II Chronicles 13
The career of Abijah begins and ends with this chapter, the twenty-one
verses of which are paralleled by only eight in I Kings 15:1-8. The
difference is caused by the fact that the writer of Kings only mentions that
there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam, while the writer of
Chronicles, besides giving particulars of the war, rehearses the splendid,
dramatic, rhetorical address and appeal of Abijah
the people of the ten tribes.
1 “Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam began Abijah to reign
Rehoboam had completed a full seventeen years.
reigned three years in
Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. And there was war between
Abijah and Jeroboam.” Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. As before
noted (ch.11:20), and as in the parallel (I Kings 15:2), this name is one with
“Maachah, daughter of Absalom’’ (parallel, Abishalom). The different alphabetic
characters may be attributed to error, and that error the error of transcription merely.
As in our note (ch. 11:20), the word “daughter,” as in many similar cases, stands for
granddaughter. Thus the father of Maachah was Uriel of Gibeah, and her
mother Tamar, daughter of Absalom.
us this connecting link of explanation. On the other hand, Rabbi Joseph’s
Targum on Chronicles says that Uriel means Absalom, but was a name
used to avoid the use of Absalom. We have no clue as to which out of
many Gibeahs is here intended. The Hebrew word (גִבְעָח) signifies a hill
with round top, and hence would easily give name to many places. The
following are the chief places of the name (as classified by Dr. Smith’s
‘Bible Dictionary,’ 1:689-691):
Ø Gibeah in the mountain district of Judah (Joshua 15:57; 1 Chronicles 2:49).
Ø Gibeath among the towns of Benjamin (Joshua 18:28).
Ø The Gibeah (I Samuel 7:1; II Samuel 6:3-4).
Ø Gibeah of Benjamin (Judges 19., 20.), between
Benjamin,” or “Geba (גֶּבַע) of Benjamin” (see also I Samuel 13., 14.;
II Samuel 23:29; I Chronicles 11:31; Hosea 5:8; 9:9; 10:9).
Ø Gibeah of Saul (I Samuel 10:26; 15:34; II Samuel 21:6).
the modern Tuleil-el-ful, about thirty stadia from
also Isaiah 10:28-32). The Gibeah of I Samuel 22:6; 23:19; 26:1,
is this Gibeah of Saul.
Ø Gibeah in the field (Judges 20:31). Lastly, our Authorized Version
gives us seven other Gibeahs, only translating this word, e g.
o “The hill of the foreskins” (Joshua 5:3);
o “The hill of Phinehas” (Joshua 24:33);
o “The hill of Moreh” (Judges 7:1);
o “The hill of God” (I Samuel 10:5);
o “The hill of Haehilah” (1 Samuel 23:19; 26:1);
o “The hill of Ammah” (II Samuel 2:24);
o “The hill Gareb” (Jeremiah 31:39).
3 “And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of
war, even four hundred thousand chosen men: Jeroboam also set
the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen
men, being mighty men of valor.” It is not within the province of an expositor
to assert dogmatically that numbers like these in this verse should be deprived of
one cipher, and that the slaughter of v. 17 must be, consequently,
similarly discounted. It would be, however, a great relief to faith to be able
to give proof that this treatment would be true to fact. At present the
numbers can be shown to be consistent with other numbers, such as those
of the entire man-population (I Chronicles 21:5; here, ch. 11:13-17); and this
seems the best that can be said in support of them. It does not, however,
suffice to bring comfortable conviction. It is remarkable, among the difficulties
that the question entails, that we do not get any satisfactory explanation as to
how such vast numbers of slain bodies were disposed of in a compass of ground
comparatively so small.
4 “And Abijah stood up upon
Ephraim, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam,
Mount Zemaraim. This mount is not mentioned elsewhere.
Presumably it was a mountain or hill above the place called Zemaraim,
mentioned in Joshua 18:22 as in Benjamin’s allotment, and mentioned
between the places called Beth ha-Arabah
enough to them one or both. This will quite suit our connection as placing
the hill near the borders of Benjamin and Ephraim. It is said to be in
Mount Ephraim; i.e. in the range of
considerable length, running through the midst of what was afterwards
named from the Zemarite tribe, who were Hamites, and related to the
Hittites and Amorites (Genesis 10:18; I Chronicles 1:16), descendants of
northern settlements into mid and south
the same Greek as
Vs. 5-12. The idea of Abijah in this religious harangue, addressed or
supposed to be addressed to the kingdom of the ten tribes, was good, and
the execution was spirited. While, however, he preaches well to others,
there are not wanting signs that he can blind himself as to some failure of
practice on his own part. The points of the argument running through his
harangue are correct, skillfully chosen, and well and religiously thrust home
on the heart of his supposed audience. The practical trust of himself and his
army are testified to in vs. 14-15, and abundantly rewarded. This sequel-
practical trust is the best credential of the sincerity of his foregoing appeal
ye not to know that the LORD God of
Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?”
Gave the kingdom… to David for ever. With the thricerepeated
“for ever” of what we call II Samuel 7:13-16, and the very
emphatic language of the fifteenth verse in that passage, in the memory of
Abijah, no one can say he was not justified by the letter and to the letter in
what he now says. At the same time, how is it that Abijah does not in all
fairness quote the matter of here, ch. 6:16 last clause, and of its
parallel, I Kings 8:25 last clause, and of Psalm 89:28-37; 132:12?
Covenant of salt (see Leviticus 2:13; Numbers 18:19; Ezekiel 43:24;
Mark 9:49). The use of salt was ordered first for the meal
offerings, which, consisting mainly of flour, did not need it as an antiseptic;
afterwards it was ordered for “all” offerings, including the “burnt offering:”
as surely as leaven was proscribed, salt was prescribed (Leviticus 2:11).
“The covenant of salt” meant the imperishableness and irrevocableness of
the engagement made between the two parties to the covenant The
widespread and deeply significant use of it among other and heathen
nations is remarkable indeed, and is attested by Pliny (‘Hist. Natal 31:41) in
forcible words: “Nulla (sacra) conficiuntur sine mola salsa” (Her., 2 Sat.
3:200; Virgil, ‘AEn.,’ 2:133; Hom., ‘ Iliad,’ 1:449). Some think it a
sufficient explanation of the text, “covenant of salt,” that, especially in the
East, solemn engagements and vows were often recognized and
strengthened by hospitalities, as shown to guests, and of these salt was an
indispensable element. It is true that some of the ancient indications and
descriptions of friendship and close friendships turned on phrases (similar
ones, indeed, still existing) into which the word “salt” entered, but that
these phrases arose from the fact that salt was so general a constituent of
human food seems insufficient explanation, where we can find one of a
more direct and more directly religious, or, as the case might be (e.g. with
heathen sacrifices), superstitious birth. Religion and superstition between
them have been the most world-wide, incalculable, and untraceable
originators and disseminators of half the possible phrases of human language!
6 “Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David,
is risen up, and hath rebelled against his Lord.” The servant of Solomon.
