Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 16

The record of Elah’s short rule as king

1 Kings 16:14

Elah’s rule was short and his death was awful. For 24 years, his father Baasha had managed to control Israel’s powerful men. However, just days after Elah’s death, three powerful men, Zimri, Omri and Tibni, were fighting for control over the nation.

Clearly, Elah did not have the political skills that his father had. Elah lived for much or all of his life in a palace – but he never learned the skills that he would need as a king. He wanted, as king, to live in luxury and to give orders to other people. He never understood how a king should behave (Proverbs 31:4-5).

Zimri took advantage of that weakness. He killed Elah when Elah was drinking too much wine. He was not therefore acting as someone with great responsibilities should act. He was pleasing himself; he did not even seem to be aware that his life was in danger.

Israel’s people carefully made official records to record the great things that their kings had achieved. Some kings built great buildings; other kings fought important wars. Unlike many previous kings (for example, 1 Kings 15:23 and 16:5), Elah did not achieve anything great. He was not a strong, powerful or great king.

Elah’s father, Baasha, had his royal grave in Tirzah (16:6). However, Elah had no grave. In a final act of disgust towards him, Zimri, who killed him, refused to bury him. The wild dogs in a city were thin and they seemed constantly hungry (Psalm 59:14-15). They rarely found any good meat; they ate what people threw away. Zimri left Elah’s body for those wild dogs to fight for.

Next part: Zimri was king for just 7 days (1 Kings 16:15-17)


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