In the twenty-seventh year of Judah’s King Asa, Zimri became king for seven days in Tirzah. Now the troops were encamped against Gibbethon of the Philistines. When these troops heard that Zimri had not only conspired but had also struck down the king, then all Israel made Omri, the army commander, king over Israel that very day in the camp. Omri along with all Israel marched up from Gibbethon and besieged Tirzah. When Zimri saw that the city was captured, he entered the citadel of the royal palace and burned it down over himself. He died because of the sin he committed by doing what was evil in the Lord’s sight and by walking in the ways of Jeroboam and the sin he caused Israel to commit.1 Kings 16:15-28
The rest of the events of Zimri’s reign, along with the conspiracy that he instigated, are written in the Historical Record of Israel’s Kings. At that time the people of Israel were divided: half the people followed Tibni son of Ginath, to make him king, and half followed Omri. However, the people who followed Omri proved stronger than those who followed Tibni son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri became king.
In the thirty-first year of Judah’s King Asa, Omri became king over Israel, and he reigned twelve years. He reigned six years in Tirzah, then he bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for 150 pounds of silver, and he built up the hill. He named the city he built Samaria based on the name Shemer, the owner of the hill.
Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he did more evil than all who were before him. He walked in all the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat in every respect and continued in his sins that he caused Israel to commit, angering the Lord God of Israel with their worthless idols. The rest of the events of Omri’s reign, along with his accomplishments and the might he exercised, are written in the Historical Record of Israel’s Kings. Omri rested with his fathers and was buried in Samaria. His son Ahab became king in his place.
1 Kings 16 shows the progression of the downward spiral of the kings of Israel and sets the stage for Elijah to emerge as a prophet to the 10 northern tribes of Israel. This period seems to be marked by chaos. The rapid succession of Zimri followed by Omri illustrates this best. Though God had already told Baasha that his family’s reign would end because of his disobedience, God still allowed his son Elah to reign for two years. Though there is no indication that God had told Zimri to do so, he took it upon himself to kill Elah when he was drunk and proceeded to kill off the entirety of Baasha’s family.
It also appears that Zimri did not have the people of Israel behind him either, because the people selected Omri as their king. Omri and the rest of Israel’s army laid siege to the city where Zimri had himself crowned king. Knowing the situation was a lost cause, Zimri hid in a citadel and burned the building down around himself, thus ending his seven-day reign. Even with Omri securing his place as king, the infighting continued with others claiming the allegiance of different factions of the tribes of Israel. Omri remained in power but is reign was summed up as being more evil than all that came before him. His son, Ahab, would continue that distinction.
In the midst of such chaos and corruption, it can be hard to find hope. Yet God was working in the background to continue to preserve those who were faithful to Him in the midst of this chaos. God was preparing Elijah to be His spokesman to the evil powers of his day. In times when we see evil prevailing on the government levels of our society, we can rest assured that God is as work in the background preparing someone to speak His truth to the powers that be. Perhaps someday He may give you that assignment. The important thing, no matter what, is to stay focused on God’s truth and character in spite of what we see happening around us.
- How may God be preparing you to be a messenger if His kingdom in the midst of the evil we see around us?