The drift of Israel further away from God seemed to be irreversible: the nation never recovered from Jeroboam leading it into idolatry, having replaced the Levites with a new class of priests (the Levites all fled to Judah when this happened). King was replaced by king, none godly. In some cases, the overthrow was violent. One king lasted for seven days between assassinating his predecessor and being toppled by the Israeli army in a violent reprisal.
It didn’t have to be that way. Judah fared better, with Asa eventually gaining the throne. He removed the idols. His ‘heart remained completely faithful to the Lord throughout his life’, and he was likened to King David:
2 Chronicles 14:2-4 Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God. … He commanded the people of Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his law and his command. The result was that Judah had peace for ten years.
Asa had faithfulness and, early in his reign, for deliverance from invading Ethiopians and Libyans. Towards the end of Asa’s reign, another invasion, this time by Baasha, king of Israel, didn’t evoke the same response. Baasha was repelled, by with the help of Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram, rather than God.
This drew criticism through a prophet:
2 Chronicles 16:7 Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram.
He then told Asa what had happened:
2 Chronicles 16:9 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
What a statement!
There are two interpretations: one is that, in God’s eyes, he just wasn’t committed enough. The other way of looking at it is that God saw Asa’s commitment and sent (or allowed) the threat to Asa’s kingdom so He could demonstrate His power and strengthen Asa. Your view on this will probably depend on whether you’re a glass half-full or half-empty kind of person.
But right at the end of his reign, Asa lacked trust for healing:
2 Chronicles 16:12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a serious foot disease. Yet even with the severity of his disease, he did not seek the Lord’s help but turned only to his physicians.
So it seems that Asa was faithful for his whole life, but by the end, he was unwilling or unable to rely on God in times of desperate need, preferring his own means, even if it didn’t work.
Could we argue that Asa loved God and was faithful, but didn’t really understand His power and willingness to deliver?
The verses in chronological order are: 2 Chronicles 12:13−16; 1 Kings 14:29−15:5; 2 Chronicles 13:1−22; 1 Kings 15:6−8; 2 Chronicles 14:1−8; 1 Kings 15:9−15; 1 Kings 14:19−20; 1 Kings 15:25−34; 2 Chronicles 14:9−15; 1 Kings 15:16−22; 2 Chronicles 16:1−10; 1 Kings 16:1−34; 1 Kings 15:23−24; 2 Chronicles 16:11−14