1 Kings
1-7 Prophecy About and End of Baasha 8-14 Elah King over Israel 15-20 Zimri King over Israel 21-28 Omri King over Israel 29-33 Ahab Becomes King of Israel 34 Jericho Rebuilt
Prophecy About and End of Baasha

1Now the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, 2“Inasmuch as I exalted you from the dust and made you leader over My people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have made My people Israel sin, provoking Me to anger with their sins, 3behold, I will consume Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. 4Anyone of Baasha who dies in the city the dogs will eat, and anyone of his who dies in the field the birds of the heavens will eat.” 5Now 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? 6And Baasha slept with his fathers and was buried in Tirzah, and Elah his son became king in his place. 7Moreover, the word of the LORD through the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani also came against Baasha and his household, both because of all the evil which he did in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam, and because he struck it.

The history of the ten tribes realm is tragic. One after the other king is murdered, “bloodshed follows bloodshed” (Hos 4:22[There is] swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery.
They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.
). The murderer becomes the new king. All sin and do Israel sin, but it is getting worse and worse. Baasha hears the prophet Jehu express God’s judgment on him. If kings become unfaithful, God sends prophets. If kings become unfaithful, the people also become unfaithful. The prophet Jehu – so not to be confused with the king who bears this name – is the son of the prophet Hanani (2Chr 16:77At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the LORD your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand.).

Jehu reminds Baasha that he owes his kingship not to himself, but to God, and that God has raised him up from deep meanness. Here again we see God’s sovereignty on the one hand and man’s responsibility on the other. We cannot combine these two sides, but God knows how to bring them together, doing perfect justice to both sides. Baasha is a servant who has become king. The earth quakes under such a person (Pro 30:21-22a21Under three things the earth quakes,
And under four, it cannot bear up:
22Under a slave when he becomes king,
And a fool when he is satisfied with food,
). True kings are not only appointed by God, but also formed by Him.

He provoked the LORD to anger, as Jeroboam did. He is also judged for the murder of Jeroboam (verse 77Moreover, the word of the LORD through the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani also came against Baasha and his household, both because of all the evil which he did in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam, and because he struck it.). God had determined that Jeroboam’s house had to be eradicated. He even raised Baasha from the dust to be leader (verse 22“Inasmuch as I exalted you from the dust and made you leader over My people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have made My people Israel sin, provoking Me to anger with their sins,). But the motives Baasha used were not right. He did it for himself and not because the LORD had said it. He also did more than the LORD had said. The judgment was announced on all that was male (1Kgs 14:1010therefore behold, I am bringing calamity on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male person, both bond and free in Israel, and I will make a clean sweep of the house of Jeroboam, as one sweeps away dung until it is all gone.), but Baasha killed the whole house of Jeroboam.

We see more often that an instrument in the hand of God, by whom He executes the judgment over others, is himself punished by God. Jehu brings God’s judgment over the house of Ahab, but is also judged himself for the anger with which he does so. Also the Assyrians who are used by God to discipline His people are in turn judged by God, because of their wicked conduct (Isa 10:7,12-167Yet it does not so intend,
Nor does it plan so in its heart,
But rather it is its purpose to destroy
And to cut off many nations.
12So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, [He will say], “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness.”13For he has said,
“By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did [this],
For I have understanding;
And I removed the boundaries of the peoples
And plundered their treasures,
And like a mighty man I brought down [their] inhabitants,
14And my hand reached to the riches of the peoples like a nest,
And as one gathers abandoned eggs, I gathered all the earth;
And there was not one that flapped its wing or opened [its] beak or chirped.”
15Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it?
Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it?
[That would be] like a club wielding those who lift it,
[Or] like a rod lifting [him who] is not wood.
16Therefore the Lord, the GOD of hosts, will send a wasting disease among his stout warriors;
And under his glory a fire will be kindled like a burning flame.
).


Elah King over Israel

8In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha became king over Israel at Tirzah, [and reigned] two years. 9His servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him. Now he [was] at Tirzah drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, who [was] over the household at Tirzah. 10Then Zimri went in and struck him and put him to death in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and became king in his place. 11It came about when he became king, as soon as he sat on his throne, that he killed all the household of Baasha; he did not leave a single male, neither of his relatives nor of his friends. 12Thus Zimri destroyed all the household of Baasha, according to the word of the LORD, which He spoke against Baasha through Jehu the prophet, 13for all the sins of Baasha and the sins of Elah his son, which they sinned and which they made Israel sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols. 14Now 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?

