In this chapter we have an abstract of the history,
I. Of two of the kings of Judah, Abijam, the days of whose reign were
few and evil
(1 Kings 15:1-8),
and Asa, who reigned well and long,
1 Kings 15:9-24.
II. Of two of the kings of Israel, Nadab the son of Jeroboam, and
Baasha the destroyer of Jeroboam's house,
1 Kings 15:25-34.
B. C. 958.
1 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.
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
5 Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the
LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him
all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the
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.
We have here a short account of the short reign of Abijam the son of
Rehoboam king of Judah. He makes a better figure,
2 Chronicles 13:1-22,
where we have an account of his war with Jeroboam, the speech which he
made before the armies engaged, and the wonderful victory he obtained
by the help of God. There he is called Abijah--My father is the
Lord, because no wickedness is there laid to his charge. But here,
where we are told of his faults, Jah, the name of God, is, in
disgrace to him, taken away from his name, and he is called
I. Few particulars are related concerning him.
1. Here began his reign in the beginning of Jeroboam's eighteenth year;
for Rehoboam reigned but seventeen,
1 Kings 14:21.
Jeroboam indeed survived Rehoboam, but Rehoboam's Abijah lived to
succeed him and to be a terror to Jeroboam, while Jeroboam's Abijah
(whom we read of
1 Kings 14:1)
died before him.
2. He reigned scarcely three years, for he died before the end of
Jeroboam's twentieth year,
1 Kings 15:9.
Being made proud and secure by his great victory over Jeroboam
(2 Chronicles 13:21),
God cut him off, to make way for his son Asa, who would be a better
3. His mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom,
that is, Absalom, David's son, as I am the rather inclined to think
because two other of Rehoboam's wives were his near relations
(2 Chronicles 11:18),
one the daughter of Jerimoth, David's son, and another the daughter of
Eliab, David's brother. He took warning by his father not to marry
strangers; yet thought it below him to marry his subjects, except they
were of the royal family.
4. He carried on his father's wars with Jeroboam. As there was
continual war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam, not set battles (these
1 Kings 12:24),
but frequent encounters, especially upon the borders, one making
incursions and reprisals on the other, so there was between Abijam and
(1 Kings 15:7),
till Jeroboam, with a great army, invaded him, and then Abijam, not
being forbidden to act in his own defence, routed him, and weakened
him, so that he compelled him to be quiet during the rest of his reign,
2 Chronicles 13:20.
II. But, in general, we are told,
1. That he was not like David, had no hearty affection for the
ordinances of God, though, to serve his purpose against Jeroboam, he
pleaded his possession of the temple and priesthood, as that upon which
he valued himself,
2 Chronicles 13:10-12.
Many boast of their profession of godliness who are strangers to the
power of it, and plead the truth of their religion who yet are not true
to it. His heart was not perfect with the Lord his God. He
seemed to have zeal, but he wanted sincerity; he began pretty well, but
he fell off, and walked in all the sins of his father, followed
his bad example, though he had seen the bad consequences of it. He that
was all his days in war ought to have been so wise as to make and keep
his peace with God, and not to make him his enemy, especially having
found him so good a friend in his war with Jeroboam,
2 Chronicles 13:18.
Let favour be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn
2. That yet it was for David's sake that he was advanced, and continued
upon the throne; it was for his sake
(1 Kings 15:4,5)
that God thus set up his son after him; not for his own sake,
nor for the sake of his father, in whose steps he trod, but for the
sake of David, whose example he would not follow. Note, It
aggravates the sin of a degenerate seed that they fare the better for
the piety of their ancestors and owe their blessings to it, and yet
will not imitate it. They stand upon that ground, and yet despise it,
and trample upon it, and unreasonably ridicule and oppose that which
they enjoy the benefit of. The kingdom of Judah was supported,
(1.) That David might have a lamp, pursuant to the divine ordination of
a lamp for his anointed,
(2.) That Jerusalem might be established, not only that the honours put
upon it in David's and Solomon's time might be preserved to it, but
that it might be reserved to the honours designed for it in
after-times. The character here given of David is very great--that
he did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord; but the
exception is very remarkable--save only in the matter of Uriah,
including both his murder and the debauching of his wife. That was a
bad matter; it was a remaining blot upon his name, a bar in his
escutcheon, and the reproach of it was not wiped away, though the guilt
was. David was guilty of other faults, but they were nothing in
comparison of that; yet even that being repented of, though it be
mentioned for warning to others, did not prevail to throw him out of
the covenant, nor to cut off the entail of the promise upon his
B. C. 914.
9 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
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
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 Abel-beth-maachah, 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
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.
We have here a short account of the reign of Asa; we shall find a more
copious history of it
2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14
I. The length of it: He reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem,
1 Kings 15:10.
In the account we have of the kings of Judah we find the number of the
good kings and the bad ones nearly equal; but then we may observe, to
our comfort, that the reign of the good kings was generally long, but
that of the bad kings short, the consideration of which will make the
state of God's church not altogether so bad within that period as it
appears at first sight. Length of days is in Wisdom's right hand.
