Another quick recap: David’s son Solomon ruled all the tribes of Israel and was then succeeded by his son Rehoboam. Rehoboam’s arrogant attitude split the kingdom in fulfillment of God’s prophecy against Solomon’s idolatry. While Rehoboam ended up with kingship over two tribes – Judah and Benjamin, collectively known as Judah – Jeroboam was made king over the other ten tribes.
Rehoboam’s son Abijah (or Abijam) came next as king over Judah and then Abijah’s son Asa. He “began to rule over Judah in the twentieth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel. He reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years. Asa did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestor David had done” (I Kings 15:9-10a, 11, NLT). While David’s family continued to rule Judah, Israel’s kings were a different story.
Jeroboam died and his son Nadab became king; he was assassinated by Baasha. After Baasha died, his son Elah became king. 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).
“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).
So while Judah continued to live under the rule of Asa, Israel found itself with yet another new king, Omri. But the coronation of this king was anything but peaceful.
“But now the people of Israel were split into two factions. Half the people tried to make Tibni son of Ginath their king, while the other half supported Omri. But Omri’s supporters defeated the supporters of Tibni. So Tibni was killed, and Omri became the next king.
Omri began to rule over Israel in the thirty-first year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. He reigned twelve years in all, six of them in Tirzah. Then Omri bought the hill now known as Samaria from its owner, Shemer, for 150 pounds of silver. He built a city on it and called the city Samaria in honor of Shemer” (I Kings 16:21-24). And now you know how Samaria became the capital city of Israel instead of Tirzah. Jerusalem continued as capital of Judah.
“But Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. He followed the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat in all the sins he had committed and led Israel to commit. The people provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, with their worthless idols” (I Kings 16:25-26).
Things were going from bad to worse in Israel. But the worst was yet to come. “When Omri died, he was buried in Samaria. Then his son Ahab became the next king” (I Kings 16:28).
Israel had become a nation of godless idolaters. Asa ruled “all the people of Judah and Benjamin, along with the people of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had settled among them. For many from Israel had moved to Judah during Asa’s reign when they saw that the Lord his God was with him” (II Chronicles 15:9b).
“The Lord his God.” Asa was identified with the One True God. Folks, when you’re a genuine believer in Jesus Christ, you don’t need a bumper sticker or a t-shirt to say so. People see your life and know. Asa lived for the Lord and his genuineness drew others to him. Your sincere devotion to Christ will do likewise.
“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (II Corinthians 2:15, NIV).