1 Kings 14 – The End of Jeroboam and Rehoboam
A. The end of Jeroboam, King of Israel.
1. (1-3) Jeroboam sends his wife on a mission.
At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam became sick. And Jeroboam said to his wife, “Please arise, and disguise yourself, that they may not recognize you as the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh. Indeed, Ahijah the prophet is there, who told me that I would be king over this people. Also take with you ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him; he will tell you what will become of the child.”
a. At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam became sick: Jeroboam was a king, but even kings have trouble common to men. His sick son troubled him and prompted him to seek the help of a prophet.
i. “Prophets were commonly consulted on health matters (2 Kings 1:2; 4:22, 40; 5:3).” (Wiseman)
b. Disguise yourself, that they may not recognize you as the wife of Jeroboam: This was a familiar pattern for Jeroboam. In his time of need, he turned to the true God and men of God. He knew that idols could not help him in any true crisis. Yet he also knew that he had rejected God and His prophets, and so he told his wife to wear a disguise.
i. “How foolish! Jeroboam thought that the old prophet could penetrate the vail that hid the future, but not the disguise in which his wife wished to conceal herself.” (Meyer)
c. He will tell you what will become of the child: Jeroboam did not tell his wife to pray for their son, or to ask the prophet to pray. He wanted to use Ahijah the prophet as a fortuneteller instead of seeking him as a man of God.
i. “It would have been more pious if he had begged the prophet’s prayers, and cast away his idols from him; then the child might have been restored to him, as his hand was. But most people would rather be told their fortune than their faults or their duty.” (Matthew Henry)
2. (4-6) Jeroboam’s wife meets with Ahijah the prophet.
And Jeroboam’s wife did so; she arose and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were glazed by reason of his age. Now the LORD had said to Ahijah, “Here is the wife of Jeroboam, coming to ask you something about her son, for he is sick. Thus and thus you shall say to her; for it will be, when she comes in, that she will pretend to be another woman.” And so it was, when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps as she came through the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another person? For I have been sent to you with bad news.
a. Ahijah could not see: As it turned out, there was no reason for the wife of Jeroboam to wear a disguise. Old age made Ahijah unable to see.
b. The LORD had said to Ahijah, “Here is the wife of Jeroboam, coming to ask you something about her son”: The woman’s disguise and Ahijah’s blindness didn’t matter, because God told Ahijah the truth of the matter.
c. I have been sent to you with bad news: From this, the wife of Jeroboam learned two things. First, that the news was bad. Second, that though she thought she was sent to Ahijah by her husband, in truth Ahijah was sent by God with a message to her and Jeroboam.
3. (7-11) Ahijah declares God’s judgment on the house of Jeroboam.
Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Because I exalted you from among the people, and made you ruler over My people Israel, and tore the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it to you; and yet you have not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only what was right in My eyes; but you have done more evil than all who were before you, for you have gone and made for yourself other gods and molded images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back—therefore behold! I will bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male in Israel, bond and free; I will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as one takes away refuse until it is all gone. The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Jeroboam and dies in the city, and the birds of the air shall eat whoever dies in the field; for the LORD has spoken!”’
a. You have done more evil than all who were before you: Saul was a bad man and a bad king. Solomon was a good king but a bad man. Though both men were bad, Jeroboam was far worse. He became the measuring line for the bad kings of Israel to come.
i. God compared Jeroboam unfavorably to David with the words, as my servant David “who though he fell into some sins, yet, first, he constantly persevered in the true worship of God, from which thou are revolted; secondly, he heartily repented of and turned from all his sins, whereas thou are obstinate and incorrigible” (Poole).
b. And have cast Me behind your back: This was a powerful description of intense contempt towards God, as in Ezekiel 23:35 – Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, therefore you shall bear the penalty of your lewdness and your harlotry.
i. “The last reason implies a neglect, a scorning of God. It is the same figure of speech used to describe God’s forgiveness of our sins. He puts them behind His back, or in other words, He forgets them. That is good news when it describes God’s treatment of our sins [Isaiah 38:17], but it is tragically bad news when it describes a person’s treatment of God.” (Dilday)
c. I will bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male: Jeroboam could have had a lasting dynasty, but he wasted the promise of God with his unbelief, idolatry, and outright rejection of God.
i. Every male: “Means literally ‘he who urinates against the wall’” (Patterson and Austel).
4. (12-16) The immediate judgment and the distant judgment.
“Arise therefore, go to your own house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he is the only one of Jeroboam who shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something good toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam. Moreover the LORD will raise up for Himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam; this is the day. What? Even now! For the LORD will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the River, because they have made their wooden images, provoking the LORD to anger. And He will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned and who made Israel sin.”
a. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die: Jeroboam sent his wife to discover the fate of his son. The bad news was that the child would die. Yet his death would be a demonstration of mercy, because at least he would be buried in honor and properly mourned. Such great judgment was coming upon the house of Jeroboam that all would see that by comparison, this son was blessed in his death.
b. He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the River: This would finally be fulfilled some 300 years later. God knew that the root of Jeroboam’s apostasy would eventually result in the bitter fruit of national exile.
5. (17-18) The immediate judgment is fulfilled.
Then Jeroboam’s wife arose and departed, and came to Tirzah. When she came to the threshold of the house, the child died. And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through His servant Ahijah the prophet.
a. According to the word of the LORD which He spoke through His servant Ahijah the prophet: The prophecy about Israel’s national exile would not be fulfilled for centuries. Yet it was demonstrated as true because the immediate prophecy of the death of Jeroboam’s son was exactly fulfilled.
