more is God the only Refuge to which the Christian can turn on carrying on the unequal contest to which he is called against the principalities and powers of darkness; and to his power nothing is impossible (2 Chronicles 20:6; Matthew 19:26; Mark 14:36; Ephesians 3:20; 1 Peter 1:5).

(e) The dishonour Jehovah himself would sustain through their defeat. The invasion of Zerah was practically a campaign against Jehovah. To suffer them to be overthrown would be (seemingly at least) permitting himself to be overcome by a weak mortal. Happily, God condescends to allow this in matters of grace, as in the case of Jacob (Genesis 32:29; Hosea 12:4), but not in ordinary affairs when the interest of his kingdom would be thereby injured (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11). Asa's argument was good. Compare the boldness of Moses in pleading with God in behalf of Israel (Numbers 14:16).

(3) The fact that they were deliberately trusting in God. "Help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on thee." God has pledged himself never to disappoint those who trust in him (Psalm 34:22; Psalm 37:40; Isaiah 45:17).


1. The Ethiopians were routed.

(1) They were defeated on the field of battle. Jehovah "smote" them before Asa and Judah (ver. 12).

(2) They were put to flight by the archers and spearmen that opposed them. The Ethiopians "fled."

(3) They were pursued as far as Gerar, a chief city of the Philistines, now identified as the Khirbet-el-Gerar, in the Wady Jorf-el-Gerar, three leagues south-east of Gaza (Rowland).

(4) They were massacred by the victorious monarch and his exulting warriors. They were "destroyed before the Lord and before his host," for the understanding of which there is no need to call in the help of a battalion of angels, as in Genesis 32:2. Asa's army was Jehovah's host, because Jehovah was with it and in it; and the blood of Asa's enemies was poured out before Jehovah, because the battle had been undertaken in his Name and the victory achieved through his power.

(5) They were so completely crushed that they could not recover themselves. They disappeared from Palestine, and ceased from troubling Judah. Such will be the end of the enemies of the Church of God (1 Samuel 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).

2. The men of Judah were victorious.

(1) The monarch's prayer was answered. So did God hear the prayer of Moses when he cried for help against the Egyptians (Exodus 14:15), and that of the Israelites when they appealed for assistance against their foes (Judges 10:11), and that of the Reubenites when they entreated succour against the Hagarites (1 Chronicles 5:20), and that of Hezekiah when he appealed to the Lord God of Israel against Sennacherib (1 Kings 19:15, etc.). So God hears the prayer of the Church's King (John 11:41, 42), and of the soldiers of the cross (Psalm 65:2; Ephesians 3:20; 1 John 4:6).

(2) The soldiers' courage was rewarded. They inflicted a decisive blow upon the enemy; they smote all the cities round about Gerar, these having probably espoused the cause of the enemy; they carried away much spoil, not only of ammunitions of war and provisions which had been laid up in those cities, but also of cattle and sheep and camels, which they had found in abundance, and which, in all likelihood, had belonged to the enemy. So did Christ, the Captain of salvation, achieve a brilliant triumph over the principalities and powers of darkness, despoiling them of victory, and making a show of them openly (Colossians 2:15); and so will Christ's followers be made more than conquerors over the same foes (Romans 8:87), and carry off from the fields of conflict where they meet their enemies much spiritual treasure (Romans 8:28).


1. The sinfulness of wars of aggression, and the lawfulness of wars of defence.

2. The duty of combining working with praying, as well as praying with working.

3. The impossibility of achieving victory either without or against God, or of suffering defeat with God upon one's side. - W.

And Asa, cried unto the Lord his God.
These victories over superior numbers may easily be paralleled or surpassed by numerous striking examples from secular history. The odds were greater at Agincourt, where at least sixty thousand French were defeated by not more than twenty thousand Englishmen; at Marathon the Greeks routed a Persian army ten times as numerous as their own; in India English generals have defeated innumerable hordes of native warriors. For the most part victorious generals have been ready to acknowledge the succouring arm of the God of battles. Shakespeare's Henry V, after Agincourt, speaks altogether in the spirit of Asa's prayer: "O God, Thy arm was here; and not to us, but to Thy arm alone, ascribe we all." When Elizabeth's fleet defeated the Spanish Armada, the grateful piety of Protestant England felt that its foes had been destroyed by the breath of the Lord: "Afflavit Deus et dissipantur."

