Obedience and faithfulness is based on a humble attitude. Without it there is the danger of all of that being replaced by something far uglier.
Asa has a good reputation among the Kings of Judah. In a reign that lasted longer than that of any of his predecessors the large majority of it was spent humbly and obediently looking to follow what God wanted. If you read the account of his reign in the book of 1 Kings, you wouldn’t get the impression all that much went wrong with Asa. Chronicles on the whole tends to paint the Kings of Judah in a better light. They don’t do that with Asa though.
The indication of things going wrong is seen at an interesting crossroads at the end of 2 Chronicles 15 and beginning of chapter 16. At the end of 15, in the height of the national devotion to God, Asa puts all the treasures back in the temple. It’s a sign of keeping the treasures where they belong. At the beginning of chapter 16, however, evidently with a number of years having passed, Asa does something very ominous. He exchanges the treasures of God for political alliances with godless strangers.
It’s amazing how pride can express itself. In the tragic final years of the reign of Asa we see just how pride rears its ugly head. That decision to buy favour to prevent a threat is in complete contrast to his dependence on God when facing the vast Cushite threat. It’s the decision of someone who lets fear leads to self rather than beyond.
Pride then rises when his acts are challenged by God’s prophet. Where once before he was desirous to follow the instructions of the Lord, now he is so caught up with himself, he even imprisons the man of God. It is as if to say having governed in peace for so long, he doesn’t need the word of God anymore and to question him now, even if you’re God, is bang out of order.
The turn leads to the people being ill treated by the belligerent King. Like his great grandfather Solomon, pride leads him to neglect God and neglecting God leads to neglecting people. It’s a sour end compounded by even refusing God when he suffered sickness and preferring medicine rather than the great healer.
Reading this catalogue of the dreadful made me wonder why this happened to the man? Any answer would have a strong hint of the speculative, what is clear, however, is that the man lost his heart for God and in the same way he wholeheartedly devoted himself to God, he had allowed that heart to be lead to the pride of life and his accomplishments.
It’s a tragedy that we should learn from. It’s a tragedy that should remind us that we cannot afford to take obedience and humility for granted. It’s not something that we can assume will stay with us over time. There’s a real risk of getting complacent and allowing pride to set in. It may appear justifiable at first, but any turn from relying on God in humility and obedience can spell trouble before long.
It’s why God gives us people to help us stay humble – friend or foe, relationships and events should be taken to keep humble. To defeat pride and thus to ward off the tragedy of many of kings it is for us to learn these lessons. These episodes are here to warn us and teach us. We don’t have to succumb to prude. Our end need not be worse than our beginning.
It’s all a matter of staying humble and obedient.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden