A STUDY OF 1 KINGS: Evil Only Breeds More Evil 1 Kings 16

Dr. Jerry A. Collins



Verses 1-2: At this juncture we can now say its safe to assume that evil is the state of being for the northern kingdom of Israel. It is willful and deliberate. God is now going to once again speak directly to the evil being done. He will use prophets to deliver the stern message. Now the word of the Lord came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha. God reminds Baasha of the privilege God had afforded him. 

Inasmuch as I exalted you from the dust and made you leader over My people Israel. Though he waded through slaughter to his throne, he owed it to the permission of God, by whom all kings reign. Baasha had an outstanding opportunity to lead Israel back to true covenantal worship after he had killed Nadab and terminated Jeroboam’s dynasty (15:29).

PT— The Lord’s pattern is to use the obscure, the untouchable, the despised, the unknown to participate in the work He is doing. Unfortunately, that process is corrupted by self seeking ambition such as that of Baasha. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

—However, Baasha chose not to do so. Instead, you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have made My people Israel sin, provoking Me to anger with their sins. He evidently regarded his elevation from a lowly origin (exalted from the dust v. 2) to Israel’s throne as an opportunity to fulfill personal ambition rather than to glorify the Lord.

An Application— Keep an eternal perspective when you are given an opportunity to advance the Lord’s agenda. To use that for one’s own personal gain violates the purpose of the opportunity in the first place. God was willing to let Baasha determine how he would handle that just as God did with Jeroboam. Unfortunately, the temptation was too much to resist and so warranted God’s judgment for having made my people Israel sin.

Verses 3-4: Because Baasha was a wicked king after the pattern of Jeroboam, he would face the same judgment as Jeroboam and his house. Behold, I will consume Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. This image I will consume (I will sweep away) emphasize the thorough and destructive nature of the coming judgment. This had special relevance to Baasha, because he was the instrument of judgment God used to bring justice to the house of Jeroboam. Anyone of Baasha who dies in the city the dogs will eat, and anyone of his who dies in the field the birds of the heavens will eat. For his failure God announced that He would cut off his dynasty as He had Jeroboam’s along with a disgraceful ending.

Verses 5-7: God ended Baasha’s reign for two primary reasons: First, his continuation of Jeroboam’s idolatrous cult. Through the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani also came against Baasha and his household, both because of all the evil which he did in the sight of the Lord provoking Him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam. Second, the motive and manner with which he assassinated Nadab and because he struck it or (and because of how he had destroyed 

Jeroboam’s dynasty v 7). The reason his family would be killed the way they were, is because he showed no mercy to the family of Jeroboam, but killed men, women, and children. Baasha eliminates Jeroboam’s family, as God said would happen, yet becomes like Jeroboam, which makes him a murderer, not a reformer. We then read of the royal transition. And Baasha slept with his fathers and was buried in Tirzah, and Elah his son became king in his place (v 5). 

PTThe Bible tells us that by nature, God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy (Psalm 103:8). Because He is slow to anger, it took a lot of wickedness on the part of Baasha to succeed in provoking Him to anger. God did not need to coerce a reluctant Baasha to conspire against and assassinate Nadab the son of Jeroboam. Though it was agreeable to the will of God, yet was not done by Baasha with any regard to that will, but to gratify his malice and ambition, and therefore making him accountable and punishable for it. That wicked desire was already in the heart of Baasha. In using Baasha to bring judgment on the house of Jeroboam, God only needed to let Baasha do what he wanted to do. Therefore, it was proper of God to judge Baasha for something that ultimately furthered God’s eternal plan. Whatever a person sows, he will reap. This was surely the case here and is a lesson for us to ponder.



Verses 8-11: We now begin a series of sign-post connectives that organize the narrative for the rest of the chapter. These revolve around the reign of Asa the southern king. In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha became king over Israel at Tirzah, and reigned two years v 8. The remaining connectives are in verses 15, 23, and 29. While the southern kingdom remains relatively stable for Asa’ 41-year reign—tied for the longest of all of the kings—the northern kingdom is full of instability having Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Tibni, then Omri rule. We will have intrigue, cunning, assassins, and even suicide. The hope of every king is to pass the throne on to his son and to further a lasting dynasty. But because Baasha was a wicked king, God did not bless his dynasty and his son Elah only 

reigned two years. Evil was festering.

