II Chronicles 12

 

 

This chapter finishes for us the history of Rehoboam, his “acts” and his

character; and, with the preceding two chapters, it may be counted among

the masterpieces of Scripture biography. In so short a compass, how well

marked, how distinctly highlighted, are the features of the man! The name of

Rehoboam is, undoubtedly, one of the more important, if not taking rank

among the most important, of Scripture, and no one can rise from the

study of the fifty-eight verses of these three chapters without a very

satisfactory conception of the man Rehoboam and what he was. It will be

seen from the language of the second verse, compared with ch.11:17, that,

roughly speaking, this chapter stretches over the last sad and evil twelve of the

whole seventeen years of Rehoboam’s reign.  This, however, does not negate

the possibility of the anticipation in ch.11 of what, in point of chronology,

belongs to this chapter. The parallel of this chapter is I Kings 14:21-31, which

gives us more than our vs. 1, 6, 12, 14, of what is personal to the evil-doing

of Rehoboam, but much less than our text respecting Shishak and his army,

and Shemalah and his messages.

 

1  "And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the

kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the

LORD, and all Israel with him."  When Rehoboam had established the

kingdom… strengthened himself; i.e. while insecure and full of apprehensions,

Rehoboam walked humbly and surely, but when he thought his object, simply

safety, was gained, his true and worse self appeared or reappeared, and, clothed

with self-confidence, he forsakes the “Law,” to bring sure retribution on himself.

All Israel with him. When we turn to the fuller statements of the parallel

(I Kings 14:22-24), we see that the sins that were at work were not

those of king merely, but of people, especially in abominations such as

those of sodomy and the immoral practices of the groves,” as well as the

ecclesiastical and irreligious iniquities of “high places” and “image” worship!

 

 

The Peril of Security (v. 1)

 

The King of Judah, whose career had been marked by such a strange

admixture of good and evil, of wisdom and folly (see homily on ch. 11:18-23),

here takes another turn in his varied course, and this time a decisive one; but

we mark first

 

  • THE GOOD WORK OF CONSOLIDATION. He “had established the

kingdom, and had strengthened himself.” The reference is, principally

though not perhaps exclusively, to the action chronicled in the previous

chapter (vs. 5-12, 22-23). When he found that it was not open to him to

regain the seceded tribes by force of arms, he set himself, like a wise man,

to secure the fraction that was left him. He may have consoled himself with

the thought — which is not only a thought but a truth — that a small estate

that is well governed and well kept is far better than a large one that is ill

managed, and that, consequently, soon shows signs of feebleness and

decline. Those three years of consolidation, spent in the service of Jehovah,

and under the sanction of His priests and prophets, were years of real worth

to the country, and probably of happiness to Rehoboam. In the conduct of

our estate, whether that be some business in which we are engaged, or

some institution or Church we are serving, or some character (another’s or

our own) that we are building up, we spend our time and our strength well

in the work of “establishing and strengthening.” In the supreme matter of

human character we can hardly lay too much emphasis on this matter of

consolidation. Character must be fortified by knowledge, by the

understanding and the cordial acceptance of Christian principles, by

exercise, by the nourishment and growth of a strong love for what is pure

and true and generous, and by a hearty hatred of all that is corrupt and

mean and false.

 

  • THE TEMPTATION OF SUPPOSED SECURITY. When Rehoboam

had attained to a position in which he felt himself secure, then he:

 

Ø      relaxed his hold on his early convictions,

Ø      surrendered his trust in God, and

Ø      abandoned the faith and practice of his fathers.

 

While conscious of danger from without, he was glad to be able to look for

help to the Power that was above, and he remained loyal to Jehovah; as soon

 as he felt or fancied himself secure within his ramparts, he flung away his

spiritual support. Here we have guilt and folly in equal measure:

 

Ø      guilt, for it was singularly ungrateful of him to forsake the God who

had so clearly placed his dynasty on the throne, and impious of him

to turn from the worship of Him whom he believed to be the one true

and living God;

 

Ø      folly, for he might have known that his material defenses would avail

him nothing if the anger of the Lord was enkindled and the hand of the

Lord directed against him. 

 

Supposed security is a strong temptation.

 

Ø      When we believe ourselves to be possessed of a sufficiency of material

treasure, we think we can afford to be independent of the aid of  the

Divine provision.

 

Ø      When we think we have surrounded ourselves with all needful sources

of earthly and human joy, we are apt to think we can dispense with the

consolations and the satisfactions which are in Jesus Christ; when we

have attained to some strength of mind and of will, to some measure

of maturity, we are tempted to suppose that there is less necessity,

if any at all, to look upward for Divine support, to lean on the

Divine arm. To yield to this temptation is:

 

o       To err sadly; for we shall find that no defenses or securities that

are of earth or that are of man will avail us against all the

difficulties and hazards that are around and against us, without

the aid of an ALMIGHTY ARM; and the end will be failure

and dishonor.

 

o       To sin grievously; for God is demanding of us, in terms we cannot

fail to understand and with a frequency we cannot fail to mark,

that we should put our trust:

 

§         in Him, and not in man;

§         in Him, and not in ourselves;

§         in Him, and not in “the chariots and horses” of this world.

 

·         THE RESPONSIBILITY OF HIGH POSITION. Rehoboam “forsook

the Law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. His people were not

unaccountable for following him, but how weighty was his responsibility

for leading them astray!

 

2  "And it came to pass, that in the fifth year of king Rehoboam Shishak king

of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the

LORD,"  Shishak; Hebrew שִׁישַׁק; Septuagint, Σουσάκιμ - Sousakim - Shishak,

Sheshonk, Sesonchis, the Sheshenk I. or Shashank I. of the monuments,

son of an Assyrian king called Nimrod or Nemaruth, became King of Egypt

as first of six kings who lasted in all a hundred and seventy years, of the

twenty-second dynasty of Manetho, reigning in Bubastis. To him Jeroboam

had fled for refuge from Solomon (I Kings 11:40). He reigned An. Sac.

3830 (B.C. 980) to 3851 or 3863. This makes Solomon’s reign A.S.

