1 Kings 15:16-24
And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.…
Forty and one years reigned he in Jerusalem (ver. 10). The evil kings of Judah were about as numerous as the good, but their reigns were shorter. "The wicked do not live out half their days." But though the reign of Asa was long and glorious, his war policy with Baasha was not creditable.
I. THE OBJECT WAS RIGHT.
1. The war was provoked by the enemy.
(1) Baasha was the aggressor (ver. 17). War is such a fearful evil that whoever provokes it is greatly culpable.
(2) Therefore on Asa's part it was defensive. If human war is ever defensible it is when defensive.
2. It was provoked by impious intention.
(1) Asa had set his heart upon the reformation of true religion, in which he was blessed by God with peace and prosperity (2 Chronicles 14:1-7).
(2) The more pious Ephrathites were attracted in great numbers to Jerusalem to join in the pure worship of the temple; and the reformation was influencing the northern kingdom (2 Chronicles 15:9).
(3) Baasha now feared, as Jeroboam did when he set up his calves (1 Kings 12:26-28), that his people would return to the house of David. To prevent this he proceeded to fortify the frontier town of Ramah (2 Chronicles 16:1).
(4) This was to coerce the Ephrathites to transgress the law of God (see Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 14:28-26; 16:2). To resist this persecution was as pious in Asa as the persecution was impious in Baasha.
II. THE MEANS WERE WRONG.
1. They were human.
(1) Asa did not rely upon the Lord. This was the less excusable since God had wrought such signal deliverance for him from the vast multitude of the Ethiopians (see 2 Chronicles 14:9-15). What was the host of Baasha compared with that army?
(2) He did not even inquire of the Lord. Had God sanctioned his recourse to Ben-hadad then had he been blameless.
(3) Though in other particulars he had listened to the advice of Azariah, the son of Oded, with blessed advantage, yet in this he had disregarded that advice (see 2 Chronicles 15:1, 2).
2. They were unworthy.
(1) What right had he to engage a heathen to fight with his brethren?
(2) What right had he to bribe a heathen to break his covenant (ברית purification) with Baasha, in which the blood of sacrifice had been sprinkled to express his purity of intention, as we now take the sacrament? What opinion could the heathen form of the religion of one who could offer a bribe for such a purpose?
(3) What right had he to take the treasure of the temple for such a purpose?
III. THE SUCCESS WAS PARTIAL.
1. The end was answered.
(1) The Syrians attacked Israel in the north. The news of this drew Baasha away from Ramah (vers. 20, 21).
(2) This gave Asa the opportunity to demolish the fortifications in progress so as to open the road Baasha sought to close. He also removed the material so that the road might be kept open.
(3) The material was useful to him in building Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah.
2. But the price was too great.
(1) He missed an opportunity of spoiling the Syrians as he had spoiled the Ethiopians. This fact is revealed, though by what means Providence purposed to have brought it about is not disclosed (2 Chronicles 16:7).
(2) The treasures of the temple and of the palace were therefore needlessly alienated.
(3) His brethren in "Ijon, and Dan, and Abel-beth-Maachah, and all Cinneroth," or Gennesaret, "with all the land of Naphtali," were exposed to the horrors of the Syrian invasion. The heart of Israel would be alienated from Asa in consequence, and the reformation hindered.
(4) Asa's own heart became hardened, else he would not have imprisoned Hanani, and oppressed some of his people (who probably sympathized with the prophet).
(5) And he inherited the judgment of wars to the end of his days. Also a disease in the feet, respecting which he sought to "physicians rather than the Lord" (2 Chronicles 16:10, 12). Note: Asa's blunders followed upon his prosperity. Few abide this test. Loss of spirituality and religious zeal accompanies the growing worldly prosperity of churches! - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.