He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been. (1 Kings 15:3 NIV)
History records the life and times of various leaders and rulers by different standards. Their goodness might be connected to their social and economic policies. They might be considered great because of how far they expanded the borders of their rule. The success of Israel and Judah was based on obeying the God who had delivered them from slavery and settled them in the land promised to their forefathers. As long as they remembered their covenant and followed it carefully, it would go well with them. They were already recipients of such an example of what it was to follow the covenant by the rule of King David. Yet once his son, Solomon, ended his reign in idolatry, he set a pattern that his successors in both the northern and southern kingdoms would follow.
The fifteenth chapter of 1 Kings establishes that in the southern kingdom of Judah, with Abijah who followed his father, the idolatrous Rehoboam. It is only God’s promise to David that doesn’t see Abijah’s lineage wiped out for his sin. It is also just as well that his lineage was spared, because following Abijah was the rule of Asa.
It’s great to read of how Asa was even willing to stand up to his own grandmother when it came to ruling righteously, deposing her and destroying her false gods with her. It is particularly remarkable that Asa had such a heart for God considering neither his father or grandfather showed that regard to follow God. It is a bright spot in a dark chapter. His commitment to doing what is right in God’s sight reassures us of the possibility that a generation has in turning to God even if their circumstances and context would suggest otherwise.
Meanwhile the northern kingdom plods on in its unrelenting rebellion against God, even though He is still very much embedded in their fortunes. For just as he said, Jeroboam’s entire family are wiped out after a coup takes the throne from Jeroboam’s idolatrous successor, Nadab. The coup, led by Baasha, would set up a pattern where the monarchy of the North would never be settled in a continuous hereditary flow. Without a root of righteousness that Judah had in David, the throne would be vulnerable to coup after coup. Each one seeming to outdo its predecessor in ambitious plots and subsequent rebellion against God which left them prone to end up the same way they got to their position – being overthrown by a coup.
Disobedience leading to destabilising effects. So much to be learnt if we truly want to pursue true success. Better to base it on a covenant with the creator than on the selfish and ambitious pursuit of power and prestige.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden