Asa Of Judah
Asa, from the Hebrew name pronounced aw-saw, was the grandson of King Rehoboam (see Rehoboam Of Israel And Judah) and the son of King Abijah (see Abijah Of Judah). Asa became king of Judah upon the death of his father.
"15:6 And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam [see Jeroboam Of Israel] all the days of his life.
15:7 Now the rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam. 15:8 And Abijam slept with his fathers; and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead.
15:9 And in the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel reigned Asa over Judah.
15:10 And forty and one years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom." (1 Kings 15:6-10 KJV)
"Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God"
Asa's reign began in a time of peace. He used that opportunity to build his nation, rather than to destroy someone else's nation i.e. "Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God." The LORD blessed his efforts because Asa turned his people back to the LORD; he "commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment."
"14:1 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.
14:2 And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God: 14:3 For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the Groves: 14:4 And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment. 14:5 Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him. 14:6 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.
14:7 Therefore he said unto Judah [i.e. see Israelite Monarchy - The Southern Kingdom], 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." (2 Chronicles 14:1-7 KJV)
Asa then began to build a formidable army from his nation of Judah and Benjamin (see Was Paul A Jew or a Benjamite?). As has often been the case in human history, whenever a nation begins to build a large military, other nations feel threatened by it (if someone in the neighborhood starts walking around heavily armed, the neighbors feel menaced) - and so war begins to neutralize the perceived danger. Asa's time of peace was over.
Asa's first war didn't go well, so "Asa cried unto the LORD his God" for help. Because Asa was still otherwise faithful and obedient, the LORD delivered Judah from the enemies that Judah had created for themselves.
"14:8 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.
14:9 And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah. 14:10 Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.
14:11 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.
14:12 So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.
14:13 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.
14:14 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.
14:15 They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem." (2 Chronicles 14:8-15 KJV)
With the military "success" (it was actually a near defeat, but the LORD had prevented it), Asa was warned "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." Asa then sought again to cleanse his nation of unfaithfulness, and so "there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa."
"15:1 And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: 15:2 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.
15:3 Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. 15:4 But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them. 15:5 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. 15:6 And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity. 15:7 Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.
15:8 And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.
15:9 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.
15:10 So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. 15:11 And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep. 15:12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;
15:13 That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. 15:14 And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets. 15:15 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.
15:16 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. 15:17 But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days. 15:18 And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.
15:19 And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa." (2 Chronicles 15:1-19 KJV)
Asa's next war came from Israel i.e. the Northern Kingdom of Israel attacked Asa's Southern Kingdom of Judah (and Benjamin; and Levi - see No Levites In The Lost Ten Tribes?). By that time, Asa had become a typical "politician" - he began to reject the warnings of the prophets of the LORD ("Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house") and he also became tyrannical toward his own people ("Asa oppressed some of the people the same time") - all in order to keep control of his unraveling reign.
"16:1 In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.
16:2 Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the LORD and of the king's house, and sent to Benhadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,
16:3 There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.
16:4 And Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelmaim, and all the store cities of Naphtali.
16:5 And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease. 16:6 Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah.
16:7 And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.
16:8 Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand.
16:9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.
16:10 Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time." (2 Chronicles 16:1-10 KJV)
Ironically, a form of Asa's name means physician. Asa died while trusting only in physicians, rather than also in the LORD.
"16:11 And, behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 16:12 And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians. 16:13 And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign. 16:14 And they buried him in his own sepulchres, which he had made for himself in The City of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries' art: and they made a very great burning for him." (2 Chronicles 16:11-14 KJV)
Fact Finder: What does "Asa slept with his fathers" mean?
See The Sleep Of Death