Baasha dies a natural death. It seems like an exception that he is not killed. Elah, his son, becomes king. The only thing that is mentioned of him is that he is at home, and not with the army, and that he is drinking there. He’s a rake that uses his power to celebrate.

Zimri, a commander, sees his chance to come to power. He uses his military power to exterminate Baasha’s house. In this way he executes the verdict pronounced by God, but he acts with the same motives as Baasha did.


Zimri King over Israel

15In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned seven days at Tirzah. Now the people were camped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines. 16The people who were camped heard it said, “Zimri has conspired and has also struck down the king.” Therefore all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp. 17Then Omri and all Israel with him went up from Gibbethon and besieged Tirzah. 18When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king’s house and burned the king’s house over him with fire, and died, 19because of his sins which he sinned, doing evil in the sight of the LORD, walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, making Israel sin. 20Now the rest of the acts of Zimri and his conspiracy which he carried out, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

Zimri is not king for a long time. Only seven days he tasted the power. Then also his end is there. The army now seizes power and makes Omri king. The siege against the Philistines is ended to take Zimri’s power away. A civil war arises instead of a common approach against the enemy. Zimri is so trapped that he commits suicide. He burns himself. After Saul, he is the second king to commit suicide.


Omri King over Israel

21Then the people of Israel were divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king; the [other] half followed Omri. 22But the people who followed Omri prevailed over the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath. And Tibni died and Omri became king. 23In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king over Israel [and reigned] twelve years; he reigned six years at Tirzah. 24He bought the hill Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver; and he built on the hill, and named the city which he built Samaria, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill. 25Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, and acted more wickedly than all who [were] before him. 26For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat and in his sins which he made Israel sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel with their idols. 27Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did and his might which he showed, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 28So Omri slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria; and Ahab his son became king in his place.

Omri is not immediately ruler over all of Israel. There is a part of Israel that is following Tibni, possibly a peaceful man. Omri is the strongest, i.e. literally has the longest breath. Tibni probably died a natural death. If he is a dead, the people who follow Tibni are without a leader and have to submit to Omri and the people who chose him. Omri becomes king. He builds the city of Samaria and settles there.

With Omri a period begins that leads to an even worse low point. It says of him that he makes it worse than all who have been before him (verse 2525Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, and acted more wickedly than all who [were] before him.). He has not only maintained idolatry, but has commanded it. He has connected statutes to it for the whole people and thereby made idolatry obligatory for the whole people (Mic 6:16a16“The statutes of Omri
And all the works of the house of Ahab are observed;
And in their devices you walk.
Therefore I will give you up for destruction
And your inhabitants for derision,
And you will bear the reproach of My people.”
). It is exactly what we find in the letter to the church in Thyatira (Rev 2:2020But I have [this] against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit [acts of] immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.), which prophetically refers to the roman-catholic church, which also imposes her statutes on the people.


Ahab Becomes King of Israel

29Now Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. 30Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all who were before him. 31It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him. 32So he erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria. 33Ahab also made the Asherah. Thus Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him.

After Omri’s death, his son Ahab becomes king. The period that started with Omri is developing rapidly in an even worse direction. Ahab is even worse than his father. He leads the people to an absolute low point in their history. The sin of Jeroboam fades with what this man performs by what he introduces in the midst of the people of God. He marries the full-blown idolatress Jezebel. That woman guarantees that from that moment on Baal will become the official god of Israel. Ahab builds a house and an altar for Baal. What an abominable insult to the God of Israel. This is worse than anything that has happened before.


Jericho Rebuilt

34In his days Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho; he laid its foundations with the [loss of] Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates with the [loss of] his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.

The government of Ahab over Israel, or perhaps better the government of Jezebel over Israel, is possible because king and people have put God’s Word aside. The last verse of this chapter makes that clear. Someone from Bethel (= house of God), Hiel (= God lives), is so audacious to defy the word spoken by God five centuries before and to rebuild Jericho as a fortress city (Jos 6:2626Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with [the loss of] his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with [the loss of] his youngest son he shall set up its gates.”). The city itself has been inhabited for some time.

Although man may have forgotten what God said, God does not forget what He said. He does what He has said. When the man has laid the foundations of Jericho, his eldest son dies. However, there does not ring a bell. Tirelessly he continues to work on the execution of the curse. When he has raised the gates, his youngest son also dies. Still there is no memory of what God once said. For anyone who wants to be faithful to God’s Word, there is a warning and encouragement in what is happening here: God makes His Word come true, both in judgment and in blessing.

The five kings of this chapter show a descending line. The cause is forgetting God, not taking into account what He has said.


Read more