2 Chronicles 16:12
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and it became increasingly severe. Yet even in his illness he did not seek the LORD, but only the physicians.
Sermons
Lessons from Last YearsW. Clarkson 2 Chronicles 16:10-14
Asa; or Failure At the LastD. Hessey.2 Chronicles 16:11-12
The Career of AsaT. Whitelaw 2 Chronicles 16:11-14
Asa and the PhysiciansS. B. James, M.A.2 Chronicles 16:12-13
God Left Out of the CalculationChristian Herald2 Chronicles 16:12-13
Mind-CureC.A. Bartol, D.D.2 Chronicles 16:12-13
Our Disinclination to Rely Upon God OnlyG. F. Pentecost.2 Chronicles 16:12-13
RetributionW. H. Bennett, M.A.2 Chronicles 16:12-13
SicknessH. Hollis.2 Chronicles 16:12-13
The Disease of Sin and its True PhysicianW. Sparrow, D. D.2 Chronicles 16:12-13
The Most Serious Punishments of SinW. H. Bennett, M. A.2 Chronicles 16:12-13
The Sin of AsaW. Sparrow, D. D.2 Chronicles 16:12-13
To the Medical ProfessionT. De Witt Talmage.2 Chronicles 16:12-13


I. HIS LIFE.

1. The length of his reign. Forty-one years. His father, whose "heart was not perfect" towards God (1 Kings 15:3), reigned only three years (2 Chronicles 13:3). The Old Testament promised long life as a reward to piety (Psalm 34:12-14). But, even without a special promise, a religious life is calculated to prolong days. "Fear God, and keep his commandments," is the first rule of health.

2. The incidents of his reign.

(1) The reformation of religion (2 Chronicles 14:3).

(2) The building of fortresses (2 Chronicles 14:6).

(3) The preparation of an army (2 Chronicles 14:8).

(4) The defeat of Zerah the Ethiopian (2 Chronicles 14:9).

(5) The formation of a grand national covenant (2 Chronicles 15:8).

(6) The making of a league with Benhadad (2 Chronicles 16:1).

(7) The oppression of his people (2 Chronicles 16:10).

3. The character of his reign.

(1) Peaceful. It began with ten years of quiet (2 Chronicles 14:1); and, with the two exceptions above specified, it had no more hostile invasions to repel.

(2) Prosperous. Since the days of Solomon the kingdom had not attained to such a pinnacle of excellence - of material strength and religious consolidation - as it did under the son of Abijah.

II. HIS DEATH.

1. The date of it. In the forty-first year of his reign; most likely he was over sixty at the time of his decease.

2. The cause of it. Twofold.

(1) Disease, Two years before his end he became diseased exceedingly in his feet; probably with gout (Clarke, Jamiesen). Whatever its nature, it was fatal. Disease a sure precursor of death, of which every ailment should be a monitor.

(2) Unbelief. Had he consulted Jehovah about his malady (the Chronicler suggests), he might have been cured; but, as in repelling Baasha's attack he relied more on Benhadad than on Jehovah, so in his illness he repaired to the physicians instead of to Jehovah. To infer from this that Asa sinned in consulting a doctor, and that Christians should abstain from calling in medical advisers when out of health, is unreasonable. Asa's error lay, not in consulting the physicians, but in reposing trust in them to the exclusion of the Lord; and, as Paul took Luke the physician with him on his missionary journeys (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11), it may be argued that he at least did not regard it as inconsistent with religious principle to either give or accept medical advice. Still, what the doctors could not do for Asa, Jehovah could have done had he been consulted (Exodus 15:26; Psalm 103:3); so that unbelief was a real cause of Asa's death. Perhaps it is the cause of many deaths still. Without hinting that many practitioners are no better than those of whom the Gospels tell (Mark 5:26; Luke 8:43), it is still true that physicians cannot cure without the Divine blessing; and, doubtless, in cases that is withheld, because it is not asked either by the physician or his patient.

