After Rehoboam had established his sovereignty and royal power, he and all Israel with him forsook the Law of the LORD.
I. THE GOOD WORK OF CONSOLIDATION. He "had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself." The reference is, principally though not perhaps exclusively, to the action chronicled in the previous chapter (vers. 5-12, 22, 23). When he found that it was not open to him to regain the seceded tribes by force of arms, he set himself, like a wise man, to secure the fraction that was left him. He may have consoled himself with the thought - which is not only a thought but a truth - that a small estate that is well governed and well kept is far better than a large one that is ill managed, and that, consequently, soon shows signs of feebleness and decline. Those three years of consolidation, spent in the service of Jehovah, and under the sanction of his priests and prophets, were years of real worth to the country, and probably of happiness to Rehoboam. In the conduct of our estate, whether that be some business in which we are engaged, or some institution or Church we are serving, or some character (another's or our own) that we are building up, we spend our time and our strength well in the work of "establishing and strengthening." In the supreme matter of human character we can hardly lay too much emphasis on this matter of consolidation. Character must be fortified by knowledge, by the understanding and the cordial acceptance of Christian principles, by exercise, by the nourishment and growth of a strong love for what is pure and true and generous, and by a hearty hatred of all that is corrupt and mean and false.
II. THE TEMPTATION OF SUPPOSED SECURITY. When Rehoboam had attained to a position in which he felt himself secure, then he relaxed his hold on his early convictions, he surrendered his trust in God, he abandoned the faith and practice of his fathers. While conscious of danger from without, be was glad to be able to look for help to the lower that was above, and he remained loyal to Jehovah; as soon as he felt or fancied himself secure within his ramparts, he flung away his spiritual support. Here we have guilt and folly in equal measure - guilt, for it was singularly ungrateful of him to forsake the God who had so clearly placed his dynasty on the throne, and impious of him to turn from the worship of him whom he believed to be the one true and living God; folly, for he might have known that his material defences would avail him nothing if the anger of the Lord was enkindled and the hand of the Lord directed against him. Supposed security is a strong temptation.
1. When we believe ourselves to be possessed of a sufficiency of material treasure, we think we can afford to be independent of the aid of the Divine provision.
2. When we think we have surrounded ourselves with all needful sources of earthly and human joy, we are apt to think we can dispense with the consolations and the satisfactions which are in Jesus Christ; when we have attained to some strength of mind and of will, to some measure of maturity, we are tempted to suppose that there is less necessity, if any at all, to look upward for Divine support, to lean on the Divine arm. To yield to this temptation is to err sadly, to sin grievously.
(1) To err sadly; for we shall find that no defences or securities that are of earth or that are of man will avail us against all the difficulties and hazards that are around and against us, without the aid of an almighty arm; and the end will be failure and dishonour.
(2) To sin grievously; for God is demanding of us, in terms we cannot fail to understand and with a frequency we cannot fail to mark, that we should put our trust in him, and not in man; in him, and not in ourselves; in him, and not in "the chariots and horses" of this world.
III. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF HIGH POSITION. Rehoboam "forsook the Law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. His people were not unaccountable for following him, but how weighty was his responsibility for leading them astray! - C.
He forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him.
Monday Club Sermons.Individual lives attract and reward attention; hence the interest and fascination of fiction and history. What others have experienced and done comes to us as a revelation of a life in which we share.
I. ITS WASTE OF OPPORTUNITIES EXCEPTIONALLY GRAND.
1. He was the first king of Judah. Unless forfeited by misconduct, special honour and grateful appreciation are the inheritance of the founders of a dynasty. Conspicuous in time and relative position, they have an acknowledged leadership, though dead for centuries.
2. He inherited institutions and traditions of a prestige sacred and commanding. His was the city of David, with all its history, radiant with the Divine presence; his the temple, of which God was the architect and his father the master builder; his the unbroken priesthood, exalted to a genuine mediatorship between God and His people; his all the costly and sacred relics upon which the Queen of Sheba looked with amazement; about himself centred the hope of a coming prophet, ruler; his the sole honour of continuing the royal line.
3. He was of mature age and superior abilities.
4. He had the best material of all Israel as well. Jeroboam and his sons had cast off the Levites from executing the priest's office unto the Lord, and they emigrated to Jerusalem in a body, "and after them, out of all the tribes of Israel, such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel, came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers." Thus all the land of Canaan was sifted for his benefit.
