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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 12

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-16

CRITICAL NOTES.] This chapter parallel with 1 Kings 14:21-31, but considerably enlarges the narrative contained in that passage. The account of Shishak’s chariots and horsemen, the composition of his army, the warning and the promise of Shemaiah are wholly new features [Speak. Com.].

2 Chronicles 12:1-12.—The invasion of Shishak. Forsook, details in Kings. All Isa., i.e., all Judah and Benjamin—all Israelites of these tribes. Shishak (Shishonk), first king of 22nd or Bubastic dynasty, which, after the fall of Thebes from proud position of capital, 990 B.C., succeeded to the sovereignty of the whole country [Jam.]. Came to resent provocation or carry out ambitious design, with great number of foreign auxiliaries. 2 Chronicles 12:3. Lubim, Libyans west of Egypt (cf. ch. 2 Chronicles 16:8; Nehemiah 3:9). Suk., called Troglodytes, cave-dwellers, by Sept. Some think they are Semitio Arabs, dwellers in tents. Ethiop., Heb. Cushim, from south of Egypt. 2 Chronicles 12:4. Fenced (ch. 2 Chronicles 11:5-12), fortified with so much trouble. Shem. (ch. 2 Chronicles 11:2). The message not in Kings; addressed to Rehoboam and princes while Shishak before Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 12:6. Humbled, bowed themselves (chs. 2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Chronicles 13:18; 2 Chronicles 32:26). Jehovah is just (Ezra 9:15; Nehemiah 9:33). 2 Chronicles 12:7. Some deliverance, i.e., deliverance in a little or short time (cf. Ezra 9:8); respite from total destruction, yet tributary to Egypt. 2 Chronicles 12:8. Know the difference between God’s rule and foreign yoke. 2 Chronicles 12:9-11. Came up, &c., resumes description of attack upon Jerusalem. Took everything valuable. Shields borne like maces by owners or guard of the palace when they attended the King in public procession. 2 Chronicles 12:12. Instead of destruction, lit., these were good words; signs of national repentance and amendment; good things, purposes, and practices to which God had regard. “Ver. 12. Concludes the narrative, is additional to Kings and characteristic. It aptly terminates the writer’s history of the invasion, which he has presented to us throughout in a strictly moral and didactic aspect” [Speak. Com.].

2 Chronicles 12:13-16.—Rehoboam’s reign and death. Strengthened, new life and vigour after invasion; revival of religion and long reign. Years, on age of Rehoboam (cf. 1 Kings 12:8; 1 Kings 14:21). Naamah, probably a daughter of Nahash (1 Chronicles 19:1). Evil, through unhappy influence of his mother, a heathen foreigner, he received a bias towards idolatry. Prepared not, fixed not; lacked earnestness and consistency. Book, refers to authorities of the reign of which he gives account. Wars, not open war, but incursions and skirmishes on borders for plunder.


NATIONAL IDOLATRY AND NATIONAL PUNISHMENT.—2 Chronicles 12:1-3; 2 Chronicles 12:9-12

Rehoboam did not check introduction of heathen abominations. The lascivious worship of Ashtoreth allowed to exist by side of true religion. “Images” of Baal and fellow-divinities set up, and the worst corruptions tolerated. For fuller account see 1 Kings 14:22-24. These evils punished and put down by terrible calamity of Egyptian invasion.

I. The national Sins. “They had transgressed against the Lord.”

1. In provoking him to jealousy. God announced Himself to be “a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5); a God “whose name is jealous.” A figure of marriage, in which God, like a husband of his people, is provoked to jealousy by the unfaithfulness of his wife. A strong, suggestive term.

2. In public worship of idols. Altars and high places built, woods planted, gods and graven images publicly patronised in utter disobedience to God’s command.

3. In rapid spread of immorality. “There were also Sodomites in the land.” They did according to all the abominations of the nations, &c. (1 Kings 14:24). Paramours consecrated to the gods, a degraded class who practised immorality, traded in wickedness under the sanction of religion. Judah’s abominations worse than former days. The splendour of the temple and the pomp of the priesthood; secular privileges and religious teachers restrained not. Their sins were grievous and universal; sins “above all that their fathers had done.”

II. The national punishment. Shishak, king of Egypt, incited by Jeroboam, or ambitious of conquest, invaded the land and humbled the nation in a successful campaign.

1. The capital was disgraced. Jerusalem entered and pillaged by a heathen army! A national disgrace for a city to be broken down, without walls or defence (Proverbs 25:28; Nehemiah 2:17).