III. HIS BURIAL.

1. The place of his sepulture. The city of David, where his fathers slept (1 Kings 15:24), yet not in the general tomb of the kings, but in "his own sepulchres;" in a tomb he had specially caused to be excavated for himself (ver. 14). Joseph of Arimathaea hewed out a tomb for himself (Luke 23:53). The first thing a Pharaoh of Egypt did on ascending the throne was to construct for himself and descendants a royal mausoleum (Harkness, 'Egyptian Life and History.' p. 57).

2. The manner of his entombment.

(1) His corpse was embalmed. The bed on which it was laid was filled with sweet odours and spices of divers kinds, prepared by the apothecaries' art. Strictly speaking, this was only an imitation of the Egyptian practice (Keil, 'Archaologie,' §115; Riehm, art. "Begrianis"). Compare the embalmments of Jacob (Genesis 50:2) and of Jesus (John 19:39, 40).

(2) A very great burning was made for him. This burning was not of the body (A. Clarke), which, among the Hebrews, was commonly interred - the burning of the bodies of Saul and his sons (1 Samuel 31:12) being exceptional - but of the prepared spices. Other nations practised similar rites at the funerals of kings. Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:19) and Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 22:18), on account of their wickedness, were denied such honours; Zedekiah was promised them (Jeremiah 34:5), perhaps, on account of his misfortunes.

IV. HIS CHARACTER.

1. A good man. His heart was perfect (2 Chronicles 15:7; 1 Kings 15:14), if his life was not (2 Chronicles 16:10). The general tenor of his conduct was upright, though he erred somewhat towards the close of his career. "It was thought a high eulogy on Jehoshaphat his son that he walked in all the way of his father" (Rawlinson); while the honours paid Asa on dying showed that his countrymen esteemed him to have been an honourable prince. His "faults and follies" may suggest that no man is perfect, and that "in many things we all offend."

2. An ardent reformer. He removed the altars and the high places of the strange gods or foreign divinities (2 Chronicles 14:3), though he left standing those belonging to Jehovah (2 Chronicles 15:17; 1 Kings 15:14). He "commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers" (2 Chronicles 14:4), and bound mere by a solemn league and covenant so to do (2 Chronicles 15:14), though he himself, in old age, declined a little from his early faith (2 Chronicles 16:2, 12).

3. A valiant soldier. That with his piety he combined courage, his encounter with Zerah the Ethiopian evinced. If he was genuinely good, he was also conspicuously great. - W.







And Asa, in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet
That sickness is twin born with sin is the oldest tradition in the world. Our maladies arise from something finer than the germs any microscope can detect; and if all disease has its origin in the ill-disposed spirit, in a different well-disposed spirit it may have its cure. There can be no doubt that a mind morbid or in health affects the body. Some persons, by their presence and air, make us sick or well. Temperance is a virtue before it is a bodily trait. All vice digs a mine of ruin which no physician can countermine. What doctor can prescribe for an inordinate affection, from his pocket-book or medicine-chest? A little mind-cure were better than a complete apothecary's shop; and in one's own mind, often more than in another's, the remedy lies. Safety and peril reside in the same region of the affections, even as the very sea that tosses brings us to port. Like cures like; the hair of the dog his own bite; and herbs, as George Herbert says, the flesh they find their acquaintance in. There is no malady which guilty intrigues, extravagant passions, and corroding cares may not produce or increase; and none which good affections will not alleviate or remove. Many a heap of flowers have I seen on coffins that would not have been made by plane and hammer so soon had a tithe of the green leaves, lilies, and roses been strewn along the way. Christ's miracles were wrought on a promise of faith, for the blind eye, for the withered hand, and for the remorseful conscience in him whom He assured, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee," an insane compunction being in this case the evil root. Peter commanded the cripple to stand on his feet, perceiving that he had faith to be healed. The good Samaritan poured out something more than oil and wine into the robbed traveller's wounds. There are in us gashes and ghastly wounds, perhaps unknown to the inflictors, which no sword or dagger ever made. A word or a look was enough to stab us; shall no words or looks suffice to make us whole? No medicaments, only mental cure, can either probe them or bind them up. Right ordering of our active powers is a medicine, as well as that merry heart of which the Preacher speaks. The steadfast will is a life-preserver, and buoys up against spiritual drowning. Heal the mind tired and sore with brooding on absent or unresponsive objects: with labour that cases it, while it wearies the muscles and makes the sweat, according to the old decree, run down the face. As the girders and cross-ties of the bridge distribute the pressure on it of heavy loads, so various duty lightens by dividing every burden of grief or pain. Such considerations may show how far a sane body is not only inhabited, but made, by a sane mind. Let us notice more particularly the connection between sickness and sin.

