Summary: Kings of Judah, Pt. 3: "Asa"
Ducking into confession with a turkey under his arms, a man said, “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I stole this turkey to feed my family. Would you take it and settle my guilt?” “Certainly not,” said the Priest. “As penance, you must return it to the one from whom you stole it.”
“I tried,” the man sobbed, “but he refused. Oh, Father, what should I do?” “If what you say is true, then it is all right for you to keep it for your family.” Thanking the priest, the visitor hurried off.
When confession was over, the priest returned to his residence. When he walked into the kitchen, he exclaimed, “Where’s my turkey?”
Sin is a hard habit to break.
God promised David his descendants would sit on the throne, but Solomon’s disobedience plunged the kingdom from its heights to its depths and his son’s stubbornness split the kingdom into the north and the south. The succeeding generations after David’s reign worsened things to no end. Worse than the kingdom’s division into two was the kingdom’s ongoing descent into idolatry. It took a young incoming king by the name of Asa to turn things around and initiate a reform.
Asa was a wise, godly and responsible king who had the courage and saw the opportunity to turn the course of the country around in a good and right way, and proceeded to make his court and life count.
How was the spiritual decline in Judah arrested and how did the revival occur? What was the outcome of the revival?
Don’t Let Things Slide; Straighten Things Up at Home
8 And Abijah rested with his fathers and was buried in the City of David. And Asa his son succeeded him as king. 9 In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa became king of Judah, 10 and he reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years. His grandmother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom. 11 Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done. 12 He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his fathers had made. 13 He even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. Asa cut the pole down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 14 Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life. (1 Kings 15:8-14)
When our family moved into our new house, the first thing on my mind was arresting the spread of weeds on the slope that came neglected for months with the house. Bending my stiff back and balancing my sore knees on the slanting hill was a challenge, followed up by picking inches-long weeds that dotted my landscape due to neglect on the new home. I resigned after an afternoon and hired a gardener since.
My next ambitious garden project was removing the cheap ugly-looking mini-shrubs that were planted to stabilize the slope and replacing it with pleasant eye-catching flowers. Of course, I couldn’t ask the gardener who comes every other week to do that because the plants and flowers I had bought could not wait that long.
The roots on the existing plants were so deep that I broke the original spade I brought with me to the new house. I was so excited to find a dollar spade at Target. When I told of my purchase to Bobby, who happened to bring a lemon tree to my house the next day, he said, “That would break in no time.” Sure enough it didn’t survive one workout!
Next, I bought a $3 spade on sale at Target and this time it barely worked, bending but not breaking the spade while working on the deep-rooted mini-shrubs I called “mustache plants” because the unattractive plant has branches protruding all directions.
King Asa was the great-grandson of Solomon and the grandson of Rehoboam and the third king of Judah. He was a zealous, decisive, and passionate king who overturned all that his father King Abijah had done, but he also did it to correct the wrongs his ancestors had committed. The phrase “all the sins” that marked the northern Israel kingdom occurs only five times in the Bible and makes its debut in 1 Kings 15:3. His father and grandfather were the only southern kings numbered with northern kings Jeroboam (2 Kings 13:11, 2 Kings 14:24, 2 Kings 17:22) and Baasha and son (1 Kings 16:13) as committing “all the sins” God was so opposed to.
The country’s moral slide and bankruptcy did not make it easy on Asa, who worked extremely hard to reverse the moral climate. Asa had his hands full trying to arrest the three periods of royal office of sixty years(1 Ki 15:11, 18:3, 22:2) spiritual decline, from Solomon to Rehoboam and his son Abijah. He was the first king to follow in the footsteps of King David to do what was “right in the eyes of God” (1 Kings 15:11), a phrase describing eight southern kings but no northern king. The new king did right, which even his great grandfather Solomon failed to do, and his good influence extended to the immediate generation. Others doing right included Asa’s son Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:42-43), Jehoash (2 Kings 12:1-2), Amaziah (2 Kings 14:1-3) and his son Azariah or Uzziah (2 Kings 15:1-3), Jotham (2 Kings 15:32-34) and his grandson Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:1-3) and the last one, Josiah (2 Kings 22:1-2).