June 7.—Morning. [Or November 11.]
“Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory.”
2 Chronicles 14:1–4; 6–15
SO Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years. (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.)
2, 3, 4 And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God: For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves: And commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment. (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.)
6 ¶ And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the Lord had given him rest.
7 Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us; because we have sought the Lord our God, we have sought him, and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered. (Obedience to God brought blessing with it; yet even with this fact before them they did not long remain faithful.)
8 And Asa had an army of men that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these were mighty men of valour.
9 ¶ And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah.
10 Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. (The good king had his trials; even when obedience insured prosperity it did not screen him from a measure of affliction.)
11 And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.
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.
12 So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.
13 And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the Lord, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.
14 And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the Lord came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them.
15 They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem. (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.)
June 7.—Evening. [Or November 12.]
“If ye seek him he will be found of you.”
2 Chronicles 15:1–17
AND the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:
2 And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake 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.)
3, 4, 5, 6, 7 Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them. And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries. And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity. Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded. (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.)
8 And when Asa heard these words, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and renewed the altar of the Lord, that was before the porch of the Lord. (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.)
9 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.
10 So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.
11 And they offered unto the Lord the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.
12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;
13 That whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.
14, 15 And they sware unto the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the Lord gave them rest round about. (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!)
16 And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron. (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.)
17 But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days. (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.)