I Kings 11:28 is evidently the apter reference for this verse, rather than 26, as
7 “And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial,
and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of
Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and
could not withstand them.” Are gathered… have strengthened themselves.
The aorist tense is needed for the rendering in both these cases; e.g. “And
vain men gathered to him, and strengthened themselves against him.” Vain men;
Hebrew, רֵקִים. This word, and one very slightly different in form, and
their adverb, occur in all forty-one times; rendered in the Authorized
Ø “empty” nineteen times,
Ø “vain” eighteen times, and
Ø “without cause,” “to no purpose,” and “void” the remaining four times.
It is the word that is used of the “empty” pit of Joseph (Genesis 37:24); of the
“empty ears” of corn (Genesis 41:27); of “empty” pitchers and other
vessels (Judges 7:16; II Kings 4:3; Jeremiah 14:3; 51:34; Ezekiel 24:11).
And in all the other cases expresses metaphorically the emptiness
of head, of heart, or of reason, with the same simple force of
language appropriate, it appears, then as now. Children of Belial;
Hebrew, בְלִיַּעַל. This word is found twenty-seven times, and, including
seven marginal options, is rendered in the Authorized Version “Belial”
twenty-three times; the four exceptions being “wicked” three times, and
“naughty” once. The derivation of it marks the one expressive meaning of
“without profit.” Young and tender-hearted. Hard as it is to put these
objections to the credit of a man forty-one years of age (see our note,
cg, 10:8; 12:13) at all, yet, if so, they can only be explained as some
do explain them, of a blamable ignorance, inexperience, and instability.
8 “And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the
hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there
are with your golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods.
9 Have ye not cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron,
and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the
nations of other lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate
himself with a young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a
priest of them that are no gods.” The five succeeding thrusts of these two
verses, prefaced by the somewhat self-conscious but, nevertheless, validly
pleaded orthodoxy of his own position, are well delivered by Abijah. Jeroboam
Ø for his confidence in a great multitude;
Ø for his golden calves for gods;
Ø for what amounted necessarily to the excommunication and repudiation
of the priests of the Lord, time- and nation-honored;
Ø for the mere manufacture of a new-fangled priesthood, and that after
the model of nations foreign and heathen;
Ø for the fact that, when these were made, they that made them, and the
gods for whom they were made, were all three “like to” one another —
no true people, no true priests, and no gods at all! A young bullock and
seven rams The consecration sacrifice for the whole line of priests was
“one young bullock and two rams without blemish” (Exodus 29:1,15,19;
Leviticus 8:2). Of course, Jeroboam felt his own position in the
matter so weak, that each false, illegitimate candidate for the priestly
service must bring his sacrifice, and that a larger one by five rams
than the divinely ordered one of Moses.
10 “But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken
Him; and the priests, which minister unto the LORD, are the sons
of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business: 11 And they burn unto
the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet
incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the
candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we
keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken Him.”
The professions summarized in these two verses were confessedly
formally true of the king and priests and nation, although
Abijah and kingdom certainly did not carry a clean conscience in them
(Matthew 15:8; Mark 12:33; I Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 1:11, 16, 19). They were,
moreover, beyond a doubt really true of multitudes of individuals in the kingdom
of Judah and Benjamin. And these were “the salt of the” kingdom (Matthew 5:13).
They burnt… sweet incense (so our ch. 2:4; Exodus 30:7; Revelation 8:3-4). The
pure table… the candlestick. Although ten of each of these were made,
only one was used, or only one at the time (see our note on ch. 4:8, compared
with ch. 29:18; I Kings 7:48-49). We have not forsaken Him… ye have forsaken
Him. If all the difference that these words have it in them to express could have
been put to the credit of Abijsh, what tremendous strength would have now
belonged to his position and to his heart!
12 “And, behold, God Himself is with us for our captain, and His priests
with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against
you. O children of
fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.”
The concluding utterances of Abijah certainly did not fall below what had preceded
or the occasion in itself; and the echoes of them, while they died on the ear, must
have lived, indeed, and stirred life in the hearts of many (Joshua 5:14; Numbers 10:9;
31:6; our v. 14, and ch. 5:12-13).
Four Reasons for Surrender (v. 12)
Jesus Christ has taught us that in the great spiritual campaign in which
we are engaged there can be no neutrality; he that is not with the Lord is
against Him (Matthew 12:30). We have, therefore, to include among
those who are in arms against Christ, not only
o those who deny Him by speaking evil of Him and disparaging Him; and
o those who refuse to recognize the great claims He makes on the homage
and obedience of mankind, reducing Him to the rank of a fallible human
o those also who are wholly heedless of His claims, who show an
utter disregard to His will, who stand outside His Church, or who
do those things which He has expressly denounced and forbidden.
These are His enemies, and their name is legion; their resources
are great; they compose an army overwhelmingly strong in
numbers and material equipments.
Before these there come the prophets of the Lord, summoning them to
leave the ranks in which they stand, and to surrender themselves to Him and
His service. These speakers for God entreat them to lay down their arms
and to serve under Christ. Their reasons are, at least, fourfold. To be
where they are is:
UP. “Fight ye not against the Lord God of your fathers.” Long and
patiently, with many tears and prayers, often in the face of the most
determined opposition, in health and sickness, in youth and in strength and
in decline, on to old age and even unto death, our fathers fought for the
truth they loved; they built up the Church, the institution, the Christian
stronghold in which we found ourselves when we awoke to life and
thought. And now are we going to take that sacred building down; stone
by stone, are our hands — their children’s hands — going to demolish it?
Are we content to lower the flag they held’ high so bravely and so nobly?
Shall it be our function to undo the large and long result of all their toil?
Shall we bring into disrepute the name they honored far above their own?
Shall we fight against the Lord God of our fathers?
SUSTAINING. “God’s priests… cry alarm against you.” Invested in the
sacred garments, with the appointed signals in their hands (Numbers 10:8),
the holiest in the land are urging the people to maintain their ground.
The cause of Christian truth has not only the presence of a noble host of
good and holy men; it is led by the best of the good and wise. Those who
are clothed with righteousness, whose voice is the sound of earnest and
irresistible conviction, are summoning all who love God and man to oppose
themselves to the enemies of Christ. If we league ourselves “with these his
enemies” we must make up our mind to contend with the worthiest and the
wisest, with the most pure and brave and devoted, that ever drew mortal
breath, that ever sounded the note of battle.
