Archive for May, 2017


First of all, congratulations! You have seen a course of study through to completion and have received recognition for your work. Throughout the rest of your life, you will find that hard work and finishing what you start will bring success, even if the recognition is not quite as public as it is at graduation. “The desires of the diligent are fully satisfied” (Proverbs 13:4).

If you have graduated from high school, then a big question is whether or not to go to college. While it is possible to land a good job right out of high school, most careers require the further preparation that a higher education provides. When deciding on a career, it is good to consider your God-given abilities and talents, your interests, and the advice of your parents and other trusted counselors. Above all, pray for God’s wisdom (James 1:5) and follow His Word (Psalm 119:105).

If you have graduated from college, then you are most likely seeking to begin your career. As you actively pursue job leads, remember to be patient and trust the Lord to direct you (Proverbs 3:5-6). More important than landing the “dream job” is living as a child of God. Never sacrifice your integrity or Christian testimony for the sake of money, power, or anything else. Whatever you do, do it with all your heart to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Make your first goal to “worship the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2), and “he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

To all of you graduates I extend to you my congratulations and prayers.

May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you and your future.

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  In 1 Kings 3:3, Solomon is described in the following positive terms: “Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father.” One night, the Lord appeared to Solomon and said, “Ask what I shall give you” (verse 5). In response, Solomon answered, “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (verse 9).

The passage notes, “It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this” (1 Kings 3:10). God delights to give wisdom to those who truly seek it (Proverbs 2:6–8; James 1:5). God responds to Solomon’s request for wisdom by promising three different gifts. The first is the wisdom Solomon had asked for: “I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you” (verse 12).

First Kings 4:29-34 records the details of Solomon’s wisdom: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.”

The second gift God gave Solomon was wealth and fame: “I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days” (1 Kings 3:13). Solomon would become known as the wealthiest king of his era.

The third gift God gave him was conditional—a long life based on Solomon’s obedience: “And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days” (1 Kings 3:14). After God made these promises, “Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream” (verse 15).

The first two gifts were unconditional. Solomon was known as a man of great wisdom (1 Kings 3:28) and as a king of great wealth and influence. But was Solomon known as an obedient king who experienced a long life? By the grace of God, Solomon reigned for 40 years (1 Kings 11:42), a long period for one king to reign. However, Solomon’s obedience was mixed. He had many wives, including foreigners who influenced him to sacrifice to their gods. His great wealth also contributed to unwise excesses. Solomon began well, as his humble request for wisdom shows, but he later disobeyed God. Solomon was spared more severe punishment for the sake of his father, David (1 Kings 11:11–12).

  First Kings 11:3 states that Solomon “had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines.” Obviously, God “allowed” Solomon to have these wives, but allowance is not the same as approval. Solomon’s marital decisions were in direct violation of God’s Law, and there were consequences.

Solomon started out well early in his life, listening to the counsel of his father, David, as recorded in 1 Kings 2:2-3, “Be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.” Solomon’s early humility is shown in 1 Kings 3:5-9 when he requests wisdom from the Lord. Wisdom is applied knowledge; it helps us make decisions that honor the Lord and agree with the Scriptures. Solomon’s book of Proverbs is filled with practical counsel on how to follow the Lord. Solomon also wrote the Song of Solomon, which presents a beautiful picture of what God intends marriage to be. So, King Solomon knew what was right, even if he didn’t always follow the right path.

Over time, Solomon forgot his own counsel and the wisdom of Scripture. God had given clear instructions for anyone who would be king: no amassing of horses, no multiplying of wives, and no accumulating of silver and gold (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). These commands were designed to prevent the king from trusting in military might, following foreign gods, and relying on wealth instead of on God. Any survey of Solomon’s life will show that he broke all three of these divine prohibitions!

Thus, Solomon’s taking of many wives and concubines was in direct violation of God’s Word. Just as God had predicted, “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God” (1 Kings 11:4). To please his wives, Solomon even got involved in sacrificing to Milcom (or Molech), a god that required “detestable” acts to be performed (1 Kings 11:7-8).

God allowed Solomon to make the choice to disobey, but Solomon’s choice brought inevitable consequences. “So the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates’” (1 Kings 11:11). God showed mercy to Solomon for David’s sake (verse 12), but Solomon’s kingdom was eventually divided. Another chastisement upon Solomon was war with the Edomites and Aramians (verses 14-25).

