II Chronicles 15
This chapter is something like an oasis in our history, and was perhaps such
in the real life of Asa also. Presumably it covers a period of some twenty
years. Reading between the lines, and indeed chapters, we may very well
suppose that the mission of “Azariah son of Oded” to Asa now was one of
all mercy. Great salvation had been shown to him and his people, and as
time went on they might forget the Saviour, and imagine the work was all
their own. Moreover, their own proper work had tarried, and beside
caution and humility (in season for him as a returning and conqueroring king,
v. 2), Asa needed stimulus; perhaps the Lord’s loving-kindness knew that he
needed every kindly encouragement. For there are not wanting signs that
he was before his people, and felt the drag of them upon him as Moses
himself did. These are the features of the physical geography, so to say, of
the chapter, which comprises:
· the rousing warning of Azariah the prophet (vs. 1-7);
· Asa’s renewal of the altar in its own structure, and in worthy
sacrifices upon it (vers. 8-11);
apparently did not keep pace with him (vs. 16-19).
1 "And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:"
The Spirit of God came. For “came,” read the literal Hebrew
“was,” as also in our ch. 20:14, where instead of “God” (אְלֶהִים), we find
“the Lord” (יְהוָה). In our ch. 24:20, we have again “God,” with the verb
“clothed” (לָבְשָׁה). The grand original of the expression is, of course, found in
Genesis 1:2, where the name is “God.” Compare Pharaoh’s question in Genesis
41:38; Exodus 31:3; 35:31; Numbers 24:2; Judges 3:1; 6:34 (the verb “clothed”
is used in this last); five other times in Judges we have the Spirit of the Lord;
in Samuel six times, and “the Spirit of God” another six times; in Kings,
three times “the Spirit of the Lord.” These passages exhibit incontestably
the function, and the manifold function, of the Spirit! Azariah the son of
Oded. The Vulgate and Alexandrian Septuagint read here simply Oded;
and Movers (p. 261) has suggested that “Oded the son of Azariah” is the
correct reading for what now stands in the text; these are contrivances to
meet the difficulty which the eighth verse occasions, and they are not so
simple certainly as the proposal of Keil and Bertheau (following the Arabic
Version) to omit altogether from v. 8 the repetition of the name of the
prophet, under the plea that the words, “of Oded the prophet,” may so
conceivably be owing to a copyist’s meddlesome marginal reminiscence of
v. 1. It would have been, perhaps, a yet simpler method of overcoming
the difficulty to account that the words, “Azariah the son of,” had through
a copy error slipped out of the text, except that the previous word, “the
prophecy,” is not in the construct state, and this favors Keil and
Bertheau’s suggestion (see our ch. 9:29), or rather the suggestion of the
Arabic Version, which before them omits the words, “of Oded the prophet.”
The Vatican Septuagint has the readings in both verses as Englished in the
Authorized Version. Some think Oded may be one with Iddo of (ch. 9:29;
12:15; 13:22; pointing out that the Hebrew characters would permit it, if we
suppose a vau added to the name Oded. This conjectural attempt to give this
Prophet Azariah for son to Iddo seems to gain no great point. Of this Azariah
nothing else is known; he is described as “son of Oded” probably to distinguish
him from Azariah the high priest, son of Johanan (see Dr. Smith’s ‘Bible
Dictionary,’ 1:142, second column, 3). (For the rest on this subject, see note
on v. 8.)
2 "And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa,
and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be
with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; but if ye
forsake Him, He will forsake you." He went out to meet him; literally, into
his presence; but the Authorized Version rendering is very correct, as well as
happy in expression (see I Chronicles 14:8; also see the remarkable and
interesting verse, here ch. 28:9). The prophet was the leader, the
teacher, the suggester of the right and opportune thing to the people, but
to the prophet the Lord Himself was Leader, Teacher, Prompter, and it was
exactly so now. To the very moment, the quickened moment of new
thought and for new deed, divinest instruction and suggestion are
ministered. The Lord is with you… (if disobedient -[ will forsake you).
The original occasion of the beautiful language and word of covenant in the
heart of this second part of the verse is enshrined in Deuteronomy 4:29 (see
also I Chronicles 28:9; ch. 24:20; Jeremiah 29:11-14). It is just
conceivable that these words by themselves are what are designated “the
prophecy” (and “the prophecy”) in v. 8. They may be in the first place
regarded as ancient quotations. They are also characterized by a certain
self-containedness and weightiness of matter as compared with the historic
illustrations of the following four verses. No corroborative external
evidence of this conjecture, however, is forthcoming.
God’s Presence and Departure (vs. 1-2)
It is characteristic of the Hebrew prophet that as the king comes back
flushed with victory he meets the conqueror, not with honied words of
congratulation, but with faithful words of admonition. What he says to the
king may be taken as applicable to the servant of God generally.
EXPERIENCE. “Jahve was with you (has given you the victory) because
ye were with Him (held to Him)” (Keil). So far fidelity to Jehovah had
proved to be the condition of prosperity. Under His banner they had
marched to victory; while they were true to Him, He had been in the midst
of them, and had been there to bless them. This is the common, indeed the
constant, experience of the good. The service of God is always a success.
Ø rest of soul at all times;
Ø calmness and a wise joy in prosperity;
Ø resignation and comfort in the time of trouble;
Ø strength for duty and courage for temptation;
Ø excellency in life and
Ø hope in death.
To be with God in the sense and spirit of self-surrender
to His will is to have His gracious presence with us, shedding light
and gladness on our path. This is the testimony of the good.
ye seek Him, He will be found of you.” Behind us is a part (larger or
smaller) of our life, and we thank God for all that he has been to us as we
have held on our way. But before us is another portion; it may be a very
serious, it may be even a critical, passage of our life. We shall want not
only our own resources at their best, and the kindest and wisest succor of
our friends, but the near presence and effective aid of our heavenly Father.
We shall want:
Ø His guidance, that we may know the path we should take;
Ø His guardianship, that we may be preserved from the wrong-doings,
from the errors and mistakes, into which we shall otherwise be betrayed;
Ø His illumination, that we may tightly discharge our duties and rise to
the height of our opportunities; and
Ø his sustaining grace, that we may bear ourselves bravely and meekly
in the day of our adversity and defeat.
All this we shall have if we seek it truly. And that means if we seek it:
Ø in moral and spiritual integrity, our heart being set on the
service of Christ;
Ø with our whole heart, earnestly and perseveringly;
Ø believingly, building our hope on His Word.
ye forsake Him, He will forsake you.”
Ø There is a practical danger of spiritual and, therefore, of moral
declension. Such is our nature, that we are apt to let love become cold; to
allow zeal to wane and wither; to permit our best habits to be encroached
upon by the pressure of lower cares and pleasures and in the process
to forsake God. The records of Christian experience contain only too
many instances of such departure.
Ø We have, then, to fear:
o the withdrawal of God from us;
o the loss of His Divine favor,
§ His indwelling Spirit,
§ His benediction and reward.
o Therefore let us watch and pray, that we enter not into the outer
shadow of condemnation.
for a long season
without a teaching priest, and without law. 4 But when they in their trouble
did turn unto the LORD God of
them. 5 And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to
him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants
of the countries." Now for a long season. This translation is wrong; translate
rather first, And many the days to
have teaching priest, and to not have Law. So far no tense is limited,
however naturally through the very drift of the passage it may seem that
experience is being challenged, and so necessarily the past tense
desiderated, not, however, in aorist shape, but in what some French
grammarians call present perfect. For Azariah may well contemplate his
illustration as good from long of old, to the very moment he was speaking.
The unfortunate wealth of illustration to hand of his position may pardon
the doubtfulness of commentators as to the source from which it may be
supposed he would have drawn his most effective instances. It will not be
the unlikeliest guide to follow the triple description of the alleged apostasy,
misfortune, or iniquity “of
have the true God; happened to them to not have teaching priest;
happened to them to not have the Law (this meaning, to not have it
authoritatively proclaimed, taught, ministered). When did these three things
happen altogether most notoriously? They describe, not the transgressions
of an individual king, but the state of the people and kingdom as a whole.
If it were possible to conceive the description as a flagrant anachronism, a
retrospective post-Captivity amplification, which the writer (in his glow of
work and thought) was unconsciously and irresistibly betrayed into putting
into the lips of the Prophet Azariah, all doubt would end; for the
description would suit no state of things and no period better than that of
the divided kingdoms, especially applying to the career of the separate
parallel. It is, however, impossible to suppose this without any tittle of
external authority for it, much less enough to proceed upon. Some so crave
the illustration that they are prepared to suppose all the tenses of these
verses present and future rather than past and “present perfect.” But, in
fact, no doubt the history of
language of Azariah passim to a degree beyond all “that is written” or that
we know. And then we may certainly consider that the expression chosen,
“many days” (which some translate “many a day,” “many a time “), even
the word “years” not being employed, leaves it open to us to go to short
episodes of an irreligious and disastrous character in the
Lastly, the long stretch of fully three hundred years, extending throughout
the Book of Judges (its last five chapters in right order or wrong)into the
opening seven chapters of 1 Samuel, provides one running comment,
superabundant almost to repetitiousness, for the illustration of our vs. 3-
7; in many cases absolutely picking out the very colors to match (e.g.
Judges 5:6; 20:29,31, compared with our v. 5). To distinguish and
separate the very numerous references that might be made is merely
supererogatory, and spoils the unmatched mosaic work of the history
(Judges 2:15, 18-19; 3:12-15; 4:1-3; 5:6, 19-21,31: 6:1-5, 7-10; 9:32-
37; 10:6-16; 11:19-20; 12:5-6; 17:5-6, 13; 20:29, 31; I Samuel 2:30-35;
4:9-22; 7:3, 8; 13:19-22). It is a long-stretched-out history of a
practically atheistic, priestless, lawless life; divided into narratives of
invasion, oppression, servitude (sevenfold, the Mesopotamian, Moabite,
Canaanitish, Midianitish, Ammonitish, Philistine, and, it may be added, in
order to comprehend all internal strife, Ishmaelitish larger and lesser, yet
surprisingly general), smart, cry for help manifestly more the cry of pain
and cowardice than of penitence and repentance, resolution and vow, and
— for another trial and still another — of Divine pity, forbearance, and
6 "And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them
with all adversity." Among other patent instances, not the least remarkable are
found in Judges 20:35-45; 9:44-47; these forecast and heralded that final rupture
of Rehoboam and Jeroboam, which showed the “house divided against itself,”
and the sure consequences thereof.
7 "Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall
be rewarded." Work… rewarded (so Jeremiah 31:16-17; Ecclesiastes 4:9; Proverbs
11:18; and compare with them the crown of all the rest, Genesis 15:1).
A Conqueror’s Welcome (vs. 1-7)
Ø Its bearer. Azarlah, “Whom Jehovah aids,” the son of Oded; mentioned
only here. Jehovah may, and often does, transmit messages of moment
through humble and obscure messengers. What fitted Azariah to be the
bearer of the Divine announcements was the coming upon him of the Spirit
of Eiohim, the Spirit being the Revealer and Interpreter of the Divine will
to the soul of man (Numbers 11:26; Job 32:8; Ezekiel 2:2; I Corinthians 12:8).
That the Spirit of God came upon a man did not prove him to have been a
good man, Balaam (Numbers 24:2) and Saul (I Samuel 10:10) being witness;
though there is no reason to doubt that Azariah was a true prophet of Jehovah.
The Spirit came by measure upon him, as upon other holy men of the old
dispensation through whom God spoke to His people; on Christ, through
whom God’s highest and last message has been sent to mankind, the Spirit
was poured out without measure (Isaiah 11:2; John 3:34; Revelation 3:1).
Hence the supreme importance attaching to the gospel.
Ø Its recipients. “Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin.” God claims a right to
address sovereigns as well as their subjects. Between princes and peasants
in His sight is no difference (Acts 10:34; 1 Peter. 1:17). God’s messages
in the Law and the gospel are directed equally to all. The monarch is as
much under the Law as the subject; the subject has as valid a title to the
provisions of the gospel as the monarch. Asa and his warriors were
returning from a victorious campaign, when Jehovah’s prophet interposed
with notes of warning. These were timely, since the king and his veterans
were in danger of self-laudation and self-confidence — of ascribing their
recent splendid exploits to their own skill and prowess, and of trusting to
their own valor to protect them in future, without troubling themselves to
think about Jehovah, His religion, or His help. So men (not excepting
Christians) are never more in peril of forgetting God than when fortune
smiles upon them (Deuteronomy 8:13-14), and never more need to be
admonished than when rejoicing in deliverances wrought for them by God.
Ø Its contents. A doctrine, a promise, a warning.
o The doctrine. That Jehovah was with them, while they were with Him.
With all God is as to His immanent presence, since He fills heaven and
earth (Jeremiah 33:24), and besets all individually behind and before VV
(Psalm 139:1-12); but with His people He is, in the special sense of
gracious manifestation to:
§ accept (Numbers 17:4),
§ protect (ch. 20:17; Jeremiah 42:11),
§ assist (I Chronicles 22:18; Haggai 1:13), and
§ bless (Exodus 20:24).
Only His presence with them is ever conditioned by their being with
Him in the sense of:
§ believing in,
§ loving, and
§ obeying Him (John 14:23).
o The promise. That if they sought Jehovah, Jehovah should be found of
them. If they sought Him in the way of penitence, faith, love, obedience,
He should be found of them in the way of acceptance, grace, assistance.
This promise, always true of Jehovah in His relations with Israel
(I Chronicles 28:9; here ch. 30:19; Psalm 119:2; Jeremiah 29:13;
Amos 5:4), is equally true of His relations with believers on
Christ (Hebrews 11:6; James 4:8).
o The warning. That if they forsake God, God would forsake them. If
they went back from the path of reform upon which they were entered,
He also would withdraw His countenance and aid from them. So Moses
(Deuteronomy 31:16-17) and Joshua (Joshua 24:20) had warned
their contemporaries and David his son Solomon (I Chronicles 28:9).
The same condition is addressed to all (Jeremiah 17:27; Hebrews
Ø The possibility of lapsing into RELIGIOUS APOSTASY! Such times had
formerly existed in Judah, and hence in the future might reappear
(Ecclesiastes 1:9; 3:15). Whether Azariah’s language depicted the
condition of Judah then (Grotius), or in the future (Luther), or in the past,
in the days of Rehoboam and Abijah (Syriac, Arabic), or in the period of
the judges (Vitringa, Bertheau), is open to debate. As the prophet has not
definitely stated the time, he may have designed to express truths of force
at all limes (Keil). Of such days as the prophet alludes to, Judah and Israel
had both before had experience. The description of them is peculiarly
o No true God; i.e. no knowledge of the true God; or, what is worse, the
knowledge of the true God, but not His worship or service. Such times had
existed soon after the death of Joshua (Judges 2:10-15; 10:6), and were
yet to reappear in Israel under Ahab (I Kings 18:20-21), and in Judah
under Ahaz (here, ch. 28:1-6). “Without God” — a correct
characterization of the unbelieving world (Job 21:14; Psalm 10:4;
o No teaching priest; i.e. the priests they had either no knowledge of the
true God, of His character and requirements, and so could not teach the
people; or, if they did, they were satisfied with the mere performance of
their altar duties, without caring for the spiritual welfare of the people. If
the first, they were disqualified for being priests by reason of their
ignorance (Malachi 2:7); if the second, they were chargeable with
indolence (ibid. ch. 1:6) or hypocrisy (Nehemiah 9:34), or both. If,
under the old covenant, priests were required to instruct the people in the
tenets and precepts of religion, much more is it incumbent on Christian
pastors to be also teachers (Ephesians 4:11). A ministry that does not
preach or teach ipso facto stands condemned.
o No Law; i.e. the Torah of Moses, unknown, or forgotten, or disobeyed.
When men or nations depart from God, they begin by pulling down his
altars, and end by trampling on His commandments. And if there be no
God, this is just as it should be. If God is not, to pretend to worship Him
is a farce, and ministers of religion may be dispensed with; if God is not,
there is no Supreme Authority to claim from man obedience, and man may
at once assume lordship over himself. But if God is, it will be more
prudent to let His altars remain, to see that His ministers teach, and take
order that His precepts be obeyed.
Ø The certainty that RELIGIOUS APOSTASY will be followed by NATIONAL
DISASTER! So it had been in the past, and so it would be in the future.
o Social disturbance, danger, and violence had been, and would be, the
order of the day. “And in those times there was,” or is, “no peace to him
that went out or to him that came in.” Such had been Israel’s condition in
the days of Shamgar the son of Anath (Judges 5:6), and under the
oppression of the Midianites (ibid. ch. 6:2). IRRELIGION necessarily
gravitates towards VIOLENCE! He that breaks God’s commandments
without a qualm of conscience seldom scruples about making havoc with
man’s when opportunity occurs. Exemplified in the age of Noah (Genesis
6:4, 11-12), in the last days of Greece and Rome, and in the French
Revolution of 1798. (We are experiencing a taste of this in our
racial and immoral unrest in the 21st Century! CY - 2016)
o Political anarchy had commonly attended these times in the past, and
would more than likely do so again on their recurrence. “Great vexations
came upon all the inhabitants of the countries, and nation was destroyed
of nation, and city of city” — literally, “and they were broken in pieces,
nation against nation and city against city;” “for God did,” or does, “vex
them with all adversity.” The language, descriptive of such a reign of terror
as commonly accompanies civil war, was verified in a form comparatively
mild in the war of the tribes of Israel against Benjamin (Judges 20:20),
and in the struggle of the Gileadites with Ephraim (ibid. ch.12:4). Amos
(Amos 3:9) depicted such commotions, confusions, tumults, as
occurring, or about to occur, in Samaria in his time. In the final overthrow
of the two kingdoms, the prophet’s words received their most startling
illustration (Isaiah 9:18-20). In the ultimate destruction of all peoples
hostile to God, they will, obtain their highest and fullest realization
(Zechariah 14:13; Matthew 24:7).
Ø The only way of escaping from the miseries and horrors of such evil
times, viz. by repenting and TURNING TO JEHOVAH! “But when in their
distress,” etc. So had it been in the days of the Egyptian oppression
(Exodus 2:23), and in those of the Midianite supremacy (Judges 6:6).
So had it been in the experience of Asa himself, whose cry unto
Jehovah on the field of war had been heard (ch. 14:11). So
would it be again, if in the season of their calamity they remembered God
(ch. 7:14). The doctrine here enunciated holds good of individuals as well as
of nations; e.g. David (II Samuel 21:1; Psalm 18:6; 34:4; 138:3), Jehoshaphat
(ch. 17:4, 10), Uzziah (ch. Chronicles 26:5). The ear of God is open to every
cry of a distressed soul (Psalm 34:15). “Fools, because of their transgression,”
etc. (Psalm 107:17-19).
Ø The counsel. Action.
o Vigorous. “Be strong therefore.” Courage in conceiving and doing the
right thing was the special demand of the hour. The right thing at that
moment in Judah was to adhere to Jehovah, reform the abuses that
during the previous reigns had crept into His worship, and exterminate
the idolatrous rites that had been introduced by earlier king. More
disastrous for the country had these been than Zerah’s invasion.
Nothing more required of the followers of God and soldiers of Jesus
Christ in any age or land than:
§ an heroic determination to resist sin and follow holiness,
§ oppose error and defend truth,
§ renounce idolatry and cleave to the worship of the Father
(Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:7; Psalm 27:14; I Corinthians
16:13; II Timothy 2:1).
o Persevering. “Let not your hands be weak” Not enough to begin well;
to continue well is indispensable. Weariness in well-doing a frequent
phenomenon, much needing to be guarded against (Galatians 6:9).
Steadfastness in the faith and in the maintenance of good works
expected of Christians (I Corinthians 15:58; Philippians 4:1;
Colossians 1:23; II Thessalonians 3:13; II Timothy 3:14;
Ø The encouragement. Recompense. “Your work shall be rewarded.”
o With inward satisfaction, as being in itself a right work (Proverbs
14:14). This an invariable accompaniment of well-doing, and, apart
from further consequences, ample remuneration.
o With Divine approbation, as being a work God regards with favor.
Already expressed in the Word (Hebrews 13:16), this will eventually
be proclaimed by the mouth of God (Matthew 25:21, 23).
o With ultimate success, as being a work destined to triumph over every
form of evil. The cause of God and truth, of Christ and the gospel, may
be long and bitterly opposed, but ultimate victory rests with it
Ø The superiority of the new dispensation in having God’s Son as its
Messenger (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Ø The equity of God’s dealings with men in providence and in grace
(I Samuel 2:30; Ezekiel 18:29).
Ø The miserable state of the heathen world, as destitute of the true
knowledge of God (Ephesians 2:12; 4:17-18).
Ø The value of affliction as a means of religious improvement (Job
33:17-19; Psalm 119:67,71; Ezekiel 20:37; Lamentations 3:27;
II Corinthians 4:17; Hebrews 12:11).
Ø The secret of national prosperity — RIGHTEOUSNESS
Ø The duty of persevering in religion (John 15:4; Acts 11:23;
II Timothy 1:14; I Peter 5:9; Revelation 2:27).
Ø The certainty that faith shall not lose ITS REWARD
(Luke 6:35; I Corinthians 3:14; Hebrews 10:35).
Spiritual Strength a Sacred Obligation (v. 7)
“Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak.” This is in the
imperative mood; it is a commandment. Strength is represented as a sacred
duty; and weakness, consequently, as a culpable failure. To be spiritually
strong is an obligation as much as an endowment. It may, indeed, be urged
that there is;
than to be blamed. Some human spirits are less fully endowed than others;
some bring with them sad consequences of their progenitors’ sin
(Exodus 20:5). It requires tenfold more spiritual courage and exertion
on the part of these to be loyal and faithful than on the part of their
brethren who are more richly equipped or less heavily weighted. We need
to know much before we judge men. Only the Divine Father, who knows
us altogether, who knows, therefore, the limitations and the propensities of
our nature which we have received from Himself or from our ancestors, can
say how much we are to be blamed, how much to be pitied. But
undoubtedly there is;
guilty, “Let not your hands be weak.” But how often THE HAND IS
WEAK because THE LIFE HAS BEEN LOW and because THE
HEART HAS BEEN WRONG! All vice leads down to weakness.
And not vice alone, but all folly; the foolish and blameworthy disregard
of the laws of our mind and of our body. Not only excessive indulgence
in any one direction (mental or physical), but unregulated and ill-proportioned
activity, ends in weakness; so that he who might have been an active and
efficient workman in many a good field of usefulness is helpless; his hand
hangs down; there is “no strength in his right hand,” because there has been
no wisdom in his mind.
There is much of real, effective strength which it is open to us all to obtain
if we will. God is saying to us, “Be ye strong;” and if we do what He gives
us the means of doing, we shall be strong. What are the sources of spiritual
Ø Christian morality. And this includes
o the care of the body,
§ the regulation of its instincts and craving,
§ ministering to its necessities;
o the culture of the mind — increasing its knowledge and nourishing
o the training of the heart.
Ø Sacred service. Our capacity for serving Christ and man depends very
largely indeed on our making a continuous effort to serve. “To him that
hath is given” (Matthew 13:12; Mark 4:25), i.e. to him that puts out his
talent is given another; to him that expends his strength in paths of holy
usefulness is given multiplied power to speak and strike for God and
truth. Our present strength depends upon our growth in power; and
that depends upon the measure of our exercise in the field of sacred
Ø Divine communication. “Thou answeredst me and strengthenedst me
with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:3); “In Christ who strengtheneth
me” (Philippians 4:13).. Strength is one of the “good things” our
heavenly Father will give to “them that ask Him” (Matthew 7:11).
The Reward of Christian Work (v. 7)
“Your work shall be rewarded.” The very words recur in the prophecies of
Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:16); and the sentiment is frequently expressed by
our Lord and by His apostles. It appears distinctly in the solemn statement
of Jesus Christ, “The Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father…
and then He shall reward every man according to his works” (Matthew
16:27; see also Romans 2:6-7; I Corinthians 3:8; Revelation 22:12). What is the
reward for which we are to look? Not :
precisely and particularly. So much money for so much work, measured by
the hours occupied or the work done. There is a nice calculation of what
has been wrought on the one hand, and of what is given in exchange on the
other. It is supposed that the one is the equivalent of the other. But our
Divine Saviour does not call us into His field on this arrangement. We are
not His day-laborers, engaged at a certain price; we are His fellow-workers
— employed under Him, indeed, but engaged with Him in the completion of
His great “work.” He is not treating us as slaves or even as common
servants, but as children and as friends — as those whom He loves and
desires to bless with true well-being. We aspire to:
invites us to stand by His side and work out with Him the redemption of our
race. He charges us to be as He was in the world; to work as He did, in the
spirit of entire self-surrender, of whole-hearted love; to put forth our
strength in His service and in the cause of righteousness and human
elevation; and He tells us that we shall secure a “full reward.” We shall find
Ø The possession of His good pleasure. The true soldier finds his best
reward in the commendation of his commander; the true scholar in the
approval of his teacher; the true workman in the smile of him in whose
service he is engaged. We, as Christian workmen, look for our deepest joy
in the smile and the approval of our Lord. We hope for no moment of
keener ecstasy than that when we shall hear Him say to us, “Well done,
good and faithful servant!” To live in the known and felt possession of
Jesus Christ’s benediction is one of the purest, as it is one of the most
appreciated, rewards, we can receive.
Ø The enlargement of our own powers of service. As we work in the cause
of heavenly wisdom and of spiritual well-being, our power for action is
constantly enlarging, until feebleness becomes strength, and strength
becomes might. The more we do the more we are capable of doing (see
Ø The expansion of our sphere of service. “Thou hast been faithful in a
few things, I will make thee ruler over many things” (Matthew 25:21).
