1 Kings 12:21-24
And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin…
In the order of Providence the words of the prophet Ahijah became so far translated into history, that ten of the tribes of Israel had revolted from the son of Solomon and had made the son of Nebat their king. Rehoboam, unwilling to lose so important a portion of his kingdom, was now mustering a formidable army to reduce them to submission. At this juncture the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah. Let us consider -
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?
Parallel VersesKJV: And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.
WEB: When Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, and the tribe of Benjamin, a hundred and eighty thousand chosen men, who were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.