Captain.” In the Christian Church it is the assured conviction that the
invisible Lord is not the absent One; He is the very present One. “Lo, I am
with you alway,” etc. (Matthew 28:20). We who fight for Him fight
under Him — under His eye, His observant eye; under His direction — the
direction of a hand that is not seen, but that is felt. They who fight against
His cause are fighting against Him Himself. They have to overcome THE
VICTORIOUS. “You shall not prosper.” Many times has Christianity
seemed to be doomed to defeat and even to extinction, but out of every
terrible contest it has emerged successful, even triumphant. Persecution,
ridicule, argumentation, corruption, — these have done their worst, and
they have failed. To-day the friends of Christ are more numerous, and the
cause of Christ is more advanced, than ever. And he who is in arms against
the Lord of all love and power, who is seeking to undermine His influence,
who is contemptuous of His holy will, who is opposing his own indifference
or his worldliness to the commands and the invitations of a Divine Saviour,
Ø in the ranks of the army that will be defeated;
Ø no voice of victory will greet his dying ear,
Ø no hope of commendation and award will then fill his
13 But Jeroboam caused an ambushment to come about behind them:
so they were before
behind: and they cried unto the LORD, and the priests sounded
with the trumpets. 15 Then the
how Jeroboam, with all his vastly preponderating numbers (v. 3), left nothing
undone to secure the victory, and resorted even to the ambushment described;
how, on the other hand, Abijah and his people honored God by their cry and
confident shout, and were delivered because they trusted in Him (I Samuel
17:45-47), and as follows, v. 18, “relied upon the Lord God of their fathers.”
17 “And Abijah and his people slew them with a great slaughter: so
there fell down slain of
the children of
God of their fathers.” Slain; Hebrew, חֲלָלִים. Even if we accept for a moment
the immense numbers written here and elsewhere as authentic, a considerable
deduction may be made from our difficulty by virtue of the fact that this
word need not mean to describe the actually slain. It occurs about ninety-one
times. Of these, in our Authorized Version, it is found rendered,
including marginal options, as many as fifteen times “wounded,” or by even
a less severe meaning. However, whether “slain” or “wounded and slain,”
the alleged, numbers of our present text are, in our opinion, incredibly enormous.
19 “And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him,
Bethel with the towns thereof, and Jeshanah with the towns thereof, and
Ephraim with the towns
permitted to take this city as the head-quarters of Jeroboam’s irreligious worship.
Jeshanah. A place not known elsewhere in Scripture by this name, which by
derivation means “old.” Grove (Dr. Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’ 1. p. 1035) quotes
a battle between Herod and Antigonus’s general, Pappus, but Josephus
does not assign its site. Ephraim; or, according to Chethiv, Epron. Grove
(Dr. Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’ 1. p. 569) says that conjecture has
identified it with the Ephraim of II Samuel 13:23, with the Ophrah of
Joshua 18:23, and with the Ephraim of John 11:54; possibly the
modern El-Taiyibeh (Dr. Robinson,
1:44), about five miles from
20 “Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of Abijah:
and the LORD struck him, and he died.” The Lord struck him; and he died.
The writer of Chronicles here, for brevity’s sake, and not to recur to his name
again, records the death of Jeroboam, which, however, did not happen till after
Abijah’s death, in the second year of Asa’s reign (I Kings 14:20; 15:25). That
the Lord struck him, may glance at the fearful announcement conveyed to
him through his wife by the prophet Ahijah (ibid. ch. 14:6-16).
The Folly of Unnatural Severance (vs. 1-20)
The whole chapter presents to us a number of lessons, not very closely
connected with one another.
read about the reign of Abijah is that there “was war between him and
Jeroboam” (v. 2). What else was to be expected? How, in those times, or
indeed in any time, could it be otherwise? Tribes descended, as they were,
from a common ancestor, speaking the same language, holding the same
faith, having the same history, under a sacred obligation to worship at the
same sanctuary, with no natural boundary between them, were bound to be
united together and form one strong nation, or else to be at perpetual
variance. There are two great mistakes, of which one is as foolish and as
mischievous as the other:
Ø to insist upon organic union when everything in constitution and
providential ordering points to separation; and, on the other hand,
Ø to attempt separation when everything clearly points to union.
Whom God hath joined together let no man try to put asunder; if he does,
he will certainly reap mischief and misery for his harvest. This will apply
not only to nations, but to Churches, to social communities, to families, to
enough of Abijah to utter the strong and effective remonstrance here
recorded (vs. 4-12). Perhaps, as one descended by both parents from
David, he had a very strong sense of the disloyalty of the two tribes; but he
certainly made a very vigorous appeal to them, urging them, by
considerations of duty to God and of regard for their own interests, to rally
to his side. He did not succeed in the attempt; probably he did not expect
to do so. When men have carried disloyal or disobedient thought so far as
to be guilty of actual rebellion or active opposition, they are not often
moved even by the most cogent and persuasive words. Nevertheless, it is
always right to try to move them before resorting to violent measures. We
may succeed, as men have succeeded before now, in saving sanguinary
strife, or in averting that which is, “in all but the bloodshed, a duel.”
Remonstrance should be made:
Ø in time;
Ø without provocation in tone;
Ø in the sorrow which carries dignity, and not in the passion which only
Ø with a feeling that our common brotherhood is a greater thing than our
LORD, Jeroboam seems to have been in the way of succeeding by his
stratagem (vs. 13-14), and had there been no strong and special reason
for Divine interposition, he would undoubtedly have prevailed against
Abijah. Persuasiveness of speech is good, but sagacity in action is better
still in any serious campaign. And while simple straightforwardness is the
weapon we should commonly use, there is a guile we may employ when
our spirit is wholly unselfish, and when we do not invade inviolable truth
(see II Corinthians 12:16).
cleverness of the crafty Jeroboam, but the faithfulness, thus far, of the
obedient Abijah which secured the
victory. The men of
the Lord,” and “God
smote Jeroboam and all
chronicles of the two kingdoms, we are amazed that kings and people
failed to see that just as they were obedient to Jehovah they prospered, and
just as they were disobedient they were overtaken with national calamity.
But it is so much easier to distinguish other people’s duty than to perceive
our own, to see where others missed their way than to find or to keep our
own. Continually are we tempted to abandon the path of simple Divine
wisdom for that which has its own fascinations, but to which no finger-post
of duty points us; and invariably we find that “the end thereof” is sorrow
and disillusion. Often the path of righteousness is unattractive and
unpromising at the outset; but in that way lies success. Further on the
prospect brightens; and at the end of that road is victory and joy. Be
faithful unto death, and you may make quite sure of the crown of life.
Jeroboam: Career, Character, Reputation (vs. 19-20)
There are three things which belong to every man, with the shaping of
which he himself has much, though not everything, to do, and which are of
the first importance to him. We look at them in connection with Jeroboam.
beginning low, he distinguishes himself by the character of his work, is
promoted to a post of some importance (I Kings 11:28); he gains the
confidence and good will of the people, is regarded as one who may aspire
to the highest position in the state; he has to retire for a time from the
presence of Solomon, who suspects his loyalty, but upon the death of that
sovereign he returns, takes advantage of the inexperience and foolhardiness
of Rehoboam, and mounts the throne, reigning over ten-twelfths of the
whole land. Then he maintains his position for some nineteen years,
keeping up a chronic war with royal rival at
holding his own. Then he has a pitched battle with Abijah, and, spite of
clever generalship (vs. 13-14), he is signally defeated; his troops are
utterly muted, and he has to sacrifice three important places. From that
time he declines in strength and spirit, until, cowed if not crushed by his
defeat, he dies of disappointment and chagrin. “The Lord struck him.”
competent to undertake the more difficult and responsible posts in the
building of fortifications; he was a man of ambition as well as of resource,
willing to enter the open door to mount the “fiery courser of opportunity; ‘
he was capable of patience as well as of vigorous action; he could bide his
courageous and self-confident, not shrinking from the dangerous position
of heading a revolt against the rightful ruler of the land (v. 6); he was
utterly unscrupulous as to the measures he adopted to retain the loyalty of
his people (vs. 8-10); he was prepared to abolish the accepted and true
faith, and import a false and low religion; also to rid himself of the best
men as priests, introducing the lowest to take their place (I Kings 12:31).
