Today: [1 Kings Chapter Sixteen]: The Successive Kings of Israel. In this chapter we study the succession of the kings of the Northern Tribes down to the infamy of Ahab. Originally God raised up the Northern Kingdom with a separate line of kings from the bloodline of David. He intended these kings to walk after His ways but they chose to walk in the sins of their fathers. In the midst of this God continually raised up prophets such as Ahijah, and the unnamed prophet in 1 Kings 13 and in this chapter Jehu who prophesied to the Northern Tribes to call them back to the worship of the one true God.
[1Ki 16:1-34 KJV] 1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, 2 Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust, and made thee prince over my people Israel; and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger with their sins; 3 Behold, I will take away the posterity of Baasha, and the posterity of his house; and will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. 4 Him that dieth of Baasha in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth of his in the fields shall the fowls of the air eat. 5 Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, and what he did, and his might, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 6 So Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tirzah: and Elah his son reigned in his stead. 7 And also by the hand of the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani came the word of the LORD against Baasha, and against his house, even for all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD, in provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam; and because he killed him. 8 In the twenty and sixth year of Asa king of Judah began Elah the son of Baasha to reign over Israel in Tirzah, two years. 9 And his servant Zimri, captain of half [his] chariots, conspired against him, as he was in Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza steward of [his] house in Tirzah. 10 And Zimri went in and smote him, and killed him, in the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his stead. 11 And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, [that] he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends. 12 Thus did Zimri destroy all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake against Baasha by Jehu the prophet,
In this chapter we see the introduction of the prophet Jehu the son of Hannani. He prophesied during the reigns of several kings of Israel and during Asa and Jehosaphath’s reign as well. Jehu is also the name of the Israelite king God raised up to kill Jezebel after the death of her husband Ahab. Jehu’s named means “Jehovah is He” a name apparently given as a rebuff to the culture of idolatry where every man decided from himself who God was and what god he would serve. Jehu prophesied against Baasha who took Jeroboam’s place (Jeroboam was the first king of the Northern Tribes who had been appointed by the prophet Ahijah by the word of the Lord while Solomon yet reigned). Jeroboam had continued in the idolatrous practices of Solomon. An unnamed prophet in 1 Kings 13:1-6 prophesied the downfall of Jeroboam which was brought about by Baasha who murdered Jeroboam’s successor and took the throne in the third year of king Asa’s reign over the Southern Kingdom (of Judah – the line of David). Baasha rose from obscurity and ruled the Northern Tribes for 23 years – but he was not a righteous king. His parents were Baal worshippers because Baasha’s name means “Baal is king”.
Baasha was a long time enemy of Asa who for a prolonged period cut off the trade routes into Jerusalem prompting Asa to hire the Syrians as mercenaries against the Northern Kingdom to break the blockade so trade could resume. The sin in what Asa did was in taking the gold and silver out of the temple itself to give to the Syrians who were a type of the Anti-Christ. The Syrians would become curious about the wealth of the Southern Kingdom and eventual besiege it hoping to plunder the wealth of the temple they learned about by Asa’s unwise disclosure of the amount of silver and gold to be found there when he hired Syria against Baasha. So now in this chapter the Prophet Jehu prophesied the destruction of Baasha which comes to pass in the reign of his successor, his son Elah.
Baasha’s son who succeeded him was named Elah whose name means “I am an oak…” This is significant because Baasha’s name means “Baal is king”. Baal was worshipped at altars placed often before sacred oaks. Therefore Elah’s name means “I am an extension of my father’s idolatry”. Elah is assassinated ironically by one of his own servants by the name of Zimri. Baasha also came to power by assassination and he was also a servant of the king that he killed and took the throne from. Baasha and his son Elah were rejected by God and prophesied against because they continued the practice of the worship of the golden calf erected by Jeroboam to prevent the Northern Tribes from going to Jerusalem to worship at the Temple of Solomon.
13 For all the sins of Baasha, and the sins of Elah his son, by which they sinned, and by which they made Israel to sin, in provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities. 14 Now the rest of the acts of Elah, and all that he did, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 15 In the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah did Zimri reign seven days in Tirzah. And the people [were] encamped against Gibbethon, which [belonged] to the Philistines. 16 And the people [that were] encamped heard say, Zimri hath conspired, and hath also slain the king: wherefore all Israel made Omri, the captain of the host, king over Israel that day in the camp. 17 And Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah. 18 And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died, 19 For his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, to make Israel to sin. 20 Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and his treason that he wrought, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 21 Then were the people of Israel divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king; and half followed Omri. 22 But the people that followed Omri prevailed against the people that followed Tibni the son of Ginath: so Tibni died, and Omri reigned. 23 In the thirty and first year of Asa king of Judah began Omri to reign over Israel, twelve years: six years reigned he in Tirzah.
After Elah the son of Baasha was murdered then Zimri declared himself to be king for seven days. Zimri was a captain of the charioteers in Baasha’s army and he hears that his commander and chief Omri was besieging the city. In despair he enters the royal house of Elah the son of Baasha and burns it down on top of his head and perishes. Thus Omri comes to power but not without a contender. Omri and another pretender to the throne by the name of Tibni disputed over the throne for six years until Tibmi dies and Omri’s reign is secured.
24 And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill, Samaria. 25 But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that [were] before him. 26 For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities. 27 Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, and his might that he shewed, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 28 So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria: and Ahab his son reigned in his stead. 29 And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. 30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that [were] before him. 31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. 32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him. 34 In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest [son] Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.
In verse 25 we see that Omri was more wicked than all the kings that were before him. Over and again we see the deepening influence of idolatry in the Northern Tribes as well as in the Southern Kingdom of Judea. Where did all of this begin? In the reign of Solomon when he allowed his foreign wives to bring their idols into the public life of Israel. Though Solomon is long dead and in fact in Ecclesiastes there is indication that Solomon repented at the end of his days nevertheless his compromising policies released an infection in the nation that lasted for centuries.
After the death of Omri his infamous son Ahab reigns in his place. Again we see the deepening idolatry of the Northern kings when we see in verse 33 that Ahab did more to provoke the anger of the Lord than all of the kings that were before him. There were over the course of history very few of the Northern kings who worshipped God and distinguished themselves for their righteousness or humility. We must remember however that this line of kings that began with Jeroboam were not established outside the will of God. Jeroboam was ordained to reign because of the sins of Solomon.
The kings of Israel represented a departure from God’s original plan for an undivided Israel. The kingdom was divided because as Gen. 6:3 states God’s Spirit will not always strive with man. Solomon pressed his sinful choices beyond the bounds of God’s patience. The lesson for us is to realize these boundaries exist and that there is a point that we can choose our own way until “Plan A” in God for us is taken off the table to our own hurt. Conversely you may be a part of “Plan B” in someone else’s life as Jeroboam was in Solomon’s life. God may work His purpose in such a way in your life because of the disobedience of others. We need to take Jeroboam as an example and not make the same mistakes of those God has raised us up in place of.
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