3799(B.0. 1011) to 3839 (B.C. 971). Shishak’s invasion, therefore, in aid

of Jeroboam, was A.S. 3844 (B.C. 966). A representation of it exists in

relief sculptured on the south external wall of the temple of Amen, at

Karnak, Thebes; and, together with this, an elaborate list of countries,

cities, tribes, conquered by Sheshenk or tributary to him, a hundred and

thirty-three in number. Among these are some of the very fifteen fenced

cities (see our v. 4) which Rehoboam built or fortified, viz. the three,

Shoco, Adoraim, and Aijalon, while the erasure of fourteen names just

where these are found accounts, no doubt, for the non-appearance of

others of them. There are also the names of Levitical and Canaanite cities,

situated in the kingdoms of the ten tribes, but belonging to the Levites who

had been compelled to migrate into Judah. The dates given above are those

accepted by Conder, in his ‘Handbook to the Bible’ (see pp. 28-34), and

do not quite agree with those adopted in Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’

3:1287-1294. Both of these most interesting articles will well repay

perusal, as well as the article “Thebes” in the latter work, 3:1471-1475.

(The name and word Shishak has no relation whatever with the Sheshach

of Jeremiah 25:26; 51:41, שֵׁשַׁך, a word which, possibly spelling Babel

or even Ur, marks the name of a place, and is evidently used by Jeremiah

for Babylon or Babylonia.)

 

 

The Apostasy of Rehoboam (vs. 1-2)

 

  • EARLY IN ITS COMMENCEMENT. After the three years already

mentioned (ch. 11:17). Rehoboam’s piety was short-lived, like the morning

cloud and early dew (Hosea 6:4), and like the seed upon stony ground

(Matthew 13:5). Want of stability and permanence is a chief defect in

man’s goodness. Many begin well who neither continue long nor end aright.

 

  • PRESUMPTUOUS IN ITS SPIRIT. Rehoboam’s declension began

after he had established the kingdom and strengthened himself. His fit of

reforming zeal continued no longer than the fear which caused it. When

this expired that vanished. So long as the country was defenseless,

Rehoboam deemed it prudent to have Jehovah on his side, and with that

end in view he patronized Jehovah’s altars. The moment his garrisons were

erected, manned, and stored, he began to reckon that Jehovah’s aid was

not so indispensable, and that his reforming zeal need not be so extremely

hot. So men still think of God, and assume a semblance of religion when

they feel themselves in peril, but the instant peril passes they doff the cloak

of piety they have erstwhile worn:

 

Ø      like Pharaoh (Exodus 8:8, 15; 9:27, 34),

Ø      like the Israelites (Numbers 21:7; 25:1; Psalm 78:31; 106:6), and

Ø      like Ahab (I Kings 21:27-29), and others.

 

·         THOROUGH-GOING IN ITS CHARACTER.

 

Ø      Negative. He forsook the Law of the Lord, probably by violating its

moral precepts and discontinuing its ceremonial rites, by abandoning

the worship and deserting the altars of Jehovah.

 

Ø      Positive. He returned to the heathen idolatries which for three years he

had neglected, like a dog to his vomit, etc. (II Peter 2:22). So a merely

negative declension in religion is impossible. He who abandons

the service of God cannot stop short of serving the devil.  No man can

serve two masters (Matthew 6:24); but every man must serve one.

 

  • CONTAGIOUS IN ITS INFLUENCE. As Achan perished not alone

in his iniquity (Joshua 22:20), so Rehoboam sinned not alone in his

apostasy, but by means of his royal example or command drew all Israel

after him. “One sinner destroyeth much good” (Ecclesiastes 9:18); “A

little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (I Corinthians 5:6). One asks,

where were the priests and Levites who had so bravely, resisted the

profanations of Jeroboam, and rather sacrificed their suburbs and

possessions than defile their consciences (ch. 11:14)? and where were

the pious Israelites who had set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel

(ibid. v. 16)? In one short year their:

 

Ø      fervor had been quenched,

Ø      fidelity shaken, and their

Ø      courage damped.

 

  • DISASTROUS IN ITS CONSEQUENCE. “Evil pursueth sinners”

(Proverbs 13:21), and in two years Nemesis overtook Rehoboam in the

shape of an Egyptian invasion. Of all sinners it is true, “their feet shall slide

in due time” (Deuteronomy 32:35); of apostates it is written, “I will

recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord” (Ezekiel 11:21).

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The sin of APOSTASY!

Ø      The danger of PROSPERITYT!

Ø      The impossibility of NEUTRALITY!

Ø      The fickleness of crowds in RELIGION as in POLITICS!

Ø      The corrupting influence of EVIL EXAMPLE!

Ø      The CERTAINTY OF RETRIBUTION!

 

3 "With twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen:

and the people were without number that came with him out of

Egypt; the Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethiopians.  4 And he took

the fenced cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem."

Twelve hundred chariots. The parallel does not give the

numbers. These are large, but not inconsistent with those mentioned in

other connections, whether those of Solomon, or, going further back, of

Pharaoh. Lubims. The letter s is orthographically redundant in this, as also

in the following names, the forms being already plural. The Lubim mean

the Libyans, west of Egypt. They are probably the people represented on

the Egyptian monuments as Lebu, of Semitic type, subjugated by Egypt’s

kings in the thirteenth century B.C. They were among the oldest of

colonists, that drifted along the coast of Africa, north of the Great Desert,

from the East, and are perhaps the same as the Lehabim (Genesis 10:13;

here ch. 16:8; Nahum 3:9; Daniel 11:43; Jeremiah 46:9; Ezekiel 38:5).

Sukkiims. Probably an Arab tribe, though the Septuagint Version gives

Τρωγοδύται - Trogodutai - Troglodytes (cave men) as though taking them

for Troglodytes in the hills west of the Red Sea; so, too, the Vulgate.

