The House of Baasha
1 Kings 16:8-14
In the twenty and sixth year of Asa king of Judah began Elah the son of Baasha to reign over Israel in Tirzah, two years.…

The character of Baasha is drawn in the paragraphs immediately preceding, which also contain an account of his end, which was better than he deserved, and suggests the reality of a future retribution. His family so fully followed in his steps that we have no mention of an Abijah amongst them, "in whom was found some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel" (see 1 Kings 14:18). The judgment of God upon this wicked house is written in the words before us. We have to reflect upon -


1. The prophecy of Jehu came to them as a warning.

(1) Such is the nature of this class of prophecies. The threatenings of God, like His promises, are conditional. So, had they repented, the judgments denounced would have been removed or moderated.

(2) Of this principle the Scriptures furnish many illustrations. Take, e.g., the argument of Abraham's prayer for Sodom and its success (Genesis 18:23-32). See the effect of. the contrition of Ahab (1 Kings 21:27-29). How the judgment of the Lord upon Nineveh was averted through their humiliation before God (Jonah 3:4.).

(3) This prophecy, therefore, came in mercy, as a respite, to give space for repentance. Else judgment might have fallen without remonstrance, as it did in the issue. By timely repentance and reformation let us seek to avert all threatened judgments.

2. But here was no repentance.

(1) Elah walked in the steps of his father. He followed the sin of Jeroboam. Their idolatries are called "vanities." The gods they worshipped could neither profit nor help them. "Happy is that people whose God is the Lord." Miserable, those whose gods are vanities!

(2) Moreover Elah abandoned himself to sensuality. See him in Tirzah, a palace beautifully situated (Song of Solomon 6:4), where he might have found innocent and rational enjoyment. But there he is in the apartments of Arza, his major domo, drunk! What a condition for a king!

(3) What a condition for a nation, to be ruled by such a king! The Ephrathites had reason to repent of their revolution. They did not improve upon the house of David. Revolutionists have generally found their dreams of a political Paradise illusory.

(4) The wisdom of Christians would be to make the best of the political system they may inherit, and pray for the speedy coming of the kingdom of Christ. This was the spirit of Paul's exhortations, even when such a monster as Nero ruled the kingdoms of the world (see Romans 13:1; 1 Timothy 2:1, 2; Titus 3:1; also 1 Peter 2:18, 17).


1. The wicked follow their own devices.

(1) Zimri had an ambition to reign. Such an ambition is not uncommon. Few can ascend the throne of a kingdom. But there are tyrants on the magisterial bench, in the factory, in the shop, in the mansion, in the college.

(2) Zimri had also a desperate resolution to bend circumstances to his object. His rank as a cavalry officer, commanding half the chariots of Elah, gave him access to the palace. There, finding his lord helplessly drunk, he sacrificed gratitude and duty, and struck the fatal blow. What a warning to drunkards! Death is especially terrible when it surprises the sinner in his sin (see Luke 21:34).

(3) With infernal promptitude Zimri proceeded to slaughter the whole of the seed royal. In the massacre he involved also the "kinsfolk and friends," so as to leave no rival to contest the throne.

(4) But how little did he dream, after wading through this sea of blood, that his reign should be limited to a single week! How disproportionate was the end to the means! If men could duly estimate the end, how it would lead them to hesitate over the employment of the means!

2. But the providence of God is over all.

(1) God foresaw everything. This is evident in the word of prophecy. And He so controlled the actors that the results answered the ends of justice. This also is evident in the same word.

(2) But this did not excuse the wickedness of the executioners. God allows the wicked to punish each other for Him. So makes He the wrath of man to praise Him (see 2 Kings 9:31).

(3) He has better work for His saints. To bless is more congenial to them than to destroy. The ambition of the spiritual is too noble to be satisfied with an earthly crown, or to pay its price. - J.A.M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: In the twenty and sixth year of Asa king of Judah began Elah the son of Baasha to reign over Israel in Tirzah, two years.

WEB: In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah began Elah the son of Baasha to reign over Israel in Tirzah, [and reigned] two years.

Elah, Zimri, and Arza
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