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William Shepard

Asa, King of Judah

When Omri died, he was succeeded by his son Ahab. Now during all these years Asa, the son of Abijah, and grandson of Jeroboam, had been reigning in Jerusalem. He did not imitate the vices of his fathers, but was just and righteous in all his actions, and he feared God and worshipped Him. He destroyed all the idols and purified the kingdom from the wicked practices of the heathen. God blessed him, and gave him a long and prosperous reign, and made him triumph over his enemies. A great king named Zerah, who ruled over Ethiopia, was the first to declare war against him. He brought with him an army of one million men, one hundred thousand of whom were mounted on horses. Asa met him at Mareshah, a city belonging to the tribe of Judah, and when he saw the multitude of the enemy he cried out and besought God to give him the victory, for without His aid it were madness to attack such a large army. God heard his prayer, and told him He would be with him in the coming battle. Then Asa joyfully rushed against the enemy, and after a long and bloody fight he defeated them and pursued them as far as their own country, and took a great booty. When Asa and his army were returning in triumph to Jerusalem they were stopped on the way by a prophet, who spoke to them, and said,—

"The reason, O men of Judah, that you have obtained this victory from God is that ye have shown yourselves good and religious men, and if ye persevere in virtue God will ever grant you victory over your enemies; but if ye fall away and return to your idols, ye shall be visited by heavy afflictions, and the time will come wherein no true prophet will be left in your whole multitude, nor a priest who shall deliver you a true answer from the sacrifices, but your cities shall be overthrown and your nation scattered over the whole earth, and ye shall live the lives of strangers and wanderers."

Therefore Asa and his subjects determined to live in the practice of virtue, and God blessed them accordingly. And after Asa had reigned happily and prosperously for forty-one years he died, and his son Jehoshaphat succeeded him.