Asa’s rule over Judah was ticking right along. As God had promised David, David’s family was continuing to reign over God’s people, even though the kingdom had become divided and Asa’s reign was only over the Southern Kingdom of Judah, made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, plus those from other tribes who had deserted the tumultuous Northern Kingdom.
Meanwhile, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was going through leaders in a hurry. Jeroboam’s son Nadab was bumped off by Baasha. Baasha’s son Elah became king and then, while “Elah was getting drunk at the home of Arza, the supervisor of the palace. Zimri walked in and struck him down and killed him. Then Zimri became the next king” (I Kings 16:9b-10a, 10c, NLT).
“Zimri, who commanded half of the royal chariots” (I Kings 16:9a), wasn’t satisfied with his important position – he wanted the top spot, just as Jeroboam had. And to insure his job security once he’d gotten there, “Zimri immediately killed the entire royal family of Baasha” (I Kings 16:11a). In other words, Zimri had it made in the proverbial shade. Or did he?
“Zimri began to rule over Israel in the twenty-seventh year of King Asa’s reign in Judah, but his reign in Tirzah lasted only seven days. The army of Israel was then attacking the Philistine town of Gibbethon. When they heard that Zimri had committed treason and had assassinated the king, that very day they chose Omri, commander of the army, as the new king of Israel. So Omri led the entire army of Israel up from Gibbethon to attack Tirzah, Israel’s capital. When Zimri saw that the city had been taken, he went into the citadel of the palace and burned it down over himself and died in the flames” (I Kings 16:15-18).
Zimri had a great job, but he wanted a better one. And he wanted it badly enough to kill for it. He took the lives of countless members of Baasha’s family, just as Baasha had done to Jeroboam’s family. And for what? One miserable week as king.
Ambition can be a good thing or a bad thing. If your ambition encourages you to do your very best, that’s a good thing. But when ambition leads to envy, it’s unhealthy. Don’t be a criticizer; be an encourager.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.” (Theodore Roosevelt)
“Many Christians estimate difficulties in the light of their own resources, and thus attempt little and often fail in the little they attempt. All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and presence with them.” (Hudson Taylor)