All piety and principle he subordinated to the one end of preserving
his throne and his dynasty. Thus he made shipwreck of faith and of a
HIS REPUTATION. For reputation is to be very carefully
distinguished from character. A man may have a good reputation, and, in
the sight of him who is the Truth, a very bad character; such were the
Pharisees of our Lord’s time, and such have been hypocrites of all time.
Or a man may have a bad reputation and a noble character; such was Paul
amongst his countrymen; such have been the reformers and martyrs of all
ages. But Jeroboam’s reputation has answered to his character. He was,
indeed, regarded as a man of considerable ability (I Kings 11:24); but
the one chief and continual association with his name is that of the great
mischief-maker, the man who wrought dire evil to his country; he was
known, and is known, as the man “who made
character, career, and reputation we may be reminded:
Ø That it is right to be concerned about our career, right to wish for one
that is bright and pleasant and honorable; and with this desire in our heart
o ask for Divine guidance and aid;
o do all that industry, patience, and moderation will accomplish to
compass that end; and
o be quite prepared to take a lower place if that should be the will
of our heavenly Father concerning us. (Luke 14:10)
Ø That it is of more importance that we should possess a good reputation;
not that we need trouble ourselves about what the sinful or the foolish are
saying of us, but that we should care much to win the esteem of the good
and wise. (We should live so that when someone says something bad
about us, no one would believe it! – CY – 2016)
Ø That the essential thing is a sound character in the sight of God. That is
the foundation of all; on it rests a good reputation and a bright career.
Therefore let us ask ourselves what we are; and let us be dissatisfied with
ourselves unless we can believe that we are true disciples of Jesus Christ,
“children of our Father who is in heaven,” resembling Him in spirit and in
The Career of Jeroboam (v. 20)
illustration of how “vaulting ambition overleaps itself, and falls on the other
side.” Its stages reveal the insatiable character of that:
“fire and motion of the soul
which will not dwell in its own narrow being,
but aspires beyond the fitting medium of desire”
Ø Promoted to a position of trust. Originally a servant of Solomon, he was
appointed master of works for the house of Judah, 1.e, superintendent of
the Ephraimite contingent of workmen (I Kings 11:28).
Ø Plotting sedition. Invested with “brief authority,” he began to meditate
ambitious thoughts, which probably the Shilonite with his prophetic glance
discerned (ibid. v. 37).
Ø Married to a princess. Compelled to flee from
wounds — he became the husband of a princess and the brother-in-law
of Pharaoh (ibid. v. 40).
Ø Further promotion,. Recalled to
spokesman of the northern tribes in their diplomatic dealings with
Rehoboam, and ultimately chosen to be their sovereign (ibid. ch.12:20).
Ø More sedition. Barely
was he seated on the throne of
adopted measures to render permanent the separation of the two
kingdoms; turning his back upon Jehovah, and setting up a new and rival
religion to the Jehovah given Law in
Ø Renewed ambition. Not content with this, he aimed at the subjugation of
the southern empire.
Ø Final collapse. This point reached, he hastened rapidly towards an
ignominious end. Byron says:
“One breast laid open were a school,
Which would unteach mankind the lust to shine or rule.”
One may be permitted to doubt this!
youth and man, as private person and public official, as servant and
sovereign, possessed high capacities, need not be questioned. Energy,
industry, enthusiasm, ambition, faculty for organization, power of
impressing, directing, leading, and ruling others — qualities needful for
generalship, statesmanship, kingship — appear all to have belonged to him
in more than ordinary measure; yet in every situation of life in which he
was placed these powers were misapplied. The governing idea of his soul
was to use all, in himself and others, for the advancement of his private
interest. For this end he:
Ø fomented sedition amongst his countrymen,
Ø encouraged disaffection amongst the subjects of Solomon,
Ø took advantage of Rehoboam’s inexperience to raise the standard of
Ø perverted to wicked purposes the high position as a sovereign to which
he in providence attained,
Ø did his utmost to propagate irreligion, diffuse idolatry, foster
immorality, DISSOLVE THE FABRIC OF SOCIAL ORDER,
crush and annihilate the true worshippers of Jehovah.
The annals of mankind afford many illustrations of the same phenomenon —
magnificent powers of body and mind prostituted to ignoble ends, e.g.
Ø Samson, Saul, and Judas from sacred,
Ø Caesar (Julius), Mark Antony, and Napoleon from profane history and
Ø (Whose name is going here in modern history?
o John Paul Stevens,
o Sandra Day O’Connor,
o Ginsberg, Sotomayor, Kagan,
o Mayer, Cooper,
o the unknown who “love to have it so” (Jeremiah 5:31 –
CY – 2016)
Ø When promoted by Solomon to be master of works for the house of Joseph,
Jeroboam might, with his commanding talent and great force of character,
have done much to soothe the ruffled spirits of his countrymen, and so
have nipped the poisonous flower of revolution in the bud. But he did not;
rather he acted on a contrary hint.
Ø When recalled by the northern tribes to be their spokesman, had he
chosen, he might have poured oil upon the troubled waters, allayed the
ferment of their passions, appealed to them to give the young king a trial,
and remember the danger which would accrue to the empire from disunion
— might have crushed down his own ambitious thoughts, and like Caesar
(‘Julius Caesar,’ act 3. sc. 2) — not to speak of a greater (John 6:15)
— put bravely from him the crown which in the people’s eyes he saw
preparing for him. But he did not; rather, in the popular disaffection, he
beheld that “tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to
fortune,” and launched himself upon its stream without delay.
3. When favoured
carried out the trust committed to him, to erect a kingdom in which the
worship of Jehovah should be faithfully and purely maintained, he should
have been established on his throne beyond the possibility of overthrow,
and the house of Jeroboam should have shone with a luster as brilliant as, if
not excelling, that of the house of David. But he did not; rather in him was
verified the sentiment:
“That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the utmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend.”
(‘Julius Caesar,’ act 2. sc. 1.)
had set Jeroboam on the throne of
throne cast Jehovah behind his back (I Kings 14:7-9).
might have attained to undying honor, reaped for himself a harvest of
eternal infamy. To such a pitch of wickedness did he proceed, both in
himself and in his people, whom he corrupted by his example and
commanded by his authority, that not only did the sin of Jeroboam
become ever afterwards proverbial as an expression for the highest possible
impiety in an Israelitish ruler (....Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made
drew down upon him swift and appalling retribution. “The Lord smote him.”