I. THEY HAVE THE SAME ORIGIN.

II. THEY HAVE THE SAME PROPAGATION AND SPREAD.

III. WHY, THEN, SHOULD NOT THE CURE OF SICKNESS RUN PARALLEL WITH ITS CONTINUANCE AND CAUSE? Disorder is inherited. Ezekiel protests against the proverb that the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge. Nevertheless, it is true. For example of this communication or transmission, take the illustration of fear. What a leaven it is! Terror is not only a wretchedness, but a disgrace, an exposure to harm. You will be likely to have what you dread. What you rehearse you will enact. This is the shorthand history of disease, misery, and crime. Bonaparte, in his better days, thought the bullet was not run and moulded he should be hit by, though cannonballs ploughed the earth into powder at his side; felt no alarm for himself from the plague in Egypt, and fortified his soldiers against it, with that brave deportment of his own. To what but panic is due the large destruction of life in buildings falling or on fire, in battles like that of Bull Run, and in wrecks at sea? We must be of good heart to be secure. How many have been sick of a thought or of a certain company or of a single companion! How many have got well with thoughts alone that could cure! By one who served in our civil war I was told of sick soldiers who, in their despair, voluntarily turned their faces to the wall and died, because they wanted, and had made up their mind, to die. If as they lay moaning on their beds had come some token of affection, the step of some Florence Nightingale, or any good message, they would have opened their eyes, stretched their limbs, and lived! A grain, a hair, the twentieth part of a scruple, in delicate conditions and a tremulous suspense determines the scale; and the balance hangs for us all to put the atom into, so intimate is the relation between body and mind. We decide each other's fate every day. Balzac tells us of a mother who suddenly expires after one more of her unnatural daughter's hard words; and he adds that the slaughter by savages of those too old to continue on the march is philanthropy in the comparison. This is happening every day. A gentle remembrance from one — a note, a flower, a book, a hand-grasp — to assure us our days of usefulness are not over, enables us to live and labour still. The supernatural acts through the natural. Let us make the connection and be all of us well. Be its fault or defect what it may, I greet, therefore, the new departure which lays the stress on the mind.

(C.A. Bartol, D.D.)

1. Though it is not my purpose to dwell upon the general features in this history, I cannot help remarking how strongly one is inclined in hearing it to exclaim, "Lord, what is man! In his best estate, moral as well as physical, he is altogether vanity." Here is a person that appears to have been piously educated, that in his youth was piously and deeply impressed; that when clothed in royal purple still remembered his responsibility to a higher power, and felt and acknowledged his dependence on it; that in his mature years departed not from the way in which he had been trained up; and that knew by a single personal experience that it is a way of pleasantness and a path of peace; in his old age guilty of the greatest inconsistencies, to say the very least. May we not reasonably suppose that, during his long prosperity, his heart had become in a measure hardened by the deceitfulness of sin; that indolence had corrupted, and pride, taking occasion from the happy condition of his people, of which he had been the instrument, had puffed him up; and that prayer, in consequence, had been restrained before God? Be sober, be vigilant, be prayerful, be humble, is the moral of this melancholy tale.

2. This monarch's history may also teach us that, what we deem our strongest point of character may in fact prove our weakest. Asa's distrust in Divine, and over-trust in human power, was the last sin, most probably, which he thought would ever beset him. "Though all men forsake Thee," said St. Peter, "yet will not I." His courage he was sure would abide, however that of the other disciples might falter. That he felt was not his weak point; and probably it was not naturally. When we are conscious of weakness, and in consequence lean constantly on an Almighty arm, then our strength never faileth. How can it? In the confidence of this it was that the apostle Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ strengthening me." On the other hand, let a man feel strong in himself, and of consequence lean on himself, in the things of religion, we are told we can do nothing. The lesson, then, to be learned from the history of Asa, in this view of it, plainly is, to glory in nothing as of ourselves, to distrust ourselves even in our strongest point, and to count all our sufficiency as of God through Christ.