(W. H. Bennett, M.A.)

Characteristic instances are to be found in the wider movements of international polities. Italy in the eighteenth century seemed as hopelessly divided as Israel under the judges, and Greece as completely enslaved to the "unspeakable Turk" as the Jews to Nebuchadnezzar; and yet, destitute as they were of any material resources, these nations had at their disposal great moral forces: the memory of ancient greatness and the sentiment of nationality; and to-day Italy can count hundreds of thousands like the chronicler's Jewish kings, and Greece builds her fortresses by land and her ironclads to command the sea. The Lord has fought for Israel. But the principle has a wider application. The English and American pioneers of the movements for the abolition of slavery had to face what seemed an impenetrable phalanx of powerful interests and influences. It may be objected that if victory were to be secured by Divine intervention, there was no need to muster five hundred and eighty thousand men, or indeed any army at all. We have no right to look for Divine co-operation till we have done our best; we are to work out our own salvation, for it is God that worketh in us.

(W. H. Bennett, M. A.)

The Penny Pulpit.
I. OUR TEXT IS A PRATER — the surest weapon in war as in all other emergencies.

II. It is the prayer of a king on the eve of battle, and therefore partakes of a NATIONAL CHARACTER.

III. IT IS A PRAYER OF FAITH, EXHIBITING RELIANCE ON THE DIVINE ARM FOR HELP, and therefore implying humiliation, together with a distinct conviction that no human force, however vast, can prevail, except under the recognised championship of the Almighty.

(The Penny Pulpit.)

I. ASA ACTED PROMPTLY AND ENERGETICALLY AS THE OCCASION REQUIRED. Only one purpose moved him, and that was to bring out all the military strength of his kingdom, and at once, with no unnecessary delay, strike the foe, every soldier realising that the crown of victory was the prize to be won or lost, according as he should be faithful or unfaithful in his particular duty. Having acted thus promptly and energetically, then —

II. ASA CALLED ON GOD FOR HELP. He did not ask God to work a miracle on his behalf. Whoever calls upon God for help without first helping himself, without first putting forth his own efforts to secure that for which he invokes the Divine aid, will call upon God in vain. There are other elements of strength in war besides those which are merely physical. God is a moral and spiritual force which will make an army of inferior numbers more than adequate to encounter and overcome the mere physical force which inheres in superiority of numbers. Hence the wisdom and virtue of prayer.

III. WHAT WAS THE ISSUE? "The Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa, etc.

(W. T. Tindley, D.D.)

This King Asa, Rehoboam's grandson, had had a long reign of peace, which the writer of the Book of Chronicles traces to the fact that he had rooted out idolatry from Judah. "The land had rest, and he had no war... because the Lord had given him rest." But their came a time when the war-cloud began to roll threateningly over the land, and a great army came up against him. Like a wise man he made his military dispositions first, and prayed next. This prayer contains the very essence of what ought to be the Christian attitude in reference to all the conditions and threatening dangers and conflicts of life.

