Guard Against Bad Solutions
Sunday School Lesson for April 27, 2003
Background Passage: 1 Kings 15:1-16:28
The Evil Reign of King Abijah (15:1-8)
“Abijah” (or Abijam in the NASB— “My father is Yahweh”) was the son of Rehoboam and Maacah and the grandson of Solomon. In the “eighteenth year” of the reign of Jeroboam in the north he became the king of the southern kingdom of Judah. He ruled over the kingdom of Judah for three years following the death of his father Rehoboam (14:31). Abijah was known as a wicked king whose “heart was not fully devoted to the Lord” (15:3). According to 2 Chronicles 13:21 he had fourteen wives, twenty-two sons, and sixteen daughters. Rather than following the example set for him by David, the prototype king, he chose to walk in the detestable ways of his father.
Note the following significant features of his reign:
· He continued the wicked practices of his father—“He committed all the sins his father had done before him” (v. 3). These included the erection of “high places, sacred stones and Ashera poles” (14:23) and the use of “male shrine prostitutes in the land” (14:24). In essence, he encouraged the people of Judah to become like all the other pagan nations around them and, thus, the covenant people lost their spiritual heritage and identity.
· He, consequently, broke the godly spiritual lineage initiated by David—“For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life” (v. 5). Rather than acting as Yahweh’s representative under the law (and as example to the people), he flagrantly disregarded the ways and commands of the Lord.
· His reign was characterized by civil war against the northern kingdom of Israel—“There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam throughout Abijah’s lifetime” (v. 6).
· He was, however, allowed by God to experience a brief reign over Judah. This was divinely permitted out of covenant faithfulness to David—“for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem” (v. 4). Paul House explains this merciful action by God as a demonstration of His “grace and his covenant with David. The Lord will continue David’s dynasty and protect Jerusalem because of David’s faithfulness . . . . God keeps his promises even when David’s descendents do not” (196).
The Righteous Reign of King Asa (15:9-24)
“Asa” (meaning “physician,” or “healing”) was Judah’s third king and was apparently the great-grandson of Solomon (notice that he appears in the lineage of Jesus—Matt. 1:7-8). He came to the throne in the “twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel” (v. 9). Asa, who ruled from 916-873 B. C., was known as a godly king despite the fact that his father Abijah was a wicked man. He shines brightly as one of Judah’s greatest and most righteous kings.
Note the following significant features of his forty-one year reign over Judah:
One: Like father, like son—This passage displays the reality that parents (and other authorities) have a tremendous impact upon the spiritual and moral welfare of their children (or those under their leadership). There are at least three factors to consider:
Think about how this applies to the family and the church.
Two: The courage to be different—This lesson points to the courage it takes to go against the flow of history and culture. What do believers today have in common with Asa? How can we manifest such a counter-cultural direction in our lives?
Three: Radical obedience and spiritual reformation—Look carefully at the spiritual distinctives of Asa’s reign. How did he bring about reform in the nation? What are the ingredients of a sweeping spiritual change in a person’s life? Can you think of any Scripture passages that will inform your answer?
Four: Images of the King of Kings—How do these two examples prepare us for the life and ministry of Jesus? Think about both positive and negative reminders of His reign.