Ø In his army with defeat. His troops were routed on the field of war, his
fenced cities were captured, his military power was broken.
Ø In his house with bereavement. The sudden death of his child Abijah was
a sore stroke, to which was added a sorer in the curse that none other of
the house of Jeroboam should come to his grave in peace (I Kings
Ø In himself with disease. To this the language of ver. 20 is believed by
some to point (Clarke, Jamieson).
the fatal malady two years after the death of Abijah, and in the twenty-second
year of his reign. He expired at Tirzah, and was buried with his fathers.
“Sceptre and crown must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.”
21 “But Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives, and begat
twenty and two sons, and sixteen daughters.” Waxed mighty. For this our
Authorized Version reads, “waxed fat and wanton” (Hebrew, יִתְחַזֵּק),
and grew too like his father Rehoboam and his grandfather Solomon,
forgetting the “Law” (Deuteronomy 17:17-20).
22 “And the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his sayings,
are written in the story of the prophet Iddo.” The story of the Prophet Iddo,
If this be the same work as that mentioned in ch.12:15 (see our note there),it is,
at any rate, not called by the same title, but by the name well known for memoirs,
A Royal and Manly Manifesto in the Rights of Godly Truth (vs. 1-22)
The narrative of Abijah’s short reign of three years is distinguished by one
clear account, at any rate, of the wars that had arisen and were prevailing
between the two parts of the recently rended and bleeding kingdom, of
which a very brief statement only had been made, at the close of the history
of Rehoboam’s reign, whether here or in the parallel. It is also, and most
chiefly, distinguished by the graphic description of the very forcible
manifesto, so dramatically delivered as well, in the name and right of
religion, and of the truth handed down to him by his fathers, by Abijah
further analysis. And once more, so far as our Book of Chronicles goes,
the narrative of this short reign and public career of Abijah is remarkable,
in that we should have supposed certainly, when we shut our book, that
they were, as nearly as might be, immaculate every way to the honor of
God, and by His grace to the credit of the man and the king, with his heroic
challenge to all
The parallel, meanwhile, in Kings undeceives us unwelcomely in this
impression, and mournfully disabuses our mind, where with startling
precision it is recorded that “Abijah walked in all the sins of his father,
which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord
his God, as the heart of David his father,” Whether the unrelated sins of his
private life, or the chances of war, or the director judgment of God,
brought his career to so early a close, we are not told. Meanwhile the
contents of this chapter are most interesting. They read like an episode
almost unique among even the many and varied, the concise and telling
monographs that abound in the pages before us. War is waged, armies are
ready, and are already face to face; battle itself is ready to begin, or has
already begun, when — no spectral figure — King Abijah himself stands
Mount Zemaraim; the King of Israel, and the army of
were, all the rended-off nation of
congregated before him. If ever man “preached,” Abijah preached, and for
the day and the occasion lifted up his voice worthily, and was “not afraid.”
Truth and facts are unmistakably on his side. We seem, for a moment, to be
under the spell of an Old Testament Demosthenes, and to be listening to
the snatch of an earlier philippic (a bitter attack, especially verbal). If we
seek some analysis of this mingled argument, denunciation, appeal, we notice:
AND JEROBOAM. “The
Lord God of
to David for ever — to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt.” Perhaps,
indeed, Abijah remembered well the solemn proviso of that covenant,
emphatically made, and put into psalm as well, “If thy children will keep
my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall
also sit upon thy throne for evermore” (Psalm 132:12). Though he
neglected to quote it into his argument, and let us say probably by design,
yet it was substantially true that the perpetual kingdom was made over so,
by divinest engagement, to
whomsoever, and up to the coming of the Lord Jesus Himself, of whose
kingdom there should be indeed no end. For Abijah might, if challenged,
have gone on also to quote (Psalm 89:33-37), “Nevertheless my loving-
kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my
lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His
seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be
established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven.” So
Abijah begins successfully, putting
OPPORTUNELY BY ABIJAH. INTO THE ARGUMENT. “Ought ye not
to know this, that the Lord God of
David for ever?”
It was a well-conceived addition to the argument of the king of the true
line. How many persons know the right most assuredly, to whom, for
neglecting to do it, the most telling and most stinging expostulation and
rebuke might well be couched in the same form of question, “Ought ye not
JEROBOAM. Viz. that:
Ø It was a case of a subject rebelling against his own king (v. 6), not of one
foreign to the kingdom obtaining sway by conquest over a portion of it.
Ø It was a case of that subject also taking advantage of the youth and
inexperience of the rightful monarch Rehoboam, who was actually in
possession of the throne at the time of the schism.
Ø It was a case of the usurper relying on a “multitude” (v. 8) — a mere
majority! Nothing of a moral kind can safely be decided, on the strength
merely of a majority, in this world; or, at any rate, up to the present time,
in this world. And often the decision of something of a physical kind, on
the strength of a majority, is most uncertain — the very ground beneath the
feet of that majority being so liable to be undermined on a large scale (as is
so notable in the sequel of this very history, v. 18), or otherwise
by invisible moral forces. God’s selection of
conduct of them, of their education, of their government and their
legislation, was and is one protest against reliance on the many.
Ø It was a most iniquitous and crying case of idolatry in the setting up of
the golden calves. This most glaring instance of the basest sort of supposed
expedience did not bear that a word be said on its behalf or in its defense.
Had there been not another weak point in the conduct or tactics of
Ø Although it were a corollary most readily to be understood, that the
priests and Levites of the true religion’s ministry should find themselves no
place or at home in such an
probably that first prominence may be given (as great historic interest has
certainly been given) to the fact that of the same priests and Levites were
found none to sympathize with Jeroboam’s evil doings, to countenance
them, or to consent, under any pretext of policy, to uphold them; and
secondly, that the flagitious, sacrilegious, and absolutely reckless defiance
of the true religion, of which Jeroboam was guilty, in the sham
consecration of sham priests, in imitation of heathen nations and in
observance of heathen precedents, might be openly made to confront him,
and publicly be hurled as the last aggravating charge against him. Jeroboam
“cast out the priests of the Lord… and the Levites… and made priests after
the manner of the nations of other lands.”
BECAUSE TRUE, AND READILY ACKNOWLEDGED TO BE ONLY
THEIR DUTY AND PRIVILEGE UNITED, WHICH ABIJAH MAKES
ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND KINGDOM.
Ø They scorned golden calves, and had not forsaken the one Lord their
Ø Their priests and Levites are the divinely appointed and consecrated
ministers of the sanctuary and altar. They do their work. The altar smokes
morning and evening, and the odor of the sweet incense ascends. The
shewbread is in its place and duly renewed. The golden candlestick burns
every evening. They have received the charge of the Lord God, and they
keep it faithfully, obediently in each respect, and to each time punctually.