2. The cities were taken. Places on which he spent such time and treasure to repair and defend. Great Canaanite towns and Levitical cities east and west of Jordan fell without a struggle. High towers and fortified places no defence against wickedness. “A man shall not be established by wickedness.”

3. The treasures carried away. The palace and the temple robbed. The shields of gold and everything valuable taken away. Deep humiliation, grievous bondage the price of ignominious peace and the retribution of a watchful providence! “I also left you in the hand of Shishak.”

THE BELEAGURED COURT.—2 Chronicles 12:5-8

While Shishak was before the city, Rehoboam and the princes were deliberating in solemn assembly. Warned of sin and punishment, and spared on account of repentance. Notice—

I. The sins committed. “Ye have forsaken me.” This the gravamen of offence. Though possessing the temple and the priesthood, yet idolatry mixed with worship of Jehovah. Impure rites and unchecked licence.

II. The danger threatened.

1. Forsaken of God. “Therefore have I also left you.” Many would think this through negligence in preparations, impolicy in government. Bereft of strength and defence because God had forsaken them.

2. Besieged by Shishak. “In the hand of Shishak.” A hand strong and oppressive. This a natural result. When God forsakes, we are unable to resist, and the enemy conquers.

III. The humiliation produced. Calamity traced to national sins, repentance and contrition followed. When rebuked we should be humbled, justify God, and judge ourselves. “Even kings and princes must bend or brake before God, either be humbled or be ruined.”

IV. The deliverance granted. “I will grant them some deliverance.” A short space was given for amendment, wrath was not poured out like a flood upon the city, yet suzerainty of Egypt had to be accepted. Punishment delayed, not escaped. Destruction of Jerusalem reserved for Nebuchadnezzar. Escape only through Christ and righteous conduct.

SHEMAIAH’S PREACHING.—2 Chronicles 12:7-12

I. It was divinely taught in its matter. “The word of the Lord came to Shemaiah.” Not truth from second-hand or traditional forms. The message not argument nor speculation; but simple, entire word of God. “The preaching that I bid thee” was the command to Jonah. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.”

II. It was direct in its aim. A simple, clear utterance, direct as an arrow to its end. Preaching toned down, lacks point, goes not from the heart to the heart. The end missed for want of vitality and definite aim. We must not merely arouse emotion to find vent in action; but preach to save sinners. Chrysostom’s hearers admired and applauded; he rebuked and desired amendment of life. “Show your approbation by obedience; that is the only praise I seek.” Massillon’s hearers felt the word to “strike and stick.” Peter’s audience “were pricked to the heart” by his earnest appeal.

III. It was practical in its results. Very great and encouraging; illustrating the power of the Divine word faithfully preached.

1. In the minds of the people. Why not? Are there not laws in the moral, like chemical affinities in the natural world; between religious truth and the deepest feelings of the human heart? Where one is spoken, why should not the other respond? (a) In acknowledgment of guilt. “They said, The Lord is righteous.” (b) In contrition of spirit. “They have humbled themselves.”

2. In the procedure of God. (a) Divine decree revoked. “The wrath of the Lord turned from him, that he would not destroy altogether.” (b) Certain deliverance given. “I will grant them some deliverance.” (c) Measure of prosperity restored. “Also in Judah things went well” (2 Chronicles 12:12). With results like these pulpit power will never decay. The revivals of Pentecost, of Whitfield and Wesley, may be accomplished again by right men. “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet.”


In the plunder of Egyptian king were “golden shields,” splendid insignia of Solomon. Old court etiquette kept up notwithstanding its loss, on public and solemn occasions. Inferior metal replaced the gold. This typical of counterfeits in personal conduct, Christian worship, and Christian organisations.

I. Worthless profession instead of real piety in personal life. Form of godliness without power. Profession “sounding brass or tinkling cymbal,” hollow, vain, and useless. Professors degenerate in character, influence, and solid worth. “Thy silver is become dross.” Worse even than this, for baser and harder metals express debased and degenerate life. “They are brass and iron” (Jeremiah 6:28).

II. Idolatrous practices instead of pure worship of God. Men exchange the glory of God for idols of gold and silver. The ritual takes the place of the spiritual. God is forgotten, and images and saints are adored; Mammon and the world worshipped. “They changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image like to corruptible man” (Romans 1:23)—(The infinite, spiritual, and divine changed into something finite, material, and human).