Gesenius at once renders the סֻכִּיִּים tent-dwellers, and sets the people in

question down for some African tribe. They are not mentioned elsewhere

so as to be recognized. Ethiopians. These were ethnically Cushites, but

the territorial application of the term was confined to the African Cushite

settlers. It is remarkable that, in ch. 21:16, Ethiopians are classed with Arabians,

but otherwise with African peoples, and in particular Egypt (Psalm 68:31;

Isaiah 20:3-4; 43:3; 45:14; Jeremiah 46:9; Ezekiel 30:5; 38:5). They were

many-tribed, and the Sabaeans were a leading tribe of them. It is evident that

Shishak could draw from a large and varied dominion subject to his dynasty

at this time.

 

 

Shishak’s Invasion (vs. 2-4)

 

  • THE INVADER. Shishak King of Egypt, the Sesonchis of Manetho, the

Shashanq I. of the monuments (s.c. 966). Originally the son of an Assyrian

king named Nimrod, “who had met his death in Egypt and been buried at

Abydos,” Shashanq I. of the twenty-second dynasty established his seat of

royalty at Bubastis, in Lower Egypt (Brugsch, ‘Egypt under the Pharaohs,’

2:215, 216; Ebers, in Riehm’sHandworterbuch,’ art.Sisak;” ‘Records of

the Past,’ 12:93). His mother’s name was Tentespeh, his wife’s Tahpenes (l

Kings 11:19). One of his wife’s sisters married Hadad the Edomite; another

became the wife of Jeroboam (Stanley, ‘Jewish Church,’ 2:275; Ewald,

‘History of Israel,’ 3:217; 4:32).

 

  • THE ARMY.

 

Ø      Chariots. In ancient times a common instrument of war (Exodus 14:9;

II Samuel 15:1; I Kings 20:1). Shishak had twelve hundred,

or twice the number of Pharaoh’s chosen chariots in the time of Moses

(Exodus 14:7). The Philistines once collected against Israel thirty

thousand (I Samuel 13:5). Solomon had fourteen hundred (I Kings 10:26),

Rehoboam likely not so many in consequence of the disruption of

the kingdom.

 

Ø      Horsemen. Sixty thousand; five times as many as had belonged to

Solomon (I Kings 4:26), and twelve times as many as the Philistines

had brought against Israel (I Samuel 13:5). Forty thousand mounted

warriors once fell before David’s troops (II Samuel 10:18).

 

Ø      Infantry. Without number, composed of native forces and mercenaries

or foreign troops — Lubims, Sukkims, and Ethiopians.

 

o        The Lubims, or Libyans (ch. 16:8; Daniel 11:43), the Lehabim of

Genesis 10:13, the Temhu, or Tehennu, or more accurately

the eastern portion of this people, the Lubu of the monuments

(Ebers, ‘Egypt and the Books of Moses,’ p. 104), were the

inhabitants of the districts of Marcotis and Libya west of the

Canopic arm of the Nile (Knobel), or in the larger sense the

Liby-AEgyptii of the ancients (Keil), the people dwelling

between Lower Egypt and the Roman province of Africa

(Kautzsch in Riehm, art.Libyer”).

 

o        The Sukkim were aborigines of Africa, “cavemen,” troglodytes

(Septuagint, Vulgate), “probably the Ethiopian troglodytes upon

the mountains on the west coast of the Arabian Gulf” (Bertheau),

whom Strabo and Pliny mention, the latter speaking of a troglodyte

city Suche, which has been identified with Suakim (Kautzsch).

 

o        The Ethiopians, or Cushites, introduced among the forces of Shishak

(cf. Nab. 3:9) were drawn from the African territory south of Egypt.

 

  • THE REASON.

 

Ø      Shishaks. Perhaps to assist Jeroboam in his measures of hostility against

Rehoboam, and eventually to secure the supremacy of Judah, possibly also

of Israel as well.

 

Ø      Jehovahs. To punish Rehoboam and Judah for their apostasy. Though

second causes need not be overlooked, they must not be permitted to

obscure, far less to deny, the first. Had Rehoboam remained faithful to

Jehovah, all the intrigues of Jeroboam would have failed to start Shishak

on the extradition here reported.

 

  • THE PROGRESS.  Shishak captured all the fenced cities of Judah in

which Rehoboam trusted (ch. 11:5-9), and encamped his army before the

walls of Jerusalem. Vain, after all, had been Rehoboam’s confidence.

His garrisons and soldiers had yielded the first assault, The props on

which men lean often prove broken reeds. The shelters to which sinners

run in the day of calamity mostly turn out refuges of lies (Isaiah 28:17).

 

  • LESSONS.

 

Ø      The certainty of sin being sooner or later overtaken by retribution

(Numbers 32:23).

Ø      The weakness of all defenses, whether for nations or for individuals,

when God is not within them (Psalm 127:1).

Ø      When God has a sinner to chastise He can easily find an instrument

wherewith to do it (Isaiah 10:5).

 

5 "Then came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam, and to the princes

of Judah, that were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak,

and said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, Ye have forsaken me, and

therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak." Shemaiah (see

Exposition, ch.11:2). The princes. These seem to have been a fruit of some

original organization with Solomon, as they are not found with David

(I Kings 4:2-6). Ye have forsaken me… therefore have I also left you.

The same Hebrew verb is employed in both members of this sentence,

and the rendering should follow in like manner (see ch.7:19-22).

 

6 "Whereupon the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves;

and they said, The LORD is righteous."  Note, as very apt parallel passages,

Jeremiah 13:15-18; Exodus 9:27.

 

 

Two Messages from Jehovah (vs. 5-8)

 

  • A MESSAGE OF WARNING. (vs. 5-6)

 

Ø      By whom sent. Shemaiah the prophet, or man of God (ch.11:2). When Jehovah

has a message for any age, people, or individual, he can always find a messenger

to bear it:

 

o        a Moses to go to Pharaoh,

o        a Samuel to speak to Saul,

o        a Nathan to send to David,

o        an Elijah or a Micaiah to warn Ahab,

o        a John the Baptist to preach to Israel and testify against Herod.