Solomon was not a puppet king. God did not force him to do what was right. Rather, God laid out His will, blessed Solomon with wisdom, and expected the king to obey. In his later years, Solomon chose to disobey, and he was held accountable for his decisions.

It is instructive that, toward the end of Solomon’s life, God used him to write one more book, which we find in the Bible. The book of Ecclesiastes gives us “the rest of the story.” Solomon throughout the book tells us everything he tried in order to find fulfillment apart from God in this world, or “under the sun.” This is his own testimony: “I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired . . . a harem as well–the delights of the heart of man” (Ecclesiastes 2:8). But his harem did not bring happiness. Instead, “Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (verse 11). At the conclusion of Ecclesiastes, we find wise counsel: “Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man” (12:13).”

It is never God’s will that anyone sin, but He does allow us to make our own choices. The story of Solomon is a powerful lesson for us that it does not pay to disobey. It is not enough to start well; we must seek God’s grace to finish well, too. Life without God is a dead-end street. Solomon thought that having 1,000 wives and concubines would provide happiness, but whatever pleasure he derived was not worth the price he paid. As a wiser Solomon said, “God will bring every deed into judgment” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

For the unbeliever, the fear of God is the fear of the judgment of God and eternal death, which is eternal separation from God (Luke 12:5; Hebrews 10:31). For the believer, the fear of God is something much different. The believer’s fear is reverence of God. Hebrews 12:28-29 is a good description of this: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ’God is a consuming fire.’” This reverence and awe is exactly what the fear of God means for Christians. This is the motivating factor for us to surrender to the Creator of the Universe.

Proverbs 1:7 declares, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” Until we understand who God is and develop a reverential fear of Him, we cannot have true wisdom. True wisdom comes only from understanding who God is and that He is holy, just, and righteous. Deuteronomy 10:12, 20-21 records, “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.” The fear of God is the basis for our walking in His ways, serving Him, and, yes, loving Him.

Some redefine the fear of God for believers to “respecting” Him. While respect is definitely included in the concept of fearing God, there is more to it than that. A biblical fear of God, for the believer, includes understanding how much God hates sin and fearing His judgment on sin—even in the life of a believer. Hebrews 12:5-11 describes God’s discipline of the believer. While it is done in love (Hebrews 12:6), it is still a fearful thing. As children, the fear of discipline from our parents no doubt prevented some evil actions. The same should be true in our relationship with God. We should fear His discipline, and therefore seek to live our lives in such a way that pleases Him.

Believers are not to be scared of God. We have no reason to be scared of Him. We have His promise that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). We have His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Fearing God means having such a reverence for Him that it has a great impact on the way we live our lives. The fear of God is respecting Him, obeying Him, submitting to His discipline, and worshipping Him in awe.

The Key of Solomon is a medieval grimoire, or book of magic, wrongly attributed to Solomon, son of David. Scholars typically identify the Key of Solomon as a 14th- or 15th-century piece of Latin literature.

Most remaining manuscripts date from the 16th to 18th centuries, including translations in several languages, especially Italian. The manuscripts include many pentacles, or necromantic designs, to be used in invocations and spells.

According to the mythology included in the document, King Solomon originally wrote the book for his son Rehoboam and commanded him to hide it in his tomb upon his death. Allegedly, the book was later discovered by a group of Babylonian philosophers while repairing Solomon’s tomb. One of these men received a vision in which a supposed angel commanded him to hide the book from the “unworthy.” This led the philosopher to cast a spell on the book.

The first section of the Key of Solomon includes a variety of chants, spells, and curses to summon or restrain demons and the spirits of the dead. The section also touches on other magic spells dealing with how to become invisible and how to find love. One prayer to cast out a demon reads like this:

“Lord Jesus Christ, the loving son of God, which dost illuminate the hearts of all men in the world, lighten the darkness of my heart, and kindle the fire of thy most holy love in me. Give me true faith, perfect charity, and virtue, whereby I may learn to fear and love thee and keep thy commandments in all things; that when the last day shall come, the angel of god may peaceably take me, and deliver me from the power of the devil, that I may enjoy everlasting rest amidst the company of the holy saints, and sit on thy right. Grant this, thou son of the living God for thy holy name’s sake. Amen.”

This prayer includes an obvious anachronism. The reference to the “Lord Jesus Christ” proves the manuscript was not written during the time of Solomon. The prayer also mixes magic and church teachings, which was common to Italian literature of the Middle Ages.

