that this is what the LORD says: 'You are not to go up and fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Each of you must return home, for this word is from Me.'" So they listened to the word of the LORD and turned back according to the word of the LORD.
I. THE MESSAGE.
1. It was the word of Jehovah.
(1) So it is worthy of all respect. It is the word of Infinite Wisdom and Knowledge. It is the word of the Supreme Arbiter.
(2) God does not speak immediately to men upon ordinary occasions. Indirectly He speaks to us evermore and in a million voices.
(3) Happy is that people among whom the voice of God is heard. This was eminently the happiness of Israel. It was a sad day in Israel when there was "no open vision" (1 Samuel 3:1).
2. It came by the hand of Shemaiah.
(1) God spake "in divers manners." By audible voice, as from Sinai; by urim, as in the temple; by dream; and by prophet, as in the present case.
(2) Ahijah was a man of God. Such in general were the prophets. But sometimes it pleased God to use persons of equivocal character; - Balaam, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Caiaphas (John 11:49-52).
3. It came to the whole community.
(1) To Rehoboam. He was first mentioned as the head. Also because he was the principal cause of the mischief which he now sought to repair.
(2) To Judah and Benjamin. These tribes were so united as to be viewed as "one tribe," and are unitedly called "Judah." The temple was actually within Benjamin's boundary.
(3) To the remnant of the people. These consisted of priests and Levites, and godly people out of all the tribes who were unwilling to separate themselves from the house of David (2 Chronicles 11:18-16).
4. It commanded peace.
(1) They were not to fight with their brethren. The case must be extreme that can justify a civil war. What miseries must have ensued if 180,000 warriors of Judah had encountered a corresponding army of Israel!
(2) They were to submit to a revolution which was from the Lord. Not that God was the author of it, but permitted to be brought about by the king and his people for the punishment of their wickedness. "What is brought about in the course of God's providence is considered and spoken of as done by Him as a general would say that he drew the enemy into a snare, which he had only laid in his way" (Julius Bate).
II. ITS RECEPTION.
1. They hearkened to the word.
(1) They recognized it as the word of God. Shemaiah was known to be a "man of God." His message also agreed to that of Ahijah, the fulfilment of a part of which pledged the fulfilment of the remainder.
(2) To resist now would be to fight against God. This would be a hopeless business. But is not this the attitude of every sinner?
2. They returned to their houses.
(1) The remnant of Israel were naturally glad to be spared the horrors of a war with their brethren.
(2) So were the people of Judah and Benjamin. People are generally averse to war unless stirred up to it by their rulers. What a responsibility rests with war makers!
(3) Rehoboam is powerless without the people. He is now thoroughly cowed. The discipline was good for him. This was seen in the next three years of his reign. It were well if all men recognised God's word when it comes to them. We have God's word written in the Scriptures of truth. Do we take it homo to guide and control our conduct?
This thing is from me.I. SOME EVENTS ARE SPECIALLY FROM GOD. God is in events which are produced by the sin and the stupidity of men. This breaking up of the kingdom of Solomon into two parts was the result of Solomon's sin and Rehoboam's folly; yet God was in it. God had nothing to do with the sin or the folly, but in some way, which we can never explain, God was in it alL The most notable instance of this truth is the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; that was the greatest of human crimes, yet it was fore. ordained and predetermined of the Most High, to whom there can be no such thing as crime, nor any sort of compact with sire How, then, was "this thing" from God?
1. First, it was so as a matter of prophecy.
2. And, secondly, "this thing" was from God as a matter of punishment. God setteth evil against evil that He may destroy evil, and He uses that which cometh of human folly that He may manifest His own wisdom.
II. WHEN EVENTS ARE SEEN TO BE FROM THE LORD, THEY ARE NOT TO BE FOUGHT AGAINST. Rehoboam had summoned his soldiers to go to war against the house of Israel; but, inasmuch as it was from God that the ten tribes had revolted from him, he must not march into the territories of Israel, nor even shoot an arrow against them.
1. The thing that is happening to you is of the Lord, therefore resist it not, for it would be wicked to do so. If it be the Lord's will, so may it be.
2. But, next, it is also vain, for what can we do against the will of God?
3. Next, it would be mischievous, and would be sure to bring a greater evil upon us if we did resist.
III. THIS GENERAL PRINCIPLE HAS MANY SPECIAL APPLICATIONS. I believe it often happens that events are most distinctly from the Lord, and when it is so, our right and proper way is to yield to them.
1. A case in which this principle applies is when severe afflictions arise.
2. Sometimes, also, we are troubled by certain disquieting plans proposed by our friends or our children.
3. A very pleasant phase of this same truth is when some singular mercy comes.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
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