The photo features a crumbling ancient temple, bathed in shadow, symbolizing the spiritual decline of King Asa as he turns away from God's guidance.

Why Did King Asa Turn Away From God?

King Asa started out as a God-fearing ruler, but later in life he turned away from the Lord. If you want the short answer, Asa stopped relying on God and instead put his trust in man.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore King Asa’s background, his early years of faithfulness to God, the key events that led to his unfaithfulness later in his reign, the consequences he faced for forsaking the Lord, and the lessons we can learn from Asa’s profound spiritual highs and lows.

Asa’s Early Years of Faithfulness

Asa’s Godly Upbringing

King Asa of Judah had a godly upbringing, being raised by his father Abijah who was devoted to following the Lord. Though Abijah had his flaws, he instilled in Asa the importance of honoring God and keeping His commandments.

Asa’s early training in the ways of the Lord set a strong spiritual foundation that impacted the rest of his life. The biblical record highlights Asa’s lifelong commitment to seeking the Lord started from his youth (2 Chronicles 14:2).

His early life experiences shaped Asa to value righteousness and detest idol worship – stances that affected his leadership choices as king.

Asa’s Reforms and Early Victories

Once Asa became king, he immediately set out to bring revival to Judah by destroying pagan idols and altars. Asa had seen the negative effects of idolatry in his father Abijah’s day and was determined to turn the people back to the one true God.

His sweeping religious reforms removed idolatry and restored proper worship in Judah (2 Chronicles 14:3-5). God blessed Asa’s efforts by giving him 10 years of peace.

When war broke out with the Cushites, Asa cried out to God for help. The Lord intervened supernaturally by striking down the vast Cushite army, granting Judah a miraculous victory (2 Chronicles 14:9-12). Asa urged the people to rededicate themselves to God who had given them rest on all sides.

He fortified cities in Judah and assembled a strong army while the land was at peace (2 Chronicles 14:6-7). Asa’s early years of faithfulness positioned Judah to thrive under his God-honoring leadership.

The Key Events That Led to Asa’s Downfall

Asa’s Treaty with Syria

In the earlier years of his reign, King Asa relied on God and experienced great success. However, later in life he turned away from God and faced many troubles. One key event that started his downward spiral was making a treaty with Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria, against the kingdom of Israel (2 Chronicles 16:1-6).

Asa sent silver and gold to Ben-Hadad and convinced him to break his treaty with Israel. This showed that Asa was relying on military might and foreign alliances rather than trusting God. Forming ungodly alliances can often lead us away from fully relying on God.

Asa’s Oppression and Anger Issues

Another event that revealed Asa’s waywardness was his oppression of the people. When the prophet Hanani rebuked Asa for relying on Syria rather than God, Asa responded in anger. He threw Hanani in prison and “oppressed some of the people at the same time” (2 Chronicles 16:7-10).

Asa let his ego and pride cause him to harshly mistreat both the prophet and some of his own people. Anger and oppression are clear signs that someone has drifted away from God’s heart of compassion and grace.

Asa’s Refusal to Listen to God’s Messenger

Later in life, Asa developed a severe foot disease. However, instead of seeking the Lord, he only consulted physicians. God sent the prophet Azariah to deliver a message to Asa, saying, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth…You have done foolishly in this.

Therefore from now on you shall have wars” (2 Chronicles 16:7-9). Tragically, Asa refused to listen to the prophet. When we ignore God’s attempts to speak to us through His messengers, it demonstrates the hardness of our hearts. Asa’s refusal to listen proved he had drifted far from God.

The Consequences Asa Faced

Military Defeats

After turning away from God, King Asa began to face significant military defeats. In one battle against Israel, Asa’s army was roundly defeated despite having a larger force (2 Chronicles 16:2-6). Rather than relying on the Lord as he had done earlier in his reign, Asa struggled militarily.

This demonstrates the vital importance of keeping one’s trust in God rather than looking to worldly resources for deliverance. According to one analysis, Asa failed to practice what he had preached earlier in his leadership.

Disease in His Feet

In addition to military defeats, 2 Chronicles 16:12 tells us that in the 39th year of Asa’s reign, “he was diseased in his feet.” This disease caused him great pain. However, rather than seeking the Lord’s healing, Asa “sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.”

While seeking medical treatment is not inherently wrong, Asa’s heart was clearly far from God at this point. Tragically, the consequence of his backsliding from the Lord was painful affliction in his feet.

And as Matthew Henry’s commentary notes, this impediment in his feet symbolized a deeper halt to his spiritual progress after turning from God.

Lessons We Can Learn from Asa’s Spiritual Decline

The Danger of Trusting in Man Over God

King Asa started well in his relationship with God, carrying out religious reforms and leading Judah to seek the Lord (2 Chronicles 14:2-5). However, later in his reign Asa stopped relying fully on God and sought help from King Ben-hadad of Aram instead of trusting in divine deliverance (2 Chronicles 16:2-3).

This grieved the prophet Hanani, who rebuked Asa for relying on man over God (v7).

Asa’s example serves as a warning – when we face adversity, do we rely completely on God or look to human help? Though using human resources is not wrong in itself, our dependence should be on the Lord first and foremost.

As Psalm 118:8 reminds us, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”

The Importance of Finishing Well

Though Asa started well in his walk with God, sadly by the end of his life Scripture tells us “in the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians” (2 Chronicles 16:12).

After a promising beginning, Asa ended poorly by leaving God out of the picture.

Asa’s final actions serve as a sober warning that how we end our lives spiritually is what truly counts. We need God’s grace to follow the example of biblical figures like Joshua who continued ardently serving the Lord right up to the end (Joshua 24:29-31).

As Derek Thomas notes, “It is not those who begin the race well but those who finish it that receive the prize.”

God Looks at Our Hearts Above All Else

Though Asa experienced military victories and religious reforms early in his reign, at the end of his rule God sent Hanani to rebuke Asa for his disobedience. Despite Asa’s previous accomplishments, in his later reliance on human help over God, Asa showed where his heart truly lay.

Asa’s example makes it clear that regardless of any spiritual achievements we may have, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

If our heart attitude turns from dependence on God to reliance on human help, as Asa’s did, we can end up straying from the Lord’s purposes for our lives no matter what we have accomplished before.


In reviewing King Asa’s profound spiritual highs and lows, we learn the sobering truth that even faithful followers of God can turn away if they don’t guard their hearts. While Asa started strong in relying on the Lord, his trust shifted to himself and earthly allies later on.

Rather than turn back to God, Asa grew angry and oppressive. Though it’s painful to read about his tragic end after such a promising start, Asa’s negative example provides a warning for us today about the danger of gradually drifting away from the Lord over time.

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