The second section of the Key of Solomon lists and describes a variety of purifications an exorcist should undergo. Instructions are given on clothing, magical devices, and even animal sacrifices.

In popular culture, the Key of Solomon has received attention due to being featured in Dan Brown’s bestselling 2009 novel The Lost Symbol. While the grimoire’s benefit as a narrative tool is fascinating, its appearance in Brown’s novel does nothing to bolster the Key’s accuracy.

In summary, the Key of Solomon is neither a “key” nor “of Solomon.” It is simply a book of medieval magic that utilizes Judeo-Christian themes. While the book is valuable for historical research, its subject matter is unbiblical. The Key of Solomon is not connected in any way with the biblical character mentioned in its title.

The tearing of one’s clothes is an ancient tradition among the Jews, and it is associated with mourning, grief, and loss. The first mention of someone tearing his garments is in Genesis. “When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes” (Genesis 37:29). A short time later, “Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days” (Genesis 37:34) when he thought that Joseph had been killed.

Other biblical examples of men who tore their clothes to express pain and sorrow include David, when Saul and Jonathan were killed (2 Samuel 1:11–12); Elisha, when Elijah was taken up into heaven (2 Kings 2:11–12); Job, when he was bereft of all he possessed (Job 1:20); Jephthah, when he learned the result of his rash vow (Judges 11:34–35); Mordecai, when he learned of Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews (Esther 4:1); Ahab, when Elijah pronounced a judgment against him (1 Kings 21:27); and Paul and Barnabas, when the people of Lystra began to worship them (Acts 14:14).

Sometimes, the tearing of one’s clothes was accompanied by other signs of humility and grief, such as shaving one’s head (Job 1:20), throwing dust on oneself (Job 2:12), and wearing sackcloth (2 Samuel 3:31).

There were times when people should have torn their garments but did not. The prophet Jeremiah received the Word of God concerning a soon-coming judgment on Judah. Jeremiah faithfully wrote the prophecy in a scroll and delivered it to King Jehoiakim. The king listened to the first part of the prophecy, but then he took a knife, cut the scroll in pieces, and burned it in a brazier (Jeremiah 36:23). This impious act was met with chilling stoicism from his aides: “The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes” (verse 24). If ever there was a time to tear one’s clothes, this was it; but these men had no fear of God, no remorse, no conviction of sin.

It is interesting that the high priest was not allowed to tear his clothes: “The high priest, the one among his brothers who has had the anointing oil poured on his head and who has been ordained to wear the priestly garments, must not . . . tear his clothes” (Leviticus 21:10). The special nature of the high priestly office dictated a separation from some of the common customs, including that of mourning.

Tearing one’s clothes was a public and powerful expression of grief in ancient times. The practice is continued today in the Jewish practice of keriah. Today’s ritual is less spontaneous and more regulated: the garment is cut by a rabbi at a funeral service, as the bereaved recite words relating to God’s sovereignty. One tradition says that the mourner must tear the clothing over the heart—a sign of a broken heart.

More important than outward shows of grief are true sorrow for sin and genuine repentance of the heart. The prophet Joel relayed God’s command: “Rend your heart and not your garments” (Joel 2:13). The One who sees the heart requires more than external ritual. And the command came with a promise: “Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:13; cf. Psalm 34:18).

Naboth’s story in the Bible (1 Kings 21) involves the downfall of the wicked king Ahab of Israel and his infamous wife, Jezebel. Because of their mistreatment of Naboth, Ahab and Jezebel were each promised an untimely and violent demise.

Naboth was a Jezreelite. He had a vineyard in close proximity to Ahab’s palace in Jezreel. Ahab wanted to turn Naboth’s vineyard into a vegetable garden, since it was so near the palace (1 Kings 21:2). So the king offered to pay Naboth for his vineyard or give him a better vineyard someplace else. Naboth, however, was unwilling to give up the land he had inherited from his fathers; it was not for sale at any price (verse 3). Ahab was upset and went home “sullen and angry” because he could not have Naboth’s vineyard. The sulking king refused to eat (1 Kings 21:4).

