Friday, June 9th, 2023
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
The Pulpit Commentaries The Pulpit Commentaries
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Kings 14". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ tpc/ 1-kings-14.html. 1897.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Kings 14". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
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THE DEATH OF JEROBOAM'S SON.—The protest of the prophet of Judah, the signs which supported it, and above all the solemn visitation, with its strange portents, which straightway followed it, having alike failed to arrest Jeroboam (1 Kings 13:33) in his high-handed and shameless depravation of the true religion, we now read of the retribution which came upon his family, and which began with the sickness and death of his firstborn. We can hardly regard this as a part of the discipline designed to reform the king, and so avert the schism, for the narrative distinctly conveys the impression that Jeroboam's day of grace was past, and that judgment was already begun. Moreover these events would seem to belong to a much later period than that of which the preceding chapter treats—a period, indeed, not far distant from the close of Jeroboam's reign. He then heard, as was fitting, from the venerable prophet who had been God's messenger to announce to him his future reign over the ten tribes, that the death of the youth whom he had destined to succeed him was but the beginning of sorrows, and foreshadowed the Speedy and shameful extinction of his family (1 Kings 14:14). He too, like Solomon, has sown to the wind and now reaps to the whirlwind. This section is omitted in the Vat. LXX.
1 Kings 14:1
At that time [or about (ךְ) that time. The king is now settled at Tirzah (1 Kings 14:17). In 1 Kings 12:25 we left him residing at Shechem. The time referred to is that somewhat indefinite period mentioned in 1 Kings 13:33, 1 Kings 13:34. These opening words clearly connect the sickness with Jeroboam's impenitence. What led the king to move his Court to Tirzah, Shechem being, as we have already seen, not only the capital of Ephraim, but "the natural capital of Palestine," "its central situation, its accessibility, and its wonderfully fine water supply" giving it "advantages not enjoyed by any other city in the land" (Conder), we are not told; but it is interesting and instructive to find that it has one conspicuous disadvantage as a capital, viz; that it is "commanded by a hill on either side so close to the town, that the old geographer, Marino Sanuto, in the fourteenth century, considers the place to be untenable by any military force, because stones might be rolled clown upon the houses, from either Ebal or Gerizim". It is very probable that this consideration suggested the transfer, of which Ewald despaired of discovering the cause ("Hist. Israel," 1 Kings 4:23)] Abijah [Rawlinson sees in the name, which means "Jehovah is his father," an indication that Jeroboam "did not intend to desert the worship of Jehovah." But the name was probably bestowed long before the schism possibly in Egypt. It is more likely that it connects itself, if with anything, with the message of Jehovah to him (1 Kings 11:28). But the name was not uncommon—it was borne by a son of Rehoboam (1 Kings 13:31; compare Ahijah, below), and inferences from names must necessarily be precarious] the son of Jeroboam fell sick. [The historian undoubtedly means us to see the finger of God in this sickness. This was one of the penalties of disobedience
. Jeroboam evidently suspected that this sickness was punitive, and he would not have others think so too], Arise, I pray thee, and disguise [lit; change. The word suggests that the disguise was to be effected by a change of garments. "She must put off her robes and put on a russet coat" (ib.) Possibly the queen was not unknown to the prophet (1 Kings 14:4)] thyself, that thou [Observe the archaic form אַתִּי for אַתְּ, which latter the Keri would substitute, quite needlessly, here] be not known [Heb. and they (i.e; those whom she met, not the prophet only) shall not know that thou art, etc.] to be the wife of Jeroboam; and get thee to Shiloh [the modern Seilun. "There is no site in the country fixed with greater certainty than that of Shiloh". The identification, however, was only effected in 1838. Conder gives some interesting particulars which lead him to believe that we can identify the very site of the tabernacle. For its history, see Joshua 16:5; Joshua 18:1-10; Judges 18:31; Judges 21:19; 1 Samuel 4:3; Jeremiah 41:5. Presuming that Tirzah is to be identified with Teiasir (see on Jeremiah 41:17) Shiloh would be over thirty miles' distant—more than a day's journey to the queen, as the road involves some toilsome climbing]: behold, there is Ahijah the prophet [see on 1 Kings 11:29. Shiloh was probably the birthplace, as well as the residence, of Ahijah. It was in the territory of Ephraim (Joshua 16:6), and at no great distance from Bethel. We can only explain Ahijah's continued residence there, after the migration of the God-fearing Israelites to the southern kingdom, not by his great age, but by the supposition that, having been concerned in the transfer of the kingdom to Jeroboam, he felt it a duty to stay and watch his career. And the time has now come when he can be useful. His relations with Jeroboam had apparently so far been good. He had not protested, so far as we know, against the calf worship, but then God had sent another prophet to do that], which told me that I should be king [Heb. he spake of me for king] over this people. [So that he had already proved himself a true prophet, and so far a prophet of good.]
1 Kings 14:3
And take with thee [Heb. in thine hand] ten loaves [Ten would seem to have been a usual number (1 Samuel 17:18). On the subject of gifts or fees to prophets, judges, etc; see on Hebrews 13:7], and cracknels [or cakes, as marg. The original word נִקֻּדִּים (נָקַד pupugit) means "pricked," or "spotted." It is the word translated "mouldy" in Joshua 9:5, Joshua 9:12, where Gesenius would render "crumbs." Mouldy bread would hardly be taken as a present. These cakes, according to the LXX; Cod. Alex; were for the prophet's children] and a cruse [i.e; leather bottle, בַּקְבֻּק Bakbuk, is clearly an onomatopoetic word, suggested by the bubbling noise of liquids in emptying] of honey [Spices and other delicacies were often given as presents, and honey was a special product of the country (Exodus 3:8; Deuteronomy 8:8; 2 Samuel 17:29. The honey sent by Jacob to Joseph was probably "honey of grapes"). The present was purposely a poor one, for the sake of maintaining the deception; i.e; it was a part of the disguise], and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of [Heb. be to] the child. [At first it strikes us as strange that Jeroboam merely asks what the result will be. He does not petition, that is to say, as in 1 Kings 13:6, for a cure. But we find the same peculiarity, which some would explain by the fatalism of the East, in 2 Kings 1:2, and 2 Kings 8:9, In the present instance, however, no such explanation is needed. For
(1) Jeroboam could hardly ask a favour of a prophet of Jehovah, or hope that it would be granted if he did, and
(2) if, as he feared, the sickness was judicial, it would be useless to ask for healing. The infatuation which insisted on a disguise for the purpose of deceiving the prophet, who nevertheless was believed to be able to divine the issue of the sickness, is very characteristic, and has had many parallels since.
1 Kings 14:4
And Jeroboam's wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came [probably on the second day] to the house of Ahijah. But [rather Now] Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set [Heb. stood. Same word as in 1 Samuel 4:15. Cf. Genesis 27:1. In amaurosis the pupil is set, and does not contract with the light. A partial paralysis of the optic nerve is common in extreme old age] by reason of his age. [Heb. for hoariness, i.e. old age.]
1 Kings 14:5
And the Lord said unto Ahijah [the attempted deceit was frustrated by a direct revelation, the same which disclosed the fate of the child. "God laughs in heaven at the frivolous fetches of crafty politicians" (Hall)]. Behold, the wife of Jeroboam cometh to ask a thing of thee for her son [or concerning אֶל, properly "to," ad, has the meaning of de, after verbs of speaking. Cf. Genesis 20:2; 1 Samuel 4:19, etc.; Jeremiah 40:16. Gesenius remarks on the similar use of εἰς in the New Testament: Acts 2:25; Ephesians 5:32]; for he is sick: thus and thus [cf. Judges 18:4; 2 Samuel 11:25. זֹה is a form of זאֹת] shalt thou say unto her, for it shall be, when she cometh in, that she shall feign herself to be another woman [Heb. make herself strange].
1 Kings 14:6
And it was so, when Ahijah heard the sound [Heb. voice] of her feet as she came in [בָּאָה should strictly be plural, in agreement with רַגְלֶיהָ feet. It is in the singular, probably because the writer is thinking of the woman. But see Ewald, 317 a, and cf. 1 Samuel 4:15] at [Heb. in] the door, that he said, Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself to be another? [Heb. makest thyself strange, as in verse 5] for [the Heb. "and" brings out the meaning much better, which is, "Thou art cleverly playing a part, and I all the while have a message," etc.] I am sent to thee with heavy [same word as in 1 Kings 12:13; there translated rough] tidings. [Heb. omits. For the construction see Ewald, 284 c.]
1 Kings 14:7
Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith the Lord Cod of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people [compare 2 Samuel 12:8; Psalms 78:70; 1 Kings 16:2], and made thee prince over my people Israel. [God still claims dominion over Israel, despite the schism. They are still His people, and He is still their God],
1 Kings 14:8
And rent [same word as in the former prophecy of Ahijah, 1 Kings 11:30, 1 Kings 11:31] the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee: and yet thou hast not been as my servant David [who had been proposed to Jeroboam as his example, 1 Kings 11:38. This name, as that of a prince of the rival house, would now be almost hateful to Jeroboam], who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart [cf. 1 Kings 11:33, 1 Kings 11:38; 1 Kings 15:5], to do that only which was right in mine eyes;
1 Kings 14:9
But hast done evil above all that were before thee [perhaps preceding kings are not meant, so much as judges—judices et duces Israelis (Le Clerc). Kings, however, are not excluded. Both Saul and Solomon had sinned (1 Samuel passim; 1 Kings 11:5, 1 Kings 11:6), though neither had set up an organized idolism and "made Israel to sin"]: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods [in defiance of the decalogue (Exodus 20:4). Jeroboam, no doubt, insisted that his calves were not idols, but cherubic symbols. But God does not recognize this distinction. Practically they were "other gods," and so they are here called derisively], and molten images [the word is used of the golden calf, Exodus 32:4, Exodus 32:8. See also Exodus 34:17; Deuteronomy 9:12; Judges 17:3, Judges 17:4. The "other gods" and the "molten images" are but two names for the same thing, viz; the calves of Bethel and Dan], to provoke me to anger [This was the result, not, of course, the object of Jeroboam's idolatrous worship], and hast cast me [The order of the Hebrew stamps the "me" as emphatic, "and ME hast thou cast, etc.] behind thy back [This strong expression only occurs here and in Ezekiel 23:35. It forcibly expresses Jeroboam's, contemptuous disregard of God's revealed will. In Psa 1:1-6 :17, Nehemiah 9:26, we have somewhat similar phrases]:
1 Kings 14:10
Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house [The punishment fell on the house (1 Kings 15:29), not, however, to the exclusion of the prime offender (2 Chronicles 13:20; cf. 1 Kings 21:29). The reader will observe that the judgments denounced against Jeroboam's sin, like all those of the Old Testament, are temporal. The recompense to come is completely ignored. These severe retributions are calculated and proportioned precisely as if there were no hereafter] of Jeroboam, and win cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall [This phrase, which Rawlinson observes is confined to the period from David to Jehu, is by him, and generally, understood to mean "every male." (It is found in 1 Samuel 25:22; 1 Kings 16:11; 1 Kings 21:21; and 2 Kings 9:8.) But it is noteworthy, as Gesenius has remarked, that this is not a habit of Eastern men. Every traveller in Egypt will confirm the remark of Herodotus (1 Kings 2:35) on this subject, and the same applies to Palestine; i.e; the men sit down for this purpose, covered with their garments (Judges 3:24; 1 Samuel 24:3). Some, consequently, have been led to suppose that the reference is to the dog, but animals would hardly share in the destruction of the royal house. Gesenius is probably right when he interprets it of boys. Thus understood, it lends additional meaning to the passages where it occurs. It expresses extermination, root and branch, man and boy], and him that is shut up and left in Israel [A proverbial expression (Deuteronomy 32:36; 1 Kings 21:21; 2 Kings 9:8), and involving some play upon words. It evidently means "men of all kinds," but as to the precise signification of the terms "shut up" and "left," there has been much difference of opinion, some
(1) interpreting them to mean respectively married and single also Keil, al.); others
(2) bond and free Gesen, al.); others
(3) precious and vile; and others again
(4) minors and those of age. (so Bähr, "All the male descendants, even the minors, were threatened with destruction.") On the whole perhaps (2) is preferable], and will take away the remnant [Heb. "exterminate after" (Gesen.) or "sweep after" (Keil). The first rendering is the more literal. The "after" is explained, not as Bähr ("as often as a new scion arises I will take it away"), but by the fact that one who expels another follows after him (Gesen.)] of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung [cf. 2Ki 9:1-37 :87; Job 20:7; Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 9:22; Jeremiah 16:4. This word expresses the loathing and contempt with which they would be treated], till it be an gone.
