The history of the two kingdoms is again carried on through this chapter. The former part of it relates the history of two kings of Judah; Abijam and Asa. And the latter part of the chapter records the history of two kings of Israel; Nadab and Baasha.
(1) В¶ Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah. (2) Three years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom. (3) And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.
I stop the Reader in the very opening of Abijam's history, to call his attention to one or two things concerning this man, which merit notice. In the account given of him here he is called Abijam; and he is said to have walked in all the sins of his father. By which I am led to think, that this refers principally to the latter end of his reign. For if the Reader will consult the parallel history concerning him in the Chronicles, he will there discover him as dignified with a more honourable name. He is there called Abijah meaning, My Father is Jehovah; probably in allusion to the victory the Lord gave him over Jeroboam; upon which occasion he ascribed the glory to the Lord. I desire the Reader to consult that part of scripture, and read through his address before the battle. See 2 Chronicles 13:1 to the end.
(4) Nevertheless for David's sake did the LORD his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem: (5) Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.
How sweet is it to observe how the Holy Ghost doth now and then design to lead the church in the midst of an apparent history of kings and contests, to a glimpse of Jesus, on whose account, and for whom the lamp in David's family is kept burning. Oh! Holy Spirit! grant me grace to love thee, and to adore thine exceeding riches of grace, in thus glorifying Jesus in the darkest ages, and the most distant periods, before the coming of the Lord!
(6) And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life. (7) Now the rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam. (8) And Abijam slept with his fathers; and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead.
What is the whole history of man, and every man, from the fallen stock of a fallen race, when the sum total of his life is added together, more than what is here said! Oh! how precious, in the midst of such dying views, to look to Jesus, and contemplate him who is always the same, and whose years shall have no end. Psalms 102:27.
(9) В¶ And in the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel reigned Asa over Judah. (10) And forty and one years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom. (11) And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father. (12) And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. (13) And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron. (14) But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa's heart was perfect with the LORD all his days. (15) And he brought in the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which himself had dedicated, into the house of the LORD, silver, and gold, and vessels. (16) And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days. (17) And Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah, and built Ramah, that he might not suffer any to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. (18) Then Asa took all the silver and the gold that were left in the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants: and king Asa sent them to Benhadad, the son of Tabrimon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, (19) There is a league between me and thee, and between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent unto thee a present of silver and gold; come and break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me. (20) So Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of the hosts which he had against the cities of Israel, and smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelbethmaachah, and all Cinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali. (21) And it came to pass, when Baasha heard thereof, that he left off building of Ramah, and dwelt in Tirzah. (22) Then king Asa made a proclamation throughout all Judah; none was exempted: and they took away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha had builded; and king Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah. (23) The rest of all the acts of Asa, and all his might, and all that he did, and the cities which he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? Nevertheless in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet. (24) And Asa slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead.
In order to have a clear account of the good reign of Asa, we must compare what is here related of him with what is said, 2 Chronicles 14:1 and 2 following Chapter s. His reign was long and prosperous. And it is expressly said of him, that his heart was perfect with the Lord all his days. What is said of him therefore in the book of the Chronicles, in his old age, in the reproof Hanani the seer gave him, must be considered as referring to the infirmities of declining years. The sad tokens of a fallen nature, which amidst the many evidences of a renewed state, furnish no less testimonies that we are renewed but in part. We carry about still a body of sin and death, as Paul complained, which drags down the soul. - Here again, precious Jesus, how increasingly precious is thy perfect righteousness to the believer's view.
(25) В¶ And Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned over Israel two years. (26) And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin. (27) And Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him; and Baasha smote him at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines; for Nadab and all Israel laid siege to Gibbethon. (28) Even in the third year of Asa king of Judah did Baasha slay him, and reigned in his stead. (29) And it came to pass, when he reigned, that he smote all the house of Jeroboam; he left not to Jeroboam any that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according unto the saying of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite: (30) 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. (31) Now the rest of the acts of Nadab, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? (32) And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days. (33) In the third year of Asa king of Judah began Baasha the son of Ahijah to reign over all Israel in Tirzah, twenty and four years. (34) And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.
What a short reign was this of Jeroboam's son! what a doleful end to all Jeroboam's greatness! and how sure are the declarations of the Lord to overtake the guilty! the whole race of this impious prince is destroyed. And that prediction the prophet Abijah gave literally fulfilled. See 1 Kings 14:10.
WHILE I read of the miseries of war, and behold in the succession of kings, like what is here represented in this chapter, one rising up to the destruction of another; how sweet and gracious a relief is it to my mind, to contemplate him of whom the prophet, ages before he came, thus delightfully predicted the features of his character; Behold a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind; and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place; as the shadow of great rock in a weary land.
All this, and infinitely more, blessed Jesus, art thou to thy people! Thou art a king indeed under whose government thy happy subjects live in peace and everlasting security. And thou art a covert and hiding place; a sanctuary and refuge; a fountain indeed of waters, even living waters, and streams from Lebanon.
In thee, and under thy gracious reign, whatever enemies arise, thou lightest all our battles, and makest thy people more than conquerors through thy grace enabling them. And oh! when I consider how secretly and securely in the union with thy person, and by virtue of thy finished redemption, thy subjects are eternally safe from all the possibilities of danger; how doth my soul rejoice, and my heart is made glad. Yes! blessed Jesus! I can and do speak to my soul in the sweet words of thy prophet, and enter into an heart-felt participation with the church of old of all its blissful properties; Sing O daughter of Zion; shout O Israel; be glad and rejoice - with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord hath taken away thy judgments; he hath cast out thine enemy. The king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee; thou shalt not see evil anymore.