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GOD FORBIDS REHOBOAM TO ATTACK ISRAEL
When Rehoboam saw his kingdom so largely torn away from him, he assembled an army of 180,000 warriors of Judah and Benjamin (for Benjamin remained with Judah) with the object of forcing the ten tribes back into subjection to him (v.1). What suffering and desolation this would cause, with no good result!
But Rehoboam was spared the humiliation of a great defeat, for God intervened by sending the prophet Shemiah to tell the people, "Thus says the Lord, You shall not go up or fight against your brethren!"(v.4).
Rather, all were commanded to return to their homes, because, as God said, "this thing is from me." Though the rupture was occasioned by the folly of Rehoboam, yet God was behind it to expose the disunity that already existed in Israel, just as God often exposes similar evil in the Church of God, evil that is sought to be covered up, but eventually causes public divisions. This is certainty to our shame, but God is perfectly righteous to manifest any condition for what it really is.
At least Rehoboam had enough sense to obey the Word of the Lord at this time.
Being preserved from the folly of attacking the ten tribes, Rehoboam then concentrated on the strategy of defence, building fifteen Cities in Judah and Benjamin for strongholds, with military officers over them and the cities stored with provisions of food, oil and wine. He realised now he was in danger from attack, not only from foreign nations, but from his own nation Israel. How sadly this condition has been repeated in the Church of God, where believers find themselves in danger from the attacks of other professing Christians. For this we need the preparation of the nourishing and refreshing of the Word of God. We should certainly store this in our hearts, with the ministry of the Spirit of God (the oil).
Shields and spears were also provided in every city (v.2). We are thus reminded of "the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one" (Ephesians 6:16). The spear is the only offensive weapon mentioned, but it reminds us of "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). How much wiser it was for Rehoboam to make these preparations than it would have been for him to seek to force the ten tribes back under his control!
PRIESTS AND LEVITES MOVE TO JERUSALEM
God had appointed the family of Aaron as priests, and the Levites to serve them. But Jereboam refused this claim and appointed priests of his own choosing for worship of idols in high places (v.15). ¾ Therefore the priests and Levites moved to Judah, leaving the lands that had been given them among the ten tribes (vv.13-14). What else could they do? Jereboam's idolatry had left no room for priests of the Lord.
The priests and Levites who came to Judah from the ten tribes strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years it appeared that Rehoboam promised to prove a faithful king, "because they walked in the way of David and Solomon." Sad to say, however, though Rehoboam had a relatively good beginning, it was not long before he spoiled it.
REHOBOAM'S WIVES AND CHILDREN
Outwardly, Rehoboam was more careful as to the wives he took, than was Solomon, for he first took Mahalath, the granddaughter of David, and he added also Maachah the granddaughter of Absalom. But outward orthodoxy does not guarantee godliness, and besides, it was no more right for Rehoboam to have 18 wives and sixty concubines than it was for Solomon to have his large harem of wives and concubines (v.21). Of course a man will be greatly affected by such relationships.
Though Rehoboam's first wife bore him sons, he set those aside in favour of Abijah the son of Maachah, whom he preferred above Mahalath. Deuteronomy 21:15-17 had warned against such an arrangement, saying that a man "must not bestow firstborn status on the son of the loved wife in preference to the son of the unloved, the true firstborn." Perhaps Rehoboam did not know this scripture, but he ought to have, for a king in Israel was responsible to provide himself with a copy of the law and read it all the days of his life (Deuteronomy 17:18-19). Nevertheless, the grace of God transcended the failure of Rehoboam, for Abijah is confirmed in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 1:7.
In spite of Rehoboam's great lack of wisdom in causing the revolt of the ten tribes, he showed more wisdom in the administration of the kingdom of Judah and Benjamin, appointing some of his sons to be dispersed throughout his territories and giving abundant provision. This was far more wise than threatening to chastise them with scourges, as he did with the ten tribes. It seems strange that he could be so cruel in the one case and so generous in the other. But perhaps the latter was because his own family was involved. In fact, his generosity went beyond proper bounds, for he sought many wives for his sons! How true it is that one who goes to extremes in one direction is likely to also go to extremes in the opposite direction! Only true faith in the Lord Jesus can enable us to maintain a proper balance.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 11". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29