It may seem strange that Naboth would refuse the king’s offer, but Naboth was doing the right thing. God had commanded that a family’s inheritance not be sold: “The land must not be sold permanently” (Leviticus 25:23); and “No inheritance in Israel is to pass from one tribe to another, for every Israelite shall keep the tribal inheritance of their ancestors” (Numbers 36:7). Naboth was simply following the Law; it was King Ahab who wanted to ignore the Law, and then he pouted when the righteous Naboth would not agree.

In the palace, Queen Jezebel noticed that her husband was unhappy, so she asked him what was wrong. Ahab told her about his encounter with Naboth. Jezebel told him that, since he was the king, he could have anything he wanted. Then she promised to take action herself: “Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite” (1 Kings 21:7). Jezebel proceeded to make arrangements to have Naboth disposed of. First, she forged letters from the king (verse 8), directing the noblemen and elders of the city to “proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people” (verse 9). Near Naboth were to be placed two “scoundrels” who would falsely accuse Naboth of cursing both God and the king. On these trumped up charges, Naboth was to be taken outside the city and stoned to death (verse 10). The evil plan against Naboth worked. Jezebel had been careful to plant two false witnesses, since a death sentence could not be carried out on the basis of only one witness (Deuteronomy 17:6). So she followed the Law when it suited her; that is, when she could twist it to facilitate her ability to lie, steal, and murder. An especially heinous part of Jezebel’s plan was her proclamation of a day of fasting—using a religious ceremony to cover her murderous intent and ensure Naboth’s presence was depraved in the extreme. When the queen received word that Naboth was dead, she told Ahab that he could now take possession of Naboth’s vineyard, which Ahab was all too happy to do (1 Kings 21:15).

Because of Ahab and Jezebel’s shocking murder of Naboth, God condemned them both. Elijah the prophet came to the king with a message from God. In fact, Elijah met Ahab while the king was touring his ill-gotten vineyard. The prophet said, “Have you not murdered a man and seized his property? . . . This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!” (1 Kings 21:19). Next, Elijah prophesied that the Lord would bring disaster on the house of Ahab, so that every male in Ahab’s household would die and, rather than receive an honorable burial, they would be eaten by wild animals (verse 21 and 24). Then the prophet foretold the queen’s fate: “Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel” (1 Kings 21:23).

After hearing this terrible pronouncement, Ahab repented of his actions toward Naboth; he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and humbled himself before God (1 Kings 21:27). Because of Ahab’s response, the Lord chose not to bring the promised disaster on Ahab during his lifetime but during his son’s days instead (verse 28). Ahab was indeed an evil man. In fact, he “sold himself to do evil” (1 Kings 21:25), and he “did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him” (1 Kings 16:30). One of the things the Lord hates is “hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17), and Ahab and Jezebel were certainly stained with the innocent blood of Naboth. Yet, even in God’s judgment of Ahab, He showed mercy in response to a humbled heart.

The Lord was true to His word. Ahab was killed in battle; his blood was washed out of the chariot in the same place where Naboth had been stoned to death, and the dogs were there, just as Elijah had said (1 Kings 22:34–38). Jezebel was killed, and her body was eaten by dogs (2 Kings 9:30–37). And Ahab’s family were all killed (2 Kings 10:1–17). Thus Naboth was avenged.

Ahab was one in a line of increasingly evil kings in Israel’s history, starting with the reign of Jeroboam. King Ahab “did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him” (1 Kings 16:30). Among the events chronicled in Ahab’s life that led to his downfall was his marriage to an evil woman named Jezebel who had a particular hatred for God’s people (1 Kings 18:4). Because of his marriage to a pagan woman, Ahab devoted himself to the worship of the false gods Baal and Asherah in Israel (1 Kings 16:31–33).

The evil of King Ahab was countered by the prophet Elijah who warned Ahab of coming judgment if he did not obey the Lord. Ahab blamed Elijah for bringing trouble on Israel (1 Kings 18:17), but it was Ahab’s promotion of idolatry that was the true cause of the three-and-a-half-year famine (verse 18). In a dramatic confrontation between Elijah and Ahab’s false prophets, God proved to Israel that He, not Baal, was the true God (1 Kings 18:16–39). All of Ahab’s men of Baal were killed that day (verse 40).

King Ahab also disobeyed the Lord’s direct command to destroy Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram. God set it up so that Ahab would lead Israel to victory, but Ahab made a treaty with the king he was supposed to kill (1 Kings 20). “Therefore,” God told Ahab through an unnamed prophet, “it is your life for his life, your people for his people” (verse 42).