I. THE WHOLESOME CONSCIOUSNESS OF OUR OWN IMPOTENCE. It did not take much to convince Asa that he had "no power." His army, according to the numbers given of the two hosts, was outnumbered two to one. If we look fairly in the face our duties, our tasks, our dangers, the possibilities of life and its certainties, the more humbly we think of our own capacity, the more wisely we shall think about God, and the more truly we shall estimate ourselves. The world says "Self-reliance is the conquering virtue." Jesus says to us, "Self-distrust is the condition of all victory." And that does not mean any mere shuffling off of responsibility from our own shoulders, but it means looking the facts of our lives, and of our own characters, in the face. And if we will do that, however apparently easy may be our course, and however richly endowed in mind, body, or estate we may be, we shall find that we each are like "the man with ten thousand" that has to meet "the King that comes against him with twenty thousand"; and we shaft not "desire conditions of peace" with our enemy, for that is not what in this ease we have to do, but we shall look about us, and not keep our eyes on the horizon, and on the levels of earth, but look up to see if there is not there an ally that we can bring into the field to redress the balance, and to make our ten as strong as the opposing twenty. Now all that is true about the disproportion between the foes we have to face and fight and our own strength. It is eminently true about us Christian people, if we are doing any work for our Master. You hear people say, "Look at the small number of professing Christians in this country, as compared with the numbers on the other side. What is the use of their trying to convert the world?" If the Christian Church had to undertake the task of Christianising the world with its own strength, we might well threw up the sponge and stop altogether. "We have no might." But we are not only numerically weak. A multitude of non-effectives, mere camp-followers, loosely attached, nominal Christians have to be deducted from the muster-roll. So a profound self-distrust is our wisdom. But it is not to paralyse us, but to lead to something better, as it led Asa.

II. SUMMONING GOD INTO THE WORLD SHOULD FOLLOW WHOLESOME SELF-DISTRUST. Asa uses a remarkable expression, which is, perhaps, scarcely reproduced adequately in another verse, "It is nothing with Thee to help, whether with many or with them that have no power." It is a strange phrase, but it seems most probable that the suggested rendering in the Revised Version is nearer the writer's meaning, which says, "Lord! there is none beside Thee to help between the mighty and them that have no power," which to our ears is a somewhat cumbrous way of saying that God, and God only, can adjust the difference between the mighty and the weak. Asa turns to God and says, "Thou only canst trim the scales and make the heavy one the lighter of the two by casting Thy might into it. So help us, O Lord, our God." One man with God at his back is always in the majority. There is encouragement for people who have to fight unpopular causes in the world. The consciousness of weakness may unnerve a man; and that is why people in the world are always patting each other on the back and saying, "Be of good cheer, and rely upon yourself." But the self-distrust that turns to God becomes the parent of a far more reliable self-reliance than that which trusts to men. My consciousness of need is my opening the door for God to come in. Just as you always find the lakes in the hollows, so you will always find the grace of God coming into men's hearts to strengthen them and make them victorious, when there has been the preparation of the lowered estimate of one's self. Hollow out your heart by self-distrust, and God will fill it with the flashing waters of His strength bestowed. The way by which we summon God into the field: Asa prays, "Help us, O Lord, our God, for we rest on Thee"; and the word that he employs for "rest" is not a very frequent one. It carries with it a very striking picture. It is used in that tragical story of the death of Saul, when the man that saw the last of him came to David and drew in a sentence the pathetic picture of the wearied, wounded, broken-hearted, discrowned, desperate monarch leaning on his spear. You can understand how hard he leaned, with what a grip he held it, and how heavily his whole, languid, powerless weight pressed upon it. And that is the word that is used here. "We lean on Thee" as the wounded Saul leaned upon his spear. Is that a picture of your faith?

III. COURAGEOUS ADVANCE SHOULD FOLLOW SELF-DISTRUST AND SUMMONING GOD BY FAITH. It is well when self-distrust leads to confidence. But that is not enough. It is better when self-distrust and confidence in God lead to courage. And as Asa goes on, "Help us, for we rely on Thee, and in Thy name we go against this multitude." Never mind though it is two to one. What does that matter? Prudence and calculation are well enough, but there is a great deal of very rank cowardice and want of faith in Christian people, both in regard to their own lives and in regard to Christian work in the world, which goes masquerading under much too respectable a name, and calls itself "judicious caution" and "prudence." If we have God with us, let us be bold in fronting the dangers and difficulties that beset us, and be sure that He will help us.

