1 Kings 15 Commentary

Rehoboam’s policies continued (15:1-8)

Both Rehoboam and his son Abijam (Abijah) who succeeded him were unfaithful to God, though not to the extent that Jeroboam was. False religion had official recognition in the north through the new system that Jeroboam had established, but in the south it was rather a corruption that existed alongside the orthodox worship of God (15:1-5).

Abijam thought that, because the kingdom of Judah still practised the ancient religion that God had given Israel through Moses, this would guarantee God’s help in giving him victory in a war with Jeroboam. He did, in fact, defeat Jeroboam, but this was because his soldiers fought in genuine reliance on God, not because God was in any way obliged to help him (6-8; 2 Chron 13:1-22).

Asa’s reformation in Judah (15:9-24)

Judah’s new king, Asa, spent the first ten years of his reign getting rid of Canaanite religious practices and strengthening the nation’s defences. Strong faith and a strong fighting force enabled him to defeat a huge army that invaded Judah from the south. Plunder seized at the time enriched Judah considerably (2 Chron 14:1-15).

A prophet pointed out how this victory proved that, as in the time of the judges, God blessed those who trusted in him in their distress (2 Chron 15:1-7). This encouraged Asa to move ahead more zealously with his reformation. He destroyed the remaining idols and invited all the people to sacrifice to the Lord and swear their loyalty to him. Those who joined in Asa’s reforms included the faithful from the north who had migrated to Judah (2 Chron 15:8-15).

Asa then removed the queen mother, who was one of the main supporters of the false religion. He also drove out the religious prostitutes, but he did not remove all the local Baal shrines (9-15).

While Asa was busy dealing with enemies from the south, the Israelite king to the north, Baasha, took the opportunity to move into Judah’s territory and build a fort at Ramah, a few kilometres north of Jerusalem (16-17). Asa took what was left of his reserve funds to bribe Syria to break its treaty with Israel and attack her. Syria was easily bribed, and gained an additional prize by seizing much of Israel’s northern territory. Then, while Israel was fighting Syria in the far north, Asa attacked Ramah. He destroyed the fort and carried away the materials to build two forts for his own kingdom as protection against Israel (18-22).

This policy of trusting in foreign nations showed a weakening of Asa’s trust in God, and brought him into conflict with the prophet Hanani. It was a failure of faith that repeated itself just before his death.

When suffering from a disease in the feet, he looked for healing through pagan sorcerers instead of trusting in God (23-24; 2 Chron 16:7-14).


After Jeroboam (15:25-16:20)

As predicted by Ahijah, Jeroboam’s dynasty soon came to an end. His son Nadab was murdered by Baasha, one of his army generals, who then declared himself king. Baasha quickly removed all possible rivals by destroying Jeroboam’s entire family (25-34; cf. 14:11-14). However, Baasha was no better than Jeroboam. Because he followed Jeroboam’s policies, he would suffer Jeroboam’s fate (16:1-4). Just as Baasha brought Jeroboam’s dynasty to an end by murdering Jeroboam’s son and wiping out the rest of his family, so Baasha’s own dynasty came to an end when another army general murdered his son and wiped out his family (5-14).

The new military dictator, Zimri, misjudged the support he would receive from the army, and lasted only a week. When he saw that the army preferred the commanding officer Omri, Zimri committed suicide (15-20).

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