Verses 1–4

We have here a general character of the reign of Ahaz. Few and evil were his days—few, for he died at thirty-six—evil, for we are here told, 1. That he did not that which was right like David (2 Kgs. 16:2), that is, he had none of that concern and affection for the instituted service and worship of God for which David was celebrated. He had no love for the temple, made no conscience of his duty to God, nor had any regard to his law. Herein he was unlike David; it was his honour that he was of the house and lineage of David, and it was owing to God’s ancient covenant with David that he was now upon the throne, which aggravated his wickedness; for he was a reproach to that honourable name and family, which therefore was really a reproach to him (Degeneranti genus opprobriumA good extraction is a disgrace to him who degenerates from it), and though he enjoyed the benefit of David’s piety he did not tread in the steps of it. 2. That he walked in the way of the kings of Israel (2 Kgs. 16:3), who all worshipped the calves. He was not joined in any affinity with them, as Jehoram and Ahaziah were with the house of Ahab, but, ex mero motu—without any instigation, walked in their way. The kings of Israel pleaded policy and reasons of state for their idolatry, but Ahaz had no such pretence: in him it was the most unreasonable impolitic thing that could be. They were his enemies, and had proved enemies to themselves too by their idolatry; yet he walked in their way. 3. That he made his sons to pass through the fire, to the honour of his dunghill-deities. He burnt them, so it is expressly said of him (2 Chron. 28:3), burnt some of them, and perhaps made others of them (Hezekiah himself not excepted, though afterwards he was never the worse for it) to pass between two fires, or to be drawn through a flame, in token of their dedication to the idol. 4. That he did according to the abominations of the heathen whom the Lord had cast out. it was an instance of his great folly that he would be guided in his religion by those whom he saw fallen into the ditch before his eyes, and follow them; and it was an instance of his great impiety that he would conform to those usages which God had declared to be abominable to him, and set himself to write after the copy of those whom God had cast out, thus walking directly contrary to God. 5. That he sacrificed in the high places, 2 Kgs. 16:4. If his father had but had zeal enough to take them away, the debauching of his sons might have been prevented; but those that connive at sin know not what dangerous snares they lay for those that come after them. He forsook God’s house, was weary of that place where, in his father’s time, he had often been detained before the Lord, and performed his devotions on high hills, where he had a better prospect, and under green trees, where he had a more pleasant shade. It was a religion little worth, which was guided by fancy, not by faith.