There were many kings in the history of Israel/Judah who started good but turned bad in the end. It started from the very first king (Saul) to the richest and wisest king (Solomon), then sadly, today as we read 1 Kings 15, we see another two kings who took the same path as their former kings.
In 2 Chronicles 13, King Abijam, the grandson of King Solomon, led his 400,000 valiant warriors to fight against Jeroboam’s 800,000 choiced mighty men, which was twice his army size. Much younger and inexperienced compared to Jeroboam, he relied on God as their head. As a result, God struck Jeroboam’s army and 500,000 Israelites died.
It was a pity that Abijam was not steadfast in this good way. In 1 Kings 15, he was described as a king who walked in all the sins of his fathers and whose heart was not loyal to God.
History repeated itself. Even though his son, King Asa had done much better things than his father, he still made some mistakes in his last few years.
In the first 35 years of King Asa’s reign, he was an exceptionally good king. He was so faithful to God that not only did he banish all the abominable idols and altars; he even removed Maachah his own grandmother from being the queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah. He also made the people turn back and seek the LORD with all their heart and soul.
However, he started to forget to rely on God in his old age. First, he relied on the king of Syria to protect himself from Baasha, the king of Israel. Then he put Hanani the seer in prison. After that he oppressed some people. When he had some feet disease, he sought not the LORD but the physicians (2 Chro 16) for help.
“But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.” (Ezek 18: 24)
I shudder to think about me turning against God towards the end of my journey and perish in my sins. The words of the Holy Spirit to the Ephesian church tell of a similar problem. God knows we have done many works and have rejected falsehood (Rev 2: 2, 3), but what if he questions us about where is our first love?
I recalled one evening sermon that says this “first love” may not only refer to love in general, but it is something we held dear to in the beginning, our very first love. So it could be our thirst in learning the words of God, or our intimate relationship with God in prayers, or our commitment in working for God, etc.
Hence, we dare not boast about or be content with we have done for God in the past; for we have not finished the race, we still need to fight the good fight and keep the faith. If we do fall into weakness and sinned, if we have forsaken our first love for some time, we pray that we could repent and “do the first work” before it is too late (Rev 2: 5) because we do not want to end up like these kings.