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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 14

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-6

Commentary on First Kings - Chapter 14 AND Second Chronicles - Chapter 12

Sick Prince, 1 Kings 14:1-6

Jeroboam must have been reigning quite some time when the events of the present reading took place. The legacy of his false worship and sin against the Lord was steadily coming to the judgment day. The little prince, Abijhah, was near death, and Jeroboam bethought himself again of the God he had long since ignored. The calves were not sufficient for an answer to his need, nor did he consult his many priests of his own making. Instead his mind went back to old Ahijah, now old and all but forgotten. The wicked king remembered how he was met on that long-ago day by a younger Prophet Ahijah wearing a new coat. Strangely the prophet had torn up his new coat and given ten pieces to Jeroboam, announcing that he would become king over ten of the twelve tribes of Israel. Perhaps he thought little of the prediction at the time, for he was already contemplating greater things. But now he considered the accuracy of Ahijah’s prediction.

Thinking, then, that this old prophet, who knew the future of Jeroboam’s ambitions, could also predict the future of the little sick prince. Yet, there was no reason why Ahijah might not refuse a hearing to the king, for he knew he had lived contrary to the God of the prophet. Maybe Jeroboam remembered the prediction of the prophet out of Judah again, who tried to turn him around and showed the Lord’s displeasure with his calves. There was nothing to recommend the king’s problem to the Lord’s prophet.

Jeroboam thought perhaps he could deceive the Lord by deceiving the prophet and get a favorable response to his problem. Thus he might save little Abijah’s life by making the Lord think it was someone else who was making request for help. He dared not go himself to Ahijah, nor would risk recognition of the real petitioner for help other than through disguise of his wife. So she is to dress as another and carry a fine present of food, such as an old man might enjoy and enlist his help. So she carried him ten loaves of bread, cracknels (hard-baked biscuits, punctured with holes), and. a cruse of honey. She was to inquire what was to be the outcome of her child’s illness.

Ahijah was very old, blind with old age, and not likely to recognize anyone by sight. But the Lord knew the scheme of wicked King Jeroboam and his wife. He spoke to the old prophet and told him that the wife of the king was coming to him to inquire concerning the illness of her son, and that she would pretend to be another woman. Therefore she had no secrets when she reached the house of Ahijah. When he heard her feet coming in at the door he invited her, "Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam! Why are you pretending to be someone else? God has given me a grave message for you." Jeroboam could not frustrate God, nor can He ever be deluded! (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Verses 7-18

Prediction of Doom, verses 7-18

The Lord had given Ahijah a message for Jeroboam. It began with a review of what the Lord had done for him. He had taken him, as a mere nobody, from among the common people in much the same way as He had taken David to be king over Israel after Saul. From a laborer on Jerusalem’s wall, Jeroboam had risen to be a prince and king of God’s people. He had given Jeroboam the kingdom because of the apostasy of Solomon, as He had given David the kingdom following the disobedience of Saul. But there the similarity had ended. David had made mistakes, but when the Lord called him to account he humbly repented and was restored to the Lord’s favor. But Jeroboam had been rebuked only to continue in stubborn rebellion, had cast God behind him by setting up the dumb idols and calling them Jehovah. Jeroboam had miserably failed in his attitude toward the Lord, so now the Lord would bring him down ratherthan raising him up as He would have done (James 4:10).

Following His review of His blessings on Jeroboam and Jeroboam’s utter disregard the Lord passed judgment on the king. Such terrible evil would befall his house that every male member would perish in His judgment. Every remnant of Jeroboam’s house would be destroyed, and that in a violent and inhuman manner. Those dying in the cities would be left for the wild, scavenger dogs to devour; those in the fields would be prey for the vultures. It was as certain as the Lord’s word is certain, though spoken by the old prophet in His name.