1 Kings 14:11
Him that dieth of Jeroboam [Heb. to Jeroboam, i.e; belonging to, of the house of. "Of Jeroboam," conveys the idea of his seed. It is possible that his wife shared in the general doom], in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air [Heb. heavens, as in Genesis 1:26; Genesis 2:19; Genesis 7:23, etc.] eat [This was a terrible threat to a Jew—that the dead body should fall a prey to dogs and wild beasts. Cf. Psalms 79:2; Jeremiah 7:33; Jeremiah 16:4; Jeremiah 34:20; Ezekiel 29:5, etc. For him it had a factitious horror, because of the threatening of Deuteronomy 28:26; cf. Revelation 19:17, Revelation 19:18. It was, therefore, the climax of disgrace and misfortune; the greatest dishonour that could be offered to the dust and to the memory. Hence the threat of David (1 Samuel 17:46; cf. 1 Samuel 17:44); hence the devotion of Rizpah (2 Samuel 21:10), and the complaint of the Psalmist (Psalms 79:2). Cf. Homer, Iliad Revelation 1:4, Revelation 1:5.
"Whose limbs, unburied on the naked shore,
Devouring dogs and hungry vultures tore."
Dogs, it is well known, are the scavengers of Eastern cities. They exist there in great numbers, and in a semi-savage state, and the carcases of animals and carrion of all sorts are left for them to consume, which they do most effectually, roaming the streets all night (Psalms 59:6, Psalms 59:14) in search of garbage. Vultures and other birds of prey perform a similar office in the open country (Job 39:29, Job 39:30; Matthew 24:28)]: for the Lord hath spoken it.
1 Kings 14:12
Arise thou therefore, get thee to thine own house: and when thy feet enter into the city, the child [Heb. then the child. This is the force of the ]ו shall die. [This was "the sign that the Lord hath spoken" (Hebrews 13:3). The death of the child at the precise moment of the return should serve as an earnest and foretaste of the doom just denounced.]
1 Kings 14:13
And an Israel shall mourn for him [no doubt he was heir to the throne] and bury him [mentioned to heighten the contrast. He should be the one exception to the rule of 1 Kings 14:11]: for he [Heb. this] only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found [Heb, was found] some [Heb. a] good thing [The idea is not merely that he was an amiable youth, but the words imply some degree of piety, and almost suggest that he dissented from his father's ecclesiastical policy. "The Rabbins have a fable that he disobeyed his father's command to hinder people travelling to Jerusalem to keep the feasts, and that he even removed obstructions in the road" (Bähr)] toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.
1 Kings 14:14
Moreover [Heb. and] the Lord shall raise him up a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam [for the fulfilment, see 1 Kings 15:29] that day: but what? even now. [Rawlinson only expresses a general feeling when he says that "no satisfactory sense can be obtained from the Hebrew text," and suggests that it is corrupt or defective. The passage, no doubt, is one of extreme difficulty, and inasmuch as the MSS. and Versions lend us no aid to its interpretation, affords scope for conjecture. The explanation I venture to submit may, I hope, contribute—it can hardly do more—to the elucidation of the text. I observe that in 1 Kings 15:13 זֶה is used of Abijah, "this one alone," etc. I assume that it has the same import here, viz; "this one today," i.e; "this one dies or is cut off today," הַיּוֹם being understood as constantly, adverbially,—hodie (see, e.g; Genesis 4:14; Genesis 22:14; 1 Kings 2:24). It would be a natural reflection to the prophet who had just been speaking of the excision of the house of Jeroboam, "one perishes today, judgment is already begun," i.e. As to the rest, for עָתָּה I would read אָתָּה, which has practically the same sound, and for which, consequently, עַתָּה is sometimes substituted by the transcriber, as in 1 Kings 1:18, 1 Kings 1:20, and understand "And what wilt thou also do?" i.e; what will become of thee also? It is quite possible (1 Kings 1:11) that Jeroboam's wife perished in the wholesale destruction of his house, as it is clear from the severe punishment assigned to her (1 Kings 1:12) that she must have shared in his sin. The readiness with which she lent herself to this deceit (1 Kings 1:4) also favours the supposition that she had approved his policy. She would then have survived her husband only two years. Keil's explanation, "cut off the house of Jeroboam this day," appears contrary to actual fact, while to interpret "that day" (with the A.V.) is contrary to Hebrew grammar.]
1 Kings 14:15
For [Heb. And. The prophet now proceeds to state the share of the people in the punishment. They had acquiesced in the wicked innovations of Jeroboam and had joined in the worship of the calves] the Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed [קָנֶה κάννα, canna, cane] is shaken [The construction is pregnant, viz; "shall smite Israel so that it shall be shaken as a reed," etc. (cf. Luke 7:24). "The image is very striking, for Israel was brought so low that every political influence bore it along" (Thenius)] in the water, and he shall root up [same word as in Deuteronomy 29:28; Jeremiah 24:6] Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river [i.e; the Euphrates; see on 1 Kings 4:24. This is the first clear prophecy of the captivity foreshadowed by Moses (Deuteronomy 4:27; Deuteronomy 28:25, Deuteronomy 28:36, Deuteronomy 28:63, Deuteronomy 28:64), and by Solomon (1 Kings 8:46-50). For its fulfilment, see 2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11, etc.], because they have made their groves [Heb. their Asherahs, i.e; images of Astarte. The translation "grove" after the LXX. ἄλσος, Vulg. lucus, is now abandoned. It is clear some sort of idol is intended by the term. This is evident from verse 23, where it is said the Asherahs (A.V. groves) were built "under every green tree" (cf. 2 Kings 17:10); from 1 Kings 15:13 (where see note); from 2 Kings 23:6, which tells how Josiah "brought out the Asherahs out of the house of the Lord," and from the connexion in which the word is found with "molten images, carved images," etc. (2Ki 23:23; 2 Chronicles 33:19; 2 Chronicles 34:3, 2 Chronicles 34:4; cf. also Judges 3:7; 1 Kings 18:19). They were doubtless effigies of Ashtoreth, made of wood (Deuteronomy 7:5; cf. 2 Kings 23:6), planted erect in the ground (Deuteronomy 16:21), and were consecrated to her impure and revolting worship. It is clear from this passage that the frightful impurities of the Canaanitish races had subsisted in the new kingdom by the side of the new sacra. They had probably revived under Jeroboam's rule, having apparently been in abeyance since the time of Gideon], provoking the Lord to anger. [1 Kings 14:22; 1 Kings 15:30; 1Ki 21:22; 2 Kings 17:11, 2 Kings 17:17; 2 Kings 22:17; Deuteronomy 4:25; Deuteronomy 32:16, Deuteronomy 32:21; Judges 2:12; Psalms 78:58.
1 Kings 14:16
And he shall [or, that he should] give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin. [These words became almost a formula (1 Kings 15:33, 1Ki 15:34; 1 Kings 16:2, 1 Kings 16:19, etc.)]
1 Kings 14:17
And Jeroboam's wife arose, and departed, and came [possibly she lingered for some time on the road, dreading to return] to Tirzah [Identified by Robinson and Van de Velds, with Telluzah, or Taluse, a place in the mountains, six miles north of Shechem. See Joshua 12:24. Both these writers admit, however, that if this is indeed Tirzah, "all traces of royalty have disappeared." "With the exception of a few sepulchral caves, subterranean granaries, wells, and old hewn stones, nothing of ancient Tirzah remains in Taluse." Condor recognizes the name in the modern Teiasir—a village near Jezreel, in the Great Plain which "contains the exact letters of the Hebrew word, though the two last radicals are interchanged in position." "The beauty of the position… the ancient remains, and the old main road from the place to Shechem seem to agree well with the idea of its having once been a capital". Some of its "numerous rock-cut sepulchres," he thinks, may be the tombs of the early kings of Israel. It was famed for its beauty (Song of Solomon 6:4), and for this reason, perhaps, among others (see on Joshua 12:1) was selected by Jeroboam for his residence. It is not certain that it had taken the place of Shechem as the political capital]: and when she came [the Hebrew is much more graphic. "She came to… and the child died"] to the threshold of the door [Heb. house], the child died. [This statement seems at first sight to contradict that of verse 12, which says the child should die as she entered the city. But the palace may have been on the edge of the city (Rawl.), or the "city" may have been little more than the palace.]
1 Kings 14:18
And they buried him [see on 1 Kings 14:13]; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by the hand [see on 1 Kings 2:25] of his servant Ahijah the prophet, [it was a token of the righteous judgment of God that the same prophet who announced Jeroboam's exaltation predicted his fall.]
1 Kings 14:19
And the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred [see 1 Kings 14:30; 2 Chronicles 13:2], and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. [As to this work, see Introduction, Section VI. The exact title is "the book of the words (or matters) of the days," i.e; the record of daily occurrences.]
1 Kings 14:20
And the days which Jeroboam reigned were two and twenty years [Bähr remarks that the exploits of this long reign find no mention in Scripture; the historian dwells exclusively on the sin, the consequences of which were of so much greater moment]: and he slept with his fathers [Jeroboam's end would appear to have been untimely. After his defeat by Abijah, we are told, "the Lord struck him, and he died," which may either mean that he died by a lingering disease (2 Chronicles 21:18, 2 Chronicles 21:19) or more suddenly (2 Samuel 12:15), but which certainly implies that he died "by the visitation of God." I have suggested elsewhere that the "stroke" was not improbably his son's death, which was at once so tragical and such a bitter foretaste of judgment to come. He may have "warred and reigned" (1 Kings 14:19) after this event. He may also have steadily drooped to his grave], and Nadab his son reigned in his stead.
1 Kings 14:1-20
Abijah and Ahijah.
Perhaps there is no single section of this book more full of lessons, and lessons of the most varied kind, than this. Let us try to gather something of what God has strawed with so liberal a hand.
1. "At that time (1 Kings 14:1)"—the time of 1 Kings 13:33. The sickness of the child distinctly connects itself with the father's persistence in sin (see Deuteronomy 7:15; Deuteronomy 28:22, Deuteronomy 28:61). The hard and impenitent heart treasures to itself wrath (Romans 2:5). Warnings (1 Kings 13:1-34.) have been unheeded: it is now the time for judgment. "If we sin wilfully," etc. (Hebrews 10:26, Hebrews 10:27). Deus kabet suas horas et moras. As "the fulness of time" gave us a Redeemer, so it will give us a Judge.
2. "Abijah, the son of Jeroboam, fell sick" (ib.) Observe—
(1) The pious son sickened, and died; the impenitent father and the worthless brother lived." Then sickness is no invariable proof of God's displeasure. "Behold, he whom thou lovest is sick" (John 11:3; cf. Hebrews 12:6). "Whom the gods love, die young." The fable of Ganymede is full of significance.
"Te rapuit coelum, tales nam gaudet habere
Illustres animas degeneresque fugit."
"Tis ever thus, 'tis ever thus with all that's best below,
The dearest, noblest, loveliest are always first to go;
The bird that sings the sweetest, the pine that crowns the rock,
The glory of the garden, the flower of the flock.
"'Tis ever thus, 'tis ever thus with creatures heavenly fair,
Too finely framed to bide the brunt more earthly creatures bear;
A little while they dwell with us, blest ministers of love,
Then spread their wings we had not seen, and seek their home above."
See also Longfellow's poem of "The Reaper and the Flowers."
(2) Sickness spares none. "Neither his dignity as a prince, nor his age as a young prince, nor his interest with heaven as a pious prince could exempt him from sickness" (M. Henry). As to the purpose of sickness, see Homiletics, pp. 12, 13. Perhaps this child, in whom was some good thing, only needed the discipline of sickness to make him fruitful in every good work. "After ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect," etc. (1 Peter 5:10).
(3) The sickness of his son, while it was a judgment on Jeroboam, was a warning to Israel. "A cloud and darkness" to the one; it gave light to the other (Exodus 14:20).
"Let us be patient! These severe afflictions
Not from the ground arise,
But oftentimes celestial benedictions
Assume this dark disguise."
3. "Get thee to Shiloh" (1 Kings 13:2). But Shiloh was not one of his sanctuaries. Why not to Bethel? There were his priests and prophets (see on 1 Kings 22:6). But Jeroboam only does what many more have clone since. He has one religion for health, another for sickness. Like Joab, he turns in adversity to the altar which he scorned in prosperity. He would fain share the consolations of those to whose admonitions he never listened. This sending to Ahijah is one result of the sickness of Abijah.
"'There is no God,' the foolish saith,
But none, 'there is no sorrow;'
And nature oft, in time of need,
The cry of faith will borrow.
