2 Chronicles 12 – The Chastisement of Rehoboam and Judah
a. Egypt comes against a disobedient kingdom of Judah.
1. (1) The sin of Rehoboam and his people.
Now it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom and had strengthened himself, that he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel along with him.
a. That he forsook the law of the LORD: Rehoboam did this when he was strong and secure. He trusted in God so long as he felt he needed Him, but he grew independent of God instead of more dependent on Him.
i. 1 Kings 14:21-24 tells us that this forsaking of the law of the LORD went so far as the allowance of perverted persons in the land, specifically describing 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.
b. And all Israel along with him: The worst part about Rehoboam’s sin was that it led the entire kingdom into sin with him.
i. 1 Kings 14:21-24 describes Judah’s apostasy like this: 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.
2. (2-4) Egypt attacks a disobedient Judah.
And it happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the LORD, with twelve hundred chariots, sixty thousand horsemen, and people without number who came with him out of Egypt; the Lubim and the Sukkiim and the Ethiopians. And he took the fortified cities of Judah and came to Jerusalem.
a. Shishak king of Egypt: “Known in Egyptian history as Sheshonk I, he was the founder of the Twenty-Second Dynasty and its most energetic Pharaoh. This particular campaign is documented by a list of conquered Palestinian cities that stands to this day carved on the wall of his temple of Amon at Karnak, Thebes.” (Payne)
b. Because they had transgressed against the LORD: One might give any number of geopolitical explanations of why the Egyptians attacked the kingdom of Judah at this time. The Chronicler understood that it was really the hand of the LORD in motion because of their disobedience.
i. The word transgressed (translated unfaithful in the NIV) is an important term here. “To be unfaithful to God is one of Chronicles’ key terms (it never occurs in Samuel and Kings), and its regular occurrence shows Israel’s constant estrangement from God…. It involves denying God the worship due to him, usually on a national scale, and is the primary reason given in Chronicles for the exile.” (Selman)
c. He took the fortified cities of Judah and came to Jerusalem: This was a serious threat to the entire southern kingdom. It might very well perish in just two generations since David.
3. (5) God’s word to Rehoboam and Judah.
Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah, who were gathered together in Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, “Thus says the LORD: ‘You have forsaken Me, and therefore I also have left you in the hand of Shishak.’”
a. Shemaiah the prophet: This was the same prophet that discouraged Rehoboam from attacking the ten tribes of Israel that had rejected his leadership and formed the northern kingdom of Israel (2 Chronicles 11:1-4). He had the opportunity to speak to all the leaders of Judah because they were gathered on account of Shishak’s invasion.
b. You have forsaken Me, and therefore I also have left you in the hand of Shishak: This was a correction that matched the offense. If Judah insisted on forsaking God, they would find themselves forsaken in the day of their need. The great danger of telling God “Leave me alone” is that someday He may answer that prayer.
B. Repentance and servitude come to Judah.
1. (6) The repentance of Rehoboam and Judah.
So the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, “The LORD is righteous.”
a. So the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves: This national repentance was initiated by the leaders of the kingdom. Historically, great moves of God’s Spirit are seen when leaders are zealous about repentance and humility.
b. The LORD is righteous: This was the summary of their confession of sin. To recognize that the LORD is righteous is also to recognize that we are not. To say this meant they understood that they deserved their present misfortune at the hands of Shishak.
2. (7-8) Deliverance with a reminder.
Now when the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah, saying, “They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance. My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they will be his servants, that they may distinguish My service from the service of the kingdoms of the nations.”
a. I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance: In response to the repentance of His people, God granted Judah some deliverance. He would not allow them to be completely destroyed, but He would allow some difficulty to come to them.
b. They will be his servants, that they may distinguish My service from the service of the kingdoms of the nations: When Judah forsook the law of the LORD, it was as if they offered themselves as servants to another master. God will allow them to experience some of the consequences of serving another master.
i. “They shall be preserved, and serve their enemies, that they may see the difference between the service of God and that of man. While they were pious, they found the service of the Lord to be perfect freedom; when they forsook the Lord, they found the fruit to be perfect bondage. A sinful life is both expensive and painful.” (Clarke)
ii. “Know by woeful experience, the worth of my work and wages by the want thereof, and the contrary miseries.” (Trapp)
3. (9-12) The “some deliverance” granted to Judah.