With this fateful answer to her question the wife of Jeroboam was now commanded to rise up and return to her house. When she entered it again her little boy would be dead, for he would die when her feet entered the city of Tirzah, where the king now had his capital. There would be widespread mourning for little Prince Abijah, and all Israel would gather for his burial. This was the only member of Jeroboam’s family whom the Lord would allow to have a decent burial, "because in him there is found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam." In other words, it seems, Prince Abijah was the only member of the king’s family fit to die. By removing him from the evil environment by an untimely death he was spared the terrors of the vengeance to befall the rest of the family. There is a strong intimation in Ahijah’s words that Abijah was the only member of the royal family who knew the Lord.

Israel had condoned the sinful worship of their king, and they are to suffer as a consequence. Their sins will cause the Lord to shake them violently like a reed in the water. Eventually they would be rooted up from the land the Lord had given them and dispersed and scattered to foreign lands far away across the Euphrates River. They had joined Jeroboam in his new religion and built their own pagan shrines, planted their groves for prostitution, and provoked the Lord through following the leadership of their king.

With this dire message the wife of Jeroboam returned to Tirzah and found her little boy had died as the old prophet said he would. And all Israel mourned his death and buried him like Ahijah had foretold.

Verses 19-24

Rehoboam’s Apostasy,

Commentary on 1 Kings 14:19-24 AND 2 Chronicles 12:1; 2 Chronicles 13:20

Although there will be other acts of Jeroboam noted in the Chron­icles, which occurred during the reign of Rehoboam’s son and succes­sor, Abijah, the inspired record of Kings closes with announcement of his death following the prediction of his ruin through the prophet Ahijah. It appears that a full record of his deeds was made in the annals of the kingdom, but of course these were uninspired and were long since de­stroyed. The Kings account of Jeroboam’s death simply relates that he had reigned for twenty-two years, that he slept with his fathers, and his son Nadab succeeded him as king. The Chronicles account, however, relates a war between Judah and Israel during the reign of Abijah, the son of Rehoboam, in Judah. This account will be studied below.

It is discovered from the Chronicles account that the reign of Jeroboam actually extended longer than did that of Rehoboam. That account also reveals that Jeroboam did not die of natural causes, but "the Lord struck him, and he died." This is in keeping with the prediction of Ahijah, who said that those who perished in the city would be eaten of dogs and those in the country by the birds. It is not known whether Jeroboam was "dog food" or "buzzard bait."

The topic deals chiefly with the course of Rehoboam’s reign in Ju­dah. The last that was noted of him included the information that his king­dom was strengthened by immigrants from the northern kingdom. These were the priests and Levites living in their appointed cities in these tribes and many other godly people who left because of the calf religion being imposed on the country by Jeroboam. The account says that Jeroboam and Judah were made strong for three years thereby, and "they walked in the ways of David and Solomon" (2 Chronicles 11:16-17).

Rehoboam was approaching middle age when he became king, be­ing forty-one years of age when his reign began. It would seem that he should have been a man of mature judgment. He should have recog­nized the blessing of the Lord coming to him through the influx of the im­migrants from the north. But he does not seem to have given the Lord the credit. 2 Chronicles 12:1 reveals that when Rehoboam recog­nized that he had superior strength to Israel, and that the Lord appeared to be on his side irrevocably, making the kingdom secure to him, he for­sook the law of the Lord, It almost seems that he tried to mimic Jero­boam in doing the worst possible. Perhaps one should not be greatly surprised, for his mother was one of those pagan princesses Solomon mar­ried, Naamah of the country of the Ammonites. Her people worshipped Chemosh, and Solomon had built a temple for him on the mountain east of Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:7).

The people of Judah joined their king in his apostasy, becoming morally as bad as the people of the northern kingdom. They built high places in competition with the temple, following Solomon’s precedent, they worshipped images, set aside groves for the prostitutes, in every high hill and under every green tree. This term simply means that such false worship was very widespread in Judah. Besides the grove prostitutes there was also sodomy, such things as the law demanded should be curbed by stoning the offender. The New Testament describes them (Romans 1:24-32).