 

The hour never comes without the man. When a Paul or a Polycarp, an

Athanasius or an Augustine, a Calvin or a Luther, a Knox or a Wesley,

is needed in the New Testament Church, he appears at the moment

when most required.  (A Billy Graham for this age – some have called

him “the Elijah to come!” - Malachi 4:5-6, Matthew 17:10-13– CY – 2016)

 

Ø      To whom addressed. To Rehoboam and the princes of Judah whom

Shishak’s invasion had caused to convene in Jerusalem. They had come

together to consult about the safety of the capital; they had not called

Jehovah to the council. They had not realized that in such a crisis as had

arisen “vain was the help of man,” and “through God alone could they do

valiantly(Psalm 60:11-12); that unless God kept the city, they the

watchers would watch in vain (Psalm 127:1). Yet they seem to have

discerned that their best efforts would prove ineffectual, and they were

filled with fear. Happily Jehovah thought of them, though they forgat Him.

 

Ø      In what terms it ran.

 

o        It intimated a fact: “Ye have forsaken me.” This showed that Jehovah

had been cognizant of all that had taken place since Rehoboam got his

garrisons erected, had witnessed the idolatries and unspeakable

abominations of the faithless king and his coward princes, though perhaps

they had reasoned that, as God was in the height of heaven, He could not

know what transpired upon the earth (Job 22:12-14). But though they

had not seen Him, He had observed them (Proverbs 15:3; Amos 9:8).

 

o        It announced a consequence: “Therefore have I also left you in the

hand of Shishak.” Thus did Jehovah signify that it was He Himself even

more than Shishak that had come up against Rehoboam and his princes;

Shishak had not appeared before their gates without His permission; and

without His assistance nothing they could do would prevent them falling

into Shishak’s hand. Jehovah, indeed, could avert that calamity. He could

put a hook into Shishak’s nose and lead him back by the way he came, as

He afterwards did to Sennacherib (II Kings 19:28; Isaiah 37:29); but

in the mean time, as they had left Him for the calves of Egypt, He had left

them to be the prey of Egypt’s lord.

 

Ø      What effect it produced.

 

Ø      Contrition, or at least seeming contrition: “They humbled themselves.”

To be sure, their penitence, like their previous reformation, was only skin

deep. Nevertheless, it had the semblance of reality, and God accepted it as

such.

 

Ø      Confession: “They said, The Lord is righteous,” i.e. in punishing them

as He had done; in which was implied an acknowledgment that they had

sinned. This the design of all God’s chastisements, whether national or

individual, to excite personal humiliation and hearty recognition of

THE HOLINESS AND JUSTICE OF GOD! (Deuteronomy 8:5, 16;

Ezekiel 20:37, 43; Hosea 5:15). Only confession may be on the lip

where no real contrition is in the heart.

 

  • A MESSAGE OF MERCY. (vs. 7-8)

 

Ø      Its occasion. The success of the first message in the (at least seeming)

penitence of the king and his princes. “God speaketh once, yea twice”

(Job 33:14), to men, even to His people, who often fail to understand

His first voice (I Samuel 3:4; Daniel 12:8; Mark 9:32; John 11:13), or

understand but refuse to hear (Isaiah 65:12), though occasionally also they

listen and submit (Jonah 3:5). In the first case, His second speaking may be

nothing more than a repetition of the first, or an explanation of its contents;

in the second, it commonly assumes the form of increased warnings and

severer threatenings; in the third it is usually a voice of mercy following on

a voice of judgment. It was so with Rehoboam and the princes of Judah.

 

Ø      Its contents.

 

o        Their humiliation had been observed and accepted: “They have

humbled themselves.” So God still sees and regards with favor ALL

who abase themselves before Him (Jeremiah 31:18; Psalm 9:12; 10:17;

I Kings 21:29).

 

o        A degree, at least, of clemency would be extended towards them: “I

will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my

wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak.”

So God delights to meet the first advances of returning penitents with

such foretastes of mercy as will lure them on to desire its full fruition.

 

o        Nevertheless, a measure of correction would be laid upon them.

Though Shishak should not be suffered to work his will either upon them

or their city, they would, nevertheless, fall into his hand. They’ should be

his servants, either as captives or as tributaries; and would learn the

difference between Jehovah’s rule and the domination of foreign kings.

So God still deals with His peopleforgives them, but permits them to

reap the temporal fruits of their transgression, that they may know what

an EVIL and BITTER THING IT IS TO FORSAKE GOD!   (Jeremiah

2:19), and how much more easy is Christ’s yoke (Matthew 11:28-30)

than that of sin (Lamentations 1:14).

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The omniscience of God: “All things are naked,” etc. (Hebrews 4:13)

Ø      God’s compact with the soul: “The Lord is with us,” etc. (ch. 15:2).

Ø      The mercifulness of God: He is “long-suffering, and slow to wrath”

(Exodus 34:6; Psalm 78:38).

Ø      The misery of sin: it ever entails SORROW! (Psalm 32:10).

Ø      God’s ability to execute His own sentences: “It is a fearful thing to

fall into the hands of a living God!,”  (Hebrews 10:31); “Though hand

join in hand,” etc. (Proverbs 11:21).

 

7 "And when the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, the word

of the LORD came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled

themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them

some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon

Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak."" Some deliverance. The Hebrew for

some here is כִּמְעַט.  There is plain authority (Ruth 2:7; Psalm 38:10) for

translating this word as of time, and the rendering “a little while” of the margin,

will, therefore, seem preferable. But see next note, and the “altogether” of

v. 12. It has often been most justly remarked what grateful note should be

taken of the fact that God always is recorded as turning such a wistful,

loving eye TO ANY SYMPTOM OF REPENTANCE (I Kings 21:27-29;

Jonah 2:5-9). Who can estimate the loss of men, that the symptoms have

been so frequent, so comparatively easily found as compared with the reality

of lastingness?

 

8 "Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know my

service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries."

The genius of this verse, nevertheless, will quite admit of the

Authorized Version rendering, proposed to be superseded in the last verse.

This says life shall be spared, but still severe moral reckoning (that of

servitude in a sense and tributariness) shall be taken with the transgressors

and forsakers of the Lord! The contrast of God’s service and that of men

and the world again touchingly recalls the words of Christ (Matthew 11:28-30).