“I will ask for no reward, except to serve thee still;” or, may we not say,”
except to serve thee more “? — to serve thee in that broader sphere, with
those nobler opportunities into which thou wilt introduce me. For our
Master does thus enlarge us now, as one fruit of our labor; and He will
soon reward us by a far more generous enlargement, when He “cometh
with His Father” and when “his reward is with Him.”
8 "And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the
prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of
had taken from
LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD."
These words and the prophecy. In addition to what is said
under v. 1 on the question of the occurrence here of the name Oded,
where we should have looked for the name Azariah, it may be noted that it
is open to possibility that “these words” certainly referring to the language
of Azariah, the “prophecy” may have in view some quotation more or less
well known from Oded, satisfied by the latter part of v. 2 or by v. 7.
This is not very likely; still, the conjunction “and” would thereby better
account for itself. Nevertheless, it would still remain that the word
“prophecy” is not in construct but absolute state, and we cannot count the
difficulty removed, comparatively unimportant as it may be. He took
courage, and put away, etc. These words may express either Asa’s
accomplishing of the reforms spoken of in the former chapter (vs. 3-5),
or quite as probably his perseverance and renewed diligence and vigor in
the same; the language, “he took courage,” favors this latter view. The
cities which he had taken from, etc. Some say that the reference here and
in ch. 17:2 also must be understood to be to Abijah’s victory and spoils
(ch. 13:19), and that these two places must accordingly be in slight error.
If this passage had stood alone, this view might have been more easy to accept,
but the words in ch.17:2 explicitly state that Asa had taken such cities, and the
mere fact that the history does not record when, nor even show any very
convenient gap into which Asa’s taking of such cities after conflict with
Israel might well fit in, can scarcely be allowed to override the direct
assertion of ch.17:2 (compare ch. 16:11). At the same time, the
work that would devolve on Asa in holding the cities his father Abijah had
first taken, may easily account for all, and have been accounted Asa’s
taking, in the sense of taking to them, or retaking them. Renewed the
altar. The altar, the place of which was before the porch, was the altar of
burnt offering. The Hebrew for “renewed” is חִדֵּשׁ. The Vulgate translates
insufficiently dedicavit. Bertheau thinks the renewal designs simply the
purification of it from idolatrous defilements, although he admits that this is
to assume that it had been defiled by idolatrous priests. Keil says the altar
might well need genuine repair after the lapse of sixty years from the
building of the temple. Of the nine occurrences of the word. five are
metaphorical(as e.g. Psalm 51:10), but of the remaining four distinctly
literal uses, including the present, three must mean just strictly “repair”
(ch. 24:4, 12; Isaiah 61:4), and the probability may therefore be that such is the
meaning now. Many, however, prefer the other view. The work of Asa, as
described in ch.14:3-5, was one of taking away, breaking down, and cutting down;
but this item shows it now, in his fifteenth year, become also one of renewing and
repairing. The porch of (so ch. 29:17; I Kings 7:6-7, 12; Ezekiel 40:7); איּלָם,
though in construct state, the kametz impure.
9 " And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with
them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they
fell to him out of
LORD his God was with him." He gathered. As the following verses go
on to show, Asa wisely gathered all beneath his sway, with a view to sacrifice
and to record anew hallowed resolve as a nation. The strangers. It is a significant
comment on the estranging effect of religious schism (for the schism was
religious even beyond what it was national) that so comparatively soon
these of the tribes of
side of Judah and Benjamin. They fell to him… in abundance.
Another significant comment on the sameness of human nature in all time;
the weak and the multitude will see, learn, do duty, less under pure
conviction of right, than under the strong commanding influence of
observation of where and with whom success goes, even if that success
necessitate the owning of the Divine blessing as its cause (ch.11:16 and
I Chronicles 12:19). It should be noted, not for the sake of
satire of human nature, but for the inculcation of the infinite importance of
godly influence and example. Out of Simeon (see also ch. 34:6). The “lines”
of the Simeonites fell to them originally (Joshua 19:1)
difficulty suggested by their being called, apparently, “strangers,” and being
certainly classed with the comers from “Ephraim and Manasseh,” may be
variously overcome, either by supposing that they had become more estranged
merely geographical; or that they had in some degree outgrown their own proper
habitat, and had to some extent colonized a more northerly region (Genesis 49:7);
or that, though, indeed, our compiler’s composition undoubtedly places the
Simeonites summoned, among the strangers, through mentioning them
after Ephraim and Manasseh, yet this location of their name be held
accidental, rather than due to special design.
10 "So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third
month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa." In the third month.
The “Feast of Weeks” began about the sixth of this third month Sivan (June).
In the fifteenth year. It has been conjectured from ch. 14:1 that Zerah the
Ethiopian, or Cushite, invaded Judah in Asa’s eleventh year. The present
sacrificial festival, in his fifteenth year, evidently was held very shortly after
the close of Asa’s victory over Zerah This infers a rather longer duration of
the war than is otherwise to be gathered from the face of the history. The interval,
it is true, may be explained by supposing that Asa lingered long to restore the
state of things where Zerah’s vast host had unsettled it.
11 "And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which
they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep."
These offerings were probably chiefly of the nature of peace
offerings (Leviticus 7:11-21). In the mention of the “spoil” (ch. 14:13, 15)
nothing is said of oxen. Seven hundred… seven thousand. The number seven is
common when the sacrifices were in units (as e.g. Numbers 29:32; I Chronicles
15:26, etc.), but uncommon in hundreds and thousands, for see I Kings 8:63;
here ch. 35:7-9, comparing, however, ch. 30:24.
12 "And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their
fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;" They entered into a
covenant. For the original, see Exodus 24:6-8; Deuteronomy 4:29; for two
other solemn renewals of it, see II Kings 23:1-3; here ch. 34:29-33; where,
however, the stringent engagement of the following verse, though sufficiently
to be inferred, is not notified. To seek; Hebrew, לִדְרושׁ. (for similar use of לְ,
with infinitive after, etc., see Nehemiah 10:30; Jeremiah 34:10).
13 "That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be
put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman."
Whosoever would not… should be put to death (see Exodus 22:20;
Deuteronomy 13:9; 17:2-6).
14 "And they swear unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with
shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets." The loud voice, the
shouting, and the trumpets, and cornets, spoke alike the determination,
and the united joyful determination of the people (ch. 23:13; Nehemiah
15 "And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their
heart, and sought Him with their whole desire; and He was found of
them: and the LORD gave them rest round about." For the probable
duration of the rest round about, spoken of in the last clause, see under
The Secret of Joy in the Service of Christ (vs. 14-15)
How comes it to pass that the service of Christ should be associated in any
mind with austerity and gloom? How is it that every one does not connect
that service in his thought with gladness of heart and brightness of life?
