2Chronicles 14:1 ¶ So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years.
When Abijah died, he was buried in the city of David and his son Asa became the next king. It is noted that during his reign, the kingdom enjoyed quiet for ten years (presumably the first 10 years).
2Chronicles 14:2 And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God:
2Chronicles 14:3 For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves:
2Chronicles 14:4 And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment.
2Chronicles 14:5 Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him.
Asa is declared to be a king that did good and right in the eyes of the LORD “his” God; he had a personal relationship with the LORD. He proved it by taking away the altars to strange gods and the high places. He also broke down the idols and cut down the groves. He commanded that the people of Judah seek the LORD God and strive to obey His laws and commandments. He took away the high places and idols all throughout the cities of Judah, not only in Jerusalem. The record in Kings tells us a bit more.
1 Kings 15:12–13 “And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.”
His commitment to the LORD was so strong that he did not even spare acting against his mother and removing her as queen.
As a result, the kingdom was quiet and at rest.
2Chronicles 14:6 And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the LORD had given him rest.
2Chronicles 14:7 Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us; because we have sought the LORD our God, we have sought him, and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered.
2Chronicles 14:8 And Asa had an army of men that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these were mighty men of valour.
Asa took advantage of the time of rest without war to rebuild the fenced cities in Judah. It is emphasized that the LORD gave Asa the rest he enjoyed.
I think that is still a truth today. The LORD is sovereign over the nations and often determines their status of being at war or at rest in accordance with His will.
Asa was quick to let the people know that it was the LORD’s doing that they enjoyed a time of no war. He encouraged them to take advantage of this rest and join him in building up their cities and protecting them with walls, towers, gates and bars. So they built and prospered.
Asa had an army consisting of 300,000 men of Judah that carried targets and spears and 280,000 men of Benjamin that carried shields and were also skilled archers. All were strong warriors.
2Chronicles 14:9 ¶ And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah.
2Chronicles 14:10 Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.
2Chronicles 14:11 And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.
Eventually the time came that Zerah the Ethiopian led a host of 1,000,000 along with 300 chariots to engage in battle against Judah at Mareshah (in the low country of Judah between Gaza and Jerusalem). Asa went out against him, taking a position in the valley of Zephathah.
JFB adds this insight: “This could not have been from Ethiopia south of the cataracts of the Nile, for in the reign of Osorkon I, successor of Shishak, no foreign army would have been allowed a free passage through Egypt. Zerah must, therefore, have been chief of the Cushites, or Ethiopians of Arabia, as they were evidently a nomad horde who had a settlement of tents and cattle in the neighborhood of Gerar.”
Asa cried out to the LORD his God, declaring that he knew numbers made no difference to the LORD. He was confident that God could save them no matter how few or how weak in comparison to the enemy. He believed the truth the angel declared to Mary.
Luke 1:37 “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
He placed his confidence in the LORD as they set out to face the vast army from Ethiopia. Asa prayed that the LORD “our” God deliver them and not let the enemy prevail “against thee.” He knew that the nations recognized that the people of Israel were set apart as God’s people.
In those days, the nations surmised that those with the strongest “god” would emerge victorious. Asa didn’t want the nations thinking the God of Judah was weaker than their false gods.
2Chronicles 14:12 So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.
2Chronicles 14:13 And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.
2Chronicles 14:14 And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the LORD came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them.
2Chronicles 14:15 They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem.
So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah so that they turned and fled. Since there was such a great discrepancy in their numbers, I would assume there was some type of supernatural intervention. Asa and his forces pursued them as far as Gerar. Their victory was great and they took much spoil from the enemy. They also destroyed the tents of cattle and carried away a great abundance of sheep and camels back to Jerusalem.