So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house; he took everything. He also carried away the gold shields which Solomon had made. 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 guard would go and bring them out; then they would take them back into the guardroom. When he humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD turned from him, so as not to destroy him completely; and things also went well in Judah.
a. 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 – because Rehoboam and Judah forsook the law of the LORD.
b. He also carried away 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 2016 prices for gold ($1269 an ounce) a large shield would be worth $152,000, meaning about $30 million for the large shields. The small shields would be worth $76,000, meaning about $23 million for the small shields. The total worth of all the shields would be about $53 million invested in gold ceremonial shields – that were now in the hands of the Egyptians.
c. 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)
ii. “The picture of Rehoboam’s substitution of brass for gold is unutterably pathetic. Yet how often do the people of Jehovah masquerade amid imitations because they have lost the things of pure gold through unfaithfulness and sin.” (Morgan)
d. 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.
e. When he humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD turned from him, so as not to destroy him completely: This great humbling of Rehoboam came after he had humbled himself as described in 2 Chronicles 12:6. It shows that God knew there was more humbling to do even after Rehoboam did it himself. Even so, this was God’s favor and mercy to him because both Rehoboam and Judah deserved far worse. By the measure of justice alone God had the right to destroy him completely.
i. “If God could show favour to a man such as Rehoboam, who typified the attitude which resulted in Judah’s eventual collapse, there was always hope for those who humbled themselves before God. Indeed, the interest in the people was surely a direct encouragement to the Chronicler’s contemporaries to seek God for themselves.” (Selman)
ii. Many in sin humble themselves before God hoping that He will not humble them further. Nevertheless, God knows just how much humbling someone needs, and if more is necessary God will certainly bring it.
f. Things also went well in Judah: According to Poole this is literally, “There were good things.” The idea is either that despite their corruption there was still a remnant of good in Judah and for that reason God held back judgment; or, that despite the terrible loss to the Egyptians there was still a remnant of prosperity in Judah.
4. (13-16) A summary of Rehoboam’s reign.
Thus King Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem and reigned. Now Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king; and 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. And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD. The acts of Rehoboam, first and last, are they not written in the book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer concerning genealogies? And there were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days. So Rehoboam rested with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David. Then Abijah his son reigned in his place.
a. Thus King Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem and reigned: Out of God’s mercy, he survived the threat from Shishak and reigned until his natural death.
b. And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD: This was the root of the problem with Rehoboam. He had even less of a relationship with God than his father Solomon did. At times he did seek the LORD, but never with a prepared heart.
i. “You see how readily Rehoboam went, first towards God, then towards idols, and then back again, towards God; he was always ready to shift and change, he wrought no great reforms in the land; we do not read that, he held a great passover, as Hezekiah did, or that the high places were taken away; but, as soon as Shishak was gone, he felt perfectly content. There was not anything real and permanent in his religion; it did not hold him. He held it sometimes, but it never held him.” (Spurgeon)
c. So Rehoboam rested with his fathers: The Chronicler seems to give more attention to the life of Rehoboam than the writer of 1 Kings. This may be because Rehoboam is somewhat of a pattern and an encouragement to the returning exiles to whom the Chronicler first wrote.
i. “Chronicles’ over-all view of Rehoboam [has] quite a different feel from Kings. While accepting Rehoboam’s very real failings as a leader, Chronicles is keen to demonstrate the value of repentance and the extent of God’s mercy.” (Selman)
ii. “As the first king of Judah, Rehoboam is an example of God’s dealings with David’s whole dynasty.” (Selman)
iii. Therefore, the following themes are seen in Chronicles’ description of Rehoboam:
· Obedience to the prophetic word (2 Chronicles 11:1-4).
· Strengthening the kingdom through building work (2 Chronicles 11:5-12).
· Activities of priests, Levites, and those who seek God (2 Chronicles 11:13-17).
· An expanding royal family (2 Chronicles 11:18-21).
· Humble repentance (2 Chronicles 12:5-12).