Today is a deeper look at Solomon’s son, King Rehoboam of Judah.
I was just looking back over the many chapters my sisters and I have blogged through the Bible, and what a blessing it’s been! There’s just something about studying God’s Word, especially when you have like-minded people to labor alongside.
I look forward to every turn I get “at bat”, so to speak, but in case you missed it, here are the latest writings:
I covered 2 Chronicles 3 & 4 HERE.
Angela took the next two chapters, 2 Chronicles 5 & 6, and you can find them HERE.
Tammy was next with 2 Chronicles chapters 7 & 8, listed HERE.
Doing an excellent job with 2 Chronicles chapters 9 & 10, you can find Tatiana’s piece HERE.
And we’re rolling right along!
Chapter 11: Rehoboam, Solomon’s Son
It could have Civil War when Rehoboam assembled 185,000 warriors to go with him against Israel. He wasn’t willing to allow to Kingdom to be anything OTHER than united. Even if he had to use brute force to do it.
However, the Word of God came to Rehoboam through a man not spoken of very much in this story: Shemaiah. Apparently, he was a man of God because when he spoke the Words that God had given him, it stopped the entire army and turned them back again.
These were warriors, chosen men, ready to fight the entire house of Israel to maintain the integrity of the country. Shemaiah, quite to the contrary, was plain, simply, and completely unpolished. He offered the Word, the command of a Living God, and IT – not the man who spoke it – carried the power it should.
This story should remind us that, while we may not be much in and of ourselves, when commissioned and sent forth by God to do a thing, whatever that thing is, then it will be accomplished. Not of our own… we are just the TELLERS… the DOERS… otherwise, our words would be just as plain and unpolished as we are.
The very short message, given through Shemaiah was simple:
Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house: for this thing is done of me.”2 Chronicles 11:4
The latter part of that verse simply says, “And they obeyed the words of the LORD…” (Oh, that it would be that easy for us!)
Instead of continuing against Israel, Rehoboam took up residence in Jerusalem and focused himself in the defense of Judah. Some of the cities he built during this time included:
- Beth Zur
All of these cities are situated on the South and West of Judah’s borders, according to Ezra. It seems to indicate that there was a high probability of an Egyptian threat. Rehoboam intended to cut that off long before it started.
In these verses, you’ll note that Rehoboam included a strengthening of these areas with spears, shields, food, and other provisions. It would be more than enough to stand firm through any kind of a military threat, and might even allow them the opportunity to help other places who were not so well prepared.
But you’ll also notice, not a single provision existed for the spiritual matters which could truly have given strength to his kingdom.
Jeroboam’s Rejection of God
In verses 13 through 16, we see a defection of the remnant in Israel towards Judah. The Levites, priests, and other Godly people not only left their land but their possessions along with it, to stand in Judah and Jerusalem.
Jeroboam, along with his sons, got rid of God’s priests from service there, appointing his own priests for a more wicked purpose. One that God’s people would have no part of, especially with Judah awaiting them…
And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts. For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest’s office unto the LORD: And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made.2 Chronicles 11:13-16
The people had finally had enough. They would no longer live in an area where serving the Living God was considered a crime. They also would not live in a place where false gods and pagan gods took the place of the One True God.
Rehoboam Strengthens Judah
Judah’s true strength, at this time, had nothing to do with military might or the power of numbers. Instead, it was the godly men and women who stood for something. They stood for worshipping the One True God ONLY, as it should be. And they stood for the complete rejection of a state-dictated form of false religion. They held the line against being forced into rejecting God along with the lowest devil’s priest.
For three years, the people walked according to the ways of David and Solomon. It could have been longer, but ungodliness came to Rehoboam too!
In His Father’s Footsteps
Rehoboam must have learned nothing from the mistakes his father Solomon had made. He went on to disrespect the Law of God according to Deuteronomy:
Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.Deuteronomy 17:17
He should have been more cautious, guarding his heart against the same kind of kingly abuse of the Law of God that had caused the fall of Solomon. Instead, he heaped up eighteen wives, sixty concubines who gave him twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters! Maybe it was the unwavering strength of the Kingdom of Judah and the peace that it brought with it. Still, the animal nature came to the son as it did to the father.
When it came time to appoint a successor, Rehoboam chose Abijah, the son he had with Maachah. He was definitely not Rehoboam’s oldest son. He probably chose this one with a little influence by Maachah, the wife he loved more than all the others.
It’s obvious he knew what he was doing (or NOT doing) in appointing Abijah as his successor. Almost immediately after, he split the rest of his sons up, sending throughout the territories of Benjamin and Judah. This not only strengthened these cities, but it also kept the rest of the boys from getting together, talking things through, and ganging up on Abijah. It’s likely they had already considered Abijah’s illegitimacy and probably would have taken matters into their own hands, if not separated by their father’s wisdom.
