So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years.2 Chronicles 14:1. In his days the land was quiet ten years — There was no war with the kingdom of Israel, which did not recover the blow given in the last reign for a great while. Abijah’s victory, which was owing, under God, to his courage and bravery, laid a foundation for Asa’s peace, which was the reward of his piety, and the reformation he effected. Though Abijah had little religion himself, he was instrumental in preparing the way for one that had much. If Abijah had not done what he did to quiet the land, Asa could not have done what he did to reform it.
And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God:2 Chronicles 14:2. Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord — Happy they that walk by this rule; that do not only that which is right in their own eyes, or in the eyes of the world, but which is so in God’s eyes. Asa saw that God’s eye was always upon him, and therefore he kept his eye always upon God, studied to approve himself to him, and endeavoured in all things to please him.
For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves:2 Chronicles 14:3. He took away the altars of the strange gods — Since the time when Solomon admitted idolatry, in the latter end of his reign, it appears, nothing had been done till now to suppress it; so that it may be presumed it had gained ground. Strange gods were worshipped, and had their altars, images, and groves: and the temple-service, though kept up by the priests, was neglected by many of the people. As soon as Asa had power in his hands, he made it his business to destroy those idolatrous altars and images, they being a great provocation to the jealous God, and a great temptation to a careless and unthinking people. He hoped, by destroying the idols, to reform the idolaters, which he had in view, and not their destruction.
And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment.2 Chronicles 14:4-5. He commanded Judah to seek the Lord — By his royal edicts he commanded them to worship God, and him only. And to do the law, and the commandment — To observe all divine institutions, which many had neglected, and to practise all that the law of Moses required of them. And the kingdom was quiet before him — Though, it is probable, they were much in love with their idols, and very loath to part with them; yet the convictions of their consciences sided with the commands of Asa, and they could not, for shame, but comply with them. They that have power in their hands, and will use it vigorously for the suppression of profaneness, and the reformation of manners, will, in general, not meet with so much difficulty and opposition as, perhaps, they might expect. Vice is a mean and base thing, and carries its own shame and condemnation on the face of it; while virtue has always reason enough on its side to make iniquity stop her mouth, Psalm 107:42.
Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him.
And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the LORD had given him rest.2 Chronicles 14:6-7. He built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest — He wisely provided for war in the time of peace. The Lord had given him rest — Those have rest indeed to whom God gives rest; peace indeed to whom Christ gives peace. Asa takes notice of the rest they had as the gift of God, and the happy consequence of their seeking the Lord. Because we have sought the Lord, he hath given us rest on every side — Whatever rest we enjoy, whether of body or mind, of our family or country, God ought to be acknowledged with thankfulness as the author of it. For as the frowns and rebukes of Providence should be observed as a check to us in an evil way, so the smiles of Providence should be taken notice of for our encouragement in that which is good. We find by experience that it is good to seek the Lord; it gives us rest. While we pursue the world, we meet with nothing but vexation.
Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us; because we have sought the LORD our God, we have sought him, and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered.
And Asa had an army of men that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these were mighty men of valour.
And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah.2 Chronicles 14:9. There came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian — Or, the Arabian, as the Hebrew word Cush is frequently used, and must necessarily be understood, 2 Chronicles 21:16, and 2 Kings 19:9. The Arabians were much nearer to Asa than the Ethiopians, who could not have come to attack him but through Egypt, which probably the king of Egypt would not have permitted them to do. And came unto Mareshah — A city upon and within the borders of Judah, Joshua 15:44. Though Asa and his people still sought the Lord, yet he suffered this immense force of a thousand thousand men, to come against them, that their faith in him might be tried, and that he might have an opportunity of doing great things for them.
Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.
And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, 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.2 Chronicles 14:11. Asa cried unto the Lord his God — He that sought God in the time of his peace and prosperity, could, with holy boldness, cry to God in the day of his trouble, and call him his God. Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, &c. — There is no difference or difficulty with thee, to help or save by many or few, by those that are mighty, or by them that have no power — Thus he gives the glory of his almighty power to him, who works in his own strength, not in the strength of instruments: nay, whose glory it is to help the most helpless, and perfect strength in the weakness of his people. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on thee — He was well prepared for this attack, having of Judah three hundred thousand, and of Benjamin two hundred and eighty thousand, all well armed, and mighty men of valour, 2 Chronicles 14:8; yet he trusted not to his preparations, but relied on the Lord. In thy name we go against this great multitude — That is, by thy commission, in confidence of thy assistance, and for the maintenance of thy honour, and service, and people. Let not man prevail against thee — Hebrew, אנושׁ, enosh, mortal man. If he prevail against us, it will be said that he prevails against thee; because thou art our God, and we rest on thee, and go forth in thy name, which thou hast encouraged us to do. The enemy is a mortal man; make it appear what an unequal match he is for an immortal God! Maintain, Lord, thine own honour.
So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.2 Chronicles 14:12-13. So the Lord smote the Ethiopians — Smote them with terror, and an unaccountable consternation, so that they fled, and knew not why or whither. Asa and the people pursued them unto Gerar — A city of the Philistines, who probably were confederate with them in this design. They were destroyed before the Lord — For who can stand before him? And before his host — The host of Israel, called God’s host, because owned by him as his people. They carried away very much spoil — From the slain, together with the plunder of their camp.
And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.
And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the LORD came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them.2 Chronicles 14:14-15. They smote all the cities round about Gerar — Partly because they had joined with Zerah in this war, and partly because the Ethiopians had sheltered a great part of the remains of their army in them. For the fear of the Lord came upon them — That is, God struck them with such a fear, that they had no heart to withstand, or even to make any resistance against the conquerors. They smote also the tents of cattle — That is, the dwellers in tents, who were either a part of Zerah’s company, or joined with them, or had come along with them, to furnish that great host with necessary provisions. And carried away sheep and camels — Fetched them away out of the enemy’s country in vast numbers.
They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem.