Asa was a good king. He did things the right way. He cleaned house in Judah and got rid of the idols and places of worship that foreign guests had built in the country.
He directed the hearts of the people back to the LORD, and led them to center their minds on the eternal God. He also encouraged them to be obedient to the commandments and follow God’s gracious will for their lives.
For a long time, God blessed Asa’s leadership by keeping the enemies of Judah at bay. And the land of Judah enjoyed a solid season of peace and prosperity.
Of course, peace doesn’t last forever. So Asa — being the wise king that he was — made use of this opportunity to build up a solid defense system. He fortified the walls, towers and gates of the cities of Judah. He also built up his army, until there were almost 600,000 skillful and courageous warriors ready for battle — should a battle come to them.
And come it did. An Ethiopian (Cushite) general named Zerah brought one million troops to the Valley of Zephathah, just one valley over from the Valley of Elah, where Asa’s great-great-grandfather, David, had slain the Philistine giant Goliath.
And where did Asa’s eyes turn when it came time for him to lead his men into battle against a significantly superior force?
Did he find confidence in the many courageous troops standing ready to go to battle before him?
Did he take refuge in the fact that backing him up were the fortified walls and gates of the cities that he had built up (and could run to, if needed)?
Did he pat himself on the back for how obedient to God he had been, and how brilliant his defensive chess moves had been?
No, Asa’s eyes looked up. He prayed and he said, in essence, “Lord, you aren’t impressed by Zerah’s million soldiers. You’re not intimidated by their show of force. Lord, we know you, and we know no mere mortals can stand against you. Without you, we are powerless. But we also know you love to help the powerless. With you on our side, we’re the powerhouse.”
Where do you look when you feel powerless and in trouble? Do you trust that God loves to help the powerless, and that he wants to deliver you from trouble? Do you have the same confidence that if you look up — to the LORD — you will no longer be powerless, but a powerhouse?
I hope so. Because it’s all true!
“Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you” (2 Chronicles 14:11, NIV).
Lord, when I feel powerless and in trouble, I am tempted to look to other places than you for my strength and comfort. I repent of that, and ask for you Holy Spirit’s help to imitate Asa and look only to you. You love to help the powerless, and you have the ability to turn me into a powerhouse. Help me to always look up to you as my help and my refuge.
Our Bible reading for Friday, August 21, is 2 Chronicles 13:1 – 15:19, 1 Corinthians 14:20-40 and Psalm 104:1-8.
Header image based on "power" by Bronson ABbott, CC By-SA 2.0