3. A third particular in this narrative, well worth noticing, is the pertinacity which Asa exhibited in his sin, and how in consequence one transgression led on to another. David committed some most fearful sins, and a prophet was sent to reprove and warn him. His confession was, "I have sinned against the Lord." Not so Asa. His crime, though indeed not so horrible, was equally certain; yet when the prophet reproves him, the historian tells us "he was in a rage with him because of this thing"; and added to the sin, and to a denial of it, persecution of God's servant for delivering God's message. The sin of Asa, though certain and heinous, as I have said, was not so palpable and overt as that of David. It lay more exclusively between God and his own soul. It was an offence which shortsighted men, who cannot read the heart, could not with propriety charge him with. The sins which are known with certainty only to Omniscience are the last which corrupt human nature is willing to acknowledge. It hides itself from its own guilt and from its obligation to confess and forsake its sin, under the cover of its fellow-creatures' ignorance. From this hiding place, to which Asa had manifestly fled, man could not dislodge him. God's resources, however, were not exhausted.When His prophet failed to do it, He sent another messenger to the king in the shape of a most painful disease which finally proved mortal.

1. Health, it is generally acknowledged, is the very greatest of all personal and temporal blessings. By its influence on the inner man it gives new glory to objects already bright, and pours light on that which would otherwise be dark. It converts to luxuries the plainest food, and adds a sweetness to a cup of cold water which nectar in the hand of an invalid partakes not of. Health is valuable not only as an exemption from pain and anxiety, but as a positive good. It causes positive happiness to spring up — to well up from the depths of the soul, the operation of which the man may be unable to explain, but to the mysterious sweetness of which he is ready to testify with a rejoicing, and, would that we could say always, a grateful heart. I do not mean to say, however, that the blessing when in possession is always adequately realised and appreciate. Like other things, the loss of it, at least for a time, is in many cases necessary to open our eyes to its value. The fact that the natural issue of sickness is death is, of itself, enough to give health an inestimable value; and that fact is felt by him who has felt the gnawings of disease; and who that has reached even middle life has not experienced them?

2. But though it is thus inevitable, disease may be mitigated and its fatal consequences postponed. This is effected by one of the greatest mercies which Providence has vouchsafed to man: I mean the healing art. It is not common, perhaps, to regard it in this light, but most certainly it ought to be so regarded. This art is one of great dignity and beneficence. It is found in every country, and among the most savage and most cultivated nations of the earth; and though it seems to have advanced more slowly than many other — perhaps most other — arts and sciences, yet so early was its commencement, and so universal has been its cultivation, it has now attained great perfection. In most departments, where once human aid was unattempted or unavailing to the patient, it is astonishing what can be done for his relief, and for his restoration to society and the full enjoyment of it. This blessed art, moreover, is but an imitation of a merciful provision of nature; even as when pursued and practised on its proper principles, it consists in a co-operating with, and taking advantage of, the powers of nature. With the recuperative and healing properties of nature a true practitioner of the healing art is a co-worker. It is his high calling, in a scientific manner to aid and minister to and increase this beneficent provision. He is not occupied in helping to gratify an idle vanity, nor in pandering to luxury and over-indulgence. His business is, in the way described, to relieve distress, to dry the tear of sorrow, to rekindle the lamp of hope. It has been acutely observed that there is a likeness in the practice of this art, not only to the healing power of nature referred to, and to the course of that Providence by which both nature and art have been ordained, and to the all-merciful conduct of God manifest in the flesh while He sojourned on the earth, but also in the methods which Providence uses ordinarily for the attainment of these benevolent ends. "Both are designed to restore what is lost, and to repair what is disordered; both have the production of ease and happiness for their ultimate object; both frequently make use of pains and privations as the means of procuring it, but neither of them employs an atom more of these than is necessary for that purpose."

