|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 5-12. - The idea of Abijah in this religious harangue, addressed or supposed to be addressed to the kingdom of the ten tribes, was good, and the execution was spirited. While, however, he preaches well to others, there are not wanting signs that he can blind himself as to some failure of practice on his own part. The points of the argument running through his harangue are correct, skilfully chosen, and well and religiously thrust home on the heart of his supposed audience. The practical trust of himself and his army are testified to in vers. 14, 15, and abundantly rewarded. This sequel-practical trust is the best credential of the sincerity of his foregoing appeal and harangue. Verse 5. - Gave the kingdom... to David for ever. With the thrice-repeated "for ever" of what we call 2 Samuel 7:13-16, and the very emphatic language of the fifteenth verse in that passage, in the memory of Abijah, no one can say he was not justified by the letter and to the letter in what he now says. At the same time, how is it that Abijah does not in all fairness quote the matter of 2 Chronicles 6:16 last clause, and of its parallel, 1 Kings 8:25 last clause, and of Psalm 89:28-37; Psalm 132:12? Covenant of salt (see Leviticus 2:13; Numbers 18:19; Ezekiel 43:24; Mark 9:49). The use of salt was ordered first for the meal offerings, which, consisting mainly of flour, did not need it as an antiseptic; afterwards it was ordered for "all" offerings, including the "burnt offering:" as surely as leaven was proscribed, salt was prescribed (Leviticus 2:11). "The covenant of salt" meant the imperish-ableness and irrevocableness of the engagement made between the two parties to the covenant The widespread and deeply significant use of it among other and heathen nations is remarkable indeed, and is attested by Pliny ('Hist. Natal 31:41) in forcible words: "Nulla (sacra) conficiuntur sine mola salsa" (Her., 2 Sat. 3:200; Virgil, 'AEn.,' 2:133; Hom., ' Iliad,' 1:449). Some think it a sufficient explanation of the text, "covenant of salt," that, especially in the East, solemn engagements and vows were often recognized and strengthened by hospitalities, as shown to guests, and of these salt was an indispensable element. It is true that some of the ancient indications and descriptions of friendship and close friendships turned on phrases (similar ones, indeed, still existing) into which the word "salt" entered, but that these phrases arose from the fact that salt was so general a constituent of human food seems insufficient explanation, where we can find one of a more direct and more directly religious, or, as the case might be (e.g. with heathen sacrifices), superstitious birth. Religion and superstition between them have been the most world-wide, incalculable, and untraceable originators and disseminators of half the possible phrases of human language!
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Ought you not to know,.... They did know what he afterwards says, but he would have them consider and acknowledge it:
that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever; to him and his seed, particularly to the Messiah, that should spring from him; but whether Abijah had this in view is a question, see 2 Samuel 7:13.
even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt? that is, a perpetual one, which was inviolable, and never to be made void; called so, because salt preserves from corruption and putrefaction, and because made use of in sacrifices offered when covenants were made; the Targum is,"as salt waters, which never lose their saltness.''
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