Ø God is practically looked to as their Captain, and His ministers are
looked to to sound the alarm alike to themselves and for them “against”
remonstrance, rebuke, has been in an eminent degree addressed to the
conscience, and to the distinct and undoubted knowledge of revealed
religion, which had been equally the portion of
the parting brief appeal is fully charged with the same spirit. It is an appeal
to conscience and religious knowledge and feeling, and legitimately
concludes with that warning which has so long been, which is still, the
divinely foreshadowed sanction of command or of prohibition. It depends
on the faculty of faith, it is part of the discipline of faith, and — to be
mindfully remembered by all — it is some of the most critical and
tremblingly anxious exercises of faith. He who believes in nothing but the
present does not believe in warning, and he who does not believe in
warning is, in one word, the infatuated, and ever liable to be the reckless.
In this brief pregnant appeal we seem to notice:
Ø that Abijah turns away his address from Jeroboam altogether, anxious if
haply he may just move the people;
Ø that there is breathed in it a tender, affectionate, fatherly persuasiveness,
as with last words of hope, or last words of despair, or as with last dying
Ø that there is the deep earnestness of the true man, who yearns that men
shall know the day of their merciful visitation, and not speed on in that
“way of transgressors,” which is “hard ” (Proverbs 13:15),
and which “shall not prosper.”
Abijah: The Lessons of His Hife (vs. 21-22)
These concluding verses, which dispose of the latter end of the life of Abijah,
may bring before us the lessons which are to be gathered from his career.
He was a descendant of David,
and a king reigning at
gained a somewhat brilliant victory over his rival at
“the rest of his acts and his ways and sayings are written in the story of the
Prophet Iddo;” but who reads them there, or who can tell us anything of
what is there contained? In the Book of the Kings (I Kings 5:7) we are
referred to our text for the details of his career. But how scanty we find
them to be! How little do we know of this once proud and “mighty”
monarch; and how content we are that we know so little! And of what
entire valuelessness to him would any fuller knowledge on our part be! We
need not be concerned that our name and fame will traverse so small a part
of this globe, and travel so short a space of time; that we shall be so soon
forgotten. Kings and statesmen, whose chances of fame were far greater
than ours, have found how ephemeral and how worthless a thing is fame.
To be loved by those whom we have blessed, to be esteemed by the good
and true, to be honored of God to take some part in the promotion of His
glorious kingdom, — that is the heritage to be coveted and to be gained.
ascended the throne of
a long period of honor and enjoyment. But three short years brought his
hopes down to the ground. Some disease showed itself in his frame, or
some accident befell him, or some treacherous blow struck him, and he
went down to the grave with his early hopes unfulfilled. And who shall say
that the young man of our acquaintance, of our connection, of our
affection, who has such bright prospects before him, will not find, by a sad
disillusion, that the term of his happiness and his honor is a very brief one;
that a few years, or even months, will bring him to his grave? “Love not
the world, neither the things which are in the world. The world passeth
away… but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (I John 2:15-17)
verse (v. 20) that Jeroboam never “recovered strength again” after his
humiliating defeat at
Abijah that he never recovered from his success. He was apparently elated
by it, and, in the perilous mood of complacency, he gave himself up to
culpable domestic licence (v. 21). His latter days were spent in home
luxuries and (it is only too likely) in revelries and follies. His success was
too much for him; as, indeed, success very often proves to be. Many men
can stand misfortune; comparatively few can stand prosperity. It is a
“slippery place,” where the unguarded human spirit falls, and is badly
bruised, if not broken. If the tide of success should set in, whether of
wealth, or honor, or power, or affection, let there be unusual
watchfulness and multiplied devotion; for the hour of prosperity is that
hour when the archers of the enemy will be busy with their arrows.
THE SUPREME. Where shall we look to find the fatal flaw that accounts
for this royal failure? We find it here (I Kings 15:3). Abijah’s heart was
“not perfect with the Lord his God;” that is to say, his heart was “divided,”
and therefore he was “found faulty” (Hosea 10:2). He did not seek God
“with his whole heart.” He was willing enough to try and charm with the
Divine Name and the Divine will and Law (see vs. 5-10), but he was not
prepared to walk uprightly and faithfully, as “the heart of David his father,”
before the Lord his God. If our devotion be nothing more than a desire to
have God on our side in the day of battle, we shall show small consistency
of conduct and little excellence of character. The religious character that
will stand the test both of sunshine and shadow is that of the man who
realizes the supreme claims of God, his Father and his Saviour, and who
solemnly and determinately dedicates himself, heart and life, to “the Lord
His God.” It is only whole-heartedness in the service of Christ that will
ensure us against the perils of adversity and prosperity.
The Successor of Rehoboam (vs. 1-2, 21-22)
Abijam, “father of the sea,” i.e. a maritime man (ibid. v. 31; ch.15:1);
or Abia (Septuagint). If Abijam be not a clerical mistake, then the hypothesis
is at least interesting that the Chronicler adopted the form Abijah because he
did not intend to describe this king’s reign as wicked, while the writer of
the Kings, having this intention, frequently selected the form Abijam (Kitto).
Gibeah, and the daughter (equivalent to granddaughter by the mother’s side)
of Absalom (ibid.), or Abishalom (I Kings 15:2). The notion (Bahr) that
Abijah’s wife, the mother of Asa, was also called Maacah (ch. 15:16) is not
necessary, and still less the hypothesis (Bertheau) that in this place the name
of Abijah’s wife has been substituted for that of his mother.
supposition just named) Maacah, the names of the others being unknown.
Like his father Rehoboam, grandfather Solomon, and great-grandfather
David, Abijah practiced polygamy. A parent’s vices are considerably easier
to copy than his virtues. Those also are likelier than these to be transmitted
former only one is known, Asa his successor, the rest having disappeared
from the stage of history as from that of time. Obscurity, the common lot
of men; yet not always a disadvantage in itself, or a proof of inferior merit.
Some of the world’s greatest men have been unknown to their contemporaries;
and Abijah’s unnamed sons may have been superior persons to Asa.
sovereignty over the northern.
Ø Its duration. Three years, beginning in the eighteenth and ending in the
twentieth year of Jeroboam.
Ø Its character. Troubled. “There was war between Abijah and
Ø His death. “He slept with his fathers” (ch.14:1).
His burial. “He was laid in the city of
Ø His biography. The story of his life, of his acts, ways, and sayings,
was written by the Prophet Iddo.
Ø His ability. Undoubted.
o A vigorous ruler (v. 21);
o an able speaker (v. 4);
o a powerful reasoner (vs. 8-12); and
o a valiant leader.
Ø His piety. Decided. Notwithstanding his polygamy, he was:
o sincere (vs. 10-11),
o lively (v. 12),
o trustful (v. 18), and
o courageous (v. 12), tho%h
o not perfect (I Kings 15:3).
Ø Jehovah in the heart is better than Jehovah in the name.
Ø A weak and wicked father may have a capable and good son.