3. Now from all this it follows that though nothing is expressly said in commendation of this art in the Holy Scriptures, nor any command given to resort to it for relief under our bodily ailments, yet the art and the use of it are manifestly according to the mind and will of God. The mere fact that God has put healing virtue into the productions of the animal and vegetable kingdoms, and given man the power to discover its existence, is sufficient warrant, in the silence of Scripture, for the thankful use of it wherever it may be necessary. It has been thought by some that the sin here condemned was resorting not to regular physicians, but to those who attempted cures by charms and other superstitious devices. Such conduct, though not generally thought so by those who indulge in it, is essentially atheistic. He was seeking good from a source not sanctioned by Heaven. He was in pursuit of health in a quarter which God did not bless. In a word, he was not seeking it of Him from whom cometh every good and perfect gift. This was atheism. It is not necessary, however, to suppose that Asa ran into this sin. He was guilty enough, and furnished sufficient ground for the censure in the text, without going to this extreme. Let us suppose, what the Scripture narrative makes probable, that through the influence of prosperity and its attendant snares and temptations, the heart of Asa had waxed cold; that his religious feelings had declined; that whereas before, God was in his thoughts as his dependence, his protection, his comfort, his consolation, his joyful portion, now he lives in forgetfulness of Him, or, if thoughts of God ever enter his mind, they come but seldom and are speedily dismissed. While living habitually in this way, sickness smites him, violent and severe, and very naturally alarming. He sends for the physicians — for many of them. His dependence is on the powers of nature to the exclusion of the Divine Author of these powers. He looks anxiously to human skill, but feels no want, or offers no prayer for the Divine blessing on it. Asa seems to have sought a cure, as he would have done had he never heard of that almighty Being in whose hand are the issues of life and death. We see here that the Lord is a jealous God, and will not give His glory to another, and that His glory and His right as God is to be recognised by His intelligent creatures everywhere, in all the exigencies, duties, and privileges of life. In instituting the present system of means and ends, He did not intend that it should be forgotten that He planned the whole; and that the whole, destitute of any self-sustaining power, is sustained only by Him. He not only created all things, but also upholds all things by the word of His power. This is a fact, and a fact manifestly connected with His glory. He expects, therefore, that all intelligent creatures feel it and acknowledge it. There are two errors — opposite extremes, which He would have them carefully avoid. The first is a reliance upon Him to the exclusion or neglect of the means which He has commanded to be used. At first view it might seem as if such conduct were putting special honour upon Jehovah; but in truth it is open rebellion against His will. He hath not commanded this at our hands. It is a strange offering — an unclean sacrifice. In His works and in His Word, God has enjoined the diligent use of means; it is impious to turn away from the commandment, even under the pretence of honouring Him. The other extreme, and equally presumptuous, is a reliance on the means to the neglect of the Divine agency and blessing. If the first was an arrogant theism, this is a gross and stupid atheism. Paradoxical as it may sound, our duty and the dictate of pure reason is, that we use means as diligently as if God's aid were altogether unnecessary, and rely on God as sincerely as if means were unavailing. This is Scripture; this is the highest reason; nay, this human nature herself teaches when in extremity and unperverted by a theory. Who, when in conscious danger of his life, does not with a convulsive eagerness grasp at any and every means of safety, and at the same time lift a voice of agonising supplication for the Divine assistance? Our duty, then, plainly inculcated by the text, is to use means and to trust in the Lord, and to do this not of necessity, because death is imminent, but from a principle of obedience to His will, respect for His honour, and love to His name; and to do it also not only in extreme cases, but at all times. It belongs to such a spirit, as a matter of privilege as well as duty, to seek to the Lord also, and rely upon His help. In conclusion, I would observe that the text teaches a lesson in all analogous cases. For instance, if such is the temper of mind in which we should look for medicines to heal the body, the same should we have in the use of food for the maintenance of life. A blessing asked, when we take our meals, is only in conformity with these principles. So our Lord when on the earth regarded it, for He sanctioned it by His practice. And again it plainly says to those whose calling in life is trade, that whilst they industriously employ all honourable means for the maintenance and advancement of themselves and their families, they should bear in mind that there is an overruling Providence which sees through the complications of events as man cannot, and can give them such issue as may be pleasing in His sight. In short, the text teaches us that we should all, at all times and under all circumstances, realise the presence of God and lean upon His power and goodness, vouchsafed us through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(W. Sparrow, D. D.)

