King Asa of Judah
“Asa cried to the LORD his God, ‘O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you’” (v. 11).- 2 Chronicles 14
After the death of Abijah, his son Asa succeeded him as king of Judah (2 Chron. 14:1). It is to the reign of Asa that we now turn.
Asa, the Chronicler tells us, “did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God” (v. 2). Thus, he was one of the good kings of Judah after the death of Solomon. However, we must note again that the Chronicler is referring to the reign of Asa as a whole. As we will see, Asa made some missteps later in his reign (ch. 16); nevertheless, his sins, while significant, were not so numerous and severe as to force the author to evaluate Asa’s reign negatively.
Much of the Chronicler’s positive evaluation has to do with Asa’s religious reforms, including his removal of “the high places and incense altars” from Judah (14:5). High places were unapproved sites of worship directed to Yahweh and sometimes also to pagan gods. Because they were built on mountains or elevated mounds of earth, Scripture calls them “high places.” This comment is seemingly at odds with 1 Kings 15:14, which says that Asa did not remove the high places. Furthermore, 2 Chronicles 15:17 says,“The high places were not taken out of Israel” in Asa’s day. This is not a contradiction; the positive comments about Asa’s removal of the forbidden shrines reflect his practice in Judah early in his reign. Later, Asa took territory from the northern kingdom of Israel, including the towns of Geba and Mizpah in Benjamin’s tribal territory (Benjamin would eventually be absorbed by Judah altogether). In many of those places, Asa did not tear down all the high places.
Second Chronicles 14 also records a battle between Judah and Ethiopia. Commentators note that the tide of the battle turned after Asa’s prayer, which we read in verse 11. The prayer helps us understand Scripture’s positive evaluation of Asa, for it reflects the deep faith of the king and his reliance on the Lord for victory. Also, Asa prayed with boldness, asking for God to intervene because Judah had truly made Him their God. Matthew Henry notes that Asa and the Judahites had not done this merely in the day of trouble but in the days when all was well (see vv. 6–7). Henry comments, “He that sought God in the day of his peace and prosperity could with holy boldness cry to God in the day of his trouble, and call him his God.” Trusting in the Lord when things are good gives us a firm foundation on which to pray bold prayers in times of trouble.
Scripture calls us to pray with confidence and boldness (e.g., Heb. 4:16). However, persisting in sin and disobedience makes it hard for us to do this, for we understand that God’s answers to our prayers often are connected to our faithfulness. So, when we are unfaithful, we may be hesitant to ask great things of God. Seeking to obey the Lord, and repenting regularly when we fall short, allows us to pray with the humble boldness God wants from us.
Passages for Further Study
1 Kings 15:9–24
2 Kings 19:14–19