The event that sealed Ahab’s doom was his murder of an innocent man (1 Kings 21). Ahab coveted a vineyard belonging to a man named Naboth. The king offered to buy the vineyard, but Naboth refused, because the Law forbade him to sell it (1 Kings 21:2–3; cf. Leviticus 25:23). While Ahab sulked about it in his palace, his wife arranged Naboth’s murder. Once the vineyard’s owner was out of the way, King Ahab took the vineyard for himself. Elijah came to Ahab and told him the Lord would deal with him by cutting off all his descendants. Also, Ahab himself would suffer an ignoble fate: “In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!” (1 Kings 21:19). Upon hearing this, Ahab “tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly” (verse 27). In response to Ahab’s repentance, God mercifully postponed the destruction of Ahab’s dynasty until after Ahab was dead (verse 29).

The prophesied judgment against Ahab came true exactly as Elijah predicted. God used Ahab’s own false prophets to entice him into going to the battle at Ramoth-Gilead, where he was hit by a “random” arrow and slowly bled to death in his chariot. Later, “they washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where the prostitutes bathed), and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the Lord had declared” (1 Kings 22:38). After Ahab’s death, Jehu killed Jezebel (2 Kings 9) and all of Ahab’s descendants (2 Kings 10).

King Ahab was justly judged by God because he disobeyed the Lord’s direct commands, he abused his responsibility as Israel’s king, and he led God’s people right into idolatry. In the end, “there was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols” (1 Kings 21:25–26).

  King Jehoshaphat was the fourth king of Judah under the divided monarchy, the son of Asa. We are first introduced to him in 1 Kings 15:24 but are told nothing more than that he succeeded Asa. Later, 1 Kings 22:42 tells us that he was 35 years old when he began his reign and that he reigned 25 years (from 873 to 848 BC). First Kings 22 gives a brief account of his reign with 2 Chronicles 17–22 giving a more comprehensive account.

Spiritually, Jehoshaphat began his reign in a positive way. Second Chronicles 17:3–6 gives this commendation: “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father David before him. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. The Lord established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor. His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.” In addition, Jehoshaphat sent men throughout the kingdom to teach the people the Law of God (2 Chronicles 17:7–9).

Militarily, Jehoshaphat fortified his defenses, primarily against the northern kingdom of Israel (2 Chronicles 17:1–3). The surrounding nations feared Judah and brought tribute (2 Chronicles 17:10–19).

After making peace with Israel, Jehoshaphat apparently tried to reach out to Ahab, the king of Israel. Ahab was one of the wickedest kings of Israel, and Jehoshaphat could not have been ignorant of his character. First Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 18 relate the following account: Ahab asks Jehoshaphat to help him attack Syria. Jehoshaphat wisely requests that they consult the LORD on the matter. Ahab gathers 400 of his prophets who encourage the attack. Jehoshaphat recognizes that these are not genuine prophets of the LORD, and the exchange that follows between Jehoshaphat and Ahab is almost comical: “But Jehoshaphat asked, ‘Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?’ The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.’”

So, Micaiah is summoned, and the question is posed. Micaiah responds with high irony: “Attack and be victorious, . . . for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” This answer exasperates King Ahab: “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” Micaiah then tells Ahab the hard truth: “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master’” (1 Kings 22:15–18).

In spite of what seems to be an acknowledgement that Micaiah speaks for the LORD, Jehoshaphat joins Ahab in the attack. Ahab is killed, and Jehoshaphat narrowly escapes. When Jehoshaphat returns home, he is reprimanded by a prophet of the Lord for his collaboration with Ahab: “Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, ‘Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, the wrath of the Lord is on you. There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God’” (2 Chronicles 19:2–3).

Jehoshaphat continues to make reforms, appointing judges throughout the land to handle disputes and charging them to make righteous judgments and to fear the Lord (2 Chronicles 19:4–11).

In 2 Chronicles 20, an alliance of nations decides to march against Judah. Jehoshaphat seeks the Lord and asks all Judah to fast (verse 3). Through a man named Jahaziel, the Lord tells Jehoshaphat that He will deliver Judah without a fight (verses 14–17). Jehoshaphat goes out to battle with singers leading the way, singing praise to the Lord. The alliance of nations turn against each other and begin to kill each other (verses 22–23). The men of Judah spend three days collecting the spoils of war that were abandoned by their enemies (verse 25).

Although Jehoshaphat started his reign by removing the idolatrous high places, at the end of his reign, there were still high places that had not been taken away (1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 33). Jehoshaphat started well, but his diligence flagged, and the idol-worship returned. First Kings 22:41–50 and 2 Chronicles 20:35–37 record a joint ship-building venture that Jehoshaphat attempted with the wicked king Ahaziah of Israel. Jehoshaphat, who had already been chastised for an alliance with Ahab, is once again confronted by a prophet with a warning. The fleet of ships got caught in a storm and sank, and Jehoshaphat’s investment with Ahaziah was futile.

Jehoshaphat is still considered a good and godly king, but his reign ended rather badly. He kept trying to build an alliance with Israel, even though the kings of Israel were obviously wicked. Jehoshaphat worshipped the Lord and led his people in seeking the Lord, but the hearts of the people were never fully changed. They reverted to pagan practices. King Jehoshaphat was unable to pass his faith on to his son Jehoram who reigned after him. Jehoram started by killing all of his brothers, and he then made an alliance with Israel by marrying the daughter of Ahab (2 Chronicles 21:4–6).

Asa was a descendant of David and the third king of the southern kingdom of Judah. He ruled for forty-one years (1 Kings 15:10) and “did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 14:2). The biblical account of Asa’s reign is detailed in 1 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 14–16.

Asa became king of Judah in the twentieth year of Jeroboam of Israel’s reign (Jeroboam was the first king of the northern kingdom of Israel after the kingdom divided). Asa’s father, Abijah, had done much evil in God’s sight and only ruled for three years. Asa’s grandfather, Rehoboam, had also done evil in God’s sight. But King Asa instituted reform; he removed the male shrine prostitutes, cut down Asherah poles, and even deposed his grandmother from her position as queen mother because of her involvement with Asherah worship (1 Kings 15:12–13; 2 Chronicles 14:3, 16). Asa also commanded his people to follow the Lord (2 Chronicles 14:4). First Kings 15:14 says, “Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life” (see also 2 Chronicles 15:17).

Judah was at peace with surrounding nations for ten years during Asa’s reign (2 Chronicles 14:1). Second Chronicles 15 describes a time when Azariah, a prophet, told Asa that, if he sought the Lord, God would be with him. This encouraged Asa to remove idols and to repair the altar at the Lord’s temple. He assembled the people together to sacrifice to the Lord: “They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. All who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman. They took an oath to the Lord with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side” (2 Chronicles 15:12–15).

Asa built up the fortified cities, and Judah enjoyed a time of prosperity (2 Chronicles 14:6–7). When Zerah the Cushite marched out to make war against Judah, Asa called on God for aid. “The Lord struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah. The Cushites fled, and Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar. Such a great number of Cushites fell that they could not recover; they were crushed before the Lord and his forces. The men of Judah carried off a large amount of plunder” (2 Chronicles 14:12–13).

Unfortunately, in the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign, he made some mistakes. When King Baasha of Israel fortified Ramah so as to isolate the territory of Judah, Asa made a treaty with Ben-Hadad, king of Aram. The treaty was effective in stopping Israel, and the Judahites took supplies from Ramah and built up Geba and Mizpah, but the treaty with Aram was not pleasing to God (see 1 Kings 15:16–22; 2 Chronicles 16:1–10). Hanani, the seer, visited Asa and reminded him of the way God had conquered the Cushites. He chastised Asa for relying on Ben-Hadad instead of God. Rather than repent of his sin, however, Asa became angry; at the same time he began to oppress some of his people (2 Chronicles 16:10). For the remainder of Asa’s reign, his kingdom was at war.

In the thirty-ninth year of Asa’s reign, he got a severe foot disease, but he looked only to the physicians for help and not God (2 Chronicles 16:12). In the forty-first year of his reign, Asa died and was buried with great honor.

Despite a less-than-ideal end to his reign, Asa is considered a godly and good king. His son, Jehoshaphat, succeeded him and ruled for twenty-five years. Jehoshaphat was also a godly ruler, following in his father’s footsteps and seeking the Lord, yet he also made foolish alliances with those who did not follow the Lord (2 Chronicles 19:1–3; 20:31–33, 20:35–21:1). The life of King Asa is an example to all of us of how easy it is to drift away from the Lord. Asa began his reign with a strong commitment to God, but as years went by his dedication faltered, bringing unnecessary trouble.