And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him.2 Chronicles 12:1. When Rehoboam had established the kingdom — Israel was very much disgraced and weakened by being divided into two kingdoms; yet the kingdom of Judah, having both the temple and the royal city, both the house of David and the house of Aaron, might have done very well if they had continued in the way of their duty: but here we have all out of order there. For Rehoboam forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him — That is, all his people, all Judah, here called Israel, because they walked in the evil ways into which Jeroboam had drawn the kingdom of Israel. Of this defection from God and his service, see 1 Kings 14:22-24. Observe, reader; as long as he thought his throne in an insecure state, he kept to his duty, that he might make God his friend; but when he judged that he was established in his kingdom, he acted as if he thought he had no more occasion for religion. Thus the prosperity of fools destroys them.
And it came to pass, that in the fifth year of king Rehoboam Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the LORD,2 Chronicles 12:2. In the fifth year Shishak came up against Jerusalem — Presently after the apostacy of the king and people, which was in the fourth year. As this great calamity came upon them so soon after they began to desert the worship of God, and by a hand they had so little reason to suspect, having had a great deal of friendly correspondence with Egypt in the last reign; and as it came with so much violence, that all the fenced cities of Judah, which Rehoboam had lately fortified and garrisoned, and on which he relied much for the safety of his kingdom, fell into the hands of the enemy without making any resistance, it plainly appeared that the Lord had sent it, because they had transgressed against him. And doubtless God brought this unexpected trouble upon them so soon after their departure from him, not only to manifest his displeasure at, and to punish them for, their crime, but also and especially to recover them to repentance before their hearts were hardened.
With twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen: and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt; the Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethiopians.2 Chronicles 12:3. The Lubims — The people of Lybia, a famous country of Africa, adjoining to Egypt. And the Sukkiims were the Troglodytes, a people who lived on the western side of the Red sea, and had that name from their dwelling in dens and caves of the earth, which is also the meaning of the Hebrew word סכיים, succhiim, here used. As for the people called Cush, which we translate Ethiopians, they were either those to the south of Egypt, or the Scenitæ in Arabia.
And he took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem.
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 Shishak.2 Chronicles 12:5. Then came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam and the princes of Judah — Lest they should not readily or rightly understand the meaning of this providence, God sends a prophet to explain it, namely, the same Shemaiah that had brought them an injunction from God not to fight against the ten tribes, who plainly tells them, that the reason why Shishak prevailed against them was, not because they had been impolitic in the management of their affairs, but because they had forsaken God.
Whereupon the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, The LORD is righteous.2 Chronicles 12:6. Whereupon the princes and the king humbled themselves — They penitentially acknowledged their sin, and patiently accepted the punishment of it, saying, The Lord is righteous — We have none to blame but ourselves: let God be clear when he is judged. Thus it becomes us, when we are under the rebukes of divine providence, to justify God, and judge ourselves. “Even princes and kings,” says Henry, “must either bend or break; either be humbled or ruined.”
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. They have humbled themselves — Which though they did by constraint and with reluctance, yet God was pleased so far to regard it, as to mitigate their calamity. I will not destroy them — Such a vast, and now victorious army as Shishak had, having made themselves masters of all the fenced cities, what else could be expected, but that the whole country; and even Jerusalem itself, would in a little time be theirs? But when God says, Here shall the proud waves be stayed, the most threatening force strangely dwindles, and becomes impotent. I will grant them some deliverance — I will give some stop to the course of my wrath, which was ready to be poured forth upon them to their utter destruction. Those who acknowledge God is righteous in afflicting them, shall find him gracious. They that humble themselves before him, shall find favour with him. So ready is the God of mercy to take the first occasion to show mercy. Reader, if thy heart be humbled, and made contrite under humbling and distressing providences, the affliction has done its work, and it shall either be removed, or the property of it altered.
Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.2 Chronicles 12:8. They shall be his servants — That is, they shall be much at his mercy, and put under contribution by him, and some of them taken prisoners, and held in captivity by him: that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms, &c. — That they may experimentally know the difference between my yoke, and the yoke of a foreign and idolatrous prince. The more God’s service is compared with other services, the more reasonable and easy it will appear. And, whatever difficulties or hardships we may imagine there are in the way of obedience, it is better, a thousand times, to go through them, than to expose ourselves to the punishment of disobedience. Are the laws of temperance thought hard? The effects of intemperance will be much harder. The service of virtue is perfect liberty, the service of vice perfect slavery.
So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house; he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made.2 Chronicles 12:9-10. Shishak took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and of the king’s house — He plundered both the temple and the exchequer, the treasuries of both which Solomon had left full. David and Solomon, who walked in the ways of God, filled the treasuries, one by war, and the other by merchandise; but Rehoboam, who forsook these ways, emptied them. Respecting the taking away of the golden shields, and substituting brazen ones in their place, see notes on 1 Kings 14:25-28.
Instead of which king Rehoboam made shields of brass, and committed them to the hands of the chief of the guard, that kept the entrance of the king's house.
And when the king entered into the house of the LORD, the guard came and fetched them, and brought them again into the guard chamber.
And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD turned from him, that he would not destroy him altogether: and also in Judah things went well.2 Chronicles 12:12. In Judah things went well — Hebrew, There were good things. The meaning is either, 1st, Though there were many corruptions in Judah, yet there were also divers good things there, which were not in Israel, as the word, and ordinances, and pure worship of God, prophets and ministers of God’s appointment, and divers truly religious people. And thus, this was an additional reason why God would not destroy them. Or, 2d, Notwithstanding this loss, they began to recruit themselves, and to regain some degree of their former prosperity. In Judah, things went ill when all the fenced cities were taken; but when they repented, the posture of the affairs altered, and things went well. If at any time things do not go so well as we could wish, yet we have reason to take notice of it with thankfulness, if they go better than they have done, and better than we expected or deserved, and to own God’s goodness, if he do but grant us some deliverance.
So king Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem, and reigned: for Rehoboam was one and forty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother's name was Naamah an Ammonitess.2 Chronicles 12:13. King Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem — He recovered so much strength that he reigned with some authority: or, finding that his fenced cities of Judah did not answer his expectation, he now made it his business to fortify Jerusalem, and render that impregnable. And there he reigned seventeen years, in the city which the Lord had chosen to put his name there.
And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.2 Chronicles 12:14. He prepared not his heart, &c. — Directed not, or settled not, &c. That is, although he humbled himself, and seemed penitent for a season, and professed the true religion and worship of God; yet he quickly relapsed into his former sins, because he was not sincere and serious in his actions, and his heart was not right with God. To seek the Lord — He did not serve the Lord, because he did not seek the Lord. He did not pray to the Lord, as Solomon did, for wisdom and grace. Or he did not consult the word of God, did not seek to that as his oracle. Hence, what little goodness he had, passed away like the morning cloud, and he did evil because he was not fully determined for that which was good. Those are easily drawn aside to evil by Satan, who are wavering and inconstant in that which is good, and are not persuaded to make religion their business.
Now the acts of Rehoboam, first and last, are they not written in the book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer concerning genealogies? And there were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually.2 Chronicles 12:15. Of Iddo the seer concerning genealogies — In an historical account, written by him, of the genealogies and actions of the kings of Judah.
And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David: and Abijah his son reigned in his stead.