Why did not the Lord predict the doom of Judah as He did that of Is­rael? Eventually He did, but Judah maintained themselves longer, parti­ally because of the Lord’s promise to David, and also because of the core of godly people in the land. These still maintained the temple wor­ship in spite of the sinful course of the king and his counselors (cf. Matthew 5:13).

Verses 25-31

Commentary on 1 Kings 14:25-31 AND 2 Chronicles 12:2-16

Again the writer of Chronicles gives account in much more detail than Kings of an event in the reign of the Judaean king. The incident has direct relation to the previous notice that Rehoboam was strengthened in the Lord for the first three years of his reign, but when he was established, forsook Him. He was soon to learn, in just two years, how much he needed the Lord at all times. Here is just another of numerous cases of those who fall when they think they stand (1 Corinthians 10:12). The Chronicles account says that the move by the king of Egypt against Jerusalem was "because they had transgressed against the Lord."

Shishak is known in secular history as Sheshonk f, who founded the XXII Libyan dynasty in Egypt. Secular history dates his reign at about 935-914 B.C. He was in command of a mighty military force for the times, consisting of twelve hundred chariots, 60,000 horsemen, and innumerable infantry. It was made up of soldiers out of Lybia (Lubim), Sukkim (probably Arabians), and Ethiopia, as well as Egypt. The fortified cities, so carefully established by Rehoboam, could not withstand Shishak and fell in short order.

As he threatened the city of Jerusalem the Lord sent the prophet Shemaiah again to Rehoboam. He is the one who had warned Rehoboam not to go against the Lord by going to war with Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:2-4). The princes were in meeting with the king, evidently trying to figure a way out of their dilemma. The prophet was very frank to tell them that the Lord brought this upon them to emphasize their abandonment of Him. His message was convincing, and king and princes acknowledged that the Lord was right and they wrong.

The Lord had Shemaiah return to the king and council with a new message based on their repentance. He had determined not to destroy the city, His wrath would be withheld, and Shishak would be caused to withdraw, although at a great cost. They would be compelled to serve Shishak by payment of a very heavy tribute. They would thus serve Shishak that they might have reason to compare the service of a heathen king with service to the Lord God. The Lord still allows his people to be chastised by the world that they might learn that it is better to serve the Lord than the world (De 28:47-48).

To pay the indemnity place on him, Rehoboam had to strip the temple, his palace, and give up the beautiful golden shields in the house of the forest of Lebanon. To replace the golden shields Rehoboam had constructed others of burnished bronze. These were worn by the king’s guard in formal ceremonies, such as the king’s procession to and from the house of the Lord. These would shine with brilliance, but they were also a reminder of the great distance he had fallen by his trans­gressions. He was no longer the richest king in the east.

So the Lord withdrew His wrath from Rehoboam and "in Judah things went well" (verse 12). The events of the remainder of his seventeen years’ reign, some twelve years, are passed over in silence, except to say that there was a state of continual war with Jeroboam. Forbidden to wage active warfare with Israel, Rehoboam nevertheless must have kept up a state of belligerence toward the northern kingdom. He died at the age of about fifty-eight, about two years younger than Solomon, and his reign was characterized as evil, because he did not have a heart prepared to seek the Lord. One must conclude that King Rehoboam never trusted the Lord as did his grandfather, David, or Solomon, his father. Shemaiah the prophet and Iddo the seer kept records of his reign. He was buried with honors in the tombs of the kings, and his favorite son, Abijah, succeeded him, as he had hoped and planned.

Some notable lessons: 1) men who have rejected the Lord have no right to expect His mercy without repentance; 2) God cannot be flattered and deceived by men; 3) judgment for sin and transgression is ultimate and irresistible upon those who defy Him; 4) the children of heretical parents are very likely to grow up heretics also; 5) God will grant mercy to those who acknowledge His righteousness and their own transgression; 6) worldliness will exact is toll, even though one repents.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Kings 14". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-kings-14.html. 1985.
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