Ø The value of a man’s life is not determined by the length of his
Ø One may have faults and yet be religious.
Ø Every one should strive to live so as to be remembered for good
A Great War in a Short Reign (vs. 3-19)
Ø Their leaders:
o of the army of Judah, Abijah;
of the host of
both capable generals, and each the inspiring spirit of his troops.
Ø Their numbers:
o of Judah, four hundred thousand men — one hundred
thousand fewer than Joab numbered to
Ø Their quality.
o Abijah’s troops were:
§ heroes of war, veterans experienced in former campaigns
under Rehoboam, and
§ chosen or picked men, literally, “men of youth,” whose
powers were at their best (Jeremiah 18:21).
o Jeroboam’s soldiers were also:
§ chosen men and
§ mighty men of valor.
Thus both armies were well matched.
Ø Their position. Over against each other, in the vicinity of Mount
Samrah, north of
and perhaps at that time the northern limit of Abijah’s territory (Ewald);
obviously so close to one another that to them the words of Shakespeare
(‘King Henry V.,’ act iv. chorus) may be fitly applied:
“From camp to camp, thro’ the foul womb of night,
The hum of either army stilly sounds,
That the fix’d sentinels almost receive
The secret whispers of each other’s watch:
Fire answers fire: and through their paly flames
Each battle sees the other’s umber’d face:
Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs
Piercing the night’s dull ear; and from the tents,
The armourers, accomplishing the knights,
With busy hammers closing rivets up,
Give dreadful note of preparation.”
Ø Whence spoken, From
spoken to the Shechemites from
Ø To whom addressed. To Jeroboam and all
harangue their troops before going into action (I Samuel 4:9; II Samuel 10:11-12;
ch. 18:30; compare ‘King Henry V.,’ act 4. sc. 3); Abijah directs his speech to
his foes, as David did to Goliath (I Samuel 17:45), and Rabshakeh to the envoys
of Hezekiah (II Kings 18:28-35; compare ‘Richard II.,’ act 3. sc. 3).
Ø Of what composed. Of a long, earnest argument, dissuasive, and appeal,
for the purpose of inducing Jeroboam and his warriors to desist from their
enterprise of attempting to conquer
could not succeed, for a variety of reasons.
o Their rebellion was a sin against their own better knowledge (v. 5) —
a sin against the light. They knew, or might have known, that Jehovah the
God of Israel
had given the kingdom over
him and to his sons by a covenant of salt, i.e. by a perpetual covenant
(Numbers 18:19). This promise had been made to David (II Samuel
7:12-16), confirmed to Solomon (I Kings 9:4-5), and reported to
Jeroboam (ibid. ch. 11:31-38), who must have known that whatever
he had from Jehovah to ascend the throne of
after that of
his sons on conditions which had not been fulfilled. Jehovah’s language
concerning David’s throne has been realized in Christ, to whom the
absolute and unbroken supremacy over God’s spiritual
committed for ever by a covenant of salt (Psalm 2:6; 72:17; Daniel
7:13-14). Hence rebellion against the authority of Christ cannot prosper.
o Their rebellion was a revolt against their rightful lord (v. 6). Though
Jeroboam had beforehand been informed of Jehovah’s intention to wrest
ten tribes from Rehobeam, it was none the less an act of insubordination on
the part of Jeroboam and the Israelites to raise the standard of revolt
against the son of Solomon. So the Divine foreknowledge that men will
sin, reject Christ, and continue in unbelief, does not render it the less
culpable on their part so to do. Christ, the Son of David, is their rightful
Sovereign (Acts 10:36), and to disown His regal authority is to be
guilty of SPIRITUAL HIGH TREASON!
o Their rebellion was promoted and fostered by wicked men (v. 7).
Jeroboam had collected round him an army of vain men — light persons
like those Abimelech on a former occasion had hired to follow him
(Judges 9:4); children of Belial, or of worthlessness, of the stamp of
Nabal (I Samuel 25:17), or of those who followed David when he
rescued his wives from the spoilers of Zigiag (ibid. ch. 30:22); “lewd
fellows of the baser sort” like those who assaulted the house of Jason
(Acts 17:5); “men of the most abandoned principles and characters, or
men without consideration, education, or brains” (Adam Clarke). Hence it
was impossible their wicked project could thrive (Proverbs 3:35;
o Their rebellion was aggravated by the time when it had been conceived
and carried out, viz. at a time when Solomon’s son had not been able to
withstand them, having but newly ascended the throne, and as a
consequence been unprepared when the mine, as it were, was sprung
beneath his feet (v. 7). Abijah speaks of Rehoboam as having been at the
time of Jeroboam’s rebellion “young and tender-hearted;” but, as
Rehoboam was then forty-one years old, Abijah may have purposed by the
expression to allude to his inexperience as a king, which laid him open to
be misled by designing men, or to the instability of his throne, which would
naturally invite the attacks of watchful adversaries.
o Their rebellion was supported only by human warriors and golden
calves (v. 8). But vain is the help of man, even when the battle is against
a fellow (Psalm 60:11; 108:12), and much more when against God
(Psalm 2:1-2). “There is no king saved by the multitude of an host”
and they that trust in golden calves or idols of silver and gold are
like unto them (Psalm 115:8; 135:18), and shall eventually be put to
shame (Isaiah 42:17; Hosea 8:5).
o Their rebellion was being maintained in the interest of idolatry (v. 9).
Although Jeroboam had been expressly informed that Solomon’s apostasy
had been the cause of the division of his kingdom (I Kings 11:33), and
that the permanence of his own throne depended on his steadfast adherence
to the religion of Jehovah (ibid. v. 38), yet had he wickedly ejected
the priests of Jehovah from their offices, and instituted a new order of
priesthood for the golden calves and other idols he had set up (I Kings
12:28-31). Nay, as if to pour contempt upon the true religion, he followed
the fashion of heathen nations both in the kind of persons he admitted to
the sacerdotal office, and in the rites of initiation with which these were
installed. The former were selected from the lowest of the people, and the
latter were of the simplest description. Any one who could bring the
necessary offerings for consecration, “a young bullock and seven rams”
(compare Exodus 29:1), was admitted to the new hierarchy, and no
questions were asked. This was all the recognition Jeroboam made of
the true worship of Jehovah.
o Their rebellion was being prosecuted against those who adhered to the
true worship of Jehovah (v. 10). Abijah in this verse gives a better
account of himself than the writer of the Kings does (I Kings 15:3) —
a natural and common, if not altogether justifiable, weakness. The
probable explanation is that, while clinging to the idolatrous
abominations introduced by Solomon and Rehoboam, Abijah had not
abandoned the forms of the Mosaic cultus (vs. 10-11). Like multitudes
before and since, he and his people conceived it might be possible to do
homage on equal terms to Jehovah and heathen divinities, WHICH IT
WAS NOT! (Isaiah 42:8); just as many in the present day fancy they
can serve God and mammon, WHICH THEY CANNOT! (Matthew 6:24).
o Their rebellion was directed against Jehovah Himself (v. 12), who was
in the camp of
conquest (Joshua 5:14), and as HE STILL IS, in the Person of Christ, in
the army of the New Testament Church (Matthew 28:20). This constituted
the hopelessness of Jeroboam’s attack (Exodus 15:3-7; I Samuel 2:10;
Job 41:10), as it does still of every assault upon the Church of
Christ (Acts 5:39; 23:9). No weapon that is formed against her shall
prosper (Isaiah 54:17; Matthew 16:18). That Jehovah remained in
gracious covenant with David (I Kings 11:36); that Christ continues in
and worship, as well as marred by defects in practice, is owing solely
to HIS OWN FAITHFULNESS AND TRUTH! (Matthew 28:20).
o Their rebellion was foredoomed to failure, because the alarm-trumpets
of Jehovah’s priests were against them (v. 12). Those alarm-trumpets
were “the divinely appointed pledges that God would remember His
people in war, and deliver them from their enemies” (Numbers 10:9).