Chapter 12: The Downfall of Rehoboam
After establishing Judah and strengthening it, Rehoboam completely forsook the law of the LORD. Reading through 1 Kings 14, you’ll find that part of his offense was to allow people of perversion into the land. Worse still, seeing how deep Rehoboam’s sin went, the entirety of Israel joined in that sin.
In his fifth year, because of his transgression, Shishak, the king of Egypt, came up against him, along with a massive army. We could search throughout history and attempt to shed some type of political or cultural light on it, but Ezra knew it was nothing less than the Hand of God lifted off the area due to stark disobedience.
Listed here in the third verse, we find he had 1,200 chariots, 60,000 horsemen, and people “without number.” Joining Shishak in battle were the Lubims, Ethiopians, and the Sukkiims. With this massive number, he plowed through Judah’s defenses and came up to Jerusalem!
Shemaiah Shows Up Again
Instead of speaking only to Rehoboam, as he had the first time, it’s likely Shemaiah spoke to all ten tribes of Israel on this day. They were probably all gathered in one place, due to the Egyptian invasion, and so Shamaiah addressed them all. His prophecy this time is found in verse 5…
Then came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam, and to the princes of Judah, that were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak2 Chronicles 12:5
In the next verse, we find Israel’s leaders repentant and humble, and this almost always precedes a great move of God’s Spirit. When a nation is anxious to please God, and not man, then God will move in unprecedented ways. And likewise, to the contrary, the country whose leaders constantly snub God will be forsaken by Him, and most likely at the worst possible time!
Grace Instead of Destruction
Due to the repentance, God did what He has done so many times before…
And when the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak.2 Chronicles 12:7
While He DID grant them “some deliverance” there was still to be the repercussions of their basically giving themselves over to another master. If they would rather serve man than God, which they made clear by their forsaking His Laws, then He would allow them to see how different that would be. What was perfect freedom through service to God became perfect bondage when they turned away from him. But then, living in sin is always painful, and it costs so much more in the long run.
But, just as there was a certain amount of deliverance, there was also a certain amount of loss. Shishak and his people removed treasures from both the king’s house and the house of the Lord. The riches and assets that Solomon had left to Rehoboam had nearly disappeared, all in five years’ time.
Replacing Gold with Bronze
Looking back to 1 Kings 10:16-17, you’ll find that there were solid gold shields there, 500 of them to be exact. 200 were large and 300 were small and they were kept in the House of the Forest of Lebanon. Of course, gold was far too soft and way too heavy to actually be used in combat. All to “keep up appearances” for Solomon, something that Rehoboam tried to do, but fashioned HIS shields of bronze instead.
Watching Solomon’s golden shields be replaced by Rehoboam’s bronze shields actually paints a grim picture of the decline that happened under Rehoboam’s watch. He had inherited something utterly awe-inspiring and in five short years, things had literally decayed through the application of sin.
Still, Rehoboam wasn’t humbled entirely until after he had bowed to God’s great glory in repentance. And it was STILL an utter bit of mercy because, by all rights, God would have been just and fair in destroying them completely. Instead, God’s mercy allowed him to go on, after the Egyptian attack, and rule as king until he died.
The Root, As It Turns Out…
Just when you think worship isn’t “really” that important, you read something that brings the fact home in a most remarkable way. It’s found in verse 14…
And he [Rehoboam] did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.2 Chronicles 12:14
Wow. It sounds harsh. It would certainly sound harsh if we blamed someone’s “evil deeds” on the fact that they had not prepared their hearts to seek the Lord. But what does that mean?
The word in this verse for “prepared” can also be translated to mean “stable, established, securely determined, and settled.”
The word for “seek” can be translated “consult, enquire, practice, or study.”
This Scripture isn’t just saying he missed a few songs during worship service. We must worship Him with our WHOLE heart, practice it, study it, and be determined in what we believe about Him.
But when it was all said and done, Rehoboam rested with his fathers.
What necessarily jumps out to you about these chapters? To me, it was the way Rehoboam was bound and determined to rush in, “guns-a-blazing” so to speak, to force Israel to get back to serving and honoring God. Then, by the end of his story, he was stripped of the wealth left to him by his father, Solomon, and reduced to “just” a king. He repented, but he was never the same again!
Lord Jesus, help us to remember that it’s NEVER WORTH IT to turn away from You! Even if it’s tempting, even if there seems to be some “result” that’s more appealing! No matter what, serving YOU is always the right thing, even when it doesn’t seem like it. You are God alone, the One True God, there is NONE like You, and I worship and praise You! In Jesus Name, Amen!