 

 

 

Servitude and Service (v. 8)

 

“They shall be servants to him [for a short time], that they may discern my

service and the service of the kingdoms of the lands; i.e. that they may see

that my rule is not so oppressive as that of foreign kings” (Keil). God

would let Rehoboam and the princes of Judah be for a time subject to

Shishak — be in his power, be at his mercy, be compelled to go through

the miserable humiliation of buying him off — that he might be able to

contrast the honorable and happy service which he had known for three

years (ch. 11:17) with the unendurable subjection to which he was now

reduced. He should feel and know that the way of transgressors is hard

(Proverbs 13:15); that between the bonds of the Lord and the yoke of the

stranger there was all the difference between blessedness and misery,

between a holy service and a degrading servitude.

 

  • THE DEGRADING SERVITUDE. “Know ye not that to whom ye

yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants [or, ‘slaves’] ye are to whom

ye obey?” “Ye were the servants [slaves] of sin; … Being made free from

sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:16-18).

 

Ø      Sin is a foreign power. It is a stranger; it is an interloper; it has stepped

in between ourselves and God; it is like the Egyptian forces that came up

against Judah and Jerusalem, and sought to bring the people of God into

captivity. Sin is our natural enemy, whom we have greatest reason to dread.

 

Ø      Sin proves a hard master, and forces to a cruel bondage. It is the

ultimate source of poverty, and that is a hard master; it leads to vice, and

that holds its victims in the most degrading thraldom; it throws around its

subjects the coils of procrastination, and these hold the spirit in an evil

circle from which it tries vainly to escape; it takes men further and further

away from God, and leads them down to sources of satisfaction that are

sure to fail and to end in disappointment and heart-ache; it is a sorry

servitude in which to suffer; it is in very striking contrast to:

 

  • THE HOLY SERVICE OF THE SAVIOUR. To recognize the claims

of our Divine Father and Redeemer, to yield ourselves in glad self-surrender

to Him, to spend our days and powers in HIS SERVICE — what is this?

 

Ø      It is the one right thing to do. It is to be fulfilling the greatest and

strongest of all obligations.

 

Ø      It is the path of true liberty. Every servant of a Divine Saviour can say

and sing:

 

“In a service which thy love appoints

     There are no bonds for me,

 

A life of self-renouncing love

    Is a life of liberty.

 

Ø      It is the secret and the source of lasting peace and of abiding joy.

 

Ø      It is the commencement of that life which is life indeed,” which is the

beginning and foretaste of eternal life”the life which is:

 

o       of God,

o       for God,

o       with God, and

o       in God. 

 

9 "So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took

away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of

the king’s house; he took all: he carried away also the shields of

gold which Solomon had made.”  Words do not tell in this verse the

humbled service” of Rehoboam and the princes; but the position speaks,

speaks volumes of itself. Where did Rehoboam hide himself, where would

he not have been glad to hide himself, while the treasures of the house of

the Lord, and those of his own house, were coolly taken by the foreign

soldiery, none forbidding them, nor resisting, nor even making afraid?

 

 

 

The First Sacking of Jerusalem (v. 9)

 

  • ITS HISTORIC CERTAINTY. That Shishak gradually drew his lines

closer round the capital, and in the end stormed its citadel, has received

confirmation from the monuments.

 

Ø      In the temple of Karnak, at Thebes, on the walls of which Soti I. and

Rameses II. had by means of pictorial representations and hieroglyphic

inscriptions preserved a record of their victories, Sheshonq, on returning

from Palestine, caused a bas-relief to be executed in commemoration of his

expedition.

 

Ø      On the south wall, behind the picture of the victories of Rameses II., to

the east of the hall of the Bubastids, appears a colossal image of the

Egyptian sovereign, arrayed in warlike costume and dealing heavy blows

with a club or iron mace upon his captives, who are Jews or, at least,

Asiatics, whom he grasps.by the hair of their heads.

 

Ø      In another representation he is depicted as leading captive a hundred and

thirty-three cities or tribes, each one of which is personated by the figure of

a chief whose name is written on an embattled shield, and whose

physiognomy has been supposed (Lenormant) to declare them Jews,

though this is probably imagination.

 

Ø      In the lists of names occur those of:

 

o        cities of Judah proper, as e.g. Adoraim (Adurma), Aijalon (Ajulon),

Shoco (Shauke), Gibeon (Qebeana), etc;

o        Levitical cities of Israel, as e.g. Taanach (Taankau), Rehob

(Rehabau), Mahanaim (Mahanema), etc.; and

o        Canaanitish cities, as e.g. Bethshan (Beithshanlan), Megiddo

(Makethu).

 

Ø      Among the names is one styled Judah-Malek; not “the King of Judah”

(Stanley), but “the kingly Judah” (Ebers), or “Judah a kingdom’

(Rawlinson), which is supposed to point to Jerusalem.

 

Ø      The conquered nations are designated as the “‘Am of a distant land,”

and the Fenekh or the Phoenicians. The former expression, “‘Am,” answers

exactly to the Hebrew word for “people,” and may have been intended to

denote the Jews (Brugsch, ‘Egypt under the Pharaohs,’ 2:215-219;

Rawliuson, ‘Egypt and Babylon,’ 334-339; Ebers, in Riehm, art. Sisak “).

 

  • ITS ACTUAL EXTENT. Whether Shishak ravaged the city is

doubtful. The plundering reported suggests that he did (Bertheau, Keil),

but, “like Hezekiah on the occasion of Sennacherib’s invasion (II Kings

18:13-16), Rehoboam may have surrendered his treasures (I Kings

14:26) “to save his city from the horrors of capture” (Rawlinson). In any

case, Shishak carried off valuable spoil.

 

Ø      The treasures of the temple, or house of the Lord, the sacred utensils

employed in worship, which were then material, and the loss of which

greatly hindered the observance of religion — a calamity which cannot

now befall the Church of God in gospel times, since in Christian worship

the outward ritual is nothing, but the inward spirit everything.

 

Ø      The treasures of the palace, or king’s house in the city of David, i.e. the

regalia or crown jewels, which are always more or less an object of desire

to victorious generals and armies — a smaller calamity than the former, as

the destruction of a nation’s wealth is a lesser evil than the extinction or

suppression of its religion.

 

Ø      The golden shields in the house of the forest of Lebanon (ch. 9:16), which

Solomon had made, the Septuagint (I Kings 14:26) adding that he likewise

carried off the golden armor David had taken as spoil from the King of Zobah

(I Chronicles 18:7) — the least calamity of the three, the shields being

luxuries of which king or nation might be deprived without hurt, and the

armor spoil of which either might be deprived without wrong.

 

  • ITS SPEEDY REPARATION.

 

Ø      The nations loss concealed. Rehoboam covered up as far as he could

the damage wrought, especially in his palace, by constructing shields of

brass to take the place of those of gold which had been abstracted (see next

homily).

 

Ø      The kings vanity soothed. He also endeavored to heal his own

wounded vanity, by causing these brazen shields to be borne before him in

state procession every time he entered the temple. Just as they had done

before with the golden shields, the guards fetched out their spurious

substitutes with solemn pomp on every ceremonial day, and when the

show was concluded replaced them in the guard-chamber, the spectators

probably not being aware of the imposition.

 

  • LESSONS.

 

Ø      The instability of earthly things. A greater king than Shishak will one day

plunder kings and common men alike of their material possessions.

 

Ø      The facility with which men impose upon themselves, the efforts they

make, and the stratagems they resort to, to prop up their fallen greatness or

restore their faded glory. Solomon’s weak and vain son not the only man

who has made brass shields do duty for golden ones.

 

Ø      The historic credibility of Scripture. The Shishak invasion is not the only

instance in which the monuments have  corroborated Bible history.

 

10 "Instead of which king Rehoboam made shields of brass, and

committed them to the hands of the chief of the guard, that kept the

entrance of the king’s house.  11 And when the king entered into the

house of the LORD, the guard came and fetched them, and brought them

again into the guard chamber."  Instead of which King Rehoboam made

shields of brass. A most humbling reversal of the glowing promise afterwards

given, “For brass I will bring gold” (Isaiah 60:17).

 

 

 

Brazen Shields for Golden Ones (v. 10)

 

  • A VIRTUE. To content one’s self with shields of brass when shields of

gold cannot be got. “Be content with such things as ye have” (Hebrews 13:5).

 

  • A HYPOCRISY. To pretend that brazen shields are golden, either:

 

Ø      To hide the truth, that our shields of gold have been stolen, lost, or

never had an existence: “Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees,”

(Luke 12:1-2); or:

 

Ø      To keep up appearances, and so gratify our vanity by seeming richer or

more socially exalted than we are: “Beware of the scribes, who desire to

walk in long robes,” etc, (Luke 20:46).

 

  • A SERMON

 

Ø      To such as serve God with brass when they should do so with gold — an

exhortation to liberality.

 

Ø      To those who serve God with the appearance ofgold when the inward

reality is lackinga discourse upon sincerity.

 

Ø      To them who would serve God with gold but have only brass — a

promise of better days when Jehovah’s word shall be fulfilled, “For brass I

will bring gold” (Isaiah 60:17).

 

12 "And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD turned

from him, that he would not destroy him altogether: and also in

Judah things went well."  This verse is not in the parallel, but is particularly

proper to Chronicles and its uniform tenor. And also in Judah things went well.

The obvious meaning, “and still some good was left in Judah.” There was

some hopefulness in the situation, and reason for striving mightily “to be

watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die”

(Revelation 3:2). The occurrence of לְכָלָה is somewhat against the

rendering of “some” in v. 7 as an adverb of time.

 

 

Penalty, Penitence, and Forgiveness (vs. 2-12)

 

It was not many months before Rehoboam found out the heinousness of his

offense, the magnitude of his mistake; for in the path of sin comes penalty,

and behind penalty steals shame. Happily for him there was mercy behind

that. We look at this succession:

 

  • AS EXPERIENCED BY THE KING OF JUDAH. First of all, following

fast on his transgression, came:

 

Ø      Divine displeasure and humiliating defeat. There came in to his palace-gates

the stern spokesman for God, the prophet of Jehovah, with the

language of cutting censure on his lips, “Thus saith the Lord, Ye have

forsaken me, therefore have I also left you,” etc. (v. 5); and with this

anger of the Lord came disgraceful defeat on the field of battle. Those

strong places he had so carefully fortified, of which he was so proud, and

on which he so much relied, went down one after the other at the approach

of the enemy, and left the capital at his mercy (vs. 3-4). Then came:

 

Ø      Spiritual agitation. Shame, fear, confession. Rehoboam was ashamed of

his great folly; he was afraid for the safety of Jerusalem, and even for his

own liberty or life; he made a humble confession of his sin. He and his

princes “humbled themselves” before God (v. 6). And then came:

 

Ø      The Divine clemency.

 

o        God took him back into His forgiving favor (v. 7). “The wrath of the

Lord turned from him” (v. 12).

 

o        He promised him deliverance in a short time, and He graciously

fulfilled His word; for Shishak went back without destroying or

sacking the capital, and without taking the life or liberty of the king.

 

o        His mercy included discipline. God let Rehoboam be subject to the

Egyptian king for a while that he might know the difference between a

degrading servitude and an ennobling service (see next homily); and He

suffered Jerusalem to be stripped of some of its proud treasures, that the

king and his princes might learn that their strength and wealth were as

nothing in comparison with the favor of God, and would be forfeited by

their disobedience and disloyalty. God’s mercy was of such a kind as to

justify repentance, but to discourage rebellion and wrong-doing.

 

  • IN OUR OWN EXPERIENCE. Following our sin against the Lord,

whether this be some special act of transgression, or whether it be the

condition of estrangement and separation from Him, is:

 

Ø      The Divine rebuke. This comes to our heart through the written or

uttered Word of God, or through the pricking and piercing of our own

conscience, or through the coming of God to the individual soul by His

Divine providence. In some form or other God says to us, “Thou hast

sinned, and done evil m my sight.”

