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JEREBOAM WARNED THROUGH HIS SON'S DEATH
Though God had sought to reach Jereboam's conscience by the message and actions of the man of God, this produced no effect. So God used another means, by the severe illness of Jereboam's son. Jereboam wanted help for the boy, and could only think of Ahijah the prophet who had told him he would be king. But his conscience so troubled him that in telling his wife to go to Ahijah, he ordered her to disguise herself (v.2). Jereboam was totally insensible of the sovereign omniscience of God. He wanted information from God and thought he could fool God into giving him the information without knowing to whom he was giving it!
Of course Jereboam thought it necessary to send a present to God's servant for the information he would give (v.3). As his wife was coming to the house of Ahijah, the Lord told Ahijah (who could not see by reason of age) that the wife of Jereboam was coming to him, pretending to be another woman (vs.4-5).
Therefore, as she came to the door, Ahijah said, "Come in, wife of Jereboam. Why do you pretend to be another person?" (v.6). He did not give her opportunity to say anything, but gave her a dreadfully solemn message from God to tell her husband. Because Jereboam had been exalted by God and made ruler over Israel, tearing the kingdom away from the house of David, yet Jereboam, in contrast to David, did more evil than anyone before him, in turning to every kind of idolatry, rejecting God's authority, therefore God would bring disaster to the house of Jereboam. He would cut off in death every male descendant of Jereboam, discarding them as though they were only garbage (vs.7-10). They would not be given a burial, for the dogs would eat those who died in the city and scavenging birds would eat those who died in the countryside. Then Ahijah added, "The Lord has spoken!" (v.11).
He further told Jereboam's wife to go to her own house and that when she entered the city her child would die. But he, in contrast to Jereboam's other sons, was an exception and would be mourned by Israel and given a burial, because in the baby there was found something good toward the Lord God of Israel (vs.12-13). This illustrates the fact that in many cases it is better for a person to die as an infant than to continue to live in an atmosphere where the Lord is dishonored.
Ahijah added more to his message, as seen in verse 14, that the Lord would raise up a king over Israel who would cut off the house of Jereboam. This was a matter absolutely decided. The Lord would so shake Israel as to uproot them from the land He had given to their fathers and scatter them beyond the river (Euphrates), because by Israel's idolatry they had provoked His fierce anger (vs.14-15). Israel would be given up because of the sins of Jereboam who made Israel sin (v.16). This message of the unsparing anger and vengeance of God against Jereboam's sin was in great contrast to Ahijah's first message to Jereboam (ch.11:28-39).
Jereboam's wife had received a shocking message indeed to carry home to her husband! She could do nothing but go home and face the fact of her child's death as soon as she arrived in the city (v.17). As Ahijah had said, the child was buried and all Israel mourned for him. Jereboam was to learn that his disobedience to God did not only affect himself, but all of his family while he was living and the welfare of his family after he died, as well as the condition of the nation over which he ruled, both at the time of his ruling, and for many years afterward. This is surely a striking illustration of the truth that none of us lives to himself and none of us dies to himself. Our influence is a far more serious matter than we generally think. The truth of this is seen in an outstanding way in the history of all the kings, for kings had a prominent place that made them more responsible than the common people.
This first ruler of the divided kingdom of Israel (Jereboam) had nothing in his reign for which God could commend him, though he reigned for 22 years, and did have a burial. It was his descendants who were not to be buried. His son Nadab succeeded him, though that succession did not continue, for various men overthrew kings in Israel in order to take the throne themselves.
REHOBOAM'S REIGN OVER JUDAH
Though David and Solomon had both reigned 40 years, Rehoboam reigned over Judah only 17 years, dying at the age of 58 (v.21). It was no advantage to him that his mother, Naamah, was an Ammonitess. She had turned away Solomon's heart from the Lord to the worship of Milcom, the idol of the Ammonites (ch.11:4-5). Having such a mother, it is not surprising that Rehoboam followed idolatrous practices also.
Judah of course did not follow Jereboam in his idol worship, for Judah continued to hold the temple worship at Jerusalem. But in spite of having the wonderful privilege of the true worship of God in God's prescribed center, Judah took the initiative in serving and worshiping idols (v.22), as an addition to the true worship of God. They had seen Solomon's example, not only in worshiping Milcom but in making high places for his many idolatrous wives and favoring all their evil religions. This is the boasted "tolerance" of our own day, which tolerates anything except the exclusive worship of the living God revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. But Judah became worse than their fathers in provoking the Lord to jealousy by their gross evil (v.22). This scripture does not speak of their revolting crimes against other people, but of their brazenly insulting God by their false worship.
Yet wickedness in human relationships cannot but follow when people despise their Creator, as verse 24 indicates. There were perverted people in the land, those who practiced sodomy and prostitution in their religious ceremonies, the same as did the nations God had dispossessed before Israel when they came to Canaan.
Within five years after Rehoboam's taking the throne of Judah, God moved Shishak, the king of Egypt, to come against Judah (v.25), and to take away much of the wealth that Solomon had collected, including the large number of gold shields he had made (v.26). Egypt pictures the world in its independence of God. The gold is typical of the glory of God, but since Rehoboam had no regard for God's glory, the gold shields only testified to Rehoboam's hypocrisy. Thus, disobedience to God will rob from us all that is precious in the blessings of the Word of God. Our worldliness virtually invites the world to take possession of what ought to be ours.
Instead of the gold shields, Rehoboam had bronze (or copper) shields made (v.27). How vastly inferior these were! While gold speaks of God's glory, copper speaks of holiness. Christendom today has sadly copied Rehoboam's example. They have lost sight of God's glory and instead have adopted the principle of holiness, speaking plausibly about having a holy life, but leaving Christ totally out of the picture. Shields are for protection. Is there any real protection in our boasted claims of holiness as compared to a living faith in the Son of God?
There is more of the history of Rehoboam in 2 Chronicles, but with little to be commended. He strengthened himself for war, but his wars were more against Israel than against the nations (v.30). How sadly this has been the case in the history of the professing church also! Instead of waging war against the onslaughts of Satan and his hosts, Christians have too frequently contended against one another with disastrous results!
Rehoboam died and was buried in the city of David, and again it is mentioned that his mother's name was Naamah, an Ammonitess. His son Abijam succeeded him in reigning over Judah. As we can expect, Abijam's reign was no better.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Kings 14". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
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