IV. THE ALL-POWERFUL PLEA WHICH GOD WILL ANSWER. "Thou art my God, let not man prevail against Thee." That prayer covers two things. You may be quite sure that if God is your God you will not be beaten; and you may be quite sure that if you have made God's cause yours He will make your cause His, and again you will not be beaten. "Thou art our God." "It takes two to make a bargain," and God and we have both to act before He is truly ours. He gives Himself to us, but there is an act of ours required, too, and you must take the God that is given to you, and make Him yours because you make yourselves His. And when I have taken Him for mine, and not unless I have, He is mine, to all intents of strength-giving and blessedness.

(A. Maclaren, D.D.)

Our whole life ought to be filled with His name. You can write it anywhere. It does not need a gold plate to carve His name upon. It does not need to be set in jewels and diamonds. The poorest scrap of brown paper, and the bluntest little bit of pencil, and the shakiest hand will do to write the name of Christ; and all life, the trivialities as well as the crises, may be flashing and bright with the sacred syllables. Mohammedans decorate their palaces and mosques with no pictures, but with the name of Allah in gilded arabesques. Everywhere, on walls and roof, and windows and cornices, and pillars and furniture, the name is written. There is no such decoration for a life as that Christ's name should be inscribed thereon.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.).

Abijah, Asa, Benjamin, Cushites, David, Ethiopians, Zerah
Bethel, Gerar, Jerusalem, Mareshah, Valley of Zephathah
Able, Army, Asa, Battle, Beside, Besides, Calleth, Cried, Difference, Greater, Hope, Leant, Maketh, Man's, Mighty, Mortal, Multitude, None, Nothing, O, Power, Powerful, Powerless, Prayer, Prevail, Rely, Rest, Strength, Strong, Trust, Vast, Weak, Whether, Yours
1. Asa following, destroys idolatry
6. having peace, he strengthens his kingdom with forts and armies
9. Calling of God, he overthrows Zerah, and spoils the Ethiopians

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Chronicles 14:11

     5230   beggars
     5454   power, God's saving
     5457   power, human
     5814   confrontation
     5960   success
     8224   dependence
     8610   prayer, asking God

2 Chronicles 14:11-13

     1235   God, the LORD

Asa's Prayer
'And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with Thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go against this multitude. O Lord, Thou art our God; let not man prevail against Thee.'--2 CHRON. xiv. 11. This King Asa, Rehoboam's grandson, had had a long reign of peace, which the writer of the Book of Chronicles traces to the fact that he had rooted out idolatry from Judah, 'The land had rest,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Asa's Reformation, and Consequent Peace and victory
'And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God; 3. For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves: 4. And commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment. 5. Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him. 6. And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

BY REV. ALFRED ROWLAND, D.D., LL.B. 1 KINGS xv. 8-24; 2 CHRON. xiv-xvi. Asa was the third king who reigned over the separated kingdoms of Judah. His father was Ahijah, of whom it is sternly said, "He walked in all the sins of his father, Rehoboam, which he had done before him." A worse bringing-up than Asa's could scarcely be imagined. As a child, and as a lad, he was grievously tempted by his father's example, and by the influence of an idolatrous court, which was crowded by flatterers and
George Milligan—Men of the Bible; Some Lesser-Known

The Best Things Work for Good to the Godly
WE shall consider, first, what things work for good to the godly; and here we shall show that both the best things and the worst things work for their good. We begin with the best things. 1. God's attributes work for good to the godly. (1). God's power works for good. It is a glorious power (Col. i. 11), and it is engaged for the good of the elect. God's power works for good, in supporting us in trouble. "Underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deut. xxxiii. 27). What upheld Daniel in the lion's den?
Thomas Watson—A Divine Cordial

The comparative indifference with which Chronicles is regarded in modern times by all but professional scholars seems to have been shared by the ancient Jewish church. Though written by the same hand as wrote Ezra-Nehemiah, and forming, together with these books, a continuous history of Judah, it is placed after them in the Hebrew Bible, of which it forms the concluding book; and this no doubt points to the fact that it attained canonical distinction later than they. Nor is this unnatural. The book
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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