I. SIN IS A DISEASE UNDER WHICH ALL MEN ARE LABOURING.

II. TO GET RID OF THE DISEASE OF SIN MEN RESORT TO FORBIDDEN AND UNAUTHORISED MEANS.

III. THEY OUGHT TO DEPEND ON CHRIST AS THE ONLY EFFECTUAL AND INFALLIBLE PHYSICIAN OF SOULS.

(W. Sparrow, D. D.)

Here is King Asa with the gout. In defiance of God he sends for certain conjurors or quacks. With the result "And Asa slept with his fathers." That is, the doctors killed him. In this sharp and graphic way the Bible sets forth the truth that you have no right to shut God out from the realm of pharmacy and therapeutics. If Asa had said, "Oh, Lord, I am sick; bless the instrumentality employed for my recovery! Now, servant, go and get the best doctor you can find," he would have recovered. The world wants Divinely directed physicians. Men of the medical profession, we often meet in the home of distress. We meet to-day by the altars of God. As in the nursery children sometimes re-enact all the scenes of the sick-room, so to-day you play that you are the patient and that I am the physician, and take my prescription just once.

I. In the first place, I think ALL THE MEDICAL PROFESSION SHOULD BECOME CHRISTIANS BECAUSE OF THE DEBT OF GRATITUDE THEY OWE TO GOD FOR THE HONOUR HE HAS PUT UPON THEIR CALLING. Cicero said: "There is nothing in which men so approach the gods as when they try to give health to other men."

II. The medical profession ought to be Christians, BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY TRIALS AND ANNOYANCES IN THAT PROFESSION THAT NEED POSITIVE CHRISTIAN SOLACE.

III. The medical profession ought to be Christians, BECAUSE THERE ARE PROFESSIONAL EXIGENCIES WHEN THEY NEED GOD. Asa's destruction by unblessed physicians was a warning. There are awful crises in every medical practice when a doctor ought to know how to pray. I do not mean to say that piety will make up for medical skill A bungling doctor, confounded with what was not a very bad case went into the next room to pray. A skilled physician was called in. He asked for the first practitioner. "Oh!" they said, "he's in the next room praying." "Well." said the skilled doctor, "tell him to come out here and help, he can pray and work at the same time." It was all in that sentence. Do the best we can and ask God to help us.

IV. The medical profession ought to be Christians, BECAUSE THERE OPENS BEFORE THEM A GRAND FIELD FOR CHRISTIAN USEFULNESS.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

The great truth taught us in this verse is — that afflictions, in their measure, nature, and duration, result neither from chance nor necessity, nor second causes, but primarily from the wise, sovereign, and righteous appointment of the Eternal.

I. ASA'S DISEASE. The former part of this verse mentions what this disease was — "And Asa in the thirty, and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great." Commentators suppose that this disease in his feet was the gout, and that it was a just punishment for putting the prophet's feet in the stocks. How varied the disease to which human nature is liable.

1. The person afflicted — Asa the king. This circumstance teaches us that when the Almighty wills afflictions, none can escape them — no, not even kings. When kings commit evil they must expect to be punished as well as others. King Jehoram sinned against the Lord, and the Lord visited him with a disease in his bowels. King Uzziah transgressed the Lord's commandments, and the Lord smote him with leprosy: "And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a separate house, being a leper." Asa was diseased in his feet. Honours, riches, power shield us not from disease. When God gives the commission, afflictions enter the palace as well as the meanest hut.

2. The violence of Asa's disorder. "His disease was exceeding great." Sometimes we think our trials very heavy; but when compared with those of others we find them light. Hence, if your case is very painful, it is not singular.

3. The period of its continuance. Asa was diseased in his feet two years. When the Lord afflicts us for a month, a week, yea, sometimes, when we are in pain only one day, we think it a long time. But how short the period of our pains when compared with others! It might have lasted for many years.

