Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life.
2 Chronicles 15:17 b
Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he (Asa) did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.
2 Chronicles 16:12 b
In the midst of evil kings in both Judah and Israel, Asa shines as a good king that loved God and gave honor to Him. Through Asa’s actions of removing the “detestable idols from the whole land of Judah…” (2 Chronicles 15:8) we see his commitment to the One true God of Israel. Verse 17 tells us that Asa was committed to the Lord all of his life.
The 16th chapter tarnished Asa’s legacy, however. Where chapters 14 and 15 describe his great faith and obedience and trust in God, this 16th chapter describes Asa in the last years of his reign. He was not as humble and trusting as in the beginning.
When Zerah the Cushite marched against Judah, Asa prayed (2 Chronicles 14:11). Here in chapter 16 when Baasha, King of Israel, marches against Judah, Asa runs to Ben-Hadad, the King of Aram. He gives Ben-Hadad enough silver and gold that Ben-Hadad breaks his treaty with King Baasha and sends his army against Israel, which saves Asa and Judah. This seems to be extremely costly for Asa, but it worked! Israel was defeated. The problem is that Asa relied on King Ben-Hadad of Aram and not on the Lord his God. Hanani the Seer points this out to Asa (2 Chronicles 16:8-9).
King Asa was in that place of being fully committed to God, but he did a foolish thing (2 Chronicles 16:10). He could have called on the Lord who would have delivered him again, but he chose to trust in another.
Asa could have received this message from Hanani with humility, but instead he gets angry. He throws Hanani in prison. Three years later Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. I wonder if it came from God. Certainly God allowed it! This illness provided another opportunity for Asa to seek God for help, but the text says that he didn’t (2 Chronicles 16:12).
Here’s another example of how we learn from other’s weaknesses more than their strengths. If 2 Chronicles 16 was not included in the Scripture, we would have a perfect picture of Asa, with no blemishes or faults. With its inclusion we learn an important lesson on trusting God and finishing well. 2 Chronicles 16:9 is one of the most quoted and loved verses in the Bible… and it’s good to understand it in context!
So what’s the lesson?
We can be fully committed to the Lord for our whole life and not always choose wisely. It is easy to choose to trust other things than the Lord. How easy is it to have a strong strategy that in itself may not be wrong, but because we do not seek the Lord about it, the strategy can become what we’re trusting in to help us – and not God Himself. How many leaders have gotten near the end of their ‘reign’ and have not trusted God, taking matters into their own hands? A whole bunch.
Legacies are altered and pain is experienced when this happens. After years of walking a committed life with the Lord, finishing well can be difficult.
Lord Jesus, I want to finish well! I place my trust, not in my abilities or strategies or in any other person, but completely in You. Make much of Yourself through my life today.