 

Ø      Spiritual agitation and return. Our heart is humbled; we are conscious

that we have violated the Law and grieved the Spirit of God, and our soul

is filled with a holy and a manly shame. And then our heart turns toward

God; we “set our hearts to seek the Lord God,” our Father and our

Saviour and our Friend; we earnestly desire to be taken into His service.

And then comes:

 

Ø      Divine forgiveness. God receives us fully into His favor; He takes us

back to His heart and to His home, so that we are no longer aliens or

enemies, but children at His hearth and table. Yet He makes us to know

that our past sin has left some of its marks behind it. It has robbed us of

some treasure; it has injured us, perhaps in our circumstances; certainly

in our soul. We cannot break His righteous Law, we cannot oppose His

holy and loving will, we cannot violate the laws of our own spiritual nature,

without being something the poorer for our folly and our guilt. Nevertheless,

the capital is not taken, the enemy withdraws; we have left us our liberty,

and our power to serve the righteous and the loving Savior.

 

 

Good Things in Judah (v. 12)

 

  • A PENITENT MONARCH.
  • A MERCIFUL GOD.
  • A RESTRAINED ENEMY.
  • A PROSPEROUS PEOPLE.

 

 

13 "So king Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem, and

reigned: for Rehoboam was one and forty years old when he began

to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city

which the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put

his name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah an Ammonitess."

The parallel to the remaining verses of this chapter is found in I Kings 14:21-22,

29-31. In Jerusalem. Possibly, considering the words of ch.11:5-12, 17, this may

indicate that Rehoboam was brought down to thinking almost more of the safety

of Jerusalem and himself than of the kingdom in its length and breadth. One and

forty years old (see our note, ch.10:8, towards the end, and compare our v. 7,

as well as the parallel places, I Kings 12:8 and 14:21). It cannot be held as

conclusively shown that the age of forty-one is incorrect. An Ammonitess

(see I Kings 11:1-9). Rehoboam’s mother’s name and nationality are noted also,

and twice in the parallel (I Kings 14:21, 31). Naamah was possibly the daughter

of Nahash (I Chronicles 19:1-20:3). The briefness but decidedness of the

notifications made as to this mother of Rehoboam leaves us without doubt

that there is not lacking significance in them. Schulz (in his Scholia in

Ver. Test.,’ vol. 3.) says the reason is “quia ca filio idololatriae ansam

dedisse videtur;” Keil and Bertheau think that, though there was evidence

of this in the case of the mention of Asa’s mother (I Kings 15:13), the

explanation here is that Naamah “appears” to have had, as queen-mother,

considerable influence in the government. They do not specify where they

find this to “appear” with any marked plainness. It is quite true that, in the

successive accounts of the Jewish kings, the name of each mother is

mentioned (I Kings 15:2; 22:42; here v. 2 and ch. 20:31, etc.)  We should say

it is like the book, so Divine and human, called the Bible, to do so far-seeing

and far-reaching a thing as to give the mother’s name; and practically to say

that Solomon and Naamah were (in special sense for Judah) a repetition of

Adam and Eve.  How far Judah and her line of kings may have correctly said,

they were answerable for “death and all our woe,” the sacred historians say

(I Kings 11:4, 9-11, 14, 23, 26, 31, 33, 36; 12:24; and in our previous chapter,

v. 4).

 

14 "And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD."

These summarizing moral estimates of the character of the

succeeding kings are, indeed, common to the compilers of both Chronicles

and Kings, though absent, in the case of Rehoboam, from the parallel.

 

15 "Now the acts of Rehoboam, first and last, are they not written in

the book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer concerning

genealogies? And there were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam

continually."  The authority quoted by the writer of Kings (I Kings 14:29-30)

is “the book of the Chronicles [literally, the book of the acts of the days, i.q. the

title of our ‘Chronicles’] of the kings of Judah,” on which follows in the

next verse the substantive statement, “And there was war between

Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days.” The authorities quoted here are

the works of Shemaiah and of Iddo, and it is possible that the following

words touching the continual wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam,

which have not the substantive verb among them, may have been part of

the title of Iddo’s work, although it is more probable that his work on

‘Genealogies’ would retain the character of a specialty. We subjoin for

English readers a literal translation of this verse: “And the words (acts) of

Jeroboam first and last, are they not written in the words (acts) of

Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer touching genealogies” [but

Gesenius, sub voce,” in the manner of a genealogical table”] “and wars of

Rehoboam and Jeroboam perpetual.” We think that neither our Authorized

Version nor Gesenius’s rendering probably convey the correct meaning.

The hithp, of יַחַשׁ would be better satisfied by the rendering, “to make a

register,” i.e. “to preserve a continued register of David’s genealogy.”

 

16 "And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of

David: and Abijah his son reigned in his stead." In the city of David; i.e on

Mount Zion, an eminence on the northern part of Mount Moriah. Here was the

burying-place of the kings, chambers with recesses for the successive kings.

To this place of royal sepulture some of the kings were not permitted to be

brought (ch. 21:20; 24:25; 28:27; II Kings 15:7). The chief cemetery of

the city was on the slopes of the valley of the Kidron (I Kings 15:13;

II Kings 23:6; here ch. 29:5, 16); another, probably, was south of

the city on the sides of the ravine of Hinnom (Jeremiah 7:32). In the

king’s sepulchers eleven out of Judah’s twenty-two kings were laid —

David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Ahaziah, Amaziah,

Jotham, Hezekiah, Josiah. For Asa (ch. 16:14) and Hezekiah (ch. 32:33) places

of special honor were found. The good priest Jehoiada also had burial in the

king’s burial-place (ch. 24:16). Kings Jehoram (ch. 21:20) and Joash (ch. 24:25)

were buried in the “city of David,” but not in the above sepulchers.

Uzziah, because a leper, was buried in the “field of the burial of the kings”

(ch. 26:23). It is all but certain that these royal sepulchers were in the enclosure

now called the “Haram area.” (For other interesting and important references,

see Nehemiah 3:16; Ezekiel 43:7, 9; here ch. 33:20; 28:27.)  While Rehoboam

was laid thus to sleep with his fathers, Jeroboam’s reign had yet four years to run.

