Text: 1 Kings 14 – 16
Through the disguise of his wife, Jeroboam, king of the northern tribes of Israel, seeks a second word from the Lord from the prophet Ahijah, regarding his son who is very ill. The word of the Lord given reprimands Jeroboam for choosing evil and idolatry instead of being faithful to the God who raised him up and gave him the opportunity to be king over Israel with a lasting dynasty (this was the first word given by Ahijah to Jeroboam). Consequently, Jeroboam is told that not only will his son die, but God will also raise up a new king who will cut off his entire family line.
Meanwhile, Judah, under the reign of Rehoboam, has fallen so deep into idol worship that all the original practices that were detestable to the Lord were re-instituted as if Israel had never driven them out in the previous generations. Egypt attacked Jerusalem and the treasures of the temple and Solomon’s royal palace were lost.
Rehoboam dies and the next king of Judah reigns only 3 years, continuing in evil. For the sake of God’s promise to David, the Lord allows the family line to continue. Asa then rises to power and pleases the Lord, ridding the land of male shrine prostitutes and idols and even deposing his grandmother, the queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. Asa’s heart was committed to the Lord and he reigned 41 years over Judah. War continued between Israel and Judah and Asa used the last of the treasuries to successfully bribe Ben-Hadad to break his alliance with Baasha, king of Israel.
Flipping back to Israel, we learn how Baasha came to the throne by plotting against Jeroboam’s son Nadab. As soon as he was in power, he killed all of Jeroboam’s family, according to the word of the prophet Ahijah. But Baasha also did evil in the eyes of the Lord and we see the exact same pattern of events unfold in his family as with Jeroboam. Again, foretold by a prophet, Jehu, Baasha’s son Elah is plotted against by Zimri, who destroys the whole family of Baasha and takes the throne. But Zimri’s reign lasts only 7 days and Omri, commander of Israel’s army is made king instead. Omri builds the city of Samaria and fathers the evillest of Israel’s kings so far: Ahab, who marries Jezebel, who introduces Israel to Baal worship. Ahab does more to provoke the Lord’s anger than all the kings of Israel before him.
After the glory days of David and Solomon, Israel is split into 2 kingdoms (Israel in the north and Judah in the south). In todays reading we see a pattern emerging in the northern kingdom. Through a prophet (first Ahijah, then Jehu), God gives an opportunity to a person to begin reigning as king (first Jeroboam, then Baasha). If the person agrees to follow the Lord like David, God promises to keep their family line going (just as we see in the southern kingdom of Judah). Unfortunately, both Jeroboam and Baasha follow after idols and the detestable things of the nations around them instead of being men after God’s heart, like David. So God raises up new kings to quench their family lines (first Baasha, then Zimri). But none of the kings coming into power are surrendered to the God who brought them out of slavery in Egypt. Each new king plunges the people of Israel deeper and deeper into idol worship, first with gods introduced by Solomon’s wives: Ashtoreth, Molech, Chemosh, continuing with the golden calves and shrines set up by Jeroboam, and adding in a temple and altar to Baal in the reign of Ahab.
This pattern stands as a stark contrast to what we have read about David. He too had been presented with the opportunity to reign in place of the current king and we have read about his faithfulness to God and God’s continuing faithfulness to him by allowing his offspring to remain in power, despite Judah’s wavering hearts. In King Asa we see a reflection of David.
Through all the evil and rejection committed by God’s chosen people, can we see God’s heart is still to bless? He wants to have 2 kingdoms, both with leaders following His heart. But we see in the lines of Israel’s kings the reoccurring rejection through idol worship that pushes God away and denies His authority and Lordship.
God’s heart is always looking to bless and strengthen the people who are faithful and committed to Himself. Israel’s kings grossly miss their opportunity to live in the blessing of God.
Think about your life. Is there anything you have not surrendered to God? What opportunities might you be missing by not allowing God to be King over your heart?
Lord, you are good! And you long to bless your people as they walk in faithfulness to you. Help me to surrender every part of my life to you and help me follow your leadership today. Amen.
Song: King of My Heart (Kutless)
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.