Honour thy father, much more thy heavenly Father, that thy
days may be long.
II. The general good character of it
(1 Kings 15:11):
Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and that
is right indeed which is so in God's eyes; those are approved whom he
commends. He did as did David his father, kept close to God, and
to his instituted worship, was hearty and zealous for that, which gave
him this honourable character, that he was like David, though he was
not a prophet, or psalmist, as David was. If we come up to the graces
of those that have gone before us it will be our praise with God,
though we come short of their gifts. Asa was like David, though he was
neither such a conqueror nor such an author; for his heart was
perfect with the Lord all his days
(1 Kings 15:14),
that is, he was both cordial and constant in his religion. What he did
for God he was sincere in, steady and uniform, and did it from a good
principle, with a single eye to the glory of God.
III. The particular instances of Asa's piety. His times were times of
1. He removed that which was evil. There reformation begins; and a
great deal of work of that kind his hand found to do. For, though it
was but twenty years after the death of Solomon that he began to reign,
yet very gross corruption had spread far and taken deep root.
Immorality he first struck at: He took away the sodomites out of the
land, suppressed the brothels; for how can either prince or people
prosper while those cages of unclean and filthy birds, more dangerous
than pest-houses, are suffered to remain? Then he proceeded against
idolatry: He removed all the idols, even those that his
father had made,
1 Kings 15:12.
His father having made them, he was the more concerned to remove them,
that he might cut off the entail of the curse, and prevent the visiting
of that iniquity upon him and his. Nay (which redounds much to his
honour, and shows his heart was perfect with God), when he found
idolatry in the court, he rooted it out thence,
1 Kings 15:13.
When it appeared that Maachah his mother, or rather his grandmother
(but called his mother because she had the educating of him in
his childhood), had an idol in a grove, though she was his mother, his
grandmother,--though, it is likely, she had a particular fondness for
it,--though, being old, she could not live long to patronise
it,--though she kept it for her own use only, yet he would by no means
connive at her idolatry. Reformation must begin at home. Bad practices
will never be suppressed in the country while they are supported in the
court. Asa, in every thing else, will honour and respect his mother; he
loves her well, but he loves God better, and (like the Levite,
readily forgets the relation when it comes in competition with his
duty. If she be an idolater,
(1.) Her idol shall be destroyed, publicly exposed to contempt,
defaced, and burnt to ashes by the brook Kidron, on which, it is
probable, he strewed the ashes, in imitation of Moses
and in token of his detestation of idolatry and his indignation at it
wherever he found it. Let no remains of a court-idol appear.
(2.) She shall be deposed, He removed her from being queen, or from the
queen, that is, from conversing with his wife; he banished her from the
court, and confined her to an obscure and private life. Those that have
power are happy when thus they have hearts to use it well.
2. He re-established that which was good
(1 Kings 15:15):
He brought into the house of God the dedicated things which he
himself had vowed out of the spoils of the Ethiopians he had conquered,
and which his father had vowed, but lived not to bring in pursuant to
his vow. We must not only cease to do evil, but learn to do well, not
only cast away the idols of our iniquity, but dedicate ourselves and
our all to God's honour and glory. When those who, in their infancy,
were by baptism devoted to God, make it their own act and deed to join
themselves to him and vigorously employ themselves in his service, this
is bringing in the dedicated things which they and their fathers have
dedicated: it is necessary justice--rendering to God the things that
VI. The policy of his reign. He built cities himself, to encourage the
increase of his people
(1 Kings 15:23)
and to invite others to him by the conveniences of habitation; and he
was very zealous to hinder Baasha from building Ramah, because he
designed it for the cutting off of communication between his people and
Jerusalem and to hinder those who in obedience to God would come to
worship there. An enemy must by no means be suffered to fortify a
V. The faults of his reign. In both the things for which he was praised
he was found defective. The fairest characters are not without some
but or other in them.
1. Did he take away the idols? That was well; but the high places
were not removed
(1 Kings 15:14);
therein his reformation fell short. He removed all images which were
rivals with the true God or false representations of him; but the
altars which were set up in high places, and to which those sacrifices
were brought which should have been offered on the altar in the temple,
those he suffered to stand, thinking there was no great harm in them,
they having been used by good men before the temple was built, and
being loth to disoblige the people, who had a kindness to them and were
wedded to them both by custom and convenience; whereas in Judah and
Benjamin, the only tribes under Asa's government which lay so near
Jerusalem and the altars there, there was less pretence for them than
in those tribes which lay more remote. They were against the law, which
obliged them to worship at one place,
They lessened men's esteem of the temple and the altars there, and were
an open gap for idolatry to enter in at, while the people were so much
addicted to it. It was not well that Asa, when his hand was in, did not
remove these. Nevertheless his heart was perfect with the Lord.
This affords us a comfortable note, That those may be found honest and
upright with God, and be accepted of him, who yet, in some instances,
come short of doing the good they might and should do. The perfection
which is made the indispensable condition of the new covenant is not to
be understood of sinlessness (then we were all undone), but sincerity.
2. Did he bring in the dedicated things? That was well; but he
afterwards alienated the dedicated things, when he took the gold and
silver out of the house of God and sent them as a bribe to Benhadad, to
hire him to break his league with Baasha, and, by making an inroad upon
his country, to give him a diversion from the building of Ramah,
1 Kings 15:18,19.
Here he sinned,
(1.) In tempting Benhadad to break his league, and so to violate the
public faith. If he did wrong in doing it, as certainly he did, Asa did
wrong in persuading him to do it.
(2.) In that he could not trust God, who had done so much for him, to
free him out of this strait, without using such indirect means to help
(3.) In taking the gold out of the treasury of the temple, which was
not to be made use of but on extraordinary occasions. The project
succeeded. Benhadad made a descent upon the land of Israel, which
obliged Baasha to retire with his whole force from Ramah
(1 Kings 15:20,21),
which gave Asa a fair opportunity to demolish his works there, and the
timber and stones served him for the building of some cities of his
1 Kings 15:22.
But, though the design prospered, we find it was displeasing to God;
and though Asa valued himself upon the policy of it, and promised
himself that it would effectually secure his peace, he was told by the
prophet that he had done foolishly, and that thenceforth he should
have wars; see
2 Chronicles 16:7-9.
VI. The troubles of his reign. For the most part he prospered; but,
1. Baasha king of Israel was a very troublesome neighbour to him. He
reigned twenty-four years, and all his days had war, more or less, with
1 Kings 15:16.
This was the effect of the division of the kingdoms, that they were
continually vexing one another, and so weakened one another, which made
them both an easier prey to the common enemy.
2. In his old age he was himself afflicted with the gout: He was
diseased in his feet, which made him less fit for business and
peevish towards those about him.
VII. The conclusion of his reign. The acts of it were more largely
recorded in the common history (to which reference is here had,
1 Kings 15:23)
than in this sacred one. He reigned long, but finished at last with
honour, and left his throne to a successor no way inferior to him.
The Reign of Nadab and Baasha.
B. C. 954.
25 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
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
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
32 And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all
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
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.
We are now to take a view of the miserable state of Israel, while the
kingdom of Judah was happy under Asa's good government. It was
threatened that they should be as a reed shaken in the water
(1 Kings 14:15),
and so they were, when, during the single reign of Asa, the government
of their kingdom was in six or seven different hands, as we find in
this and the following chapter. Jeroboam was upon the throne in the
beginning of his reign and Ahab at the end of it, and between them were
Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Tibni, and Omri, undermining and destroying
one another. This they got by deserting the house both of God and of
David. Here we have,
1. The ruin and extirpation of the family of Jeroboam, according to the
word of the Lord by Ahijah. His son Nadab succeeded him. If the death
of his brother Abijah had had a due influence upon him to make him
religious, and the honour done him at his death had engaged him to
follow his good example, his reign might have been long and glorious;
but he walked in the way of his father
(1 Kings 15:26),
kept up the worship of his calves, and forbade his subjects to go up to
Jerusalem to worship, sinned and made Israel to sin, and
therefore God brought ruin upon him quickly, in the second year of his
reign. He was besieging Gibbethon, a city which the Philistines had
taken from the Danites, and was endeavouring to re-take it; and there,
in the midst of his army, did Baasha, with others, conspire against him
and kill him,
(1 Kings 15:27),
and so little interest had he in the affections of his people that his
army did not only not avenge his death, but chose his murderer for his
successor. Whether Baasha did it upon a personal pique against Nadab,
or to be avenged on the house of Jeroboam for some affront received
from them, or whether under pretence of freeing his country from the
tyranny of a bad prince, or whether merely from a principle of
ambition, to make way for himself to the throne, does not appear; but
he slew him and reigned in his stead,
1 Kings 15:28.
And the first thing he did when he came to the crown was to cut off
all the house of Jeroboam, that he might the better secure himself
and his own usurped government. He thought it not enough to imprison or
banish them, but he destroyed them, left not only no males (as was
1 Kings 14:10),
but none that breathed. Herein he was barbarous, but God was righteous.
Jeroboam's sin was punished
(1 Kings 15:30);
for those that provoke God do it to their own confusion; see
Ahijah's prophecy was accomplished
(1 Kings 15:29);
for no word of God shall fall to the ground. Divine threatenings are
2. The elevation of Baasha. He shall be tried awhile, as Jeroboam was.
Twenty-four years he reigned
(1 Kings 15:33),
but showed that it was not from any dislike to Jeroboam's sin that he
destroyed his family, but from malice and ambition; for, when he had
rooted out the sinner, he himself clave to the sin, and walked in
the way of Jeroboam
(1 Kings 15:34),
though he had seen the end of that way; so strangely was his heart
hardened with the deceitfulness of sin.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for '1 Kings' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".