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In this chapter begins the history of Israel and Judah in the division of the two kingdoms; so that attention should be paid in the reading to distinguish to which the subject belongs. The chapter opens with the relation of the affairs of Israel under king Jeroboam, and concludes his reign. The latter end of the chapter relates to the affairs of the kingdom of Judah under Rehoboam, and the close of his reign.
(1) ¶ At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. (2) And Jeroboam said to his wife, Arise, I pray thee, and disguise thyself, that thou be not known to be the wife of Jeroboam; and get thee to Shiloh: behold, there is Ahijah the prophet, which told me that I should be king over this people. (3) And take with thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of the child.
Was not this sickness of Jeroboam's son, and perhaps his heir, enough to have arrested the heart of the father to seek the Lord? Is it possible to behold Jeroboam as convinced that the Lord's prophet was a sure prophet; and yet to attempt the deceiving him, as is here said. Alas! to what a desperate state is the mind of the sinner capable of being reduced, void of grace!
(4) And Jeroboam's wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age. (5) And the LORD said unto Ahijah, Behold, the wife of Jeroboam cometh to ask a thing of thee for her son; for he is sick: thus and thus shalt thou say unto her: for it shall be, when she cometh in, that she shall feign herself to be another woman.
What an interesting view is here given us of the Lord's servant, and yet infinitely more of the graciousness of the Lord himself. Reader! how blessed are those who when the bodily eyes fail, have a sight by faith, and enjoy the visions of the almighty! and oh! how doubly blessed when Jesus sweetly visits them and manifests himself to them; when (as the church beautifully expresseth it) he standeth behind our wall, looketh forth at the windows and showeth himself through the lattice. Song of Solomon 2:9 .
(6) And it was so, when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, that he said, Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself to be another? for I am sent to thee with heavy tidings. (7) ¶ Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel, (8) And rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee: and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes; (9) But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back: (10) Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone. (11) Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for the LORD hath spoken it. (12) Arise thou therefore, get thee to thine own house: and when thy feet enter into the city, the child shall die. (13) And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam. (14) Moreover the LORD shall raise him up a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day: but what? even now. (15) For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger. (16) And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.
What a delightful portrait is here drawn of a faithful minister in the character of Ahijah! though commissioned with heavy tidings, yet he keeps n o thing back. Oh! for all the ministers of Jesus to have grace to imitate such an illustrious example. How gracious is the Lord, even in the midst of judgments, represented! Reader! remark, though Israel had so shamefully revolted, and set up idols, yet the Lord still calls himself the Lord God of Israel. Let the Reader consult another beautiful evidence of the same kind; Malachi 2:14-16 . What an awful message is sent to Jeroboam! and what an awful character he was! He had exceeded in impiety all that were before him. Even Saul had never set up idols! and what a dreadful end is pronounced concerning him! Let us, Reader, stop, however, in the midst of this alarming account of the wicked, to remark what is said concerning his son. Some good thing was found in him. And what could this be but grace? And was not this grace distinguishing grace, when found in the child of so graceless a father? See Reader! how the Lord in all ages of his church hath been carrying on his blessed designs in reference to him in whom all the families of the earth are blessed! The prediction of Jeroboam's ruin in the advance of another king whom the Lord would raise up over Israel, was to take place so speedily, that it might be said to be even now; so near was it at hand. And to show how true the Lord is concerning both his threatenings and promises, it may not be amiss here to remark that this prophecy of a king to be raised to Israel against Jeroboam and his house took place in the person of Baasha soon after the elevation of Nadab to the throne. And indeed the whole race of Jeroboam was extinct in little more than 20 years. So short, so very short, are the triumphs of the ungodly!
(17) And Jeroboam's wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah: and when she came to the threshold of the door, the child died; (18) And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by the hand of his servant Ahijah the prophet.
The distress must have been aggravated in that she saw not the child alive. I cannot pass over the mention here made of Tirzah, short as it is, without remarking that as this was the city, on account of its loveliness, which one of the ancient kings of Canaan made choice of for his residence, (see Joshua 12:24 .
(19) And the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred, and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. (20) And the days which Jeroboam reigned were two and twenty years: and he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his stead.
The wars of Jeroboam, how splendid soever they might seem, are not so much worth remarking as the relation of his death. If the Reader will consult the corresponding history, of this impious prince, as recorded in the Chronicles, he will there discover that his death was induced by an immediate visitation from heaven; for it is said that the Lord struck him. 2 Chronicles 13:20 .
(21) ¶ And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother's name was Naamah an Ammonitess.
The sacred historian here turns to the subject of Judah in the government of Rehoboam. The account of this son of Solomon is short and nothing interesting. No act of obedience towards God. No act of kindness toward men. He is said merely to have lived, and to have reigned so long, and sprung from the race of the Ammonites. See Reader! what sad effects spring out of ungracious alliances!
(22) And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. (23) For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. (24) And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.
What a melancholy account is here given of Judah! she is become more degenerate than in any period before. And this at a time when the temple was in all its splendor! Reader! do not fail to remark with me how little the sweet simplicity and godly sincerity of true spiritual worshippers, hath to do with pompous buildings, and the formalities of devotion. Precious Jesus! make me an inner court worshipper!
(25) And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: (26) And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. (27) And king Rehoboam made in their stead brasen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king's house. (28) And it was so, when the king went into the house of the LORD, that the guard bare them, and brought them back into the guard chamber. (29) Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? (30) And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days. (31) And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And his mother's name was Naamah an Ammonitess. And Abijam his son reigned in his stead.
Calamities both public and private, are near at hand, when men desert the Lord! dreadful is the state of that man, or that nation, which hath God for their enemy. So everlastingly true is that aphorism of Solomon: Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34 .
WHILE we have reason to shudder in beholding the sad consequences of our fallen nature, in an example so truly dreadful as that of Jeroboam; and while I would for myself and Reader pray for grace to lay low in the dust of self-abasement in a conscious sense, that if we differ from him it is grace alone that hath done it; I would pause over the beautiful account that is given of the man of God, and pray that the Lord in mercy to the present hour would grant his church many, many Ahijahs. Blessed Jesus! I would say, send forth faithful ministers who will neither fear the frowns, nor court the smiles, of any man; but speak the whole truth as it is in Jesus, and keep back nothing that may be profitable to the alarming of sinners, the comforting of saints, and to the building up thy people in their most holy faith.
But while I would thus look up and beg a blessing for a faithful ministry, shall I contemplate the servant and forget the master? Shall not the view of Ahijah lead my soul to thee, thou great Prophet and Priest of thy people? Yes! blessed Jesus! if I forget thee let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. Thou art indeed a faithful high priest! and thy faithfulness and truth in making manifest thine and thy father's laws, which our whole race have broken, have been the blessed means, through the influence of thy Holy Spirit upon our hearts, of turning thy people from darkness to light, and from the power of sin and Satan to thee the living God. Yes! dearest Jesus! thou art a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man! and thou hast not only proclaimed to us our faults, and by the influence of thy blessed Spirit convinced us of sin, but thou hast in infinite mercy constrained us to thy love, and turned our hearts back again. Lord Jesus! break down all our idols! take away all our false refuges of lies! do thou sit, blessed Jesus, as a refiner and purifier of silver; and purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. For then the promise is sweet, and will surely be fulfilled; then shall the offering of Judah be pleasant to the Lord as in the days of old, and as in former years. Hasten, blessed Jesus! the accomplishment of this glorious end; purge away all my dross, and take away all my sin.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Kings 14". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany