Here is, I. A plain and faithful reproof given to Asa by a prophet of the Lord, for making this league with Baasha. The reprover was Hanani the seer, the father of Jehu, another prophet, whom we read of 1 Kgs. 16:1; 2 Chron. 19:2. We observed several things amiss in Asa’s treaty with Benhadad. But that which the prophet here charges upon him as the greatest fault he was guilty of in that matter is his relying on the king of Syria and not on the Lord his God, 2 Chron. 16:7. He thought that, though God was on his side, this would not stand him in stead unless he had Benhadad on his side, that God either could not or would not help him, but he must take this indirect course to help himself. Note, God is much displeased when he is distrusted and when an arm of flesh is relied on more than his power and goodness. By putting our confidence in God we give honour to him, and therefore he thinks himself affronted if we give that honour to another. He plainly tells the king that herein he had done foolishly, 2 Chron. 16:9. It is a foolish thing to lean on a broken reed, when we have the rock of ages to rely upon. To convince him of his folly he shows him,
1. That he acted against his experience, 2 Chron. 16:8. He, of all men, had no reason to distrust God, who had found him such a present powerful helper, by whom he had been made to triumph over a threatening enemy, as his father before him, because he relied upon the Lord his God, (2 Chron. 13:18; 14:11. “What!” said the prophet, “Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim a huge host, enough to swallow up a kingdom? And yet, because thou didst rely on the Lord, he delivered them into thy hand; and was not he sufficient to help thee against Baasha?” Note, The many experiences we have had of the goodness of God to us aggravate our distrust of him. Has he not helped us in six troubles? And have we any reason to suspect him in the seventh? But see how deceitful our hearts are! We trust in God when we have nothing else to trust to, when need drives us to him; but, when we have other things to stay on, we are apt to stay too much on them and to lean on our own understanding as long as that has any thing to offer; but a believing confidence will be in God only, when a smiling world courts it most.
2. That he acted against his knowledge of God and his providence, 2 Chron. 16:9. Asa could not be ignorant that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the earth, strongly to hold with those (so it may be read) whose heart is perfect towards him; that is, (1.) That God governs the world in infinite wisdom, and the creatures, and all their actions, are continually under his eye. The eye of Providence is quick-sighted—it runs; it is intent—it runs to and fro; it reaches far—through the whole earth, no corner of which is from under it, not the most dark or distant; and his eye directs his hand, and the arm of his power; for he shows himself strong. Does Satan walk to and fro in the earth? Providence runs to and fro, is never out of the way, never to seek, never at a loss. (2.) That God governs the world for the good of his people, does all in pursuance of the counsels of his love concerning their salvation, all for Jacob his servant’s sake, and Israel his elect, Isa. 45:4. Christ is head over all things to his church, Eph. 1:22. (3.) That those whose hearts are upright with him may be sure of his protection and have all the reason in the world to depend upon it. He is able to protect them in the way of their duty (for wisdom and might are his), and he actually intends their protection. A practical disbelief of this is at the bottom of all our departures from God and double-dealing with him. Asa could not trust God and therefore made court to Benhadad.
3. That he acted against his interest. (1.) He had lost an opportunity of checking the growing greatness of the king of Syria, (2 Chron. 16:7): His host has escaped out of thy hand, which otherwise would have joined with Baasha’s and fallen with it. (2.) He had incurred God’s displeasure and henceforth must expect no peace, but the constant alarms of war, 2 Chron. 16:9. Those that cannot find in their hearts to trust God forfeit his protection and throw themselves out of it.
II. Asa’s displeasure at this reproof. Though it came from God by one that was known to be his messenger, though the reproof was just and the reasoning fair, and all intended for his good, yet he was wroth with the seer for telling him of his folly; nay, he was in a rage with him, 2 Chron. 16:10. Isa. this Asa? Isa. this he whose heart was perfect with the Lord all his days? Well, let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. A wise man, and yet in a rage! An Israelite, and yet in a rage with a prophet! A good man, and yet impatient of reproof, and that cannot bear to be told of his faults! Lord, what is man, when God leaves him to himself? Those that idolize their own conduct cannot bear contradiction; and those that indulge a peevish passionate temper may be transported by it into impieties as well as into indecencies, and will, some time or other, fly in the face of God himself. See what gall and wormwood this root of bitterness bore. 1. In his rage he committed the prophet to the jail, put him in a prison-house, as a malefactor, in the stocks (so some read it,) or into little-ease. God’s prophets meet with many that cannot bear reproof, but take it much amiss, yet they must do their duty. 2. Having proceeded thus far, he oppressed some of the people, probably such as owned the prophet in his sufferings, or were known to be his particular friends. He that abused his power for the persecuting of God’s prophet was left to himself further to abuse it for the crushing of his own subjects, whereby he weakened himself and lost his interest. Most persecutors have been tyrants.
III. His sickness. Two years before he died he was diseased in his feet (2 Chron. 16:12), afflicted with the gout in a high degree. He had put the prophet in the stocks, and now God put him in the stocks; so his punishment answered his sin. His disease was exceedingly great; it came to the height (so some); it flew up to his head (so others), and then it was mortal. This was his affliction; but his sin was that in his disease, instead of seeking to the Lord for relief, he sought to the physicians. His making use of physicians was his duty; but trusting to them, and expecting that from them which was to be had from God only, were his sin and folly. The help of creatures must always be used with an eye to the Creator, and in dependence upon him, who makes every creature that to us which it is, and without whom the most skilful and faithful are physicians of no value. Some think that these physicians were strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, and were a sort of conjurers, to whom he applied as if there were not a God in Israel.
IV. His death and burial. His funeral had something of extraordinary solemnity in it, 2 Chron. 16:14. They made a very magnificent burying for him. I am loth to think (as some do) that he himself ordered this funeral pomp, and that it was an instance of his vanity, that he would be buried like the Gentiles, and not after the way of the Jews. It is said indeed, He digged the sepulchre for himself, as one mindful of his grave; but I am willing to believe that this funeral pomp was rather an expression of the great respect his people retained for him, notwithstanding the failings and infirmities of his latter days. It was agreed to do him honour at his death. Note, The eminent piety and usefulness of good men ought to be remembered to their praise, though they have had their blemishes. Let their faults be buried in their graves, while their services are remembered over their graves. He that said, There is not a just man that doeth good and sinneth not, yet said also, The memory of the just is blessed; and let it be so.