This misfortune may be attributable to misconception, to a mental error, to
the misreading of some words of the Master or of His apostles; or it may be
the consequence, physical as much as spiritual, of a particular
temperament; but it is most frequently caused by lack of thoroughness in
the service of the Lord.
CHRIST. During the reigns of Rehoboam and Abijah, when king and
people both showed much abatement of zeal in the worship of Jehovah, we
do not read of any record like that of the text. Of Rehoboam we find that
“he fixed not his heart to seek the Lord” (ch. 12:14, marginal
reading). Abijah could say nothing more for himself than that he had “not
forsaken the Lord” (ch. 13:10), and his later days, like his grandfather’s,
were apparently darkened by indulgence. There was no fervor of piety, and
there was no fullness of joy in the land. And we find that everywhere and
always it is so. Half-heartedness in holy service is a profound mistake.
It gives no satisfaction to our Lord Himself. It leads to no height of Christian
worth, to no marked excellency of character. It fills the soul with no deep
and lasting joy. It is very likely to decline and to expire, to go out into the
darkness of doubt, or worldliness, or guilt.
the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought Him with their
whole desire… and the Lord gave them rest.” There was no imaginable
step they could have taken which would have caused so much elation of
heart and ensured so enviable a national position. Asa and his people
showed the very truest wisdom, something more and better than sagacious
policy or statecraft, when they sought the Lord with all their heart. They
did that which gave them a pure and honest satisfaction in the present, and
which, more than any other act, secured the future. And though we
certainly are not invited to manifest the thoroughness of our devotion in
the same severities that characterized their decision (v. 13), we do well
when we follow there in the fullness of their resolve. For to seek Christ the
Lord with all our heart and our “whole desire” is the one right and the one
wise thing to do.
Ø It secures to us the abiding favor and friendship of the Eternal; He is
then “found” of us.
Ø It brings profound personal rest; then Christ speaks “peace” to us — His
peace, such as this world has not at its command.
Ø It secures a feeling of friendship toward all around us: “rest round
about.” The heart is filled with that holy love which desires to bless all
who can be reached.
Ø It fills and sometimes floods the heart with sacred joy. The full
realization of the presence and love of Christ, the fervent worship of the
Lord of all grace and truth, earnest work done in His Name and in His
strength, — these are a source of enlarging and ennobling joy. The true
key-note of the Christian life is this: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and
16 "And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he
removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a
grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at
the brook Kidron." Maachah the mother of Asa; i.e. the grandmother
(II Chronicles 11:20-22; 13:2; I Kings 15:2, 10, 13) of Asa; and the
statement amounts to this, that Asa removed her from the dignity she had
enjoyed, with all its influences of “queen-mother.” An idol in a grove.
This, probably, literally translated, says, an hideous fright for, i.e. in place
of Asherah, i.e. Ashtoreth, or Astarte; but some translate to Asherah. The
word we translate “an hideous fright” (מִפְלָצֶת) occurs only here and in
the parallel (I Kings 15:13), and its derivation root guides to this
rendering; but some give it the idea of an object of reverent fear among
idols. Asa cut down. So it was enjoined (Exodus 34:13-15). And
stamped it; Hebrew, וַיָּדֶק; hiph. of דָקַק; the meaning being “stamped it”
in the dust, from its upright position, finally burning it. The word is used in
ch. 34:4, 7; II Kings 23:6, 15; Exodus 30:36; Micah 4:13. The word used in the
parallel is “cut off;” or “cut down; of course also preparatory to burning.
At the brook Kidron. The Kidron was a torrent rather than a brook. It flowed
reinvested with heightened interest from those in the New Testament (John 18:1,
compared with what the parallels infer; Mark 14:26; Luke 22:39). The first two
references in the Old Testament are II Samuel 15:23; I Kings 2:37. Passing these,
the present place, with its parallel, brings the Kidron valley next under notice as,
the place of destruction for Maachah’s obscene phallic abomination, and then
(II Kings 11:16) as the place where Athaliah was destroyed. Its associations are
similar when spoken of in II Kings 13:4, 6, 12; here, ch. 29:16; 30:14,
becoming the “regular receptacle for the impurities and abominations of the
idol-worship, when removed from the temple and destroyed by the
adherents of Jehovah.” In the time of Josiah, this valley was the common
burying-place of the city (II Kings 23:6; Jeremiah 26:23; 31:40). (For
Robinson’s description of the modern state of the Kidron valley, see Dr.
Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’ 2:14-16).
17 "But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless
the heart of Asa was perfect all his days." The high places were not taken away
kingdom may be here intended. But for the apparent discrepancy with those
places which say that Asa did take away “the high places” (ch.14:3, 5), see
notes under them. “The high places” were hills on which sacrifices were
illegitimately offered instead of at the chosen place — at
heart of Asa was perfect all his days. The words, “with Jehovah,”
following after the word “perfect” in the parallel (I Kings 15:14),
makes the already plain plainer. The exact meaning is that Asa was
consistently free from idolatry to the end.
18 "And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had
dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.
Except for an unimportant difference of the Keri and Chethiv
kind in one word, this verse is identical with the parallel (I Kings 15:15).
The silver, gold, and vessels were, of course, for the repair,
restoration, and replacing of the revered fittings and ornaments of the
temple. From what sources and after what victories the father of Asa and
Asa himself had drawn these supplies is not given either here or in the
parallel, but it is natural to suppose that Abijah’s victory over Jeroboam
(ch. 13:16) and Asa’s over Zerah would have been the chief
occasions to finnish them.
19 "And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the
reign of Asa." There was no more war. The Hebrew text should be adhered
to, which simply says, there was not war unto, etc. The five and thirtieth
year. There can be little doubt that the text originally said “twentieth,” not
“thirtieth” (see also ch. 16:1). The parallel, after the identical
words of the previous verse already noted, goes on emphatically to speak
of the fact that “there was war between Asa and Baasha all their days;” and
the same statement is repeated in the thirty-second verse of the same
chapter (I Kings 15:16, 32). The following verse (33) says that
Baasha’s twenty-four-year reign began in Asa’s third year. Putting the
various and apparently somewhat varying statements together, they must
be held to say, first, that a state of war was, indeed, chronic between Asa
and Baasha (which way of putting need not disturb the correctness of here,
ch. 14:5-6, and of the fifteenth verse of our chapter), but that in the
six and twentieth year of Asa, which would be the last or last but one of
Baasha’s life, latent war gave place to active hostilities, and Baasha (here,
ch.16:1) came up to Judah to invade it, and to build Ramah — a
course of conduct which was the beginning of the end for him (compare
I Kings 16:8; our v. 10; and ch. 16:1, 9).
