To the history of Asa – his name means “healing” or “restoration” – are dedicated in the first book of Kings only sixteen verses (1Kgs 15:9-249So in the twentieth year of Jeroboam the king of Israel, Asa began to reign as king of Judah.10He reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom.11Asa did what was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father.12He also put away the male cult prostitutes from the land and removed all the idols which his fathers had made.13He also removed Maacah his mother from [being] queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah; and Asa cut down her horrid image and burned [it] at the brook Kidron.14But the high places were not taken away; nevertheless the heart of Asa was wholly devoted to the LORD all his days.15He brought into the house of the LORD the dedicated things of his father and his own dedicated things: silver and gold and utensils.16Now there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.17Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent [anyone] from going out or coming in to Asa king of Judah.18Then Asa took all the silver and the gold which were left in the treasuries of the house of the LORD and the treasuries of the king’s house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants. And King Asa sent them to Ben-hadad the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, king of Aram, who lived in Damascus, saying,19“[Let there be] a treaty between you and me, [as] between my father and your father. Behold, I have sent you a present of silver and gold; go, break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so that he will withdraw from me.”20So Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel, and conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah and all Chinneroth, besides all the land of Naphtali.21When Baasha heard [of it], he ceased fortifying Ramah and remained in Tirzah.22Then King Asa made a proclamation to all Judah—none was exempt—and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber with which Baasha had built. And King Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah.23Now the rest of all the acts of Asa and all his might and all that he did and the cities which he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? But in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet.24And Asa slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father; and Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his place.), while this second book of Chronicles dedicates three chapters to him.
From the long reign of Asa, the chronicler selects four events:
1. His first reformation with the resulting peace (2Chr 14:1-81So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David, and his son Asa became king in his place. The land was undisturbed for ten years during his days.2Asa did good and right in the sight of the LORD his God,3for he removed the foreign altars and high places, tore down the [sacred] pillars, cut down the Asherim,4and commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers and to observe the law and the commandment.5He also removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah. And the kingdom was undisturbed under him.6He built fortified cities in Judah, since the land was undisturbed, and there was no one at war with him during those years, because the LORD had given him rest.7For he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and surround [them] with walls and towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours because we have sought the LORD our God; we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered.8Now Asa had an army of 300,000 from Judah, bearing large shields and spears, and 280,000 from Benjamin, bearing shields and wielding bows; all of them were valiant warriors.);
2. his victory over the Cusjiet Zera (2Chr 14:9-159Now Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and he came to Mareshah.10So Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up in battle formation in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.11Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one besides You to help [in the battle] between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”12So the LORD routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.13Asa and the people who [were] with him pursued them as far as Gerar; and so many Ethiopians fell that they could not recover, for they were shattered before the LORD and before His army. And they carried away very much plunder.14They destroyed all the cities around Gerar, for the dread of the LORD had fallen on them; and they despoiled all the cities, for there was much plunder in them.15They also struck down those who owned livestock, and they carried away large numbers of sheep and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.);
3. his second reformation as a result of his victory (2Chr 15:1-191Now the Spirit of God came on Azariah the son of Oded,2and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the LORD is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.3For many days Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law.4But in their distress they turned to the LORD God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him.5In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for many disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands.6Nation was crushed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every kind of distress.7But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.”8Now when Asa heard these words and the prophecy which Azariah the son of Oded the prophet spoke, he took courage and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. He then restored the altar of the LORD which was in front of the porch of the LORD.9He gathered all Judah and Benjamin and those from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who resided with them, for many defected to him from Israel when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.10So they assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign.11They sacrificed to the LORD that day 700 oxen and 7,000 sheep from the spoil they had brought.12They entered into the covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and soul;13and whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.14Moreover, they made an oath to the LORD with a loud voice, with shouting, with trumpets and with horns.15All Judah rejoiced concerning the oath, for they had sworn with their whole heart and had sought Him earnestly, and He let them find Him. So the LORD gave them rest on every side.16He also removed Maacah, the mother of King Asa, from the [position of] queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah, and Asa cut down her horrid image, crushed [it] and burned [it] at the brook Kidron.17But the high places were not removed from Israel; nevertheless Asa’s heart was blameless all his days.18He brought into the house of God the dedicated things of his father and his own dedicated things: silver and gold and utensils.19And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.);
4. his act of unfaithfulness and its consequences (2Chr 16:1-141In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent [anyone] from going out or coming in to Asa king of Judah.2Then Asa brought out silver and gold from the treasuries of the house of the LORD and the king’s house, and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Aram, who lived in Damascus, saying,3“[Let there be] a treaty between you and me, [as] between my father and your father. Behold, I have sent you silver and gold; go, break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so that he will withdraw from me.”4So Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel, and they conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim and all the store cities of Naphtali.5When Baasha heard [of it], he ceased fortifying Ramah and stopped his work.6Then King Asa brought all Judah, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber with which Baasha had been building, and with them he fortified Geba and Mizpah.7At 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.8Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand.9For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”10Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him for this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time.11Now, the acts of Asa from first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.12In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians.13So Asa slept with his fathers, having died in the forty-first year of his reign.14They buried him in his own tomb which he had cut out for himself in the city of David, and they laid him in the resting place which he had filled with spices of various kinds blended by the perfumers’ art; and they made a very great fire for him.).
We can use these four events to divide his history into, as it literally says when the end of his life is described, “the first and the last” (2Chr 16:1111Now, the acts of Asa from first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.). His life has a first and a last part. The contrasts can be seen in 2 Chronicles 14-15 on the one hand and 2 Chronicles 16 on the other hand. His history makes clear that there is a blessing attached to the search for God, but also how foolish it is to seek help from people.