6. (19-20) The death of Jeroboam and the summary of his reign.
Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he made war and how he reigned, indeed they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. The period that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years. So he rested with his fathers. Then Nadab his son reigned in his place.
a. He rested with his fathers: 2 Chronicles 13:20 tells us that the LORD struck him, and he died. “He died not the common death of all men, but by some remarkable stroke: beside the loss of five hundred thousand of his men in one battle with Abijah king of Judah (2 Chronicles 13:17)” (Trapp).
B. The end of Rehoboam, king of Judah.
1. (21-24) Judah’s sin provokes God to jealousy.
And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king. He reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there. His mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess. Now Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. For they also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. And there were also perverted persons in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.
a. Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins: These sins provoked the LORD to jealousy because they were essentially sins of idolatry. Israel turned their back on the God who loved and redeemed them, and like an unfaithful spouse, they pursued spiritual adultery with idols.
b. There were also perverted persons in the land: This specifically describes prostitutes associated with the worship of idols. It is possible that the term perverted persons refers to both men and women cultic prostitutes. However, the term was used in Deuteronomy 23:17-18 in distinction to feminine cultic prostitutes.
c. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel: Considering the depth of depravity among the Canaanite nations, this is a strong statement.
2. (25-26) God chastises Rehoboam through Egypt.
It happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house; he took away everything. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made.
a. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam: This was not so far from the time of David and Solomon, years of strength and security in Israel. No foreign enemy ever did as much against God’s people during the time of David and Solomon as happened during this occasion during the reign of Rehoboam.
b. Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: Both 2 Chronicles and archeology confirm this account. The record in 2 Chronicles 12 gives many details that the writer of 1 Kings summarized. From 2 Chronicles 12 we learn:
· Exactly why this attack succeeded: When Rehoboam had established the kingdom and had strengthened himself, that he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel along with him (2 Chronicles 12:2).
· That Shishak brought an allied army of nations against Judah (2 Chronicles 12:3).
· That Shishak took the fortified cities of Judah on his way to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 12:4).
· That as the enemy army approached Jerusalem, the Prophet Shemaiah led the leaders of Judah in genuine repentance (2 Chronicles 12:6).
· In response to their repentance, God allowed Jerusalem to remain – but as servants of Shishak, king of Egypt (2 Chronicles 12:7-8).
i. “Sheshonq I (Shishak) had founded the Egyptian (Libyan) Dynasty XXII (945-924 b.c.) and his raid into Palestine in this year (925 b.c.) is well attested on the Amon temple reliefs at Thebes (Karnak). From the one hundred and fifty place-names recorded there, his aim seems to have been to reassert Egyptian control over the main trade routes throughout Palestine and the Negeb.” (Wiseman)
c. He took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house: Solomon left great wealth to his son Rehoboam, both in the temple and in the palace. After only five years, that wealth was largely gone.
d. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made: 1 Kings 10:16-17 mentions these 500 shields, 200 large and 300 small. These shields made beautiful displays in the House of the Forest of Lebanon, but they were of no use in battle. Gold was too heavy and too soft to be used as a metal for effective shields. This was an example of the emphasis of image over substance that began in the days of Solomon and worsened in the days of Rehoboam.
i. “Rehoboam made in their stead shields of bronze, and with these pathetically tried to keep up former appearances. It is like souls, who, when despoiled of their freshness and power by the enemy, laboriously endeavor to keep up an outward appearance of spiritual prosperity; or, like a fallen church, shorn of its strength, and robbed of its purity, seeking to hide its helplessness, and cover its nakedness, with the tinsel of ritualism, spurious revivalism, union, and anything that promises to give them some appearance.” (Knapp)
ii. According to Dilday, each large shield was worth about $120,000. The smaller shields were worth $30,000. $33 million was invested in gold ceremonial shields – and now in the hands of the Egyptians.
3. (27-28) The decline of the Kingdom of Judah under Rehoboam.
Then King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king’s house. And whenever the king entered the house of the LORD, the guards carried them, then brought them back into the guardroom.
a. King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place: The replacement of gold with bronze is a perfect picture of the decline under the days of Rehoboam. The dynasty of David went from gold to bronze in five years.
i. “They wished to emphasize how far Rehoboam fell in a mere few years. He had inherited an empire; five years later, master of a small state, he could protect his capital itself only by denuding his palace of its treasures. Solomon’s court had despised silver; his son’s court had to be content with bronze!” (Payne)
b. And committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard: In the days of Solomon, the gold shields hung on display in the House of the Forest of Lebanon (1 Kings 10:16-17). Under Rehoboam, the replacement bronze shields were kept in a protected guardroom until they were specifically needed for state occasions.
4. (29-31) Rehoboam’s death and the summary of his reign.
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? And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days. So Rehoboam rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. His mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess. Then Abijam his son reigned in his place.
a. Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam: 2 Chronicles summarized Rehoboam like this: And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD. (2 Chronicles 12:14) This speaks to the lack of his personal relationship with the LORD.
i. “He was born of a heathen mother, and begotten of an apostate father. From such an impure fountain could sweet water possibly spring?” (Clarke)
ii. “The account ends with the note that Rehoboam’s mother was Naamah, an Ammonitess. Is this not the writer’s way of reminding us that it was Solomon’s marriage to foreign wives that started the precipitous decline in the first place?” (Dilday)
b. There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days: These two were very different. Rehoboam governed as a tyrant, started bad and humbled himself to God towards the end of his life (2 Chronicles 12:6-7). Jeroboam governed as a populist, started with great promise but ended terribly.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission