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The strengthening of Rehoboam's kingdom.

1 And when Rehoboam was vites that were in all Israel recome to Jerusalem, he gathered sorted to him out of all their of the house of Judah and Ben- coasts. jamin an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam.

2 But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,

3 Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying,

4 Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house for this thing is done of me. And they obeyed the words of the LORD, and returned from going against Jeroboam.

5 And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defence in Judah.

6 He built even Beth-lehem, and Etam, and Tekoa,

14 For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office unto the LORD: 15 And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made.

16 And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers.

17 So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon.

18 And Rehoboam took him Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David to wife,

7 And Beth-zur, and Shoco, and Abihail the daughter of Eand Adullum, liab the son of Jesse;

8 And Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph,

19 Which bare him children; Jeush, and Shamariah, and Za

9 And Adoraim, and Lachish, ham. and Azekah,

10 And Zorah, and Aijalon, and Hebron, which are in Judah and in Benjamin fenced cities.

11 And he fortified the strong holds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine.

12 And in every several city he put shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong, having Judah and Benjamin on his side.

13 And the priests and the Le

20 And after her he took Maachah the daughter of Absalom; which bare him Abijah, and Attai, and Ziza, and Shelomith.

21 And Rehoboam loved Maachah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and his concubines: (for he took eighteen wives, and threescore concubines; and begat twenty and eight sons, and threescore daughters.)

22 And Rehoboam made Abijah the son of Maachah the

chief, to be ruler among his brethren: for he thought to make him king.

23 And he dealt wisely, and dispersed of all his children

throughout all the countries of Judah and Benjamin, unto every fenced city: and he gave them victual in abundance. And he desired many wives.

LECTURE 685.

What it is that most strengthens a state.

How great was the foolishness of Rehoboam, in desiring many wives, and in actually taking "eighteen wives, and threescore concubines!" How entirely must such conduct have deprived him of all the peace and comfort of domestic life! How great was the danger, that with so many clashing interests, especially as his numerous progeny grew up, fresh civil disturbances would arise, and his kingdom be yet further disunited! Wisely as he dealt in separating his children, for the prevention of mutual strife, he would have done more wisely in restraining his own desires within the bounds of moderation. If we would aim at the praise of wisdom, let it be something better than the wisdom of repairing errors, even the wisdom of not committing them.

And let us not think, that shields and spears and fenced cities were the things that chiefly constituted the strength of Rehoboam's kingdom. As if on purpose to obviate this error, we are told first how the priests and Levites that were driven by Jeroboam out of the kingdom of Israel resorted to Rehoboam; and then how "out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers." Upon which it is added, "So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon;" that is to say, in the way of the ordinances of the Lord. This it was then that strengthened Rehoboam's kingdom, the presence of so many faithful servants of God. And it was their faithfulness to God, not their numbers, that made them a source of strength. For it was only as long as they walked in the right way, that they made Rehoboam strong. They might be as numerous afterwards as before. But He whom they had then forsaken was One with whom there was no restraint, as Jonathan had said, "to save by many or by few." 1 Sam. 14. 6. And He was one who had restrained Himself, to save and guard and prosper these his chosen people, only so long as they were faithful and obedient. What then is it that now also makes a nation really strong? Its wealth? No, not its wealth. Its numbers? Not its numbers. Its fenced cities, or stores of arms, or mighty armaments? Not these, but the true faith and piety of its people. That nation in which God's truth is established, and which abounds with such as set their hearts to seek the Lord, has a strength which nothing can impair, except its own departure from God.

PART IV. O. T.

Tt

Rehoboam is spoiled by 1 And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him.

2 And it came to pass, that in the fifth year of king Rehoboam Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the LORD,

3 With twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt; the Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethiopians.

4 And he took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem.

5 Then came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam, and to the princes of Judah, that were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak.

6 Whereupon the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, The LORD is righteous.

7 And 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; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak.

8 Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know

Shishak. He dieth. my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.

9 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 all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made.

10 Instead of which king Rehoboam made shields of brass, and committed them to the hands of the chief of the guard, that kept the entrance of the king's house.

11 And when the king entered into the house of the LORD, the guard came and fetched them, and brought them again into the guard chamber.

12 And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD turned from him, that he would not destroy him altogether: and also in Judah things went well.

13 So king Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem, and reigned: for Rehoboam was one and forty years old when he began to reign, 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. And his mother's name was Naamah an Ammonitess.

14 And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.

15 Now 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 continually.

16 And Rehoboam slept with the city of David: and Abijah his fathers, and was buried in his son reigned in his stead. LECTURE 686.

The use of suffering for sins we have repented of.

These two prophecies of Shemaiah are not set down in the corresponding history of the First Book of Kings. See 1 Kings 14. Taken together they prove to us most plainly, that God deals with man as with a reasonable and accountable creature ; and that the most positive declarations of his word are always to be understood, as spoken subject to the conditions of justice, and mercy, consistently with truth. "Thus saith the Lord," said Shemaiah to Rehoboam and the assembled princes of Judah, "Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak." What occasion could be more public, more solemn? What words more absolute? Yet no sooner did the king and princes humble themselves, saying, "The Lord is righteous," than 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; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak." And yet "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent." Num. 23. 19. He cannot be said to repent as we do, when we change our minds. It is always his mind to love that which is good, and to do that which is right. It is always his mind to punish the wicked. But it is also always his mind to forgive the penitent.

Though however He did not leave his people altogether in the hand of Shishak, he declared to Shemaiah, "They shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries," that they may know the one from the other, that they may feel the difference between them. Perhaps it is for a like cause, that God often brings it to pass, that those who repent and are forgiven go through much of suffering in this present world, in connexion with the very sins they have repented of. The indulgence of some guilty passion may have long been viewed with godly sorrow, renounced, and utterly abhorred; and may yet bear fruit of many troubles, to teach the repentant sinner, by comparison, how wide is the difference between serving God and serving Satan. Let this be the use to which we put any pains, or griefs, or cares, arising from the past practice of sins now renounced. And if one while we are enjoying the delightful conviction of being reconciled to God through Christ, and another while are distracted with torture, or harassed with anxiety, or wrestling in agony with the remains of early and vicious habits, let us say within ourselves, thanking God for the useful lesson thus afforded us, Now by this I know what it is to serve my Saviour, as compared with serving the prince of this world and my own sinful lusts.

Tt 2

Abijah defeateth Jeroboam.

1 Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam began Abijah to reign over Judah.

2 He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3 And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men: Jeroboam also set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, being mighty men of valour.

4 And Abijah stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which is in mount Ephraim, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel; 5 Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt? 6 Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, is risen up, and hath rebelled against his lord.

7 And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tender-hearted, and could not withstand them.

8 And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with you golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods.

9 Have ye not cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner

of the nations of other lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a priest of them that are no gods.

10 But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests, which minister unto the LORD, are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business:

11 And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him. 12 And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper. 13 But Jeroboam caused an ambushment to come about behind them: so they were before Judah, and the ambushment was behind them.

14 And when Judah looked back, behold, the battle was before and behind: and they cried unto the LORD, and the priests sounded with the trumpets.

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15 Then the men of Judah gave shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.

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16 And the children of Israel fled before Judah and God delivered them into their hand. 17 And Abijah and his people

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