|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:1-22 Abijah overcomes Jeroboam. - Jeroboam and his people, by apostacy and idolatry, merited the severe punishment Abijah was permitted to execute upon them. It appears from the character of Abijah, 1Ki 15:3, that he was not himself truly religious, yet he encouraged himself from the religion of his people. It is common for those that deny the power of godliness, to boast of the form of it. Many that have little religion themselves, value it in others. But it was true that there were numbers of pious worshippers in Judah, and that theirs was the more righteous cause. In their distress, when danger was on every side, which way should they look for deliverance unless upward? It is an unspeakable comfort, that our way thither is always open. They cried unto the Lord. Earnest prayer is crying. To the cry of prayer they added the shout of faith, and became more than conquerors. Jeroboam escaped the sword of Abijah, but God struck him; there is no escaping his sword.
Verses 13-16. - These verses purport to tell how Jeroboam, with all his vastly preponderating numbers (ver. 3), left nothing undone to secure the victory, and resorted even to the ambushment described; how, on the other hand, Abijah and his people honoured God by their cry and confident shout, and were delivered because they trusted in him (1 Samuel 17:45-47), and as follows, ver. 18, "relied upon the Lord God of their fathers."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But Jeroboam caused an ambushment to come about behind them,.... While Abijah was making his oration, he detached a party from his army, which got about, and lay in ambush, behind the army of Abijah:
so they were before Judah; Jeroboam and the greater part of his army:
and the ambushment was behind them; which Jeroboam had sent thither.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13-17. But Jeroboam caused an ambushment to come about behind them—The oration of Abijah, however animating an effect it might have produced on his own troops, was unheeded by the party to whom it was addressed; for while he was wasting time in useless words, Jeroboam had ordered a detachment of his men to move quietly round the base of the hill, so that when Abijah stopped speaking, he and his followers found themselves surprised in the rear, while the main body of the Israelitish forces remained in front. A panic might have ensued, had not the leaders "cried unto the Lord," and the priests "sounded with the trumpets"—the pledge of victory (Nu 10:9; 31:6). Reassured by the well-known signal, the men of Judah responded with a war shout, which, echoed by the whole army, was followed by an impetuous rush against the foe. The shock was resistless. The ranks of the Israelites were broken, for "God smote Jeroboam and all Israel." They took to flight, and the merciless slaughter that ensued can be accounted for only by tracing it to the rancorous passions enkindled by a civil war.
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