Eyes that the preacher could not school
By wayside graves are raised,
And lips say, 'God be pitiful,'
Which ne'er said, 'God be praised.'"
4. "There is Ahijah the prophet" (ib.) Whom he has never troubled since the day when "he spake of him for king" (1 Kings 11:31). "Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him" (Gen 40:1-23 :31). The ministers of Christ may well be content if they are sent for in times of sorrow and sickness. "Lord, in trouble have they visited thee" (Isaiah 26:16). We think scorn of those who only come near us when they want something. But how often do we serve God thus?
5. "Disguise thyself, that thou be not known to be the wife of Jeroboam" (ib.) Was ever grosser infatuation than this? Jeroboam, the most astute of politicians, the Machiavelli of the Old World, thinks that a prophet who can peer into futurity cannot penetrate his flimsy disguises. It never occurs to him that "the seer" can see through a woman's veil. Ahithophel is not the only statesman whose wisdom has been turned into foolishess (2 Samuel 15:31). What an illustration does this history afford of that saying of the Temanite, "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness" (Job 5:13; 1 Corinthians 3:19).
6. "He shall tell thee what shall become of the child" (1 Kings 13:3). A strange object for such a journey. It is not, "what to do for the child;" still less, "what to do for the sin;" but simply, what should be the issue of the sickness. But that, time would show. It needed no ghost, no prophet to declare that. Che sara sara. Probably Jeroboam despaired of obtaining more. There are petitions "which for our unworthiness we dare not ask." Despair is not uncommonly the end of presumption. "Sin makes such a strangeness between God and man, that the guilty heart either thinks not of suing to God, or fears it" (Bp. Hall). Or was it fatalism prompted this inquiry? It has often been remarked that unbelief and superstition are very near of kin. Man cannot divest himself of all belief. Head and heart alike "abhor a vacuum." Those who will not believe in one God shall be the victims of strong delusions, and shall believe a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:11).
"Hear the just law, the judgment of the skies,
He that hates truth shall be the dupe of lies;
And he that will be cheated to the last,
Delusions strong as hell shall bind him fast."
Witness Julian the Apostate, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, Robert Owen, and many more. The Chinese people the air with demons and spirits of the dead. Infidel France thinks it unlucky to travel on a Friday. "There was never wicked man that was not infatuate" (Hall).
7. "His eyes were set" (1 Kings 13:4). Yet "having his eyes open" (Numbers 24:4). Reason is "the candle of the Lord." Revelation is a "light to the feet, and a lamp to the path." Inspiration is as "eyes to the blind." "Visions of the Almighty need not bodily eyes, but are rather favoured by the want of them" (Henry). The eye is but the instrument of vision. Eyes of flesh are not the organs of the spirit.
8. "I am sent to thee with heavy tidings" (verse 6). Compare Ezekiel 14:4. "I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols." Heavy tidings for heavy transgression. The sentence should be proportionate to the sin. "Whatsoever a man soweth," etc.
9. "I exalted thee from among the people" (Ezekiel 14:7). It was Jeroboam's abuse of the singular favours he had received, and his forgetfulness of Divine benefits, that so much enhanced his sin. Cf. 1 Kings 11:9; 1 Samuel 15:17 ("When thou wast little in thine own sight"); 2Sa 12:8, 2 Samuel 12:9; Psalms 73:10 ("Took him from the sheepfolds," etc.); Luke 12:48 ("Unto whomsoever much is given," etc.); Luke 10:15 ("Exalted to heaven, thrust down to hell"). It is well to remember the rock whence we were hewn, and the hole of the pit whence we were digged (Isaiah 51:1).
10. "Other gods and molten images" (Luke 10:9). Men often disguise their sins under specious names. "Cherubic symbols" was perhaps Jeroboam's name for his calves. He would not allow that they were images or idols. Josephus happily reproduces the language he held to his subjects: "I suppose, my countrymen, you know that every place hath God in it," etc. (Ant. 8.8. 4). But God calls things as they really are. Longfellow truly says that "things are not what they seem." But they are what they seem to the Omniscient.
11. "And rent the kingdom away from the house of David," etc. Note the contrast between this language and the discourse which Ahijah held with Jeroboam once before. That meeting was full of promises; this message is fall of upbraidings. Then God declared that He would rend the kingdom; here He complains that He has done so, and done so in vain. Then He proposed David as Jeroboam's pattern—his name is mentioned six times—here He accuses the king of contemning that example. There He speaks of a "sure house;" here, of "taking away the remnant of the house," "as a man taketh away dung." Yet "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." It is Jeroboam's sin has made this difference.
12. "I will bring evil on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off," etc. Compare 1 Kings 12:27. "And they shall kill me." So the very means which Jeroboam took to secure his throne procured its overthrow. "The engineer is hoist with his own petard." If he could but have trusted God his kingdom would have lasted. But he must needs prop it up himself, with rotten supports, and leaning on these he brought it speedily to the ground.
13. "When thy feet enter into the city the child shall die" (1 Kings 12:12). For the second time does a prophet give Jeroboam a sign the same day. And the second sign was hardly less significant than the first. For the mother was, in some sense, the cause of her child's death. Her step on the threshold was the signal for the severance of his "thin-spun life." It was not only a foretaste, consequently, of the doom awaiting the entire house; it was also a shadowing forth of the cause of that destruction. The sins of the father were visited upon the children,
14. "And all Israel shall mourn for him" (1 Kings 12:13). The most, and the most genuine, tears are shed over the graves of children. (Is it that many of us, as we grow older, become less lovely and engaging, less desirable as companions?) Yet of this child it might justly have been said, "Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him" (Jeremiah 22:10). For
(1) be was taken away from the evil to come (1 Kings 12:11).
(2) He escaped the butchery of Baasha.
And he escaped, too, the danger of contamination and moral ruin. His life was not unduly shortened. Life is to be measured not by the beats of the pulse, but by the life work we have accomplished. "He being made perfect in a short time fulfilled a long time."
"It may be by the calendar of years
You are the elder man; but 'tis the sun
Of knowledge on the mind's dial shining bright
And chronicling deeds and thoughts that makes true time."
(3) The "good thing toward the Lord God of Israel" was an earnest of better things to come. "Little faith can enter heaven." "A little grace goes a great way with great people." Those that are good in bad times and places shine very bright in the eyes of God. A good child in the house of Jeroboam is a miracle of Divine grace" (Henry).
15. "For the Lord shall smite Israel" (1 Kings 12:15). For if Jeroboam had "made Israel to sin," Israel had loved to have it so (1 Kings 12:30). He could not have had his calves and sanctuaries without priests; and calves, sanctuaries, and priests would have been useless without worshippers. But as the king, so the people. Jeroboam was but a sample of many thousands of his subjects. As the chief offender, he was the first to suffer, and suffered most. But the nation that had shared his sin must suffer in its measure and turn.
16. "Beyond the river" (ib.) The judgments of God are governed by a lex talionis. Not only "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," but, "Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours" (Jeremiah 5:19).
17. "And Jeroboam's wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah" (1 Kings 12:17). It is hardly possible to realize the horror with which the princess, still wearing her disguise, heard the doom of her house, and who shall attempt to describe the agonies of that journey home. Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah (2 Samuel 21:10 sqq.), has been called the Mater Dolorosa of the Old Testament, but the title equally belongs to Jeroboam's wife. But why, let us ask, does she suffer such things? Why must this sword pierce her soul? Was it not because of her share in the sin? As she is included in the sentence against the house (1 Kings 12:11, Heb.), it is probable that she had aided and abetted her husband in his irreligious and schismatic policy. And now she must drink of his cup: she must be the first to taste its bitterness; she must bring death to one child and tell of disgrace worse than death to the rest.
18. "And they buried him" (1 Kings 12:18). In Tirzah the beautiful (Song of Solomon 6:4), great lamentation was made over him. And indeed his seemed to be a case for tears. The heir to the throne, he was never to ascend it. The possessor of singular gifts and advantages, he was never to exercise the former or enjoy the latter. Had he lived, he might have effected a reformation, and suppressed the calf worship. But now the grave closes over him, and he is no more seen. What a proof this of a life to come! Otherwise there would be injustice with God, inequality in His dealings with men. "But the righteous live forevermore, their reward also is with the Lord." "We fools counted his life madness and his end to be without honour. How is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints" (Wis. 5:4, 5, 15).
HOMILIES BY J.A. MACDONALD
1 Kings 14:1-3
The Impenitent Seeker.
The day of judgment will come at the end of the world, when the heavens and earth shall be burnt up (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10; 2 Peter 3:7). But this has its prelude in a season of judgments which overtakes the sinner in this life. Jeroboam, having sinned away his day of grace, had now entered into such a season. But of this he seems to have been doubtful. Hence learn—
I. THAT THE SINNER MAY BE SURPRISED IN HIS SEASON OF JUDGMENTS.
1. That there are such seasons is evident.
(1) Witness the great deluge (Genesis 6:11-13). Also the rain of fire on the cities of the plain (Genesis 19:13). The overthrow of nations. Signal visitations upon notorious sinners (Exodus 9:13-15; 1 Samuel 28:15-19).
(2) Such were presages of the awful judgment to come (Mat 24:37 -89; 2 Peter 2:4-6; Jude 1:5-7; Revelation 18:4).
2. But all afflictions are not such retributions.
(1) Some are entailed upon us through the fall, and alike affect the penitent and impenitent (Genesis 3:16-18; Job 5:17; 1 Corinthians 10:13).
(2) Some come to us through the wickedness and blundering of those around us. Many suffer, irrespective of their character, as when a ship is wrecked through the drunkenness of the master.
(3) Some are appointed or permitted for disciplinary and educational purposes. These are often amongst our greatest blessings.
(4) Sometimes we suffer for the benefit of others—vicariously. When this is voluntary it is very Christ like (see Psalms 22:11; Colossians 1:24).
(5) Under all these we have a refuge in God (Psalms 9:9, Psalms 9:13; Psalms 46:1).
3. These may be confounded.
(1) Had Jeroboam known that the mercy of God had reached its limit, and that the season of retribution had set in, he might have spared his queen her journey to Shiloh.
(2) But what else could he have expected? Was he not obstinately wedded to his sins? Had he not before him the history of Saul? (1 Samuel 28:15-19.)
(3) Men still, in our day, presume upon the mercy of God to their destruction. Eminently the ease with those who defer repentance. Learn further—
II. THAT A SINNER MAY SEEK THE LORD TO NO GOOD PURPOSE. This happens—
1. When the end sought is unprofitable.
(1) Such was the case with Jeroboam. His inquiry should have been, not, "What shall become of the child?" but, "How may the anger of God be averted?" (Compare 2 Samuel 12:16, 2 Samuel 12:17.) But he was not prepared to repent of his sin.
(9) His inquiry was one of curiosity as to the future. Similar curiosity was manifested by Saul under similar circumstances. It is unseemly for a sinner to pry into Divine mysteries rather than seek the salvation of his soul
2. When the spirit of the seeker is improper.
(1) He did not, indeed, seek his calves (compare 2 Kings 1:2). He rather sought Ahijah, because the spirit of prophecy was with him (1 Kings 14:2). But he had no such faith in his calves.
(2) Why, then, did he not renounce them? He had reasons of worldly policy against this (see 1 Kings 12:20-28). He was therefore a deceiver of the people. Hence he would have his queen disguise herself. So several of the Popes were known to have been infidels.
(3) So were he and his dupes doomed to perish together (see Matthew 15:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; 1 Timothy 4:1, 1 Timothy 4:2).
3. When the manner of the search is unworthy.
(1) He paid a respect to the man of God. This was the meaning of his present (see 1 Samuel 9:7, 1 Samuel 9:8). Hence such gifts are caned blessings.
(2) Even Jacob would eat of his son's venison before he proceeded to bless him (see Genesis 27:4, Genesis 27:19, Genesis 27:25, Genesis 27:31; see also 1 Kings 17:11).
(3) So are God's blessings and sacrifices offered to Him commonly associated (see Genesis 8:20-22; Genesis 9:1-17). All His blessings come to us through the sacrifice of Christ; and especially so when we, by faith, present Christ to Him.
(4) But here was no sacrifice; and the value of the gift was small What were a few loaves, a few cakes, and a cruse of honey as a gift from a king! (Compare 2Ki 5:5; 2 Kings 8:9.) The meanness of his present was another reason why he would have his queen disguised.
What an argument for early piety is here! Surrender to Christ before you are overtaken by a season of judgments. How admonitory is this subject to the effect that prayer should be true; that we should seek the right thing, in the right spirit, and in the right manner!—J.A.M.
1 Kings 14:4-6
When the season of retributions set in upon Jeroboam, and his son Abijah was smitten with sickness, he sent to the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite to inquire of the word of Jehovah, what should become of the child. He was unwilling it should be publicly known that, in such an emergency, he had recourse to the prophet of the Lord rather than to his calves (compare 2 Kings 1:2). He accordingly entrusted this delicate business to his wife, and enjoined that she should disguise herself. The text evinces how futile were these expedients. Note—
I. SIN SEEKS DISGUISES.
1. Truth needs none.
(1) It is naturally open. "He that doeth truth cometh to the light."
(2) It has nothing to be ashamed of. It is self-consistent, harmonious, lovely.
(3) It ought to be displayed; its influence is elevating (Philippians 2:15, Philippians 2:16). The saint who hides his light wrongs his race.
(4) Churches are constituted that Christians should, to the best advantage, witness for Christ. They are the candlesticks (see Matthew 5:14-16; Revelation 1:20). Note: Christians should discourage the eccentricity that would lead them away from the Churches.
2. It is otherwise with sin.
(1) It is naturally close. The sinner has as instinctive an aversion to the light as the owl and the bat, his types.
(2) It has everything to be ashamed of. It is self-contradictory, discordant, frightfully and monstrously ugly.
(3) It ought, by the impenitent sinner, to be concealed. For he could only desire to disclose it in order to infect and demoralize others.
(4) But the true should drag it to the light, that its deformity might be seen, abhorred, and execrated.
II. GOD SEES THROUGH ALL DISGUISES.
1. Nature itself teaches this.
(1) He that formed the eye, can He not see? (Exodus 4:10-12; Psalms 94:9.)
(2) He that formed the mind, can He not perceive? (1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalms 7:9; Proverbs 15:11; Revelation 2:23.)
2. It is evinced in the visions of prophecy.
(1) How far-reaching are those visions! The end was seen from the beginning. The instalments fulfilled certify the remainder.
(2) How deep their insight into the secret workings of the heart! The secret ambition of Jeroboam, when he was yet the servant of Solomon, was read by Ahijah (1 Kings 11:37). Now he sees through the disguise of the queen and reads its motives.
3. This should be considered.
(1) How foolish are disguises where God is concerned! And where is God not concerned?
(2) Those who would deceive God only deceive themselves.
(3) What disclosures will the day of judgment make! (1 Corinthians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 4:5.) What a day of trembling to the hypocrite!
III. GOD CAN OPEN THE EYES OF THE BLIND.
(1) Miracles upon the sight were occasionally wrought in ancient times (Genesis 19:11; 2 Kings 6:18).
(2) Many such were wrought by Christ.
(1) The prophets were gifted with spiritual vision. They were therefore called seers. Their prophecies were called visions.
(2) Such vision had Ahijah. His natural sight had now failed him (1 Kings 14:4), yet he saw Jeroboam's queen before she came into his presence, saw through her disguises, and discerned the purpose of her visit.
(3) Spiritual vision is not exclusively the privilege of prophets.
(a) God gives this to the sinner when He discovers to him the exceeding sinfulness of sin. God strips him of the disguises by which he would deceive himself, and exhibits his own life likeness to his conscience.
(b) God gives it to believers, when He witnesses His pardon and their adoption, to their spirits. (See Acts 26:17, Acts 26:18; Ephesians 1:18.) Have your eyes been opened? Pray God that Satan may never succeed in throwing his dust into them.—J.A.M.
1 Kings 14:7-11
Such is the character given by the prophet to the matter of the text (1 Kings 14:6). What we translate "heavy tidings" is, in the Hebrew, as in the margin, hard. The uses of the word (קשה) in several places suggest that it should be here taken as indicating retributive judgments merited by one who had hardened his heart in sin. Observe—
I. PRIVILEGES INVOLVE RESPONSIBILITIES. Thus—
1. Special favour calls for special gratitude.
(1) Jeroboam was "exalted from among the people." He was "an Ephrathite of Zereda," an obscure place, mentioned once, and that only in connection with his birth (ch1Ki 11:26). The names of his parents also had remained in obscurity but for the figure he cut in history.
(2) He was made "prince" over the "people of God." This was a splendid distinction. A people is great, not through its number or the extent of its territories, but from its virtues (see Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:18, Deuteronomy 26:19). What an influence has that people exerted upon human destinies!
(3) The kingdom rent from the house of David was given to him. Jeroboam, then, was placed in succession to that David who had led the armies of Israel to victory! Also to that Solomon who had built the temple, and who, in the earlier part of his career, fined the world with the fame of surpassing wisdom!
2. The favored are compared with their peers.
(1) Jeroboam was a compeer to David. Both were need from humble station—David from the sheep, Jeroboam from the army (1 Kings 11:28). Both ascended the throne of Israel—founded dynasties.
(2) But how do they compare? "David kept the commandments of God"—followed Him "with all his heart." This did not Jeroboam. Melancholy record, he did nothing for God!
3. They are contrasted with their peers.
(1) Jeroboam "had done evil above all that were before him." More than Saul, who never worshipped idols. More than Solomon, who did not make Israel to sin.
(2) Jeroboam made "other gods; and" (or even) "molten images." Note: He intended his calves to represent the God of Israel; but the God of Israel Himself calls them "other gods." So are the images of Antichrist other gods though baptized with Christian names. This was worse than the idolatry of Solomon. The caricaturing of the true God is more offensive to Him than the worshipping of His creatures. Let the worshippers of barbarous pictures of the Holy Trinity, in which the Almighty is pourtrayed as a decrepit old man, and such like, seriously consider this.
(3) Jeroboam is described as having "cast" the God of Israel "behind his back." What a startling figure! How descriptive of the sin of those who now neglect God!
II. RESPONSIBILITIES ABUSED PROVOKE JUDGMENTS. Amongst these may he mentioned—
1. The bitter sense of wasted opportunity.
(1) Jeroboam is reminded that he once had the grand chance of making for himself a "sure house like David" (see 1 Kings 11:38). What golden opportunities may we not have wasted!
(2) That though the more glorious chance was missed and lost, he had then a gracious season of warnings, which also he let slip. (See events recorded 1 Kings 13:1-34.) This respite improved might have averted, and would have mitigated, the severity of the judgments impending (compare 1 Kings 21:29).
2. The knowledge that the day of vengeance has set in.
(1) An admonition of such a day was implied in the earlier prophecy of Ahijah, in the judgments then denounced against the house of David for the sin of Solomon (1 Kings 11:30-38).
(2) This admonition was declared explicitly in the message of the man of God from Judah, and solemnly impressed by the signs attending and following (1 Kings 13:1-34.)
(3) Now Ahijah announces that these judgments are taking effect. But even now, had Jeroboam come to God in the spirit of repentance, though his sin is "unto death," yet might he save his soul. It is hard now to break a chain so riveted as that is by which he has bound himself. No repentante being evinced, the knell of doom sounds forth like the echoes of the closing door of Noah's ark, which announced mercy fled and wrath begun.
3. The severity of the sentence.
(1) The honour of the house of Jeroboam is to be brought down to ignominy.
(2) The carcases of members of this family are to be consumed by carrion feeders. Such are the swords of the wicked (compare Genesis 15:11; Jeremiah 34:18-20). Whether by the sword of Baasha, or literally, after that sword had done its part, the words of Ahijah came true (see 1 Kings 15:29). "The doom of the house of Jeroboam was a figure of that of the house of this man of sin (see Revelation 19:17, Revelation 19:18). God knows the proud afar off. But He gives grace to the humble.—J.A.M.
1 Kings 14:12-14
The Reprobate's Doom.
In the queen of Jeroboam we see a remarkable messenger. For she went as messenger from a king and returned as messenger from a prophet. Her message in the first instance was simple, but in her return twofold. She brings a message to the king, and with it a message also to the nation. The message to the king brings—
I. HEAVY TIDINGS RESPECTING ABIJAH.
1. As to the issue of his illness.
(1) "The child shall die." This is a direct answer to the question with which the royal messenger was charged (1 Kings 14:3). Here was the withering of a limb of Jeroboam's family answering to the sign of the withering of his arm (see 1 Kings 13:4).
(2) The king does not now ask for the restoration of the child as he had done for the restoration of his arm (1 Kings 13:6). He did not even ask, in time, that the judgment might be averted. How could he, without repenting of his sin? Note: The descents of depravity, like those of natural gravitation, are in accelerating degrees.
(3) This judgment is the signal that the season of retributions has now fairly set in. What a horror to wake up to such a conviction! "Be sure your sin will find you out."
2. As to the near approach of his death.
(1) "When thy feet enter into the city." Every step of the queen's advance over that twelve miles from Shiloh to Tirzah measured a stride of death towards his victim. Do we sufficiently realize the fact that this is the case with us in passing through the journey of life?
(2) What must have been the conflict in the heart of the queen? Maternal affection would urge her steps with speed that she might see her son alive. Yet was it a race with death; and death was first at the palace. That monster overtakes the swiftest. If he passes one it is to strike another, and so that the recoil of his sting may wound the trembling heart.
3. As to the circumstances attending. "All Israel shall mourn for him and bury him;" but for him only of the royal family, "because in him there is found some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel." Hence learns
(1) God's punishments are discriminative. He does not overlook the good in the evil.
(2) Yet the good suffer with the evil. Abijah dies for the sin of his father. Christ dies for the sin of the world. But in His death is life to the believer.
(3) Still the good suffer for their good. They are taken away from evil to come. Had Abijah lived he might have been drawn into his father's sin. God often takes them soonest whom He loves best.
(4) The evil suffer in the good, Jeroboam had reason to mourn the loss of the best of his family. So had Israel, since the succession would now open to a wicked prince. Note: We should pray for the preservation of virtuous and useful lives. Especially so when such are found in seats of power and influence.
II. HEAVY TIDINGS RESPECTING HIS SURVIVORS.
1. They are devoted to extermination.
(1) This as a general fact was already known.
(2) It is now published with additional circumstance. The agent that shall effect it is one who shall himself mount the throne of Israel.
(3) This was fulfilled to the letter (see 1 Kings 15:27-30).
2. Judgment will come speedily.
(1) Some think this exclamation of the prophet, "But what? Even now" arose from his having seen that this would be the case.
(2) So it proved. Within two years Jeroboam died. He was succeeded by Nadab, who two years later was slain by Baasha. In that time also, and by the same hand, the predicted extermination was completed.
(3) "The wicked do not live out half their days." This is true of dynasties as of individuals. The dynasty of Jeroboam lasted only four and twenty years.—J.A.M.
1 Kings 14:15-16
The Future of Israel.
The vision of the Shilonite concerning the house of Israel, now before us, seems to have come upon him suddenly. We think the exclamation, "But what? Even now!" was the half-involuntary expression of the surprise of this new revelation. This utterance should, then, have stood at the beginning of 1 Kings 14:15 rather than at the end of the verse preceding. The connecting particle "For," with which 1 Kings 14:15 now opens, favours this view. The new vision describes the then future calamities of Israel, together with their provoking causes.
I. HE WAS HENCEFORTH TO BE TROUBLED IN HIS OWN LAND. He is there to stagger and tremble under the stroke of God—
1. "As a reed is shaken in the water."
(1) The reed is a figure of frailty. Rabshakeh, in describing the inability of the Egyptians to support Hezekiah against the Assyrians, compares them to a bruised reed (2 Kings 18:21; Isaiah 36:6; see also Ezekiel 39:6). Contrariwise, our Lord, asserting the stability and vigour of John Baptist, said that he was no "reed shaken with the wind" (Matthew 11:7). In derision of the royalty of Jesus the soldiers put a reed in His hand for a sceptre (Matthew 27:29). Subsequent history bore emphatic testimony to the instability and feebleness of Ephraim.
(2) The reed is "shaken in the water." This element is at once a symbol of trouble and of people (see Psalms 69:17; Revelation 17:15). So disquiet, arising from popular tumults and civil war, is suggested. And did not this become fact? The frequent changes of dynasty kept the nation in perpetual broils. These evils were aggravated by wars with their brethren of Judah.
2. As a reed shaken by the wind.
(1) This is not asserted, but implied, since reeds shake in water when moved by winds. And foreign influences had much to do with the troubles of Israel.
(2) Foreign idolatries introduced by Solomon's wives were at the root of the troubles.
(3) The wars between Israel and Judah brought foreign armies upon the scene Egyptians, Syrians, and Assyrians. By these rough winds the troubles were aggravated.
II. THEN TO BE SCATTERED IN THE LANDS OF STRANGERS.
1. A captivity of Israel is foretold.
(1) The settlement of the people in Canaan is frequently described in Scripture under the figure of the planting of a vine there (see Psalms 64:2; Psalms 80:8; Jeremiah 2:21; Jeremiah 11:17).
(2) This is now to be reversed. "He shall root up Israel out of this good land which he gave to their fathers." Suppose the vine had feeling; what a painful process!
2. Also the region of their dispersion.
(1) "I will scatter them beyond the river" i.e; the Euphrates, for thus, by emphasis, this river is ever distinguished in Scripture (see Genesis 15:18; compare Deuteronomy 11:24 with 1 Kings 4:21 and Psalms 72:8).
(2) This river also stands for the Assyrians, through whose territory it flowed. Their armies invading Israel are likened to the Euphrates rising and overflowing its western bank (see Isaiah 8:7).
(3) How literally was all this accomplished (see 2Ki 15:29; 2 Kings 17:6, 2 Kings 17:18).
III. THESE VISITATIONS WERE TO EXPRESS THE ANGER OF GOD.
1. First provoked by their Canaanitish idolatries.
(1) These are represented here by "their groves." The word Asherah (אשירה אשרת) occurs thirty-nine times, and is everywhere translated groves, yet it may well be doubted whether this is its meaning. For take the next occurrence after that in our text, viz; verse 28 of this chapter: How could a grove be built under a green tree? How could a grove be made in the house of the Lord? (See 2 Kings 21:7; 2 Kings 23:6, 2 Kings 23:18)
(2) These Asheroth, or Asherim, appear to have been images made of wood, cased in metal, perhaps fashioned like goats, which were worshipped with abominable rites. They were popular Canaanitish divinities, and for this reason to be execrated by Israelites (see Exodus 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:21).
(3) But for all this they fell into the snare of worshipping together with the Baalim, or Bulls, and other Canaanitish idols (Judges 3:7; Judges 6:25; 1 Kings 18:19).
2. Then by their complicity in the sin of Jeroboam.
(1) This addition to their earlier idolatries filled up the measure of their iniquity. For it completely alienated them from the worship of Jehovah in His temple.
(2) They forsook the Lord, so He threatens to "give up Israel for the sin of Jeroboam," as He had also given up the house of Jeroboam to judgment.—J.A.M.
1 Kings 14:17-18
Death and Mourning.
With a heavy heart the queen of Jeroboam moved along the road from Shiloh to Tirzah, and received the salute of death at the threshold of the palace. This sad event was soon followed by a state funeral and by a public mourning. In all this note how—
I. SORROW TARNISHES HUMAN SPLENDOUR.
1. Survey this palace of Tirzah.
(1) This is not the only palace of Jeroboam. Soon alter his promotion to the crown of Israel we find him building a palace at Shechem. That commemorated the event of his elevation; for there those circumstances occurred which gave rise to it (see 1 Kings 12:1-33.)
(2) But this palace did not long satisfy the royal ambition. We find the king presently engaged in building a second at Penuel, in the tribe of Gad, eastward of Jordan (1 Kings 12:25). Those who come suddenly to fortune commonly affect great splendour.
(3) Now we find him occupying a third. This probably was the most magnificent. It is situated in a place famous for its beauty in the days of Solomon (see Song of Solomon 6:4). From this it had its name (תרצה), which signifies pleasantness. Doubtless the palace was in keeping with the place, for it was preferred as the royal residence until its destruction by fire (1 Kings 16:18).
2. Behold in this paradise a corpse!
(1) Death has smitten Abijah, the best and most promising of the royal family. What a scene of grief when the mother, arrived from Shiloh, entered that chamber! What a dense gloom would rest on the household! In that solemn moment how vain must earthly splendour have appeared!
(2) And does not sorrow still mingle with all earthly scenes! Why, then, should we not rather set our affections upon things above?
(3) Wealth cannot bribe death. The King of Terrors enters the palace of royalty as certainly as he enters the cottage of poverty. To the great this enemy is even more formidable than to the humble, for they have more to leave. The acquisitions of the worldling, therefore, are only giving point and venom to the sting of death.
II. IT HAS RELIEFS AND AGGRAVATIONS.
1. The reliefs are the fruits of virtue.
(1) The public mourning would be a solace to the royal family. A king might provide a pompous funeral for his son, but he could not command the heart of the nation to mourn
(2) This public mourning was a tribute to the virtues of the prince (see 1 Kings 14:13).
(3) There was pure comfort in the reflection that the spirit of the pious youth is away from a world of sin, in the companionship of saints and holy angels.
2. The aggravations are the fruits of sin.
(1) How the grief of Jeroboam must have been embittered by the fact that this bereavement came not as a messenger of mercy to him, but as a visitation of judgment!
(2) How it must have alarmed him to know that it was but the first of a series of judgments destined to issue in the extermination of his house!
(3) The very virtues of the prince first taken, in this view, became an aggravation, for he is removed as too good a prince for so wicked a people, and to make way for the succession of a wicked prince to punish them.—J.A.M.
1 Kings 14:19, 1 Kings 14:20
The text reminds us—
I. THAT THE SEASON OF DEATH IS A TIME FOR REFLECTION.
1. In presence of a corpse the giddiest pause.
(1) This is seen when an ordinary funeral passes along the streets, in the sombre countenances of the bystanders, if not in more special tokens of respect. It is more evident still when the deceased may have been an acquaintance or a relative. But most so in the very house of mourning, where the relies are seen shrouded in their pallor and immobility.
(2) What trains of thought are started!
(a) What a mystery is death!
(b) What a mystery is life!
(c) What a mystery is futurity!—the spirit world—the resurrection—the judgment—heaven—hell.
(d) Are we prepared to encounter the inevitable? Who can forecast the moment?
(e) Why should we defer the needful preparation?
2. When a monarch dies a nation thinks.
(1) This is so under ordinary conditions. The social position occupied is so elevated that the event is conspicuous to all. What a leveller is death! In this article all claim kindred, the prince and the beggar (Proverbs 22:2).
(2) But Jeroboam's death was by the stroke of God (2 Chronicles 13:20). Such a conspicuous judgment was fitting to the man of sin (see Isaiah 11:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:15). How alarmingly would such a death speak to workers of iniquity!
(3) The demise of Jeroboam opened the succession to Nadab, who, without the genius of his father, followed in his iniquities.
3. But the virtuous only are lamented.
(1) Jeroboam was buried. He did come to the sepulchre "with his fathers." And he may have had the formality of a family mourning. His household may have gone barefoot, wept, torn their clothes, smote on their breasts, lay on the ground and fasted, as the custom was.
(2) But there was no national mourning. The public mourning for Moses and Aaron lasted thirty days, that for Saul seven (Numbers 20:29; Deuteronomy 34:8; 1 Samuel 31:13). For Abijah, a pious prince of the house of Jeroboam, there was a national mourning, though he never came to the throne; but for Jeroboam, after a reign of twenty-two years, no mourning! (1 Kings 14:13.)
(3) What a contrast—the apathy of the nation, now at the close of their experiment at king making, to the enthusiasm at its commencement (1 Kings 12:20)! How seldom do revolutionists adequately consider the end! They often anticipate a paradise and find a hell.
II. THAT WE SHOULD, THEREFORE, SO LIVE THAT SUCH REFLECTIONS MAY PROVE GRATEFUL. To this end our policy should be—
(1) Such was not the policy of Jeroboam. When his people became restive under his rule, and he feared they would return to Rehoboam, instead of looking to God, he forsook Him and made Israel to sin.
(2) The policy of purity is the policy of faith. Faith in God—in Christ—in truth.
(1) Peace is kin to purity (James 3:17). God made peace for Jeroboam before he had departed from Him (see 1 Kings 12:21-24). So does He still undertake for His people (Proverbs 16:7).
(2) Wars are born of evil lusts (James 4:1). When Jeroboam forsook the Lord, then commenced an embroilment in hostilities from which he was never free. First with Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:30), then with Abijah (2 Chronicles 13:1-22).
3. So shall we avoid disaster.
(1) By pursuing an opposite policy Jeroboam brought disaster upon himself. His body was smitten by God. There is no evidence of any repentance to the saving of his soul.
(2) He brought disaster upon his family. The best of his sons died prematurely for his sin. Two years later he perished himself. Still two years later and his race became exterminated with violence.
(3) He brought disaster upon his people. Impatient of taxation under Rehoboam, they made him king, but got no relief, having to build palaces and sustain wars. And by their complicity in his idolatry they filled up the measure of their iniquity and incurred the anger of God, which involved them in the miseries of foreign invasion and captivity. What profit is there in a crown that is retained by the policy of sin? The whole world is dearly purchased with the loss of the soul.—J.A.M.
HOMILIES BY A. ROWLAND
1 Kings 14:13
Early Piety in an Unexpected Place.
(A Sermon to Young People.) Jeroboam had married in Egypt a princess named Ano. She was the elder sister of Tahpenes, the wife of Shishak, king of Egypt. Their home had been gladdened by the birth of a child, whom they brought with them on Jeroboam's return to his own tribe and country. This child, Abijah, on whom their affections and the hopes of the people were fixed, was stricken by illness, and seemed likely to die. Then the parents turned to the Lord in their trouble, for the calves at Bethel and Dan, they knew, were powerless to help them. [Note the frequency with which those who in theory deny God, or in practice forget Him, seek His help in their time of fear and grief.] They would not send to the temple at Jerusalem for several reasons; but Jeroboam remembered the old prophet, Ahijah, who had spoken to him in the field some years before (1 Kings 11:29-31), and foretold that he should rule over the ten tribes of Israel. Accordingly, Queen Ano secretly set out for Shiloh (the ancient sanctuary), where, in a humble home, the prophet lived. She disguised herself as a poor woman, and took a present such as a peasant would offer—ten loaves, two rolls for the children of the prophet, a bunch of raisins, and a jar of honey. Jeroboam hoped he might, by this deceit, get a word of hope about the dying boy, for he knew that he could not expect comfort from Ahijah, because he had grievously disobeyed his command. He feared, therefore, that if the man of God recognized And he would rebuke this sin. The attempt was vain. The prophet, nearly blind though he was, knew by revelation who was coming. Terrible were the words of doom he uttered about the house of Jeroboam; and the only gleam of comfort for the parents was that in Abijah "there was found some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel," so that he should not have the curse of living to see and share the woe and shame which were coming. Abijah gives us an example of piety which is worthy of consideration, especially by the young.
I. ABIJAH'S PIETY WAS EARLY.
1. Define piety. It is right disposition toward God, resulting from the secret influence of God's Holy Spirit. It reveals itself in desires after what is good, and pure, and true; in resolutions to seek these; in prayers, through which the heart pours out its love and longing towards God. This should be more natural to us than to Abijah. He knew of God's power, we know of His love. He had heard of the Shekinah; we have heard of Jesus Christ, who says, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." Children ran to Jesus once, and found rest and gladness in His love; why not now?
2. Describe early piety. Show how it is cultivated, hindered, and revealed. Urge upon parents and teachers the importance of expecting it. We overlook the "blade," and then wonder we do not see later "the full corn in the ear." If we accept the teaching of Jesus Christ, it is evident that a child is naturally more likely than an adult to enter His kingdom. To be a child is a necessity; to "become a child" is an arduous struggle, and sometimes a sore humiliation. The door of mercy is so low that children can most easily pass through it. Happy is the home which is adorned by the presence of a child disciple. There are those now estranged from God who may have a fulfilment of the words, "a little child shall lead them."
II. ABIJAH'S PIETY WAS SINCERE.
1. Some good thing was IN him—that is, in his heart. It was not something put on and off, like a garment; but an abiding principle, influencing the thoughts as well as the life. Nothing is more offensive to God than pretended piety. The long-faced visage which never smiles, the cant phrases which express what cannot really be honestly felt by a child, are hideous to man and God.
2. This good thing was "toward the Lord God of Israel." It reminds us of the phrase, "repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." We may turn from sin to respectability, but that is not repentance towards God. We may love to do right things because they please men, but this is not piety towards God. "The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).
III. ABIJAH'S PIETY WAS DISCERNIBLE. "It was found in him."
1. God saw it. He spoke of it to His servant Ahijah, as of something He rejoiced to find. God is ever looking for what is good, in the world and in your heart. Though the world is corrupt, and men have done abominable works, the Lord looks down from heaven to see if there are any that understand and seek God. See Psalms 14:1,
2. Compare this with the Lord's parables of the woman seeking the lost piece of silver and of the father going out to look for and meet the returning prodigal. Not only your faults and sins, but your good wishes and holy thoughts and silent prayers are recognized by God.
