Here, the rivalry is again described overall as the tension between the house of David and the house of Jeroboam, with the intention of the narrator being very clearly one of “priesthood versus heresy”. Verses 3-12 is a beautiful proclamation made by Abijah, stating clearly what has been implied in Jeroboam’s removal of the Levitical priests in 2 Chronicles 11 (c.f. v.9-12). Solomon’s household, as well as Rehoboam’s, were portrayed as the elected household in v.5 – “…the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt“. This phrase “covenant of salt” is used in two other instances – Leviticus 2:13 and Numbers 18:19. In my commentary of the book of Numbers, the covenant is explained as such:
“Salt is commonly used in two analogies: the covenant between LORD and man; and negative connotations (C.f. Ezekiel 47:11 and Zeph 2:9). Leviticus 2:13 makes the point that all the grain offerings shall have the covenant of salt. When placing this covenant alongside Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt, it is simultaneously an imagery of God’s sanctification/separation. In 2 Kings, the usage of the salt is for purification of the water; in Ezekiel, the imagery of the salt is that of dirt and uncleanness. The prophecy of Ezekiel 47:8 makes a distinction between fresh and salt water – and no doubt, the salt water being the water of punishment from the deluge from the window above heaven (c.f. Genesis 7 and 2 Peter 3), but the fresh water being the water on earth.
To bring these two imageries together, the feeding on the holy flesh (cow/sheep/goat) and the unmistakable “covenant of salt”, the picture is a two-fold manifestation of Christ’s work on the cross. Through his blood, we can now feed continuously of the flesh represented by the communion bread as sanctified priests, symbolized by the anointing and separation of the covenant of salt. It is by this covenant of salt that David and his sons were given the kingship over Israel forever? Undoubtedly this salt-covenant to David and his sons is a conscious foresight of the Son’s eternal kingdom, an act of purification, just as the salt waters burst through the heavens to purify the world of the wicked creatures.”
This covenant of salt is a synonym to the gospel work completed through David’s lineage and not to Jeroboam’s lineage. Jeroboam’s failure to see the importance of the Temple, of the Levites, of Jesus’ heritage are all the essence of all heresies – the failure to connect the dots in the Old Testament which all point towards the cross and not to oneself’s creation of truth. “Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed” (v.12). Indeed, David, Solomon, Rehoboam and Abijah are not the head of Israel – the LORD God Himself is the Head, and Jeroboam is challenging not Judah, nor Abijah, but the LORD Himself.
This explains Jeroboam’s utter debacle and loss in v.13-20, whereas Abijah grew mighty under the wings of the LORD.
Again, chapter 14 records another victory achieved solely by relying on the LORD, in fulfillment of Solomon’s prayer in chapter 6. This time, it is not Jeroboam, but the Ethiopians (who have clearly forgotten the blessing of Solomon through their early Queen of Sheba in chapter 9) who challenged Israel with more men than Jeroboam (an army of a million men vs. Jeroboam’s 800,000 men). Asa’s cry is similar to that of his father’s: “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.”
Upon the filling of the Holy Spirit, Azariah the son of Oded reminds king Asa of the “Golden Age” of Israel’s rule under David and Solomon, when the gospel was clearly communicated amongst the Israelites, all of whom were looking forward to the day of the Messiah’s first coming. Azariah’s comment that “For a long time Israel was without the true God” (v.3) is an observation of Israel losing its way in the period since Rehoboam to Asa, due to the removal of the formal priesthood and compliance with the Mosaic statutes under the divided rule of Rehoboam and Jeroboam. The only comfort of the Israelites was through their oral teaching and remembrance of the LORD’s steadfast love in their times of distress (v.4). However, Azariah wishes for the Christian walk to be filled with peace (v.5), and not to only call upon the LORD in times of brokenness (v.6). Asa’s subsequent actions and reforms (v.8-15) are indeed the actions of a righteous Christian king, drawing in more and more of those previous defected (those from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon v.9) with his testimony of the LORD. It is with their collective sacrifice (v.11) and the covenant and oath (v.12-14) that the LORD gave them rest all around (v.15-19) between his tenth year (when he defeated the Ethiopians) and 35th year as king. The LORD’s steadfast love to the house of David means that Asa’s compliance with the Spirit’s prompting is a key step towards ensuring the survival of Israel until the promise of the Messiah is fulfilled. Although man has forgotten the law and priesthood, the LORD will never forget. Although man may even forget the promise of the Messiah as their true hope, the LORD will never stop working to ensure the Messiah will come from the line of David and crush the Satan who leads His sheep astray time and time again.