1 Kings 15:23
The rest of all the acts of Asa, and all his might, and all that he did, and the cities which he built…
Few personages in Holy Scripture appear to have commenced their career with more decided promise of good, and more energetic measures against evil, than Asa, King of Judah. Asa was the third of those princes of the house of David, whom God, though for the sins of Solomon He had alienated ten tribes from their sway, permitted for His ancient servant's sake to retain a throne and a name. Asa was preserved pure amid the corruptions of his age; and his acts immediately on ascending the throne, and for a large portion of his life, showed, not merely that his heart was not perverted to idols — that is, was in this sense perfect before the Lord — but that he leaned on Him, and found Him to be his Strength and his Redeemer. When ten years are over, we find that great change has passed upon Asa. Hostilities are threatened at the hands of Baasha, King of Israel. That prince is building a fortress on his very frontier. His purpose cannot be mistaken. It is to check the growing intercourse between Asa's subjects and his own. Asa is naturally alarmed; but in his alarm he seeks not God — he seeks a human, a heathen ally. He bribes the King of Syria., with his own treasures and the treasures of the temple, to break an existing league with Baasha, and invade the north-eastern provinces of Israel. A diversion is thus effected; for Baasha is summoned from his scheme of offence by tidings that the whole of the coast of Gennesaret is being wasted by fire and sword. Asa improves his opportunity. He destroys the rising fortress, Ramah, and applies to the strengthening of two cities for himself the materials prepared by the enemy. Yes, he has repelled the danger, but he has incurred a greater danger. He has made God his enemy, for he has not trusted in Him as his friend. How strange, how very mournful, that he who for more than a quarter of a century had led men to God, should at length have himself turned from Him; that he who, by his life and reign, had preached to others, should himself be a castaway! And is it indeed so? Hanani the prophet has come to remonstrate with him; and his remonstrance, truly though severely kind, must surely move him. Alas! Asa's heart is hardened. The voice of honesty grates harshly on him; he is wroth with the prophet; he even imprisons him. And the sacred historian adds, "He oppressed some of the people at the same time"; it may be, because they reminded him of the oath which they had sworn at his bidding, and in which he had bound himself, that God should be their God. A few more years pass on, of which we read nothing, but of which we must fear much. Asa is now stretched on his sick-bed; a lingering disease is wasting him; at length, it is exceeding great. Two or three years he lies in deep agony, yet he never thinks of God; he "seeks not to the Lord, but to the physicians." Is no more said of him than this? Does no repentance for his evil deeds come upon him? No remembrance of his youthful faith, and of the way in which it was rewarded, flash upon him? Does no light illume the chamber of death? No fear of what is beyond death appal him? He had long ceased to live by faith, and he does not die in faith. To the words, "he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians," succeeds the simple announcement, "and Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one-and-fortieth year of his reign." He died. He died, and was buried in his own sepulchre, which he had provided for the body, however much he had neglected his soul. He was buried with great honour in the city of David. He was buried "with an empire's lamentation." But what was all this, unless we have reason to suppose that angels received his soul, and conveyed it into Abraham's bosom, there to abide till the resurrection? But what were the causes of his fall? Scripture is silent on this point; we may, however, discover two or three of them.
1. He was tried, in the first place, by great success. People are inclined to think that success is no trial. They are much mistaken. Nothing is more liable to produce self-confidence, and neglect of Him who bestoweth on the wise their wisdom, and on the strong their strength. Unless a man watches himself very narrowly, pride will insinuate itself even into the midst of his thanksgivings; complacent thoughts of his own foresight underlie his recognition of God's providence; convictions of his own good desert qualify his confessions of sin. Idols had bowed at Asa's word. Profligacy had shrunk abashed from his presence. The appointments of the temple had risen to fresh splendour on his opening the doors of his treasury. The ancient renown of his people had revived under his sway. The borders of his kingdom had been extended by his policy. He had spoken, and cities long dismantled had resumed their coronal of towers. He had led out his armies, and barbarians had fled before him. Whatever he had taken in hand, the Lord had made it to prosper. This was at length too much for him. He dwelt on his wisdom, it became foolishness — on his strength, and it turned to weakness; in a word, he forgot God, who, as He had raised him up, had power to cast him down.
2. But mark a second point in which Asa was tried, and having been tried was found wanting. He was placed in the perilous position of having to guide and instruct others — to provide for their spiritual welfare — to correct whatever tendencies he discovered towards vice or towards idolatry. Now, little as we are accustomed so to view it, this is a great snare to any one. The mother, who teaches her child to pray; the father, who watches over his son's moral progress; the master, who is a strict censor of the behaviour of his servants; the Scripture reader, the district visitor, the nurse of the sick, the almoner of the poor; yea, even the minister of God who has professionally to bring before his people the means of grace and the hopes of glory, the right use of the one, and the sober entertainment of the other; these persons are all of them in danger of neglecting themselves; of placing themselves, as it were, ab extra, to the duties which they have to inculcate; of losing their interest in them as things in which they have a deep personal concernment. Such persons are tempted then in the contemplation of their works, to forget themselves, to abate their self-discipline, and, when the novelty of their employment has passed away, to fall back upon other things; it may be, to end with languor, disgust, or carelessness, if not with utter faithlessness and sin. Gradually, indeed, and very slowly, such lethargy may creep over the soul; as gradually as the fumes of the chafing-dish overpower the senses of the sleeper, or as the deathlike chill of the mountain steals over the weary traveller, and lulls him into a slumber from which there is no awakening — but like these, it is subtle, silent, fatal. It is only sure-walking that is safe-walking. To be sure we must not be secure, we must be careful; carefulness is the earnest of safety; carefulness, whose maxim is, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall"; carefulness, which, in the words of our Litany, petitions the Almighty for deliverance not merely in the "time of tribulation," but in the "time of wealth."
(J. A. Heasey, D. C. L).
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: Now the rest of all the acts of Asa, and all his might, and all that he did, and the cities which he built, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? But in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet.