What does it say?
Abijam comes to the throne of Judah and follows the idolatrous ways of his father Rehoboam (1Ki 15:1-7). Asa follows Abijam and was a good king that died in his old age of a disease in his feet (1Ki 15:8-24). In the northern kingdom, Baasha assassinates Nadab, son of Jehoram, beginning his own dynasty (1Ki 15:25-34).
Greater detail is added to the same time period in 2Chronicles. Abijah’s (Abijam) war with Israel (2Chr 13) is followed by peace in the days of Asa (2Chr 14). Ethiopia and Cush in the Old Testament roughly correspond to modern Sudan. A prophet named Azariah delivers a message from God to Asa that results in revival and religious reform (2Chr 15). Asa’s faith weakens in his final years as he pays Syria to form an alliance against Israel (1Chr 16).
What does it mean?
We often classify the kings of Judah as being either good or bad kings. Good kings are those who promote the worship of Jehovah God, while the bad kings enter into idolatrous practices. We must remember that as Chronicles covers parallel material from the same time period, the emphasis is on the kings of Judah since Chronicles has the purpose of re-establishing the historical record for the Jews returning from captivity in Babylon. By definition, all the kings of Israel are bad kings. The kings of Israel are no longer engaged in God’s mission. The Messiah and the completion of the mission will come through the kings of Jerusalem, good and bad.
Asa is a case study of a good man who wavers in his faith. He responds to God’s word to him through Azariah, yet in his later years the revival fires grow cold in his life and he puts his trust in buying security from Syria rather than God. This same tendency manifests in his personal life as he turns to physicians instead of God for healing from his foot disease. This should not be interpreted as meaning that anyone who goes to a doctor lacks faith. The issue is a matter of the objective of one’s faith – in God or elsewhere. When we place our faith in God above all else, he often uses physicians to answer our prayer. It’s a matter of priority of faith.
How will I respond?
If I were a king of Judah, would I be good or bad? Idolatrous practices are any that put my faith and loyalty in anyone or anything except God. Is there an area of my life that I need to put in submission to the one true God today?