 

 

 

A Model Instance of Divine Goodness and Opportunity Prolonged to One

 Who Annulled All, and Vitiated Every Highest Privilege Vouchsafed to Him,

           by the One Fact of His Own Infidelity of Heart (vs. 1-16)

 

We are strikingly taught, and we vividly recall from the contents of this

chapter, the following lessons and facts.

 

  • HOW VERY PRONE FORGETFULNESS OF OUR PAST SINS IS

TO FOLLOW WITH SWIFT RAPIDITY ON PRESENT RESPITE

FROM FEAR, RELIEF FROM SUFFERING, REMISSION OF

PUNISHMENT, RESTORATION OF OUR FORMER STATUS, IN

WHATSOEVER KIND! Yet retentive memory of that sin would

constitute our duty, our best wisdom, one of our surest cautions for the

future, one of the likeliest producer of penitence, and springs of humble

gratitude.

 

  • HOW VERY PRONE SECURITY, ABSOLUTE CONFIDENCE IN

SELF, AND THE SPIRIT OF EITHER DEFIANCE OR RECKLESS

DISREGARD TOWARDS WHAT MAY AGAIN INVADE, IN FEAR,

IN PAIN, IN PUNISHMENT, IN LOSS OF EVEN THE EARTHLY

POSITION WE LOVE SO WELL, ARE TO FOLLOW QUICKLY ON

PRESENT RELIEF! Too often, when the deeply useful memory of the sin

is put far away out of sight and out of memory, it is but the precursor of

the springing up of a very crop of positively harmful growth. The ground

that is unoccupied by sweet pasture will be sure to seed itself, of all

floating ill weeds; and to bring forth even of its own self, and own

emptiness, or own depravity, the baneful, the noxious, the poisonous herb!

 

  • HOW KIND THE PUNISHMENTS OF GOD ARE! They are

essentially so. Their intent is to:

 

Ø      recover,

Ø      reform, and

Ø      improve.

 

With lesson in them, with suggestion in them, with caution and warning in

them, with course and system of discipline, they offer exactly what it were

impossible to get of self, or to get of others, or to get from anywhere

except from the touch of the hand or the finger, or the rod of that tenderest

to smite, THE ALL-KNOWING FATHER of us all! So v. 8 says deliberately,

distinctly, that God would teach Rehoboam and condescendingly wait near

him some while, to teach him, the comparison of services, the difference by

experience of his yoke, burden, and service most ennobling, and those of

such a one as Shishak King of Egypt. Rehoboam would find a greater

difference between the two than that of his own well-known figurative

language, the “whip” and the “scorpion.” (I recommend – Proverbs ch.14 v14 –

Spurgeon Sermon – How a Man’s Conduct Comes Home to Him - #1246 –

this website – CY – 2016)  In tenderer connection, equally truly and sweet,

did Caroline Fry, once on a time, teach every chastened

child of God, and of sorrow, and of smart, and of even woe, to sing:

 

“Often the clouds of deepest woe

   So sweet a message bear,

Dark though they seem, ‘twere hard to find

  One frown of anger there!

 

“It needs our hearts be weaned from earth,

   It needs that we be driven,

By loss of every earthly stay,

  To find our hope in heaven!”

 

  • HOW READY TO FORGIVE, TO GRANT RESPITE AND

FURLOUGH, TO GIVE ROOM AND SPACE FOR REPENTANCE,”

THE LORD GOD OF US ALL IS! Fully thirteen years, as it appears, did

such manner of long-suffering, of forgivingness, even when it could not be

precipitated into objective forgiveness, hold out — sparing, pitying,

prolonging probation, repeating trial, accepting the words, the posture, the

fastings, the tears, the petitions of humiliation, the partial and transient

amendments of life and conduct, in case anything real, deep, lasting, might

haply come of them. Fully thirteen years (see vs. 2, 13) was Rehoboam

kept on the throne, and all this long-suffering, considerate mercy shown to

him, as though for him alone, or for him first, or for him chiefly, it had been

written, “For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust”

(Psalm 103:14) who all the while was neutralizing and canceling Divine

goodness, gift, opportunity, by the one damning vice that wrote itself as

his epitaph, itself history’s last memorandum of him, the lamentable

summary in a sentence, “And he did evil because he fixed not his heart

to seek the Lord!”

 

 

The Biography of Rehoboam (vs. 13-16)

 

  • HIS ANCESTRY.

 

Ø      The son of Solomon, the son of David.

Ø      The son of Naamah the Ammonitess, the daughter of Hanun the

son of Nahash (ch. 10:1).

 

  • HIS KINGDOM.

 

Ø      Its extent. Judah, with a portion of Benjamin.

Ø      Its capital. Jerusalem, the city of the great King.

 

  • HIS REIGN.

 

Ø      The beginning of it. When he was forty years of age.

Ø      The length of it. Seventeen years; short in comparison with that of

Solomon.

Ø      The character of it.

o       Vigorous: “he strengthened himself” (v. 13).

o       Idolatrous: “he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to

seek the Lord” (v. 14).

o       Troubled: “there were wars continually between him and

Jeroboam” (v. 15).

o       The end of it. Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was

buried in the city of David.

 

  • HIS ACTS.

 

Ø      All written. From first to last (v. 15). What a calamity to any man it

would be to have all his deeds recorded on the page of history! Yet first

and last every action of every man is being engrossed upon the page of

God’s book of remembrance.  (Malachi 3:16)

 

Ø      Where written? In the book of Shemaiah the prophet, and in that of Iddo

concerning genealogies. A small honor compared to being written in the

book of life. Not so serious a matter to have one’s deeds inscribed upon a

perishing page by a human biographer as to have them graven “as with a

pen of iron in the rock for ever”  (Job 19:24), by the hand of God’s

recording angel upon the tablets of eternity.

 

  • HIS SUCCESSOR.

 

Ø      His name. Abijah, or Abijam (ch.13:1).

 

Ø      His reign.  In Rehoboam’s stead. An honor to Rehoboam that he had a

son like Abijah; a mercy to Judah that Abijah was better than his father.

 

 

 

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