Early Years of Asa’s Reign
14 [a]When Abijah died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. There was peace in the land for ten years. 2 [b]Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God. 3 He removed the foreign altars and the pagan shrines. He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. 4 He commanded the people of Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his law and his commands. 5 Asa also removed the pagan shrines, as well as the incense altars from every one of Judah’s towns. So Asa’s kingdom enjoyed a period of peace. 6 During those peaceful years, he was able to build up the fortified towns throughout Judah. No one tried to make war against him at this time, for the Lord was giving him rest from his enemies.
7 Asa told the people of Judah, “Let us build towns and fortify them with walls, towers, gates, and bars. The land is still ours because we sought the Lord our God, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they went ahead with these projects and brought them to completion.
8 King Asa had an army of 300,000 warriors from the tribe of Judah, armed with large shields and spears. He also had an army of 280,000 warriors from the tribe of Benjamin, armed with small shields and bows. Both armies were composed of well-trained fighting men.
9 Once an Ethiopian[c] named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of 1,000,000 men[d] and 300 chariots. They advanced to the town of Mareshah, 10 so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah.[e] 11 Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”
12 So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians[f] in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled. 13 Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar, and so many Ethiopians fell that they were unable to rally. They were destroyed by the Lord and his army, and the army of Judah carried off a vast amount of plunder.
14 While they were at Gerar, they attacked all the towns in that area, and terror from the Lord came upon the people there. As a result, a vast amount of plunder was taken from these towns, too. 15 They also attacked the camps of herdsmen and captured many sheep, goats, and camels before finally returning to Jerusalem.
Asa’s Religious Reforms
15 Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, 2 and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. “Listen to me, Asa!” he shouted. “Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them. 4 But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him.
5 “During those dark times, it was not safe to travel. Problems troubled the people of every land. 6 Nation fought against nation, and city against city, for God was troubling them with every kind of problem. 7 But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.”
8 When Asa heard this message from Azariah the prophet,[g] he took courage and removed all the detestable idols from the land of Judah and Benjamin and in the towns he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. And he repaired the altar of the Lord, which stood in front of the entry room of the Lord’s Temple.
9 Then Asa called together 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. 10 The people gathered at Jerusalem in late spring,[h] during the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign.
11 On that day they sacrificed to the Lord 700 cattle and 7,000 sheep and goats from the plunder they had taken in the battle. 12 Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. 13 They agreed that anyone who refused to seek the Lord, the God of Israel, would be put to death—whether young or old, man or woman. 14 They shouted out their oath of loyalty to the Lord with trumpets blaring and rams’ horns sounding. 15 All in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into it with all their heart. They earnestly sought after God, and they found him. And the Lord gave them rest from their enemies on every side.
16 King Asa even deposed his grandmother[i] Maacah from her position as queen mother because she had made an obscene Asherah pole. He cut down her obscene pole, broke it up, and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 17 Although the pagan shrines were not removed from Israel, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful throughout his life. 18 He brought into the Temple of God the silver and gold and the various items that he and his father had dedicated.
19 So there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.
Final Years of Asa’s Reign
16 In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from entering or leaving King Asa’s territory in Judah.
2 Asa responded by removing the silver and gold from the treasuries of the Temple of the Lord and the royal palace. He sent it to King Ben-hadad of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus, along with this message:
3 “Let there be a treaty[j] between you and me like the one between your father and my father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel so that he will leave me alone.”
4 Ben-hadad agreed to King Asa’s request and sent the commanders of his army to attack the towns of Israel. They conquered the towns of Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah,[k] and all the store cities in Naphtali. 5 As soon as Baasha of Israel heard what was happening, he abandoned his project of fortifying Ramah and stopped all work on it. 6 Then King Asa called out all the men of Judah to carry away the building stones and timbers that Baasha had been using to fortify Ramah. Asa used these materials to fortify the towns of Geba and Mizpah.
7 At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “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. 8 Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians[l] and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers?[m] At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them over to you. 9 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.”
10 Asa became so angry with Hanani for saying this that he threw him into prison and put him in stocks. At that time Asa also began to oppress some of his people.
Summary of Asa’s Reign
11 The rest of the events of Asa’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 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. 13 So he died in the forty-first year of his reign. 14 He was buried in the tomb he had carved out for himself in the City of David. He was laid on a bed perfumed with sweet spices and fragrant ointments, and the people built a huge funeral fire in his honor.
14:1 Verse 14:1 is numbered 13:23 in Hebrew text.
14:2 Verses 14:2-15 are numbered 14:1-14 in Hebrew text.
14:9a Hebrew a Cushite.
14:9b Or an army of thousands and thousands; Hebrew reads an army of a thousand thousands.
14:10 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads valley of Zephathah near Mareshah.
14:12 Hebrew Cushites; also in 14:13.
15:8 As in Syriac version and Latin Vulgate (see also 15:1); Hebrew reads from Oded the prophet.
15:10 Hebrew in the third month. This month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar usually occurs within the months of May and June.
15:16 Hebrew his mother.
16:3 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads There is a treaty.
16:4 As in parallel text at 1 Kgs 15:20; Hebrew reads Abel-maim, another name for Abel-beth-maacah.
16:8a Hebrew Cushites.
16:8b Or and horsemen?
1 I love the Lord because he hears my voice
and my prayer for mercy.
2 Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath!
3 Death wrapped its ropes around me;
the terrors of the grave[a] overtook me.
I saw only trouble and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“Please, Lord, save me!”
5 How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
So merciful, this God of ours!
6 The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
I was facing death, and he saved me.
7 Let my soul be at rest again,
for the Lord has been good to me.
8 He has saved me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
9 And so I walk in the Lord’s presence
as I live here on earth!
10 I believed in you, so I said,
“I am deeply troubled, Lord.”
11 In my anxiety I cried out to you,
“These people are all liars!”
12 What can I offer the Lord
for all he has done for me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and praise the Lord’s name for saving me.
14 I will keep my promises to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
15 The Lord cares deeply
when his loved ones die.
16 O Lord, I am your servant;
yes, I am your servant, born into your household;
you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people—
19 in the house of the Lord
in the heart of Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!
116:3 Hebrew of Sheol.
Living to Please Others
15 We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. 2 We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. 3 For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.”[a] 4 Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
5 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. 6 Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. 8 Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews[b] to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. 9 He also came so that the Gentiles might give glory to God for his mercies to them. That is what the psalmist meant when he wrote:
“For this, I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing praises to your name.”[c]
10 And in another place it is written,
“Rejoice with his people,
11 And yet again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles.
Praise him, all you people of the earth.”[e]
12 And in another place Isaiah said,
“The heir to David’s throne[f] will come,
and he will rule over the Gentiles.
They will place their hope on him.”[g]
13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul’s Reason for Writing
14 I am fully convinced, my dear brothers and sisters,[h] that you are full of goodness. You know these things so well you can teach each other all about them. 15 Even so, I have been bold enough to write about some of these points, knowing that all you need is this reminder. For by God’s grace, 16 I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit. 17 So I have reason to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God. 18 Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me, bringing the Gentiles to God by my message and by the way I worked among them. 19 They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit.[i] In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum.[j]
20 My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. 21 I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says,
“Those who have never been told about him will see,
and those who have never heard of him will understand.”[k]
22 In fact, my visit to you has been delayed so long because I have been preaching in these places.
Paul’s Travel Plans
23 But now I have finished my work in these regions, and after all these long years of waiting, I am eager to visit you. 24 I am planning to go to Spain, and when I do, I will stop off in Rome. And after I have enjoyed your fellowship for a little while, you can provide for my journey.
25 But before I come, I must go to Jerusalem to take a gift to the believers[l] there. 26 For you see, the believers in Macedonia and Achaia[m] have eagerly taken up an offering for the poor among the believers in Jerusalem. 27 They were glad to do this because they feel they owe a real debt to them. Since the Gentiles received the spiritual blessings of the Good News from the believers in Jerusalem, they feel the least they can do in return is to help them financially. 28 As soon as I have delivered this money and completed this good deed of theirs, I will come to see you on my way to Spain. 29 And I am sure that when I come, Christ will richly bless our time together.
30 Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit. 31 Pray that I will be rescued from those in Judea who refuse to obey God. Pray also that the believers there will be willing to accept the donation[n] I am taking to Jerusalem. 32 Then, by the will of God, I will be able to come to you with a joyful heart, and we will be an encouragement to each other.
33 And now may God, who gives us his peace, be with you all. Amen.[o]
15:3 Greek who insult you have fallen on me. Ps 69:9.
15:8 Greek servant of circumcision.
15:9 Ps 18:49.
15:10 Deut 32:43.
15:11 Ps 117:1.
15:12a Greek The root of Jesse. David was the son of Jesse.
15:12b Isa 11:10 (Greek version).
15:14 Greek brothers; also in 15:30.
15:19a Other manuscripts read the Spirit; still others read the Holy Spirit.
15:19b Illyricum was a region northeast of Italy.
15:21 Isa 52:15 (Greek version).
15:25 Greek God’s holy people; also in 15:26, 31.
15:26 Macedonia and Achaia were the northern and southern regions of Greece.
15:31 Greek the ministry; other manuscripts read the gift.
15:33 Some manuscripts do not include Amen. One very early manuscript places 16:25-27 here.
For the choir director: A love song to be sung to the tune “Lilies.” A psalm[a] of the descendants of Korah.
1 Beautiful words stir my heart.
I will recite a lovely poem about the king,
for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet.
2 You are the most handsome of all.
Gracious words stream from your lips.
God himself has blessed you forever.
3 Put on your sword, O mighty warrior!
You are so glorious, so majestic!
4 In your majesty, ride out to victory,
defending truth, humility, and justice.
Go forth to perform awe-inspiring deeds!
5 Your arrows are sharp, piercing your enemies’ hearts.
The nations fall beneath your feet.
6 Your throne, O God,[b] endures forever and ever.
You rule with a scepter of justice.
7 You love justice and hate evil.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you,
pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.
8 Myrrh, aloes, and cassia perfume your robes.
In ivory palaces the music of strings entertains you.
9 Kings’ daughters are among your noble women.
At your right side stands the queen,
wearing jewelry of finest gold from Ophir!
10 Listen to me, O royal daughter; take to heart what I say.
Forget your people and your family far away.
11 For your royal husband delights in your beauty;
honor him, for he is your lord.
12 The princess of Tyre[c] will shower you with gifts.
The wealthy will beg your favor.
13 The bride, a princess, looks glorious
in her golden gown.
14 In her beautiful robes, she is led to the king,
accompanied by her bridesmaids.
15 What a joyful and enthusiastic procession
as they enter the king’s palace!
16 Your sons will become kings like their father.
You will make them rulers over many lands.
17 I will bring honor to your name in every generation.
Therefore, the nations will praise you forever and ever.
45:Title Hebrew maskil. This may be a literary or musical term.
45:6 Or Your divine throne.
45:12 Hebrew The daughter of Tyre.