2. Man saw it. Ahijah did not proclaim his piety—that would have been offensive, especially in a child—but it was "found" in him. He was so young that he could take no active part in the service of God, and was unable publicly to oppose his father's idolatry; but his parents, and the courtiers, and the servants must have been sometimes shamed by his earnest eyes. A noiseless violet makes the hedgerow fragrant. It bewrays itself by its sweetness.
IV. ABIJAH'S PIETY WAS UNEXPECTED. He belonged to the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin. His mother was probably still a heathen; his father was ambitious, cruel, and irreligious, and, so far as we know, this little boy alone, in all the court, loved the "God of Israel." His piety was the more conspicuous on this account, just as the stars are brightest when the sky is dark, and the cedars are most beautiful when surrounding trees are leafless. Describe the position of children in a godless home, with irreligious companions, etc. Even there it is not impossible to love and serve the Lord.
CONCLUSION. It seems at first sight, especially to children, a strange reward that was given to Abijah—to die young. But there were peculiar reasons for this. He was delivered from a sinful world, a distracted country, and evil influences; nor did he ever see those dear to him murdered and dishonoured. He was "taken away from the evil to come," If the veil were rent, and we could see the heavenly home in its beauty and sinlessness, we should understand what Paul meant when he said, "To depart and to be with Christ is far better." Every parent whose child dies in the Lord may hear amidst his sobs the words of Jesus, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
Little one, precious one,
Ere life's uprising sun
Dawned into day,
Gone from thy mother's arms,
Gone to the Saviour's breast,
Safe from life's rude alarms,
Blissful thy rest."
HOMILIES BY J. WAITE
1 Kings 14:17, 1 Kings 14:18
The Dead Child.
Following the order of events as they appear in the Hebrew text rather than in the Septuagint, we regard this as the first of the calamities that befell the house of Jeroboam, until it became extinct on the death of Nadab (1 Kings 15:29), as the penalty of his transgression in violating the religious unity of the nation. So soon was he made to feel that he was in the grasp of a Power that could not be mocked or trifled with, and against which it was vain for him to rebel The narrative is full of touching interest, and has many points of moral teaching. It illustrates—
I. THE TENDERNESS OF NATURAL AFFECTION EVEN IN A BAD MAN. We have no reason to doubt that genuine parental feeling prompted both Jeroboam and his wife in their appeal to the prophet. One cannot but sympathize with them in their distress at the fatal sickness of their child. Human nature in its deepest degradation is not altogether lost to the touches of tender emotion. The thrill of parental love may be found in hearts so debased and hardened that nothing else can move them. The most ferocious savage will defend his own, and "barbarous people" are capable of "showing no little kindness" even to strangers (Acts 28:1-31.) But in many cases there is no real moral worth in these affections and amenities. They can scarcely be called "redeeming qualities." Parental feeling is often little else than an animal instinct. It may exist side by side with the most grovelling passions and the most complete moral obliquity. Jeroboam loved his child, and yet, in proud self-will and impious defiance of the Divine authority, he could secure his own carnal ends at the cost of the utter spiritual degradation of the people.
II. THE BLINDNESS OF A SINFUL INFATUATION. The king flies in his distress to the prophet whom he has long slighted and ignored. He sought no counsel from him in the setting up of the golden calves at Dan and Bethel. But now, as if he had himself fulfilled all the conditions of the Divine promise, he thinks to get from the prophet a word to confirm his hope of a "sure house" (1 Kings 11:38). Such is the folly of human nature. When the shadow of adversity falls on men they try, with something like a superstitious impulse, to get consolation from religious sources which, in the time of their prosperity, they neglected and despised. But what could Jeroboam expect from the oracle of a God whom he sinned against so grievously but "heavy tidings" respecting his child? He bids his wife "feign herself to be another woman;" but how could he dream that a prophet, who had power to read the future, would not be able to penetrate the false disguise? Thus, when men's hearts are "set in them to do evil" do they resort to vain subterfuges, and flatter themselves with a delusive hope. Thus do they often rush blindly on their own condemnation and ruin; provoking, and even antedating, the very calamities they have so much cause to dread.
III. THE CURSE OF SIN ON THE SACRED RELATIONSHIPS OF LIFE. It is terribly expressive of the hatefulness, in God's sight, of Jeroboam's impiety that the very flower and crown of his house should be thus stricken—the fairest and the best, the one who seemed likely to justify his name Abijah ("Jehovah is my Father")—because already in his young heart there was found "some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel." So is it often in the course of human history. The evil men do comes back to them, not only in divers forms of retribution, but often in the form of penalties that pierce them in the tenderest part. The dearest ties of life are broken. Or they see their own moral deformity reflected in those whom they would fain shield from its bitter consequences. Or their brightest hopes are withered at the root, and that which might have been, and was intended to be, the source of the purest earthly joy becomes the occasion of keenest sorrow.
IV. THE BLENDING OF AN ELEMENT OF MERCY WITH GOD'S SEVEREST JUDGMENTS. We see here how the innocent suffer with the guilty. The iniquity of the fathers is visited upon the children (Exodus 20:5). Yet to the child himself, in this instance, it was a gracious visitation.
(1) He was emphatically "taken from the evil to come."
(2) His incipient piety was recognized and crowned by this translation to happier sphere.
(3) It was his special privilege to die a natural and not a violent death—the only one of the house of Jeroboam who should "go to the grave in peace." Thus in the darkest Divine judgment there is a gleam, of mercy. There is "light in the cloud." It has a "silver lining." The sufferings of innocent children, and the fact that so large a proportion of the human race die in infancy, are dark mysteries to us. But even here we see the dispensation of an all-wise Love, remembering Him who said, "It is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should perish" (Matthew 18:14). "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:14).—W.
HOMILIES BY J. URQUHART
1 Kings 14:1-20
Affliction and judgment.
I. THE STRICKEN KING. Abijah seems to have been heir to the throne, and to have been alike the king's and the people's hope. The father's heart was touched: the king saw the dynasty threatened, to establish which he had ventured so much. The voice of God, against which the car was closed, will be heard again in the quietness of the sick chamber, in the silence of death. God follows us through deepening sorrows, if haply we may turn ere we are overwhelmed by the waters of destruction.
II. THE RESORT FOR HELP.
1. His trouble drives him towards God. It is meant to do this. It is the touching of God's hand that we may look up and live.
"Eyes which the preacher could not school
By wayside graves are raised,
And lips cry, 'God be pitiful,'
Which ne'er said, 'God be praised.'"
2. He is drawn by the remembrance of past mercy. "Behold, there is Ahijah the prophet, who told me that I should be king over this people." The remembrances of mercies are cords to draw back straying hearts to God. The thought of what God has done makes a holy place for faith, and rears an altar whence may rise the incense of accepted prayer.
3. His hope is defeated by his own deceit. "Disguise thyself, that thou be not known as the wife of Jeroboam." He thought he might find help without owning and yielding his sin. How many prayers are like Jeroboam's embassy! Men wish to find mercy and yet cling to their sinful life, and imagine that because their wicked practices are kept behind their back they are not there in God's sight!
4. Gifts (1 Kings 14:3) could not make up the lack of a true, penitent heart.
III. THE LORD'S ANSWER.
1. Disguise is impossible before God (1 Kings 14:5, 1 Kings 14:6). We can conceal nothing from Him; and one word of His (Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam!") is enough to rend every veil of pretence from the soul and overwhelm it with shame. We may now close the ears to the voice of accusing conscience, but we go onward, as she went, to where the Judge will name us.
2. God's name. "The Lord God of Israel." Not only will the covering be torn from the sinner's heart and life; God will be revealed. He is the mighty avenger of those who have been seduced and sinned against.
3. Jeroboam's ingratitude (1 Kings 14:7-9). He was taken from among the people, and yet he had shown no anxiety to discharge aright the duties of the high office committed to him.
(1) Human patterns were despised ("Thou hast not been as my servant David").
(2) God Himself was east behind his back.
4. The doom.
(1) There was deepest dishonour for him. His house was overthrown and removed as the vilest refuse.
(2) There was destruction for his people. For the impenitent and all who are led by them there is, and can be, only utter and eternal ruin.
IV. THE SHADOW OF FALLING JUDGMENT (1 Kings 14:17-20).
1. Abijah's death. The light of the home, the hope of the land, is taken.
2. Jeroboam's death. "The Lord struck him and he died" (2 Chronicles 13:20). The clear intellect and the strong hand are smitten and removed. Slowly but surely the word advances to its accomplishment. are there no shadows of judgment on thy path? Have no words come true that make thy heart tremble because of those other words which God's lips have also spoken?—J.U.
THE REIGN OF REHOBOAM.—
1 Kings 14:21
And Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty [or twenty. See on 1 Kings 12:1] and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned [this reign is related at greater length in 2 Chronicles 11:1-23; 2 Chronicles 12:1-16.] seventeen years [cf. 1 Kings 15:1] in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord did choose [cf. 1 Kings 11:36; Psalms 78:68; Nehemiah 1:9] out of all the tribes of Israel [cf. 2 Chronicles 6:6; 2 Kings 21:7] to put his name there. The historian reminds us that Jerusalem was by God's appointment the religious centre of the land; that Bethel and Dan were no sanctuaries of His choosing; and that, however much the realm of Rehoboam was restricted, he still reigned in the capital of God's choice. It is possible the words have some reference to the next verse, and imply that, though it was the holy city, yet even there they fell away from God (Bähr). And his mother's name was Naamah [or, according to the LXX; Naanan. See on 1 Kings 12:24], an [Heb. the, i.e; the well-known] Ammonitess. [The name of the mother is given with every king of Judah, principally because of the position of influence she occupied in the kingdom. See on 1 Kings 2:13, and 1 Kings 2:31 below.]
1 Kings 14:22
And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord [not, however, before the fourth year of Rehoboam's reign. For the first three Fears the nation remained steadfast in the faith, and the kingdom was greatly strengthened and consolidated. The defection commenced when Rehoboam began to feel himself secure (2 Chronicles 12:1). It is to be observed, however, that the historian says "Judah" (not Rehoboam) "did evil," etc. It is probable that a considerable section of the people approved of the idolatrous practices introduced in the preceding reign, and that Rehoboam was unable to repress them. It was his misfortune to have to reap the bitter fruits of Solomon's unfaithfulness], and they provoked him to jealousy [Heb. made him jealous. Same word, Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:14; Numbers 5:14. The words of the covenant proclaimed the Lord a,' jealous God." This is of course anthropomorphic language. The nation was regarded as the bride of Jehovah, and God is said to be made jealous, because idolatry was unfaithfulness to Him. The worship of Baal and Ashtoreth, it must be remembered, involved unutterable immoralities, hence the special fitness of the word, which is only used of idolatry of one kind or other] with their sins which they had committed [Heb. sinned] above all that their fathers had done.
1 Kings 14:23
For they also [i.e; they as well as the ten tribes] built them high places [i.e; houses of high places. See on 1 Kings 3:2 and 1 Kings 13:32] and images [Heb. pillars or statues (מַחֵּבוֹת; LXX; στήλας). These were, no doubt, originally memorial pillars or stones, erected to commemorate some Divine manifestation, and with no thought of idolatry (see Genesis 31:13; Genesis 35:14, Genesis 35:20; Genesis 28:18). But the Canaanites erected pillars, which were also statues or images, to their god, Baal. Hence we read of the "image" (מַחֵּבָה) of Baal (2 Kings 3:2; 2 Kings 10:26, 2 Kings 10:27; cf. 2 Kings 18:4; 2 Kings 23:14); and hence also we find such images frequently mentioned side by side with the so-called "groves," i.e; the "Asherahs" (verse 15; Exodus 34:13; Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3; Deuteronomy 16:21, etc.) Both the Mazzebah and the Asherah, consequently, was an upright pillar or post, but the former was of stone, the latter of wood; the former dedicated to Baal, the god of nature, of generation; the latter to Ashtoreth, the goddess of nature and productive power. The gradual transition of the memorial pillar into the Baal statue is hinted at in Leviticus 26:1. It is observable that these idolatrous and immoral rites seem to have found a home in Judah before they were introduced into Israel] and groves [Asherahs, idols; see on verse 15. This verse proves conclusively that the translation "grove" is a mistaken one] on every high hill, and under every green tree. [The phrase is from the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy 12:2; cf. Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:6; Hosea 4:13. "Probably the evil example of Maachah, his favourite wife (2 Chronicles 11:20-22), whose idolatrous tastes were displayed under Asa (2 Chronicles 15:16), was not without a pernicious effect on Rehoboam" (Wordsworth).]
