Tuesday, February 5, 2008

1 Kings 16:8-34

What is this passage all about?

Baasha's son Elah succeeded him as king of Israel but was killed by Zimri, spent his week as king killing all of Baasha's descendents then being beseiged at Tirzah where he committed suicide burning the palace down; Omri, the army commander who led the seige was appointed king despite another contender Tibni who was also killed. Omri bought a hill, moved the capital there and called the city Samaria. His son Ahab became king of Israel after him.

What can I learn from it?

There is a constant refrain throughout this passage: "he did evil in the sight of the LORD" (cf v19 - Zimri, v25 - Omri, vv30,33 - Ahab). All those assassinations! Yet it wasn't the killing that is mentioned as being the sins of these men, (with the possible exception of Zimri,) so much as their apostasy and idolatry. Even Zimri walked "in the ways of Jeroboam" (v19). There is no detail of Elah's reign except that he, like his father Baasha, provoked the LORD to anger with his idolatry and caused Israel to sin (v13), that and that he was getting drunk when Zimri assassinated him. Omri made a smart political move in moving the capital from Tirzah (where the palace had been destroyed, presumably, by Zimri's fire) to the better situated Samaria (vv23-24). However, when it came to sinning, Omri (v25) "sinned more than all those before him." No wonder he raised such an evil son as Ahab!

How does this help me worship God?

This passage gives example after example of why the nation of Israel was punished with Exile into Assyria. It also gives me a picture of the extravagance of God's mercy in not punishing the Israelites sooner. True, in leaving them 'to their own devices' so to speak, He left them to kill each other, but this gave Israel opportunity to repent under each new king. Except they didn't.

God is great in mercy, patient and longsuffering with my sins as well as those of Israel. He forgives me time after time after time. He doesn't punish me but gives me new opportunities every morning, every moment, to choose to walk in His ways rather than on my own path. Praise be to God for his mercy!

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