—His (Elah’s) servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against (to assassinate) him (Elah). Even as Baasha gained the throne through assassination of Nadab, so the son of Baasha was himself assassinated by Zimri, an officer in the army of Israel. Now he was at Tirzah drinking himself drunk… then Zimri went in and struck him and put him to death and became king in his place. The dynasties that Jeroboam and Baasha established were alike in several respects. Both were only two generations long. The first king in each dynasty reigned for a fairly long time: Jeroboam 22 years and Baasha 24. Assassins who were apparently confidants the kings trusted terminated both dynasties. Each assassin not only killed the king, but also all his male (pee against wall) descendants as was customary.

—It came about when he (Zimri) became king, as soon as he sat on his throne, that he killed all the household of Baasha; he did not leave a single male, neither of his relatives nor of his friends. Zimri not only killed Elah and his immediate sons, but all of the extended relatives of Baasha who could help his family. The only reason for killing his friends was because they might rise up against him. In less than fifty years the first two dynasty’s of the northern Israel’s kings had come to an end and every member of their families been exterminated. God meant to make their doom an example to those who should thereafter live ungodly.

Verses 12-14: This massacre was an exact fulfillment of the word of the Lord through the prophet Jehu, the son of Hanani (1 Kings 16:2-4). Thus Zimri destroyed all the household of Baasha, according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke against Baasha. The reason for this judgment was once again for all the sins of Baasha and the sins of Elah his son, which they sinned and which they made Israel sin. But the direct sin was with their idols. God was provoked because of idolatry.

PTThe Hebrew word translated idols is from the Hebrew word “vapor, breath,” implying that idols lack any lasting substance. This is why they can be called “worthless idols.” Elsewhere, scripture reveals that idolatry leads to emptiness and bondage (Judges 18:24, 31). The golden calves are spoken of here. God was very angry about the worship of these calves. The Ten Commandments are specific about not worshipping anything, except the One True God. God is jealous, and He will not permit worship of false gods. The people, who do such things, have committed spiritual adultery. Now the rest of the acts of Elah and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

An Application— The apostle Paul warns the early church I say that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons (1 Corinthians 10:20). There are no gods but our Lord. Yet the force behind idolatry is demonic. What enamors people about idolatry is that it gives one a sense of control, of tapping into real supernatural forces. People want to be in control and creating gods that give to them what they want satisfies this craving. We should never ascribe to God characteristics not found in Scripture when they violate your understanding of how God should act. For instance, like claiming Love wins as a panacea for all conflict. No. From God’s vantage point, Truth wins. Otherwise when making this claim you commit idolatry and God is a jealous God.


Verses 15-17: Here is our next sign post connective. In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned seven days at Tirzah v 15. Zimri’s seven-day reign was the shortest in the history of the Northern Kingdom. His only claim to fame was that he killed Elah and the entire family of Baasha. This all happened while they were at war camped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines. So, not only were they constantly at war between one another they also both had a common enemy they were at war with. These were definitely unstable years for the rival nation. When the soldiers of Israel in the field heard of Elah’s death by assassination, they immediately acclaimed Omri, the commander of Israel’s army, as the new king. The people who were camped heard it said, "Zimri has conspired and has also struck down the king… all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp.

PT— Omri was commander-in-chief of Israel’s army. He outranked Zimri. When word of Zimri’s assassination of Elah reached the soldiers at Gibbethon, they immediately sided with their general and marched back to the capital to claim the throne for Omri. Then Omri and all Israel with him went up from Gibbethon and besieged Tirzah. They besieged Tirzah; the royal city, in which Zimri was.

Verses 18-20: Zimri realized he could not oppose Omri successfully and chose suicide over execution. When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king's house and burned the king's house over him with fire, and died. He also destroyed the palace in the process. Zimri is one of the few suicides in the Bible, along with Samson (Judges 16:28-30), Saul (1 Samuel 31:4) and Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23). Zimri was evil and the cruel death he died, was because of the terrible sins he committed. Evil put it squeeze on him because of his sins which he sinned, doing evil in the sight of the Lord, walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, making Israel sin. This is the same exact rationale for Baasha death in verse 13.

PT—Sin always has ramifications for others. We do not sin in isolation though we may feel that way. Notice, it says his sins, to he sinned, to doing evil, to his sin, to making Israel sin. You will be held accountable for the actions of others based upon what you have done. The section concludes with a note about the rest of the acts of Zimri and his conspiracy which he carried out, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

An Application Suicide is the act of killing oneself voluntarily and intentionally, for a non-sacrificial reason, when death is not otherwise imminent.

1. Suicide is sin because it concludes God did not have our best interest in mind. Suicide is disagreeing with God about when we should die. Who are you O man who answers back to God? (Romans 9:20-21).

2. Suicide is a sin because it destroys an image-bearer. Man was made in the image of God. This is the reason that God gave for taking a murderer’s life. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man (Genesis 9:6).