III. False representations by which institutions hide their decline. What folly for Rehoboam to carry shields of brass in customary procession! Vain and proud, he was anxious not to appear degraded by absence of gold shields! In churches deadness and divisions cannot be hidden by noise, numbers, and display. In kingdoms rottenness and decay will not be healed by bribery, court splendour, and successful war. “How is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed!”

REHOBOAM THE UNREADY.—2 Chronicles 12:12

This is the summing-up of Rehoboam’s life. He was not so bad as some, but did evil in various ways, not from design as from neglect. Evil effects of the father’s sin and mother’s idolatry seen in their son; yet another cause, viz., a want of heart. He was not thoroughly consecrated to worship of Jehovah.

I. He did not begin life with seeking the Lord.

1. He was young, should have sought wisdom; but went to Shechem without prayer or sacrifice. That which commences without God will end in failure.
2. He leaned on counsellors, saying, “What advice give ye?” Of those counsellors, he chose worst, younger and prouder nobles. Those who reject divine wisdom generally refuse all other Wisdom
3. He committed great folly by threatening the people and refusing just demands; and that before he was accepted as their king. None of his father’s wisdom. How can they act prudently and prosperously who are not guided of the Lord?

II. He showed no heart in seeking the Lord afterwards.

1. He obeyed the voice when the man of God forbade him to fight with Israel; yet afterward forsook the law (2 Chronicles 12:1). He is said to have been “young and tender-hearted,” which means soft (2 Chronicles 13:7).

2. He winked at most horrible crimes among people whom he ought to have judged (1 Kings 14:24).

3. He fell into his father’s sins.

4. He busied himself more for the world than for God. We hear nothing of his worship, but much of his building; nothing of his faith, but much of his fickleness (2 Chronicles 11:5-12).

III. He was not fixed and persevering in seeking the Lord.

1. For three years loyalty to God made him prosper, by bringing better sort from calf worship into Judah (2 Chronicles 11:13-17), yet he forsook the Lord who prospered him.

2. He grew proud; and God handed him over to Shishak.
3. Humbled himself, was pardoned, yet stripped the Lord’s house to buy off King of Egypt.

4. Wrought no great reforms, celebrated no great passover, yet owned “the Lord is righteous” (2 Chronicles 12:6).

IV. He had no care to seek the Lord thoroughly. Yet no man good by accident; no one goes right without intention to do so. Without heart religion must die.

1. Human nature departs from the right way, especially in kings tolerated in more sin than others.
2. Courtiers usually run the wrong way, especially young, proud, and frivolous. Rehoboam lived gay and proud, and gave himself up to their lead.
3. Underlings apt to follow us and applaud if we go in an evil path, even as Judah followed Rehoboam. Thus those who should lead are led.

The kind of preparation required in diligent and acceptable seeking of the Lord. To feel and confess need in whole of life. Cry unto him for help and wisdom. Yield to his guidance and not follow counsel of vain persons. Be anxious to be right in everything, searching the Scriptures and seeking by prayer to know what to do. Serve the Lord carefully and earnestly, leaving nothing to chance, fashion, or whim. Are there any professors like Rehoboam? Any hopeful young men who lack whole-hearted devotion to the Lord? Any older men who have suffered for vacillation, hesitation, or double-mindedness? Any just escaped from such trouble, but are not firm and ready even now? Oh, for a clear sense of the evil and folly of such a condition! Oh, for the confirming power of the Holy Ghost! Oh, for vital reunion with the Lord Jesus [Spurgeon].


2 Chronicles 12:1. Strong, and forsook the law. No danger, no watchfulness. Prosperity leading to apostasy. In poverty men pray, in weakness and affliction attend God’s house, &c. “Established” and “strengthened” leads to say, “Depart from us.” “The prosperity of fools destroys them.” All Israel with him.

1. The force of bad example.
2. The readiness of men to follow it.
3. The guilt of those who follow, when they should reprove. Example contagious; beneficially or perniciously men influence others; raise them up or bring them down. “Be not partaker of other men’s sins.”

2 Chronicles 12:5. Forsaken me. Conditions of enjoyment, prosperity and success. Awful results of abandonment by God. Prevalent corruption, deeper disgrace, and national disaster.

2 Chronicles 12:7. Humiliation the means of deliverance. From the message which was sent them from the Lord we properly observe—I. That sin will surely bring the judgment of God upon us. Nor is there any possibility of escape but by repentance, since God has ordained—II. That sin, in order to its being forgiven, must be repented of. It is, however, no little consolation to know—III. That sin, truly repented of, shall assuredly be forgiven. Application—

1. Have you repented?
2. Are you pardoned? [C. Simeon, M.A.]. Wrath of God.

1. Its reality.
2. Its cause.
3. Its agencies.
4. Its suspense. In the midst of judgment God remembers mercy.

2 Chronicles 12:8. Know. The discipline of punishment, or great contrasts.

1. Between the Theocracy, or rule of God, and foreign rule or “servants” of Shishak.
2. Between the freedom of Christ and the bondage of sin.
3. Between correction of providence and left alone in folly.

2 Chronicles 12:12. Went well.

1. Many good men in general defection in whom good things were found (1 Kings 14:13).

2. Many good things, in prevalent corruption. Temple, priesthood, sacrifices and ordinances. A few may be “the holy seed, the substance thereof,” the preserving principle. Few in Sardis (Revelation 3:4).

2 Chronicles 12:14. Prepared not. Learn—

1. That serving God will prevent from evil.
2. That for God’s service the heart should be prepared and fixed.
3. That when the heart is not fixed or prepared men are easily drawn away.
4. That when men are drawn away from God into evil, consequences are fearful. Weakness ensues, corruptions spread, temptations increase, enemies prevail, and ruin inevitable!

“And he that will be cheated to the last,

Delusions strong as hell shall bind him fast.”

2 Chronicles 12:15. Book of Shem. Not now extant, though God, if he had pleased, could as well have preserved those books for the use of the church, as he did the holy vessels of the temple from the spoil of Shishak [Trapp]. Providence and goodness of God in preserving and handing down Scriptures to our times. Why not lost, like many classic authors, amid the ruins of the barbarians? From the whole chapter we see—

1. Rehoboam forsaking the law.
2. Rehoboam punished for his defection.
3. Rehoboam spared on repenting.
4. Rehoboam ruined at last for want of decision in religion [Ing. Cobbin].

“But evil is wrought for want of thought
As well as want of heart” [Hood].


2 Chronicles 12:1. Forsook. A man cannot have been three years wise and then have returned to old courses without his return being marked by aggravations of evil. The last state of the man is worse than the first. “The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” To have been halfway to heaven, and then to have been thrown down—what agonies of recollection! [Dr. Parker].

2 Chronicles 12:5-8. Shemaiah the prophet. Ministers of the gospel should be gentle, tender, and affectionate. They should be kind in feeling and courteous in manner, like a father or mother. Nothing is ever gained by a sour, harsh, crabbed, dissatisfied manner. Sinners are never scolded either into duty or into heaven [A. Barnes.] I never was fit to say a word to a sinner except when I had a broken heart myself; when I was melted into penitency, and felt as though I had just received pardon to my soul, when my heart was full of tenderness and pity [Payson].

2 Chronicles 12:6. Humbled themselves.

“If hearty sorrow

Be a sufficient ransom for offence,
I tender it here; I do as truly suffer
As e’er I did commit” [Shaks.].

2 Chronicles 12:8. Servants. It is not in man’s nature to be out of all service, and to be self-dependent. We may choose our master, but God or mammon we must serve. We cannot possibly be in a neutral or intermediate state. Such a state does not exist. If we will not be Christ’s servants we are forthwith Satan’s, and Christ set us free from Satan only by making us His servants [J. H. Newman].

2 Chronicles 12:10. Shields of brass.

“Thus men go wrong with an ingenious skill,
Bend the straight rule to their own crooked will,
And with a clear and shining lamp supplied,
First put it out, then take it for a guide” [Cowper].

2 Chronicles 12:12. Things went well. We are called upon to observe the relation and progress of events and to inquire into the moral reasons which explain either their ill-going or their happy advancement. We often speak of things going well in too narrow a sense, simply meaning that property increases, that health is continued, and that the whole outward environment is comfortable and satisfactory. That is not a proper estimate of the whole question. Things can only go well when the heart goes well. When things do not go well we should inquire into moral reasons; why this affliction, why this loss, why this discontent? Out of such faithful self-dealing will come the humbleness, the penitence which are always followed by pardon, restoration, and spiritual harmony [Dr. Parker].

2 Chronicles 12:15. Wars.

“Then time turns torment when man turns a fool” [Young].

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 12". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/2-chronicles-12.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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