II. ASA'S DUTY. When it is said that Asa sought not unto the Lord, it implies that he ought to have done so.

1. The purposes for which you should seek unto the Lord in your afflictions. The advice which Eliphaz gave to Job in his affliction was most excellent, and is suitable to us on all occasions: "Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward. I would seek unto God, and unto God would commit my cause." The afflicted should seek unto God, in disease, that they may know its design. "Shew me," prays Job, "wherefore Thou contendest with me." The Lord's way, both in mercy and in judgment, is in the sea, and His footsteps, oftentimes, are not seen. Since, therefore, none can give us the information we need but God Himself, and since also it is so important for us to know the design of Our trials, let us not do as Asa did, but as Eliphaz recommends — seek unto God. When diseases visit us we should seek unto God, that He would give us grace to sustain them. None but He who lays these burdens on our shoulders can sustain us under them. That these visitations may be duly improved is another end we should propose in seeking unto the Lord. God should be sought unto in affliction, that He may remove them. The Lord should be sought unto in sickness, that His righteousness in afflicting may be devoutly acknowledged.

2. The manner in which God should be approached unto in these circumstances. First, in faith — the Christian must exercise faith in his heavenly Father's providence, promises, and revealed character. Secondly, in humility — the Christian has merited all he endures, and has nothing of his own to plead. Thirdly, with resignation.

3. Some reasons why the Lord should be sought unto may be specified.(1) The manifest propriety of the thing itself. Unto whom should the servant go in his distress but unto the master?(2) The absolute dependence of the creature on God shows the importance and reasonableness. On God's will depends our health and sickness, adversity and prosperity, joys and sorrows.(3) These means are Divinely appointed, consequently we cannot neglect them without considerable danger to our souls. "For this thing will I be inquired of by the house of Israel, that I may do it for them."(4) The example of all good men — David, Job, Paul, and others, when in distress, sought unto the Lord in prayer: this was their uniform practice; and, indeed, prayer is the best plaster for all our wounds.

III. ASA'S SIN. Asa's sin is a common sin — the way of the multitude, Asa's sin was a great sin — he put the creature before the Creator. Asa's sin, unrepented of, is a ruinous sin. " Shall I not visit for these things, saith the Lord?" Asa's conduct arises from many causes.

1. Ignorance. Sin has so darkened the mind that many have no right views of their relation to God.

2. Inattention. Some know these things, yet give them little or no serious attention. God is neither in all their ways nor in all their thoughts.

3. Independence. Sin has made man so proud that, if it were possible, he would do without God altogether.

4. Presumption. Many expect health, ease, and success without God's assistance.

5. Unbelief. Multitudes have no vital faith in God, His Word, nor in the necessity, efficacy, and advantages of prayer.Learn from this subject —

1. Means may be used, but we must be careful not to abuse them.

2. The best of men do not always keep in the same gracious frame of mind. Compare 2 Chronicles 14:2 with the text, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

3. The same sins that were prevalent in Asa's day are prevalent now.

(H. Hollis.)

I. It is interesting to notice WHO THIS SICK PERSON WAS. It was Asa, one of the kings of Judah. A king has no poverty to contend against; but — alike with his meanest subjects — he has sickness. Sickness is impartial, even as death. No luxury can materially soften it, no precaution can keep it away, no wealth can stay its course. What was Asa's course? He sought to the physicians. Surely he was, so far, right. It is thought that these physicians were charmers, bringers in of foreign superstitions, singers of useless incantations, and that herein lay Asa's wrong. The question does not relate to the kind of physician he went to, but only to the fact of his going. He did no wrong in seeking human help. We are never to give up at the first approach of sickness and wait for a special wonder of cure. It is not that he was wrong in seeking to the physicians, but very wrong in some other particulars.

1. He did not seek to the Lord, without whom human physicians may vainly exercise their skill and talents. Neither will prayer dispense with medicine nor medicine with prayer.

2. Asa was a king. The inconsistency which, in an unknown subject, would provoke but little comment, grows serious in the life of royalty. We expect nobleness, manliness, and exemplary conduct from kings. Asa set a bad example to his subjects and was false to his royal order. Asa was also false to God, for he was head of the Church and yet dishonoured prayer.

3. Asa suffered his disease to make him unjust and irritable. He cast Hanani into prison for telling him God's holy will.

