Faithful Kings and Four Letter Words
There are only two types of leaders described in the Bible: Those who are faithful and those who are not. The faithful ones aren’t perfect. King David is a case in point. He has a major stain on his record (a season that includes both adultery and murder), but the biblical historians still count David as someone who aimed to obey God. His son, Solomon, managed not to kill anyone during his reign, yet goes down as one who failed to keep his heart turned to God.
One of David’s descendants, however, gets it right. His name is Asa. Here’s a summary of his reign as recorded in 1 Kings 15:11-12, 14:
“Asa did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestor David had done. He banished the male and female shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols[e] his ancestors had made. Asa’s heart remained completely faithful to the Lord throughout his life.”
The write is clear. There’s one primary piece of evidence that confirms Asa’s spiritual fidelity, a singular litmus test: He eliminates ritual worship of anything that isn’t God. He does this expelling pagan sex workers and disposing of idols. An idol, simply put, is anything that competes with God for our devotion and attention. When we put it this way, it’s absurd to think anything could stand up against God as a viable alternative for our focus. And the writer leaves some clues to show how silly the idols really are.
My Bible has a footnote next to the word “idols” in verse 12. When I check the bottom of the page to the corresponding note, I see this: “The Hebrew term (literally round things) probably alludes to dung.” There’s no mistaking the derision for idols in the Hebrew. The author says “It doesn’t matter what shape the idols are, what they’re supposed to signify, who made them or why. In the end, they’re just round things. In fact, let’s just call them what they are: dung.”
Of course, people rarely use “dung” as a term to refer to excrement anymore. There’s another term, similar in length, in the modern vernacular you can readily call to mind. The scribe who records Asa’s legacy is basically saying: You can bow before God or you can worship ****.
Those are really the only options. Idols are less than worthless, they’re repulsive. They’re not worth the time, energy or effort they demand. They’re just heaps of filth and feces. So, if you’re been tempted to kneel before “round things” and life is starting to get stinky, it’s not too late to pull an Asa and clean house.