1 Kings 14:24
And there were also Sodomites [קָדֵשׁ, a collective noun = הַקְּדֵשִׁים (1 Kings 15:12) = consecrated persons or devotees, because they were set apart to the service of Astarte, the Dea Syria. It is clear from Deuteronomy 23:18 (Heb.) that male prostitutes are here spoken of, the name of the female being קְדֵשָׁה. The former is described in Deuteronomy 23:19 50.c. as a dog, the latter as a whore] in the land [cf. 1 Kings 15:12. It is highly probable that these infamous persons were of Canaanite or Phoenician origin (this being a Phoenician superstition, Movers, "Phoniz." 1:671), but it is somewhat precarious to found an assertion to that effect on these last words (as Bähr)], and [Heb. omits and] they did according to all the abominations of the nations [see Leviticus 18:20.; Deuteronomy 18:9-12] which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel. ["Here we see a reason for God's command, requiring the extirpation of the Canaanites" (Wordsworth).]
1 Kings 14:25
And it came to pass in the fifth year [that is, two years after king and people forsook the law of the Lord (2 Chronicles 12:11). Retribution seems to have overtaken Judah sooner than Israel. They had the less excuse, and they seem to have plunged deeper into idolatry and immorality] of King Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt [to whom Jeroboam had fled (1 Kings 11:26, 1 Kings 11:40)] came up against Jerusalem. [This expedition is related with somewhat more of detail in 2 Chronicles 12:2-4. For Shishak, see 1 Kings 11:40. It was in the twentieth year of his reign that Shishak, once Jeroboam's protector and friend, invaded Palestine. It has been conjectured (Ewald, al.) that he was incited so to do by Jeroboam, and that the two kings waged war against Judah in concert (see on 1 Kings 11:30). But as to this Scripture is silent; and moreover if Jeroboam summoned Shishak to his assistance, it is certain that his own kingdom did not altogether escape invasion; and it is perhaps more probable that the divided and weakened state of the country seemed to promise the Egyptian king an easy capture of Jerusalem, of the treasures of which he had doubtless heard. It is well known that a record of this expedition exists in the sculptures and inscriptions of the great temple at Karnak. The bassi relievi of the temple wall contain over 130 figures, representatives, as the names on the shields show, of so many conquered cities. Amongst these are found three of the "cities for defence" which Rehoboam had built, viz; Shoco, Adoraim, and Aijalon (2 Chronicles 11:7-10), while many other towns of Palestine, such as Gibeon, Taanach, Shunem, Megiddo, etc; are identified with more or less of probability. One feature in the list is remarkable, viz; the number of Levitical and Canaanite ciies—cities of Israel—which Shishak is said to have conquered. The usual inference is that such cities, although in Jeroboam's dominions, had nevertheless held out against his rule—the former for religious reasons; the latter, perhaps, in the effort to recover their independence. Mr. Peele, however (Dict. Bib; art. "Egypt" ), accounts for the names on the supposition that Shishak directed, his forces against the northern as well as the southern kingdom, and certainly this seems to agree better with the facts. It is hardly likely that Jeroboam, with the army at his command, would tolerate so many centres of disaffection in his midst. Besides, the Levites, we are told, had migrated in a body to Judah; and the Canaanites at this period can hardly have been in a position to defy any Hebrew monarch. The silence alike of our historian and of the chronicler as to the invasion of Israel is easily accounted for by the fact that Judah bore the brunt of the war.]
1 Kings 14:26
And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord [The historian omits to mention the interposition of Shemaiah (2 Chronicles 12:5-8). The account of the Chronicles is altogether much fuller], and the treasures of the king's house; he even took away all [rather, "and everything (sc. that he could lay his hands on) he took away." The spoil must have been enormous]: and he took away all the shields of gold [cf. 1 Kings 10:17] which Solomon had made.
1 Kings 14:27
And king Rehoboam made in their stead brazen shields [lit; shields of brass or copper; a striking token of the decadence of the kingdom; cf. 1 Kings 9:28; 1 Kings 10:22. "He changed his father's religion, as his shields, from gold to brass" (Hall) I, and comttted [Heb. appointed] them unto the hands of the chief of the guard [Heb. commanders of the runners (see on 1 Kings 1:38)], which kept the door of the king's house. [Cf. 2 Kings 11:6. The functions of the bodyguard were very varied. A primary duty was, obviously, to supply sentinels and attendants for the palace.]
1 Kings 14:28
And it was so, when the king went unto the house of the Lord, that the guards [runners] bare them [Whatever idolatries Rehoboam tolerated or encouraged, it is clear that he maintained the temple worship with great pomp and circumstance. The state visits of the Sultan to the Mosque may perhaps be best compared with these processions. Ewald sees in this circumstance a proof of Rehoboam's vanity. The brazen shields were "borne before him in solemn procession, as if everything were the same as before"], and brought them back into the guard chamber [Heb." chamber of the runners." Solomon's golden shields were kept "in the house of the forest of Lebanon" (1 Kings 10:17). These shields of Brass were of so little value that the guard chamber sufficed for their custody.
1 Kings 14:29
Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? [See on 1 Kings 14:19.]
1 Kings 14:30
And there was war [cf. 2 Chronicles 12:15, "wars." Keil argues from the prohibition of war by Shemaiah (1 Kings 12:23) that this must mean "hostility, enmity." But מִלְחָמָה surely implies more than angry feelings or a hostile attitude; and it is highly probable that, even if there were no organized campaigns, a desultory warfare was constantly carried on on the borders of the two kingdoms. It is also possible that Jeroboam took a part in the war of Shishak] between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days.
1 Kings 14:31
And Rehoboam slept with his fathers [The same formula as in 1 Kings 2:10; 1 Kings 11:43; 1Ki 15:8, 1 Kings 15:24, etc. It is used of nearly all the kings of Judah], and was buried with his fathers [These words go to prove, against Gesenius, that the phrase "slept (lit. lay down) with his fathers" is not to be interpreted of Sheol, but of the grave; see on 1 Kings 2:10] in the city of David. And his mother's name was Naamah, an Ammonitess. [Same words as in 1 Kings 2:21. The repetition can hardly be, as Bähr, Wordsworth, al; imagine, designed, in order to show that the worship of Moloch was brought by her to Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:7), and that she exercised a sinister influence upon her son. As she is twice called "the Ammonitess" it can hardly be doubted that she was one of the "Ammonitesses" (1 Kings 11:1, Hebrews) who turned away Solomon's heart; and it is also certain that Rehoboam did not inherit his folly from his father. At the same time these words are more easily accounted for on the supposition that the historian found them in this position in one or more of the documents from which he compiled his history. It is also to be remembered that some of these chronological statements are manifestly by a later hand, and have been transferred from the margin to the text. See on 1 Kings 6:1.] And Abijam [elsewhere called Abijah (2 Chronicles 12:16; 2 Chronicles 13:1), or Abijahu (2 Chronicles 13:21, Hebrews) Some MSS. have Abijah here. The variation is not easily accounted for except as a clerical error. The supposition of Lightfoot that the name was designedly altered by the historian to avoid the incorporation of the sacred JAH into the name of a bad man is too fanciful, the more so as Abijam was by no means an exceptionally bad king. It is, however, approved by Bähr and Rawlinson. But it is as little probable that Abijam is the original form of the name (Keil). The form Abijahu, the LXX. Ἀβιού, and the analogy of Abiel (1 Samuel 9:1) all make against this idea. On the whole, it is more likely that Abijam results from an error of transcription, הand the final םbeing easily confounded] his son reigned in his stead.
1 Kings 14:25
The Invasion of Shishak.
Three years after the death of David, the foundations of the temple, the glory of that age—some have called it orbis miraculum, the marvel of every age—were laid. Four years after the death of Solomon his son—some forty years, that is to say, after its foundation, three and thirty years after its completion, according to some only twenty years after its dedication—the treasures of that temple, its gold and gems, were carried off by an invader. A short time after his accession, again, Solomon made alliance with the strongest and proudest of the empires of that age, with Egypt, and a Hebrew, one whose forefathers were Pharaoh's bondmen, was gladly recognized as great Pharaoh's son-in-law. A short time after his death, this same Egyptian kingdom is become an assailant of Solomon's son, and Pharaoh is turned to be the oppressor and plunderer of his realm. For a great part of Solomon's reign it was the boast of the people that an Egyptian princess occupied one of his splendid palaces in Jerusalem, but he has not been long dead before those same palaces are rifled by Egyptian princes, and Jerusalem is environed by the legions of Shishak.
And yet that temple, the magnificence of which has been so short-lived, which was hardly completed ere it was despoiled, was built to the name of the Lord, and as a habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. And as such it was accepted by Him. That house had had a greater glory and consecration than of gold and precious stones, for "the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord" (1 Kings 8:11). Why, then, is it, we may well ask, as the men of that age would ask, that it is so soon left comparatively desolate? Cannot the Deity to whom it was dedicated protect it against spoliation. Or have His worshippers provoked Him to anger, so that He has "abhorred his sanctuary," and "delivered his glory into the enemies' hand"?
For we may be quite sure that there was a profound reason for this profound dishonour and disgrace. We cannot account for the fact that the temple of the Lord, the "house of the great God" (Ezra 5:8), was stripped bare and left a wreck within a few years of its erection, on the supposition that a chance happened to it, and that it only suffered as other shrines have done from the vicissitudes of fortune and the impartial, inevitable havoc of war. "In rebus bellicis," it has been said, "maxime dominatur Fortuna." But if we feel at liberty to interpret other histories by a theory of chance, that idea must be excluded in thinking of God's people. If their history was fortuitous, then the Old Testament is a delusion. No; we may not be able always to trace the finger of God in profane history, but it will be passing strange if we cannot recognize it here.
Now the immediate cause of the invasion was, no doubt, the divided and therefore weakened state of the kingdom. We might have been tempted to think that Jeroboam had summoned his patron Shishak to his aid, had we not proof that Israel as well as Judah suffered from this campaign. And of course it is possible that Jeroboam instigated a war which ultimately extended to his own kingdom. But it is obvious that Shishak would need no invitation to attack Jerusalem. The fame of its immense treasure is quite sufficient of itself to account for his advance. So long as it was guarded by the armies of Solomon it was secure. But Rehoboam, whose troops would not number a third of his father's, and who was paralyzed by the hostility of Israel crouching like a wild beast on his northern border, offered an easy prey to a general with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen, and "people without number" under his command.
We see, then, that it was the treasures of the Holy City—the vast accumulation of the precious metals—which excited the cupidity of the Egyptians, while theft defenceless state suggested the idea of seizing them. Observe here—
I. THE RETRIBUTION OF SOLOMON'S SIN.
1. Of his greed and pride. He has "multiplied silver and gold to himself" only to provoke an invasion of his territory and the humiliation of his people. If he had obeyed the law; if he had been content to embellish the house of the Lord and leave the palaces alone; if his overweening pride and his insatiable thirst for fame had not prompted him to amass treasures which excited universal attention, it is probable that Judah would have escaped invasion. In this case "pride has gone before destruction." The very magnitude of his treasures led to their dispersion.
2. Of his idolatry. We have already seen how this sin (1 Kings 11:5-8) was punished by the partition of his realm. In the plunder of his palaces, provoked and made possible by that division, we see a further recompense of his outrage and defiance of the almighty. The hills on which his idol altars were erected now swarmed with idolaters, assembled not to sacrifice, but to slay. We are reminded here of the retribution which befell the Jerusalem of a later day. On one of the hills before Jerusalem the Jews raised a cross—they crucified the Prince of Life. On all the hills that are round about Jerusalem, the Romans raised crosses, the crosses of His murderers (Jos; Bell. Jud. Romans 5:11.Romans 5:1).
3. Of his multiplication of horses. For it is to be remembered from what quarter the retribution came. There is an exquisite judicial propriety in an invasion from Egypt, and an invasion of chariots and horses. This was retaliation in the proper sense of the word; it was like for like. Why, there was almost a beaten track made for those same chariots by the horses and chariots which Solomon had imported in such prodigious numbers. Literally the trade horses paved the way for the horses of war. This illegal traffic had long since familiarized Egyptian charioteers with the shortest way to the Holy City.
4. Of his multiplication of wives. Solomon's lawful wife came from Egypt. Had he been true to her, he would probably have been true to his Lord God (1 Kings 11:3), and so his realm would have escaped invasion. It is a kind of Nemesis for the wrong done to his Egyptian consort that his harem was plundered by Egyptians. There are those who connect Napoleon's fall with the repudiation of Josephine. The "judge of the widow" (Psalms 68:5) is also the avenger of the injured and dishonoured wife (Hebrews 13:4). Human laws seldom take cognizance of these, the deepest of wrongs, but the cry of the heart-broken woman goes up into the ears of One who has said, "I will repay."