4. Asa belied a previous life of piety. One of his prayers in time of health, when marching against his numerous enemies, had been more inspiring than the most stirring war-cry or the most martial summons to certain victory. "Lord! it is nothing to 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 the multitude. O Lord, Thou art our God; let not man prevail against Thee!" But now Asa was sick he forgot the trust he had formerly placed in the God of Israel. Sickness, more terrible than an army with banners, spoiled this king of his faith.

II. THE GENERAL LESSON TAUGHT BY SICKNESS.

1. Health is the gift of God. Many who are ready to acknowledge recovery to be so, and who gratefully thank God for it, forget that good health is a far greater blessing than recovery.

2. Health is a talent. What has been done with it?

3. Prepare for sickness by continuing mindful of its approach.

4. As regards our conduct to those who are sick. Asa was wrong, impatient, faithless; but the duty of his attendants and subjects was to hear with him. Sickness is trying. What seems like impatience to lookers-on would seem different were the places reversed.

5. The great lesson of all — a lesson of avoidance from Asa's fault — is to commit ourselves to the care of God; to seek, if able, to earthly physicians; but to seek with brighter hopes and fuller certainty to the Great Healer Himself

(S. B. James, M.A.)

From the theological standpoint of the chronicler's school, these invidious records of the sins of good kings were necessary in order to account for their misfortunes. That sin was always punished by complete, immediate, and manifest retribution in this life, and that conversely all misfortune was the punishment of sin, was probably the most popular religious teaching in Israel from early days till the time of Christ. This doctrine of retribution was current among the Greeks. When the Spartan King Cleomenes committed suicide, the public mind in Greece at once inquired of what particular sin he had thus paid the penalty. When in the course of the Peloponnesian war the AEginetans were expelled from their island, this calamity was regarded as a punishment inflicted upon them because fifty years before they had dragged away and put to death a suppliant who had caught hold of the handle of the door of the temple of Demeter Theomophorus.

(W. H. Bennett, M.A.)

These are not pain, ruin, disgrace. Their are the formation and confirmation of evil character. Herbert Spencer says "that motion once set up along any line becomes itself a cause of subsequent motion along that line." This is absolutely true in moral and spiritual dynamics: every wrong thought, feeling, word, or act, every failure to think, feel, speak, or act rightly, at once alters a man's character for the worse. Henceforth he will find it easier to sin and more difficult to do right; he has twisted another strand into the cord of habit; and though each may be as fine as a spider's web, in time there will be cords strong enough to have bound Samson before Delilah shaved off his seven locks. This is the true punishment of sin: to lose the fine instincts, the generous impulses, and the nobler ambitions of manhood, and become every day more of a beast and a devil.

(W. H. Bennett, M. A.)

Some years ago my wife and I were walking through the streets of Boston, having recently left our place of residence and living in a flat. My wife was without a servant; the summer was unusually hot even for our country, and the task of preparing the meals for the family was a grievance. Like a good husband, I had great sympathy with my wife, and so I rose in the morning and fit the fire. One day I saw a device advertised for cooking by oil, and after a little while I strained a large point, bought the stove, and brought it home in triumph. I said to my wife, "You will not have to be roasted any more over that old kitchen range"; but she was sceptical, as good wives are wont to be, and when I went in to see how the cooking was going on, I found a roaring fire in the old range as well, in case the new one would not work. I think we all want something to fall back upon, and like to have a roaring fire in the old range — to trust in our own efforts instead of relying on God.

(G. F. Pentecost.)

Christian Herald.
I knew a man who professed to love the Lord, and who really did so. He got into great difficulties, and racked his brain all night without avail for a way out of them. In the morning he went to the squire and the rector, and racked their brains about his troubles, but to no good effect. He then came to me, and asked me to pray with him about them, and my reply was, "No, I will not; you have racked your own, the rector's, and the squire's brain, and now you wish to make Jesus only the fourth instead of first. I won't take any part in doing that." He fell on his knees with such a beseeching look for forgiveness, and prayed, "Oh, how could I forget Thee, Lord? Yet even now I come and ask guidance." It is needless to say that the Lord graciously heard and answered, and gave him a triumphant issue out of all his troubles.

(Christian Herald.).

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