Don't Shoot the Messenger

Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 14; 15; 16:7-14; 17; 20:32-33; 1 Kings 14:19-20; 15:16-34; 16; 21:25-26; 22:41-47

King Asa, who ruled over Judah for 41 years, "did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God" (1K 15:11). When challenged to war after 30 years of peace, he entered the battle fully relying upon the Lord for help (2C 14:11). After the battle was won, the prophet, Azariah, went to meet King Asa and encouraged him with a message from the Lord. "Listen to me, Asa.... The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you.... Be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded" (2C 15:2-7). When Asa heard these words, "he took courage" (2C 15:8). The prophet's words of encouragement spurred the king on to continue his work of reform in Judah.

A few years later, Asa received another message from the Lord, but this time he was rebuked for relying on another king's advice instead of relying on the Lord. Rather than responding with humility, Asa was filled with anger. Instead of listening to God's message, he threw the messenger in prison and "brutally oppressed some of the people" (2C 16:10). He remained angry and bitter against the Lord for the rest of his life. In his last two years, when he was afflicted with a severe disease in his feet, "even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians" (2C 16:12).

Though Asa was embittered against the Lord in his later years, we're told that "Asa's heart was fully committed to the Lord ALL HIS LIFE" (1K 15:14; 2C 15:17; cf. 1K 22:43). How can that be true? Perhaps it can be compared to a marriage commitment. Asa remained committed to the Lord, but he allowed unresolved issues to create barriers that diminished his communication and fulfillment in that relationship.

Lord, when you deliver words of encouragement or rebuke, help me to respond with a listening ear, a gracious heart, and a willingness to change. When my life doesn't turn out the way I thought it should, help me still to rely on you, remembering all the times you've proven to be reliable. When my eyes become focused on myself, lift my head up that I might see you. Shine your light of truth on any misconceptions, wrong conclusions, or selfish attitudes that keep me from fully enjoying my relationship with you. Don't let my pride or disappointment cause me to close my ears to your message, close my mind to your truth, or close my mouth from praying to you. Give me the courage and insight to speak your message to others, reminding them of your faithfulness and encouraging them not to give up but to seek you in times of distress. Show us how we can spur each other on in our walk with you.