Against the Midianites Moses sent into the field, along with twelve
thousand warriors, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, with the holy
instruments and the trumpets to blow in his hand” (ibid. ch. 31:6). So
the duty of Christian ministers is to sound an alarm in God’s Name
against every thing and person that would injure Christ’s Church.
Were this always done, timely and earnestly, ultimate victory for
the Church would be ensured (Acts 20:31; I Corinthians 4:14;
Ø Skilfully prepared.
o By Jeroboam. Wicked men often possess high talent, and, though not
pious, make splendid generals, eminent statesmen, successful
o While Abijah was orating. Neither praying nor preaching will suffice
without watching. While performing every duty earnestly and thoroughly
(Ecclesiastes 9:10), it must not be imagined that prudence, foresight,
and vigilance are not duties. The Christian, while praying always with all
prayer and supplication, must take unto himself THE WHOLE ARMOR
OF GOD! (Ephesians 6:13-18).
opponent is explicable — he had been preoccupied with his harangue; that
his generals and soldiers were not on the alert was hardly to their credit,
even if they were listening to their monarch’s eloquence. At any rate, as
Jeroboam circumvented Abijah and his army, while engaged in what might
be termed a religious duty, an attempt to avert the calamity of war and to
promote the interests of peace, so does the prince of the power of the air
commonly select the moment when Christ’s soldiers are engaged in some
religious service to cast around them his snares.
Ø Courageously met. Though
surprised, the men of
thrown into panic. Realizing their danger, they confronted it:
o With faith: “they cried unto Jehovah,” whom they believed to be their
Captain (v. 12) — an excellent lesson for the Church (collectively and
individually), which, though professing to regard Christ as her Captain,
does not always turn to Him for help in duty or relief in difficulty, but
often repairs to:
§ worldly policy,
§ human wisdom, or
§ material props and defenses.
o With hope: “The priests sounded with their trumpets,” thus showing
anticipated victory. So should the
field against her adversaries in a doubtful, but always in a confident,
spirit (Psalm 60:12; 108:13), expecting to be victorious (Romans 8:37).
With spirit: “The men of
with their war-trumpets (Bertheau, Keil), but shouted like men contending
for the mastery (Exodus 32:18), as soldiers do when rushing into battle
(Joshua 6:20; Judges 15:14; I Samuel 17:20). So should the Church
give expression to her confident anticipations of victory in psalms
and hymns and spiritual songs (Psalm 132:9; 149:3, 5; Ephesians 5:19).
o The source of it. GOD! Not Abijah or Judah, but Eiohim smote Jeroboam
(Proverbs 21:31), and “it is He that giveth salvation [or, ‘deliverance ‘]
unto kings” (Psalm 144:10). “Jehovah is a Man of war,” sang Miriam
(Exodus 15:3); while David owned, “He teacheth my hands to war, and
my fingers to fight” (Psalm 18:34; 144:1).
The time of it. “As the men of
unto all that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth!!”
(Psalm 145:18); and “whosoever shall call upon the Name of the
Lord shall be delivered” (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13),
even while they are calling (Isaiah 65:24). Compare the rescue
of Jehoshaphat at Ramoth-Gilead (ch. 18:31).
o The ground of it. “Because they relied upon the Lord God of their
fathers’ (v. 18). That Jehovah should prove a Buckler to them that
trusted in Him accorded exactly with the representations of the Divine
character furnished by Scripture (Genesis 15:1; Deuteronomy 20:1;
Joshua 1:9; Psalm 17:7; 115:9), and had frequently been verified in
the experience of both sections of the kingdom - Joshua’s soldiers at
21), because they trusted in the sword of Jehovah more than in their own
weapons. So David prevailed over the Philistine (I Samuel 17:45),
Hezekiah over the Assyrian king, and the Philistines (II Kings 18:5, 8)
and the Reubenites over the Hagarites (I Chronicles 5:20). Confidence
in God is the strongest guarantee a Christian can have of emerging
triumphantly from any moral or spiritual conflict (Psalm 26:1; 33:20-21;
Isaiah 12:2; II Corinthians 1:10; Romans 8:38-39).
o The extent of it.
§ Jeroboam’s army was routed (vs. 15-16).
§ Five hundred thousand chosen men were slain. A
slaughter so terrific suggests that the numbers must have
been exaggerated; and certainly nothing like it can be
cited from either ancient or modern warfare. If, therefore,
fifty thousand should not be read instead of five hundred
thousand (Rawlinson), the figures may be regarded as a
popular expression of the opinion of contemporaries of the
war that Jeroboam lost more than half of his troops (Keil).
Compare Shakespeare’s description of a routed army:
“The king himself, of his wings destitute, the army
broken,” etc. (‘Cymbeline,’ act 5. sc. 3).
confirms the preceding statement that no ordinary blow
had been inflicted on Jeroboam’s army.
§ Several cities with their surrounding domains were
patriarchal settlement (Genesis 12:8; 28:19; 35:1, 6),
and one of the seats of Jeroboam’s idolatrous worship
(I Kings 12:29, 33), with the townships or villages in the
district; Jeshanah, probably the Isanas of Josephus
occurring only here, and identified with the modern
‘Ain Sinia north of
rock-tombs in the vicinity FConder, ‘Handbook,’ p. 416;
Riehm, ‘HandwSrterbuch,’ 1:705); and Ephraim, or
Ephron (Septuagint, Vulgate), the former Of which points
to the Ephraim
whither Jesus retired (John 11:54), while the latter can
border of Benjamin (Bertheau), but must also be
the neighborhood of
§ Jeroboam never again recovered strength (v. 20). He
outlived the war by several, and Abijah by two, years;
but the decisive defeat he had sustained left him ever
afterwards a crippled and comparatively feeble
Ø The sinfulness of unjustifiable rebellion.
Ø The horrors of war.
Ø The political value of religion.
Ø The power of faith.
Ø The reward of sin.
"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.
Materials are reproduced by permission."
This material can be found at:
If this exposition is helpful, please share with others