1 Kings 15:14
But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa's heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.
A beautiful flower often springs from the midst of corruption. The more we realize the moral condition of Asa's surroundings the more we wonder at the grace which made him what he was. His father was Abijam (or Abijah), the second king of Judah, of whom it is said, "He walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him." His education appears to have been entrusted to Maachah, his grandmother, a daughter of Absalom the rebel, and herself a gross idolatress. The remembrance of these facts makes the statement respecting this young prince the more surprising - "Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, as did David his father." An independent spirit and a resolute will must have been coupled with his piety. [Show from this the possibility of triumphing over the most adverse circumstances by those who sincerely seek to serve God.] It is not, however, to his manly resolution, to his vigour, or to his political wisdom that our attention is specially called by the text, but to his RELIGIOUS SINCERITY.
I. RELIGIOUS SINCERITY ASSERTS ITSELF IN REFORMING ZEAL (vers. 12, 13). It was only twenty years since the death of Solomon, yet irreligion and vice had corrupted the nation. Evil spreads more rapidly than good in a fallen world. The deadly fungus springs up in a night, the fruit tree grows slowly to perfection. A half-hearted or timid man would have been content to worship Jehovah himself, and thus silently rebuke the idolatry of his people; but Asa, being an earnest man, could not content himself with any laissez faire principle. With a strong hand he would put down evil wherever he could reach it. Often in God's sight to leave evil alone, unrebuked, and uncombated is to share the guilt of those who commit it. It is the spirit of Cain, and not of Christ, that asks, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Asa's reforming zeal contains lessons to rulers, to employers, to parents, indeed to all who can mould the circumstances of others. See, therefore, how it made itself felt.
1. Opportunities for sin were diminished. Ver. 12 implies that there were those in Judah who made a traffic of vice. Corrupt themselves, they corrupted others. There are places in Christian cities which should be swept away by the strong hand of law.
2. Incentives to sin were destroyed. The idol referred to (in ver. 15) is literally "the horror." The obscene rites connected with its cultus will not bear investigation. Suffice it to say that this so-called worship provoked to vice of the most hideous kinds. Against provocations and incentives to sin how earnestly should parents guard their children, and masters and mistresses their servants. Impure literature is in the forefront of these; not only that which offends by its grossness, but that which secretly stains by its suggestions.
3. Influences for sin were removed. Sometimes vice is made popular by leaders of fashion or of policy. The unrighteousness of a clever man, the impurity of a leader in society are woefully far-reaching in their effects. Maachah, the queen-mother, was one of the most potent in Asa's court, was his near relation, his early instructress; yet, with as much wisdom as courage, "he removed her from being queen," and destroyed her idol publicly and shamefully. It might be said that he was indebted to her, that she was aged and should be respected, or that she could not live long, and might therefore be tolerated. Such pleas would not avail with man whose "heart was perfect with the Lord." (Apply this.)
II. RELIGIOUS SINCERITY PROCLAIMS ITSELF BY CONFIDENCE IN GOD. This confidence was at tile heart of Asa's courage. Read our text in the light of the fuller history of the king (given in 2 Chronicles), and see how his confidence displayed itself.
1. He found rest in God in peril. Many adversaries would be raised by a reformation which was ruthless in its rigour. Idolatrous priests, the party led by Maachah, etc., would rebel; but Asa was not perturbed. God was his refuge and strength.
2. He offered prayer to God in his difficulty. As an example read 2 Chronicles 14. Describe the incursion of the Ethiopian host, and this prayer of the king, "Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude." A victory followed which was unique in the history of God's people. Conquest waits on prayer in every struggle with evil
3. He consecrated himself and his people to God after their deliverance (see ver. 15, and compare with it 2 Chronicles 15.) He renewed the covenant, and afresh dedicated all he possessed to the Lord. So he deserved the high commendation, "Asa's heart was perfect with the Lord all his days." It remains yet to be observed that -
III. RELIGIOUS SINCERITY MAY BE ASSOCIATED WITH IMPERFECT SERVICE. He failed to remove the high places. This Hezekiah and Josiah did. To leave them was to provide a way of return to the idolatrous practices he had put down. Beware of leaving lesser sins unconquered, after victory has been attained over grosset crimes. - A.R.
Parallel VersesKJV: But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa's heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.