Ancient Covenanters (vs. 8-19)
Ø The purgation of the land from idols. Encouraged by the words of the
son of Oded — not Oded, as in the text — Asa, on reaching his capital,
determined to convene a national assembly, and enter into a solemn league
and covenant to carry out the work of reformation so auspiciously begun
(ch. 14:2-5), and so manifestly owned of Jehovah in the splendid victory
He had granted over the Cushite invader (ibid. v.12). As a preliminary, he
“put away the abominations,” i.e. the idols, “from the whole land of Judah
and Benjamin, and out of the cities he had taken from the hill country of
Ephraim.” In the same spirit acted Jacob, before going up to meet with Jehovah
at Bethel (Genesis 35:2); and Moses, before the interview of Israel with
Jehovah at Sinai (Exodus 19:14); Hezekiah, before he celebrated the Passover
(ch. 30:14); and Josiah, before he renewed the covenant (ibid. ch.34:3-7).
If such preparation on the part of Israel was needful to qualify her for
an interview with Jehovah even in external celebrations (Amos 4:12),
much more is a similar preparation of the heart indispensable on the part of
souls who come before God in any act of spiritual worship (ch. 19:3; 20:33;
I Samuel 7:3; Psalm 57:7; Luke 1:17). In particular, all known sin must be
abandoned (Isaiah 1:16-17).
Ø The renewal of the altar of the Lord. The great brazen altar of Solomon
(ch. 4:1) had probably been defiled by idol-rites during preceding reigns,
and required reconsecration (Bertheau); while, after sixty
years of service, it almost certainly stood in need of repairs (Keil). Most
likely Asa’s renovation of the altar was of both kinds — an external
reparation and a religious consecration. It is commonly a sign that a
Church or nation is in earnest in entering upon religious reformation when
it attends to the externals as well as to the internals of religion — when it
corrects abuses, repairs defects, and adds improvements in the outward
means of grace, as well as endeavors to impart to these fresh
attractiveness and zeal. Individuals begin not well who neglect to engage
all their powers of body, mind, and heart in the work, or to seek for these a
new and gracious baptism from above (Romans 12:1).
Ø The invitation of the people to a national assembly. Without the hearty
consent and cooperation of the people, reforms of no kind can be effected
— as little religious as political or social, and just as little these as those.
Accordingly, all Judah and Benjamin, with such Israelites as sympathized
with the new movement, were summoned to Jerusalem on a certain day to
covenant to seek Jehovah. As early as the days of Rehoboam, strangers
from the northern kingdom had found their way into the southern (ch. 11:16);
Asa’s victory over Zerah having been accepted as a proof that Jehovah was
on the side of Judah’s king, the number of these immigrants largely increased
(v. 9). What was wanted then in Judah and Israel to rally the pious is demanded
still — a leader, who has God upon his side, because he is on the side of God.
Ø The gathering of the pious in Jerusalem. It showed the spirit of the
people that they responded at once to their monarch’s call. Followers that
will not follow are a hindrance to those who would lead in reformations in
either Church or state, Union is strength, and generally victory; disunion
weakness, and always defeat.
Ø The presentation of the spoils. These, seven hundred oxen and seven
thousand sheep, formed part of the plunder taken from Zerah’s army
(ch.14:14-15), and were now presented to Jehovah; as Abraham
gave tithes to Melchizedek on returning from the slaughter of the kings
(Genesis 14:20); as the Israelites in the wilderness after the slaughter of
the Midianites levied a tribute unto the Lord (Numbers 31:11-47); as
Saul said he intended to sacrifice unto the Lord the sheep and oxen he had
reserved from the spoil of the Amalekites (I Samuel 15:21); and as
victorious generals among the Romans were accustomed to dedicate to
Jupiter part of the spoils taken from the enemy (Adam’s ‘Roman
Antiquities,’ p. 327). As Asa’s victory had been achieved solely through
Divine help, this was becoming as well as right. Those whom God renders
successful in their callings should honor Him with the first-fruits of their
increase (Proverbs 3:9). Every man as God hath prospered him, a rule
of Christian giving (I Corinthians 16:2).
Ø The formation of a covenant.
o The object — twofold.
§ “To seek the Lord God of their fathers,” etc. (v. 12) —
a right thing for nations and individuals to do — yea, for all,
whether they covenant with and swear to one another
concerning it or not. To seek God, a nation’s and individual’s
life (Isaiah 55:3, 6; Psalm 69:32; Amos 5:4), and the only source
of true prosperity for either (Psalm 70:4; 119:2; Lamentations
3:25). That the god a nation or an individual seeks
is the god of his or its fathers, is no proof that that god is the true
God; but, being the true God, He possesses an additional claim on
the worship and homage of both individual and nation, from the
fact that He is and has been their fathers’ God. If God is to be
sought at all, it should be with the whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
Nothing short of this is religion (Deuteronomy 11:13; 13:3;
Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30, 33; Luke 10:27).
§ To “put to death,” etc. (v. 13). Under the theocracy religious
toleration was impossible, for the reason that idolatry was high
treason. “ (It still is! CY - 2016) A theocratic government is a
government of constraint. Freedom of conscience would have
been an unmeaning sound under the Jewish economy” (Pressense,
‘Early Years of the Christian Church,’ vol. 1. p. 36). Church and
state in Judah were one. No such identification existed among
heathen nations, though approximations towards it were often
seen. Nor does such identification exist under the gospel. Hence
neither Church nor state now has authority to put to death those
who decline the religion prescribed by either. The reformed
Churches of England and Scotland were slow in perceiving that
the extermination of heretics by the sword of the civil magistrate,
however legitimate under the Jewish theocracy, was not
permissible in the Church of Jesus Christ. Under the gospel God
alone is Lord of the conscience; and to each man pertains the right
of choosing his own religion, his own creed, and his own worship,
without dictation, not to say coercion, from either king or parliament
— being answerable for the choice he makes in the first place to
his own conscience, and in the last place to God, whose creature
and subject he is. This is the doctrine of religious equality, which
should be carefully distinguished from that of religious toleration,
which proceeds upon the erroneous assumption that Church and
state possess the right, but decline to exercise the power of
coercion, and agree to allow, what they might justly put
down, diversity of faith and practice in religion.
o The form — simple. “They sware unto the Lord;” i.e. bound
themselves with an oath to carry out the twofold purpose above
described. This they did with enthusiasm (v. 14), which is always
good in a good thing (Galatians 4:18), and especially good in religion
(Luke 13:24; John 9:4; Ephesians 5:16; Hebrews 6:11).
o The scene — impressive. In more points than one this high transaction
under Asa had a parallel in the National Covenant, which was formed
by the Scottish people in Edinburgh on the last day of February, 1638,
when in the churchyard of Greyfriars, in the grey dawn, a parchment
was spread upon a gravestone, and one by one the nobility, gentry,
burgesses, ministers of religion, and common people, with uplifted
hand and solemn oath, affixed to it their names, engaging with one
another to maintain the Presbyterian form of Church government,
and, at the point of the sword, to exterminate the prelatical.
Ø The joy of the people. (v. 15.) This proved they had been in earnest.
They exulted in the unanimity and heartiness with which the covenant had
been made, and in the prospect thus opened up for the attainment of its
Ø The zeal of the king. (vs. 16-18.)
o The deposition of the queen-mother, Maachah, the mother of Abijah
and grandmother of Asa. High rank, venerable age, and near
relationship to Asa had given her at court and in the land commanding
influence, which she exercised in the interest of idolatry. Her removal
by Asa showed him sincere in desiring to effect a reformation (Luke
o The destruction of her abominable image. This, which was made of
wood, and is supposed by some to have been an obscene figure,
pudendum, representing the productive power of nature — which is
doubtful (Bertheau and Keil) — was an object of horror and detestation
to the Hebrews; its destruction was another indication of the spirit by
which Asa was actuated. The only defect in his reformation activity,
was that he did not at the same time abolish the high places connected
with the worship of Jehovah.
o The introduction into the temple of the dedicated gifts of his father and
of himself. The former, consisting of the spoils Abijah had taken in the
war with Jeroboam (ch.13:16) — silver, gold, and vessels — had
been used by the conqueror either to adorn some heathen temple or to
enrich the royal treasury, but were now surrendered by Asa to the house
of the Lord. The latter, composed of similar materials plundered by
himself in the Cushite war (ch 14:14-15), he also presented to their
rightful Owner, Jehovah. To restore the former was as much a duty
as to give up the latter. “Asa, like a good son, pays his father’s debts
and his own” (Bishop Hall).
Ø The approbation of Jehovah. Intimated by the fact that for the next
twenty years the land enjoyed rest (v. 19). “When a man’s ways please
God, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs
16:7, Psalm 81:13-16)). Were nations to please God by their ways, He would “make wars
cease to the end of the earth” (Psalm 46:9).
Ø The stimulus good men derive from God’s Word, exemplified in the
effect produced upon Asa by Oded’s prophecy (v. 8).
Ø The purifying power of true religion on the soul — symbolized by Asa’s
purgation of the land (ibid.).
Ø The attractive influence upon others of those who have God with them
— seen in the rallying of the pious round Asa (v. 9).
Ø The supreme duty of individuals and nations — to seek the Lord (v. 12).
Ø The necessity in religion of proving the heart’s sincerity by the hand’s
activity and liberality (vs. 11, 18).
The Hour of Happiness Improved (vs. 1-19)
Perhaps we are not warranted to say that it was immediately after Asa’s
victory over Zerah, or able to say how soon it was after it, that Azariah the
son of Oded came with his message to him and “all Judah and Benjamin,”
under that direct and ever-typical leading of “the Spirit.” Nor does the
parallel enlighten us on this point. The history, however, here follows on
with the account of Azariah’s appearance to Asa, and gives us the
impression that it was at a certain favorable crisis, in happy quickened
hours, due to the fresh memories of the divinely given victory, the manifest
and most merciful interposition of Heaven, that the prophet came. Coming,
he did thus the very thing the prophet is ever ordained to do. He breaks in
on the lower life, on the life prone to forget, on the life able enough
nevertheless to take higher ground and onward action, and reminds it, in
plainest fidelity and undoubting firmness of speech, of such great realities
CONSTANTLY RESIDENT PRESENCE, HIS HABITUAL
INDWELLING, ON THE ONE SUPPOSITION AND CONDITION OF
HIS PEOPLE’S ALLEGIANCE. “The Lord is with you, while ye be with
Him.” It is a simple, powerful, ever-necessary reminder for the earliest,
opening intelligence of the baptized; for the unfolding, growing, intelligent
piety of the confirmed; for the devoutness and all the trembling awe of the
communicant; and for all the Church, individually or collectively, in the
dangerous, doubtful, fickle, forgetful, tempted course of human life. He is
faithful, his mercies fail not, his memory is ever fresh, punctual and to be
relied upon, and — wonderful assurance to lay to heart — it is not we who
have to wait for Him!
OBTAINING, SIMPLY FOR THE SEEKING, DIVINE
INTERPOSITION. Life and human character need and have the special
and occasional as well as the abiding and daily, the exceptional as well as
the familiar, hill and valley as well as the level way, dark trial and deep
grief as well as the wonted discipline of earth for imperfect creatures, joys
as well as peace, and in a word abounding vouchsafes of grace and
strength, as well as the unbroken stream of day after day.
FORSAKEN OF ITS CHIEF GOOD, THROUGH FORSAKING ITS
GOD. How lightly men treat the love which is most sensitive as well as
most needed — liable to be grieved, offended, quenched, or absent none
can tell how long, as none can tell where the sin and the folly that drove
that love, shall cease to drive their victim! To be forsaken of God is
Ø the worst forsakenness,
Ø the dreariest solitariness,
Ø the poorest poverty.
And the sentence, “Let him alone” (Hosea 4:17), or “Let them alone,”
how its echoes wander and trail — sometimes endlessly!
there are enterprises, where no outer energy, no inner devotion, can be
misplaced. Resolution, courage, and covenant, mutual exhortation, meeting
together, edifying one another, and “the speaking oft to one another” on
the part of them “that fear the Lord” (Malachi 3:16) vowing to the Lord and
praying to Him, and praising Him with singing and music, and “with all the
heart, and all the desire,” “putting away the idols, stamping them to dust,
and burning them,” “renewing the altar and renewing ever the sacrifices
thereof,” — this enthusiasm becomes certain occasions and spreads a holy
contagion. The life that is devoid of it has missed its way and its joy on
earth even; the lives that are destitute of it have doomed themselves. Other
associations, other bonds, other enterprises, may make them sport, but can
scarcely fail in the very act to make them their sport! Now, Asa and his
people had found and were following the better way; and oh that such a
heart may continue in them! Grateful, happy, and inspirited hours of life
were used by the prophet and the king and his people for thinking greater
things, resolving on greater things, and carrying them into execution. They
should be similarly utilized by us. In hours uplifted by genuine healthful
happiness, in periods of higher feeling and tone of thought, we should gladly
seize the opportunity to raise the standard of our own conduct, and then fix
the standard to which to work, and from which, even in lower mood, we
shall, with God’s help, not depart.
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