In 1846 Austen Henry Layard discovered the Black Obelisk which contained the earliest known depictions of a biblical figure. It depicts King Jehu, described as a son of Omri. The monument was carved by the Assyrians and found far from the land of Israel. Why would the name Omri be known beyond Israel’s borders?
Omri was famous, but for all the wrong reasons. Omri became king during civil conflict which split Israel into “two factions” (v. 21). When the previous king was assassinated, half of the country followed Omri, while the other half followed Tibni. When Omri’s faction overtook his opponent, he became king over both divisions. During his reign, Israel’s power expanded beyond its borders. He established Samaria as the capital city until it was destroyed in 722 BC (v. 24). The country he left to his son was recognized as a military power.
Yet for all his fame, Omri was wicked, and his 12-year reign was summarized in just eight verses. The judgment is that “he sinned more than all those before him” (v. 25). What did he do? He followed in the sins of Jeroboam (v. 26).
Decades after Jeroboam built the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, they were still a temptation to the kings who followed him. Once again God’s people turned to “worthless idols” (v. 26).
Though Omri was a stabilizing figure for Israel in many respects, his soul was rotten. He may have been renowned across the ancient Near East, but to God who put him on the throne, his reign was noted for its evil acts.
>> What would you like to be known for? In our modern society, being known or influential is a highly prized characteristic. We spend a great deal of time trying to get people to notice and admire us. But it is important to remember that while people look on our outer reputation, God sees our heart (1 Sam. 16:7).
Though You see each evil thought and desire we entertain, You love us deeply and sacrificially. Lord, if we are known by the world at all, may we be known for our devotion to You.