Good King Asa?
Theologians and Bible teachers often refer to Asa, the third king of Judah, as being “good King Asa.” Admittedly, Asa did achieve many good things during his 41 year reign over the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The account of his life is found in I Kings chapters 15 and 16 and in II Chronicles 14-16. If one reads those chapters together in one sitting, a good part of Jewish history can be absorbed.
As I read, I found the crowning moment of his good life displayed in II Chronicles 14:11 when King Asa cried out in prayer: “”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.” God answered, and in verse 12 it is recorded “So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.”
Asa faced conflicts with the Northern Kingdom of Israel and God allowed him peace sometimes through military strength and sometimes during diplomacy. He had to courage to stand against family when he ordered his own mother’s idol worship place to be destroyed and removed the queenly crown from her head.
Those were all good things. Nevertheless, that word, nevertheless, gives us a jerk in our kind and noble thoughts of this good king. A man of God, a seer named Hanani, steps into Asa’s life and gives him a grim warning. In his declining years, Asa did not continue to depend on God like he used to. II Chronicles 16:7-14 reveals a very sad portion of Asa’s life. When he heard the warning of the prophet, Hanani, he was angry—so angry that he put him into prison. Not only did he imprison Hanani, he oppressed his own people at the same time. Evidentially, there were those who dared to be loyal to those who follow God’s ways—like faithful Hanani.
In the 39th year of Asa’s reign, he became diseased in his feet. Verse 12 mentions that Asa “yet in his disease, he sought not the LORD, but to the physicians.” I may be reading into it too much, but I connect the passage as a stubborn resolve not to seek the Lord. He trusted the physicians, but not the Lord. That just isn’t right.
Asa lived well. Scripture tells us that in his youth he walked in the ways of King David with a devoted heart to be a righteous man. Nevertheless, in my opinion, Asa did not die well. I want to die as I have lived. I do not want to crumble in old age under the duress of illness. What would that do to my legacy? Ruination. “Lord, let me die well.”