5. The very smallness of Judah was an element of strength. He could and did intrench himself in his central fortress on Zion, and surround himself with a chain of fortresses mutually supporting from their proximity. His people were homogeneous, and not liable to the jealous rivalries which imperilled the ten divisions of Israel. But alas! the example of Rehoboam reveals the insufficiency of opportunities, however golden, to command a wise improvement.
II. HIS INABILITY TO BEAR PROSPERITY. When strengthened in his little kingdom of Judah, he at once repeated the folly which had only recently dispossessed him of the grand unbroken empire left by Solomon. Like multitudes, before and since, he was willing to use God's help when in extremity, but when successful, when apparently sailing in smooth waters, he and all Israel forsook the law of the Lord. How inexplicable that blindness which increases with added light, that moral and spiritual weakness which grows when supplemented with all Divine help, that confidence in self built out of dependence and gracious gifts! Rehoboam and his numberless imitators in all time illustrate this. Left to himself, he mars and almost ruins the grandest schemes of infinite wisdom, and foils the gracious designs of a long-suffering God for his own rescue and elevation.
III. CHASTISEMENT BROUGHT PARTIAL REPENTANCE AND HUMILITY. There is such a thing as "final permanence of character," upon which all Divine warnings or dealings are unavailing except to harden. All moral character is voluntary, but the absoluteness of moral inability is only the measure and result of obdurate wilfulness. We are inclined to credit the humility of Rehoboam, because it vindicated God in the midst of His judgments. He and his princes said, "The Lord is righteous." Their lips, and possibly their hearts, may have been free from murmuring when city after city crumbled before invading hosts. Repentance is safe to the degree in which it acknowledges and enthrones God. We cannot omit passing mention of the superior inheritance of those who submissively suffer. The tragedy of life comes from hopeless, helpless opposition to the irresistible.
IV. NEVERTHELESS, RELIGION WAS NOT ITS CONTROLLING INFLUENCE. Though he never quite cast off God, he "did evil because he fixed not his heart to seek the Lord." When the service of God dominates affections, plans, and deeds, then, and not until then, is true and steady progress possible. There can be no harmony, no worthy enthusiasm, nor any noble elevation to life which enthrones self. We live in a time of special peril, because of its wealth of opportunity. Never were the resources of the world so placed at man's disposal. But this wealth of opportunity brings a corresponding peril. Nothing but a heart "fixed to seek the Lord" can withstand its temptations to indulgence, to pride of power, to high looks and vain imaginations.
V. A CHANGE OF MASTERS FOR THE WORSE. This change of masters, and opportunity to compare their respective service, which was thus true of Rehoboam, has a perfect parallel in the lives of all wanderers from God. Man will have some master, and he cuts loose from glad allegiance to God — the only true liberty — only to give servile obedience to a tyrant. It is one of the reassuring signs of progress to-day that man as an individual — his rights, his essential worth, and dignity — is valued and talked about more than the collective State or nation; but danger lurks in the shadow of the gain. That individuality is in danger of becoming overweening and imperious. The ego may, and sometimes does, glory in a self-sufficiency that looks almost patronisingly upon the Divine existence, or denies it altogether. Virtue is a queen whose subjects note her faintest wish, but their service is perfect liberty. It springs from the gladness of pure hearts, and knows no compulsion but sweet willingness.
(Monday Club Sermons.)
(J. Parker, D.D.)
Because they had transgressed against the Lord
(J. Parker, D.D.)
PeopleAbijah, Cushites, David, Ethiopians, Iddo, Jeroboam, Naamah, Rehoboam, Shemaiah, Shishak, Solomon, Sukkites
TopicsAbandoned, Established, Establishing, Forsaken, Forsook, Kingdom, Law, Pass, Position, Rehoboam, Rehobo'am, Rehoboam's, Rule, Strengthened, Strengthening, Strong
Outline1. Rehoboam, forsaking the Lord, is punished by Shishak
5. He and the princes, repenting at the preaching of Shemaiah,
7. are delivered from destruction, but not from spoil
13. The reign and death of Rehoboam
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Chronicles 12:1
'They shall be his servants: that they may know My service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.'--2 Chron. xii. 8. Rehoboam was a self-willed, godless king who, like some other kings, learned nothing by experience. His kingdom was nearly wrecked at the very beginning of his reign, and was saved much more by the folly of his rival than by his own wisdom. Jeroboam's religious revolution drove all the worshippers of God among the northern kingdom into flight. They might have endured the …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
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