This was a change for the better, for Abijah had tolerated idols, though he had not neglected the worship of Jehovah, and during his reign the godless party had multiplied, and polluted the nation with their heathenish and licentious practices. Abijah and his favourite queens had aided and abetted the evil faction, and the people had very greatly degenerated. It is singular that, though both father and mother were bad, Asa did that which was good; it is clear from this that the children need not be wicked because their parents are so.
He made a thorough reformation, sweeping away not only the images of the false gods, but the sacred groves in which they were worshipped. O that we might live to see such a thorough purging of our own land! Let us pray for it.
Obedience to God brought blessing with it; yet even with this fact before them they did not long remain faithful.
The good king had his trials; even when obedience insured prosperity it did not screen him from a measure of affliction.
This is a grand specimen of the prayer of faith. The million soldiers of Zerah are not enough to daunt faith, for it sees the Lord’s all-sufficiency, and therefore makes no account of his adversaries. The small force at hand is not permitted to act as a discouragement, for faith knows that the Lord works by his own strength, and does not depend upon the strength of instruments. It is a glorious thing to be able to call the Lord our God, and then to rest in him without care or fear, being certain that our cause is safe because it is bound up with his honour, and is in his own hands. After Asa’s example, let us trust and not be afraid when brought into great trials and difficulties.
They were more than conquerors, as believers always are. They gained greatly by that which threatened to be their destruction. If we will but trust in the like manner, the like experience shall certainly be ours. Greater is he that is for us than all they that be against us.
If ye seek him he will be found of you.”
While they were flushed with victory it was a fit time to remind them where their great strength lay, and urge them to continue in obedience while the rewards of it were before their eyes. The prophet did not congratulate and flatter the monarch, but impressed upon him his obligations to the Lord, who had so greatly favoured him. Ministers are not sent to please us, but to profit us.
It was matter of plain history that the condition of the people depended entirely upon their fidelity to God. They made or unmade their own fortunes. Have we not also learned by this time that we are happy when we live near to God, and are in an evil case when we backslide from him? Let us lay this fact to heart.
The best swept room will bear cleansing again, and therefore Asa made another and further investigation and reformation, for idolators here and there had kept up their idols by stealth, but down they must go at this second search.
The people were great at promising, but slow in performing; their hearts were fickle, and what they resolved upon one day with great enthusiasm they forgot the next, and were again mad upon their idols. How much were they like ourselves!
This was a masterstroke; he deposed the queen-mother and demolished her idol in the most ignominious manner. The king would not connive at sin in those nearest and dearest to him. It must have caused him much pain, but he loved his God too well to shrink from the deed.
Even in the best work there is a flaw, which has to be spoken of with a “but.” The false gods were put down, but the unauthorized altars to the true God were still untouched. This may be thought to be a lesser evil, but it had been better to have gone through with the work. It was well, however, that in heart and intention Asa was sound before God.