II. THE PUNISHMENT OF REHOBOAM'S FOLLY AND SIN.
1. Of his obstinacy. For in the first place, but for his infatuation, humanly speaking, the kingdom would have escaped division, and the land would have escaped invasion. That infatuation, it is true, was the product of his breeding and his training, but that consideration does not wholly exonerate him from blame. No man can charge his parents or surroundings with his sin. The law does not excuse the thief on the ground that from infancy he has been taught to steal. Rehoboam was a free agent, and ought to have acted otherwise, and doubtless he knew it when it was too late.
2. Of his pride. It was his pride had rejected all compromise, and had prated of scorpions, etc. It had been humbled once in the dismemberment of his realm. It must be humbled again in the spoliation of his palaces. For observe, it was when he "had strengthened himself" (2 Chronicles 12:1) that Shishak came to prove his weakness. St. Paul is not the only one who has had to learn the lesson, "When I am weak, then am I strong." It is extremely probable that this vainglorious prince, after losing most of his realm, still piqued himself on the abundance of his treasures. His trust was in his shields of gold. So he must be reduced to shields of pinchbeck.
3. Of his infidelity. "He forsook the law of the Lord" (2 Chronicles l.c.) Much as his father had done before him. "What the old sing," says the German proverb, "the young chirp." That is to say, he still worshipped Jehovah (verse 28; cf. 1 Kings 9:25), but he sanctioned, or did not suppress, idolatry. The son of an Ammonitess, he would find it difficult to trample on the gods of his mother (1 Kings 11:5), and he was probably too much afraid of another insurrection to stamp out the abominations of verses 28, 24.
III. THE RECOMPENSE OF ISRAEL'S IDOLATRIES. Though the chronicler informs us that Rehoboam "forsook the law and all Israel with him," yet it seems probable from verses 22, 24, "And Judah did evil," etc; that he rather followed than led his people. He could hardly fail, at first, to see that his strength lay in a rigid adherence to the law; that his policy was one of piety. The Levites and others who streamed into Judah, shocked by the innovations of Jeroboam, cannot fail to have suggested that his role was orthodoxy. It is probable, therefore, that it was not until a large section of his people, infected with the superstitions and vices they had learned in Solomon's reign, clamoured for the tolerance of shameful shrines, that he yielded to idolatry. Verse 25 seems to connect the invasion directly with the people's sin. But for the high places and images. etc; the land would have been spared this humiliation. It is to be carefully noted that, so long as king and people served the Lord, Shishak was held back from attacking them. Hence we understand why Judah receives earlier and greater stripes than Israel It was Jeroboam made Israel to sin. It was Judah made Rehoboam to sin. The guilty people, accordingly, are punished by the invasion of their land and the spoliation of their treasure; the guilty king by the destruction of his house. And here again, let us observe, how significant that the chastisement should come from Egypt. Time was when God had punished the idolatries of Egypt through the instrumentality of the Jewish people (Exodus 7-14.) Now the tables are turned, and Egypt is employed to avenge the idolatries of Judah. This was the first time that an Egyptian army had crossed their border—the first time, indeed, that the land had sustained the brunt of any invasion. It was the Sodomites and the like had drawn forth those swords from their scabbards. What a contrast between Exodus 14:1-31. and 1 Kings 14:1-31. Israel, who then "saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore," now feels the grip of Pharaoh at his throat, and the iron of Pharaoh in his soul.
HOMILIES BY J.A. MACDONALD
1 Kings 14:21-24
The Sin of Judah.
Having discoursed of Jeroboam and the kingdom of Israel, the sacred historian now returns to Rehoboam and the sister kingdom of Judah. To have found a better state of things here would have been refreshing, but in this we are disappointed. How fearful was the moral state of the whole world in those days!
I. JUDAH HAD FALLEN INTO THE GROSSEST IDOLATRY.
1. He had multiplied high places.
(1) High places were not necessarily for idolatry. They were proper to the worship of the true God in patriarchal times.
(2) Even after God had chosen Jerusalem to put His name there, the patriarchal use of high places was upon special occasions sanctioned by Him (see 1 Kings 18:38).
(3) In Judah there was little need for these, since the extremity of the kingdom was not very remote from Jerusalem. The distance to Beersheba would be about forty British statute miles.
(4) But the high places of Judah were mainly designed for idolatry. Hence their association in the text with" images-and groves" and rites of Sodomites and other Canaanitish abominations.
2. He had built many temples.
(1) The term (מצבות) here translated "images" is elsewhere commonly rendered pillars (see Genesis 28:18; Genesis 31:51; Genesis 35:20; Exodus 24:4; Isaiah 19:19). It is far from evident that this word is ever used for any image or figured thing. In places where it is construed "images," pillars would give as good sense (see Exodus 23:24; 2 Kings 10:26, 2 Kings 10:27). Marginal readings bear this out (see Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 16:22).
(2) It is probable these pillars were distributed in ranks, as those of the Druids at Stonehenge and Abiry, to serve as temples in which the powers of the material heavens were worshipped.
3. He had enshrined idols in these.
(1) The Asherim (אשרים) are here evidently misrendered "groves;" for how could groves be planted under every green tree? (See Homily on 1 Kings 14:15, 1 Kings 14:16, supra.)
(2) They were idols apparently in figure like goats. For Jeroboam "ordained him priests for the high places and for the devils (שעדים goats), and for the calves which he had made" (2 Chronicles 11:15). Here we have no mention of Ashorim; of goats, however, we have mention. But when Josiah destroyed these things, there is mention of the Ashorah, but no mention of the goat (compare 2 Kings 23:15). The Asherah destroyed by Josiah appears, then, to be the goat which Jeroboam had set up.
(3) These Asherim, or Asheroth—for they appear to have been male and female idols—were supposed to convey blessings to their worshippers, and hence their name (from אשר to proceed, to bless).
4. His idolatry was attended with shocking cites.
(1) They were the very abominations for which the land had spewed out the Canaanites as with abhorrence (see Le 1Ki 18:28; 1 Kings 20:22, and contexts).
(2) Conspicuous amongst these were the Sodomites, whose orgies were intimately connected with the Asherim, and to encourage which the women wove hangings (see 2 Kings 23:7). How fruitful in inventions is the wickedness of the heart! (Ecclesiastes 7:29.)
II. FOR HIS DEGENERACY HE WAS WITHOUT EXCUSE.
1. He had Jerusalem for his capital.
(1) This was the city chosen of God out of all the tribes of Israel to put His name there. The temple of Jehovah was there, and the Shekinah of Jehovah was in it.
(2) Every appliance for acceptable worship was there at hand. The altars were there; the priesthood was there; the appointed assemblies, festival and ferial, were there.
(3) They sinned, therefore, "before the face of the Lord," as in His very presence. Even more so than Israel, who could not now claim Jerusalem for his capital, though he was still bound to go there to worship. Let us remember that God is ever near us; this thought will restrain our truancy.
2. He had a son of David for his king.
(1) The mother of Rehoboam, indeed, was an Ammonitess. This is emphatically (twice) mentioned. She was one of those strange women who had turned the heart of Solomon from the right way. The abomination of her country was Milcom or Molech, whose rites were most ferocious and demoralizing.
(2) But against these influences were noble traditions on the other side. His father, in the beginning of his reign, was illustrious in wisdom and zeal for the God of Israel. The memories of his grandfather were glorious. To this must be added the most material circumstance that the Covenant was with his house; for Messiah Himself was to be the Son of David.
(3) These things were not without their influence. For three years after the revolution under Jeroboam, Rehoboam governed Judah in the fear of God, and so established his throne (see 2 Chronicles 11:17).
(4) When, after this, Rehoboam "forsook the law of the Lord," his subjects should have dissuaded him and, if necessary, resisted him. But they went "with him" (2 Chronicles 12:2).
(5) To such excesses,did they go that they "sinned above their fathers in provoking the Lord to jealousy."—J.A.M.
1 Kings 14:25-31
The Entailments of Sin.
During the three first years of his reign in Judah, Rehoboam walked in the steps of Solomon and David, enjoyed peace, and became established in his throne. Afterwards he gave himself up to idolatrous abominations, and brought evil upon himself and upon his people. The entailments of their sin were—
1. There was continual war between the kingdoms.
(1) While they remained faithful to God they had peace. God interposed to preserve peace by the hand of Shemaiah (1 Kings 12:21-24).
(2) But when they forsook the Lord, they soon got to strife, which continued as long as the kings lived (verse 80). This strife was also handed down to their successors,
(3) Thus sinners become God's instruments to punish one another. So it is seen to this day in the contentions and litigations of individuals. Men are slow to see the hand of God.
2. Shishak aggravated the mischief.
(1) The influences which brought him upon the scene may be discerned. Hadad, who occasioned so much trouble to Solomon, was Shishak's brother-in-law. Shishak was thus disposed to give asylum to Jeroboam when he fled for his life from Solomon. Shishak now conspires with Jeroboam to ruin Rehoboam.
(2) The array brought against Judah by Shishak was formidable (see 2 Chronicles 12:3). It would have been crushing had not Rehoboam and his people, in their extremity, humbled themselves before God (2 Chronicles 12:7).
(3) But they still had to feel the smart of their sins.
1. In war there is always loss.
(1) Necessarily there is the forfeiture of peace. Who can estimate the value of peace? Perfect peace is the resultant of perfect harmony as the white light is composed of all the colours in the iris.
(2) There is the loss of property. Labour is the source of wealth: the labour withdrawn from industry to wage war is so much loss of wealth. The soldier also is a consumer. When he does not provide for his own sustenance, the labour of others must be taxed to feed him.
(3) There is the loss of life. War is seldom bloodless. Often the slaughter is fearful. Wellington is reported to have said that the calamity next in severity to a defeat is a victory.
2. Shishak despoiled the temple of its treasure.
(1) The booty here was enormous. The spoils of David's victories were there; also the accumulations of Solomon's peaceful commerce.
(2) The shields of gold that Solomon had made are particularly mentioned. It is added that Rehoboam had brazen shields made to replace them. How sin reduces the fine gold to brass!
3. Shishak also rifled the palace.
(1) The treasures here also were immense. Perhaps there never was such plunder as this in human annals.
(2) Rehoboam handed down a diminished inheritance to his son. By his folly he alienated ten tribes of his nation from his kingdom. Abijam likewise succeeded to a kingdom greatly impoverished. He became heir also to embroilments. The entailments of sin pursue the spirit into the invisible world. Forfeiture. Trouble:—J.A.M.
HOMILIES BY J. URQUHART
1 Kings 14:21-31
Unfaithfulness and its rebuke.
I. JUDAH'S SIN.
1. The nature of the transgression. The grossest idolatry was set side by side with the pure worship of God. The temple and its services were still HIS (1 Kings 14:28), but on every high hill and under every green tree were the images and altars of the false gods.
The preservation of the pure worship of God is no proof that all is yielded which God demands. The heart may be full of the world's idolatries, of its covetousness and lust and manifold sin.
2. Its enormity.
(1) It was wrought in Jerusalem, "the city which the Lord did choose," etc; and this, too, in the face of the defection of the ten tribes. It is high treason against Jehovah when those whom He has called and honoured are faithless to the trust committed to them. It is the darkest crime against God and man to betray the last earthly refuge of the truth.
(2) It was done after an interval of repentance and religious zeal (2 Chronicles 11:17; 2 Chronicles 12:1). They had known and yet forsaken the better way.
(3) Their idolatry was more unrestrained and daring than any that Israel had ever known (1 Kings 14:22).
3. Its fruits (1 Kings 14:24). Errors in worship become vices in life. The soul that is cut off from the fountain of life must needs break out into corruption.
II. JUDAH'S CHASTISEMENT. It inflicted deep humiliation and loudly proclaimed God's indignation.
1. It was inflicted by an old and beaten foe. Their temple songs, celebrating the ancient triumph over "Rahab," must have deepened their shame.
2. The holy city and the temple itself were spoiled. God loathed their holy things. We need not marvel that rationalism and infidelity are rampant in a faithless, worldly Church. It is God's way. Israel's idolatry is punished by Egypt's triumph.
3. It left its mark in enduring poverty (1 Kings 14:26-28). The splendour passed away from the royal pomp, and doubtless also from the temple service. The nation and Church which Egypt has spoiled, whose faith has been shaken by doubt, or swallowed up in unbelief, have lost their strength and glory. They are but the shadows of what a true and pure faith once made them.—J.U.