James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for to Shechem were all Israel come to make him king.2 Chronicles 10:1-20:37
REHOBOAM AND JEHOSHAPHAT
REHOBOAM (2 Chronicles 10-12)
The story of the rejected counsel of the older men and what came of it (chap. 10) is practically as in 1 Kings 12, and furnishes an illustration of the relation of divine sovereignty to human free agency.
The fortification of Judah’s cities against Israel (chap. 11) was dwelt upon in the earlier books, as well as the return of the priests and Levites to Jerusalem.
Rehoboam’s “wise” action (2 Chronicles 11:23) is to be taken in the political sense. He thus gave his sons and grandsons something to do, each having a measure of independence, and being kept sufficiently apart from the others to lessen the likelihood of a cabal against the heir to the kingdom.
How long did Rehoboam remain faithful to God (2 Chronicles 11:17 and 2 Chronicles 12:1) ? What punishment was inflicted for his infidelity (2 Chronicles 12:2-4)? How is God’s goodness shown to him (2 Chronicles 12:5), and with what result (2 Chronicles 12:6-8)? Note 2 Chronicles 12:8 carefully. How much better to serve God than His enemies, but what bitter experience is necessary to teach this lesson (2 Chronicles 12:9-12). Note the reference to the heathen mother of Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 12:13), and the reason for its record (2 Chronicles 12:14), as showing her baneful influence on her son.
Speaking of the punishment which befell Rehoboam and Judah from Egypt, it is interesting that its record is found today on the walls of the Egyptian palace at Karnak. Carved nearly three millenniums ago, it is there still an impressive corroboration of Holy Writ.
ABIJAH AND ASA (2 Chronicles 13-16)
These kings may be coupled, as the record of the first-named is brief. Verse two of chapter 13 does not contradict verse 20 of chapter 11, since “Michaiah” and “Maachah” are the same, and as “the daughter of Uriel,” she was the granddaughter of Absalom. Such general statements are common in the Hebrew text, and it is impossible to consider each of them.
The numbers in verse three are immense, but compare 1 Chronicles 21:5. The harangue of Abijah (2 Chronicles 13:4-12), except in its character and terms, suggests that of the Assyrian commander before Jerusalem (2 Kings 18), and seems to have been a custom in ancient warfare. What advantage is taken of this delay (2 Chronicles 13:13-14)? What prevented a rout of Judah (2 Chronicles 13:15)? How terrific was Israel’s punishment (2 Chronicles 13:17)? What was its effect in the subsequent history of Abijah’s reign (2 Chronicles 13:20)?
How far did this victory show its effects in Asa’s reign (2 Chronicles 14:1)? What was his religious character (2 Chronicles 14:2-5)? For certain qualifications of these words compare the latter half of chapter 16. The statement in verse eight is to be taken in our sense of militia rather than a standing army. Great as was this force, what could it have accomplished against the Ethiopians (2 Chronicles 14:9) but for God (2 Chronicles 14:11-14)? Which of his successors does Asa, in his faith, suggest? How is he further encouraged (2 Chronicles 15:1-2)?
Note the story of a typical revival. Its need appears in 2 Chronicles 15:3-6, a people without God in the sense that they were without the teaching of His Word in power (2 Chronicles 15:3), and therefore without peace (2 Chronicles 15:5) and in affliction (2 Chronicles 15:6). Its progress is set before us in verse eight courage, repentance, prayer. Its results, (2 Chronicles 15:9-15) the gathering of the people (2 Chronicles 15:9-10), their offerings (2 Chronicles 15:11), renewal of their covenant (2 Chronicles 15:12), separation from the world (2 Chronicles 15:13), joy and peace (2 Chronicles 15:15). Its cause is revealed in the opening of the chapter as the Spirit of God, the man of God, the Word of God, and the work of God (2 Chronicles 16:1-2 and 2 Chronicles 16:7). O, that history would repeat itself in our day; or rather that God would once more pour out His Holy Spirit upon some prophet through whom His word would have potency as of old!
It is a mystery that Asa with such an experience should act as in chapter 16, except as we recognize the same inconsistency in ourselves. Sin makes fools of us all. As there is some confusion in the chronology here, however, it is uncertain just when this event occurred. (Compare verse 1 with 1 Kings 15:33.) It is not a sin in itself to seek a physician’s aid (2 Chronicles 16:12), but an Egyptian physician such as Asa consulted doubtless used demoniacal charms and incantations forbidden by the law of God. It is the same now. An honest physician who heals in accordance with the well-understood principles of therapy may be consulted by any Christian without sin; but it is different with a New Age healer, a palmist, a hypnotist, a spiritualist, a Christian Scientist, or other practitioner whose underlying philosophy is pagan and contrary to the Gospel.
The “very great burning” (2 Chronicles 16:14) is supposed to refer to the cremation of the corpse, a custom which prevailed at that time among the Hebrews (2 Chronicles 21:19, also 1 Samuel 31:12; Jeremiah 34:5 and Amos 6:10).
JEHOSHAPHAT (2 Chronicles 17-20)
The story of this reign opens with the customary characterization of the king, which as we know from the book of Kings, was commendable, resulting in the divine blessing (2 Chronicles 17:1-6). But in 2 Chronicles 17:7-11 something of special interest is recorded. The word “to” before each name should be omitted, for it was the princes themselves who were sent on this godly mission “the first practical measure adopted by any of the kings for the religious instruction of the people.” No wonder such consequences should have resulted (2 Chronicles 17:10-11). Here is the secret for a revival, viz: the instruction of the people in the Bible by the best men in the church. This is worth tons of sermons on civic righteousness and reforms, and no end of so-called evangelistic campaigns and religious “movements,” which have so much of man in them and so little of God.
Verses 12-19 show that no monarch since Solomon equaled Jehoshaphat “in the extent of his revenue, the strength of his fortifications and the number of his troops.” It pays to serve God.
Chapter 18 is the same as 1 Kings 22, which we considered in its place, commenting on the lapse it indicates. This lapse met its rebuke (2 Chronicles 19:2) and its punishment (chap. 20). Note in the meantime 2 Chronicles 19:4, comparing again 2 Chronicles 17:7-11. And do not overlook 2 Chronicles 19:5-7. Judicial courts had been established earlier but here they are localized in the fenced cities. What a charge to the judges! It will be heard again when He comes who shall judge the people righteously! 2 Chronicles 19:8-11 refer to a kind of supreme court established at Jerusalem.
Chapter 20 brings us face to face with a crisis in Judah (2 Chronicles 20:1-2). How is it met by this pious king (2 Chronicles 20:3-4)? Study the prayer, observing its argumentative character ending in an appeal (2 Chronicles 20:5-12). God loves to be thus argued with on the ground of His promises. Many such instances will be found later in the prophets. Compare Abraham (Genesis 18), and Moses (Exodus 32).
1. How does chapter 10 illustrate the dogma referred to in the lesson?
2. Why did Rehoboam deal with his sons as recorded?
3. How may we account, humanly speaking, for Rehoboam’s infidelity?
4. How does archaeological research corroborate the truth of any part of this lesson?
5. What, in general terms, was the character of Asa’s reign?
6. How would you explain 16:12?
7. What religious instruction was adopted by Jehoshaphat, and what has it to teach us?
8. How does Jehoshaphat’s reign show that it pays to serve God?
9. What lessons in prayer may be gathered from it?