3. Suicide is a sin because it is an act of selfishness. We should feel great compassion for those suffering from depression, whatever the cause. Nonetheless, we cannot condone suicide as a way out. Acting according to your own selfish desire is sinful. Do nothing from selfishness...but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves (Philippians 2:3).



Verses 21-24: The death of Zimri (verses 17-18), automatically placed the kingdom in Omri’s hands. However, the people of Israel were divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king; the other half followed Omri. Half of the population, including the army, sided with Omri, but the other half backed Tibni. Nothing further is known of Tibni, but he was strong enough to rival Omri for about 4-6 years.

Controversy over who should succeed to Israel’s northern throne raged in Israel and threatened to consume the nation. Eventually, the people who followed Omri prevailed over the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath. And Tibni died and Omri became king. Tibni dying, Omri came into the possession of the whole kingdom. Omri became king over Israel and reigned twelve years. Omri reigned from Samaria. This was the new capital he built on a centrally located and easily defended hilltop 12 miles west of Tirzah. He bought the hill Samaria … and he built on the hill, and named the city which he built Samaria.

Verses 25-28: On the one hand, Omri was probably the most capable king Israel had enjoyed since the division of the kingdom. In the records of secular history, Omri is one of the more successful and famous kings of ancient Israel. Assyrian records refer to Israel as “the land of Omri.” His influence extended far. He defeated the Moabites, the record of which constitutes one of the inscriptions on the famous Moabite Stone. He also made a treaty with Ethbaal, king of Tyre and Sidon, that involved the marriage of his son, Ahab, and Ethbaal’s daughter, Jezebel. On the other hand, still the writer of Kings did not mention these strengths, only the fact that he was the worst king Israel had had spiritually (v. 25).

—He was evil because he personally followed Jeroboam’s cult and caused the people to sin by allowing it to flourish in Israel. Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, and acted more wickedly than all who were before him. He not only worshipped the calves, as the rest, and drew Israel by his example into the same, he published edicts and decrees, obliging the people to worship them, forbidding them to go to Jerusalem. They are called "the statutes of Omri" (Micah 6:16). Calf worship had taken the place of the one True God. The people were strictly forbidden to go to the temple in Jerusalem. For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat and in his sins which he made Israel sin, provoking the Lord God of Israel with their idols. 

This makes Omri the sixth king of Israel since the division of the once-unified kingdom. Jeroboam was the first king, and each of the five kings after him followed in the evil ways of Jeroboam. So Omri slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria. Paving the way for the most ruthless and evil of all the kings of the north, King Ahab. We read, Ahab his son became king in his place.

Verses 29-33: The last sign post connective king says that Ahab became king over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years v 29. Here are six things we are introduced to about Ahab’s reign.

·      Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him v 30.

·      Each of the previous kings of Israel walked in the wicked pattern of Jeroboam. Ahab distinguished himself in being worse than Jeroboam. It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat v 31.

·      Jeroboam intended to serve the Lord through idolatrous images (such as the golden calf) and in disobedient ways (altars and high places other than Jerusalem). Ahab introduced the worship of completely new, pagan gods. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria. Ahab also made the Asherah v 32.

·      Even as the foreign wives of Solomon led to his spiritual downfall, so Ahab’s foreign wife 

Jezebel led him and the nation into deep idolatry. He married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians and went to serve Baal and worshiped him v 31. He was not only the most wicked ruler to this date, but he married the most wicked woman he could find.

·      Thus Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him v 33. His idolatries being more open and barefaced, and without any excuse, presence, or color, as well as more numerous.

·      It seems that Ahab wanted to challenge the prophecy of Joshua after the destruction of the city Jericho. In his days Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho. v 34. Joshua had charged them at that time, saying, “Cursed be the man before the Lord who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates” (Joshua 6:26). If Ahab did think that he could rebuild Jericho without being affected by this curse, he was wrong. He laid its foundation through Hiel who with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the Lord, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun. This means that his firstborn died because of the building of the foundation, and his son, Segub, died as they set up the gates. God's word is true. Whatever He says will be.



·      After reading this chapter we want to take a long hot shower. The filth is overwhelming. Evil is spiritual filth.

·      Evil’s downward spin keeps spinning unless someone is willing to stand in the gap to stop it.

·      When evil is utterly evil, then there is no escape from the spiritual muck and mire it reproduces.

·      God is set against all that is evil, morally wrong, unrighteous, and wicked. From God’s point of view evil is intolerable.

·      Abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Abhor what is evil (Romans 12:9). Not returning evil for evilkeep his tongue from evil… he must turn away from evil (1 Peter 3:9-11). Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good (3 John 1:11).