Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament1 KINGS 14
JEROBOAM TRYING TO HIDE FROM GOD;
PROPHECIES REGARDING ISRAEL'S CAPTIVITY AND HARDENING;
REHOBOAM'S LOSS OF THE GOLDEN SHIELDS
Following the death of Solomon and the division of Israel into two kingdoms, there came a dramatic shift in the interest of the sacred narrator. Kings became less and less important, and the prophets of God moved up front and center stage in Biblical emphasis. This chapter focuses upon the word of Jehovah to the prophet Ahijah, but it summarizes the whole twenty-two years of Jeroboam's reign in a few short lines (1 Kings 14:19-20).
To all intents and purposes of God, the monarchy of Israel had already ended in total failure and disgrace, and from that time forward Israel's only hope was to be found in their honoring of the word of the holy prophets. The racial nation, that is, the vast majority of them, also missed that hope, even rejecting the Christ when he came.
In the preceding two chapters, we were astounded at the excuses many modern writers offer for Jeroboam's installation of his bull calf-idols at Dan and Bethel, because the true and correct evaluation of Jeroboam's conduct in his installation of those idols is spelled out clearly in the words of God's prophet in this chapter.
JEROBOAM ADMITTED HIS ALIENATION FROM GOD
At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. And Jeroboam said to his wife, Arise, I pray thee, and disguise thyself, that thou be not known to be the wife of Jeroboam; and get thee to Shiloh: behold, there is Ahijah the prophet, who spake concerning me that I should be king over this people. And take with thee ten loaves, and cakes, and a cruse of honey, and go to him: he will tell thee what shall become of the child. And Jeroboam's wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age. And Jehovah said unto Ahijah, Behold, the wife of Jeroboam cometh to inquire of thee concerning her son; for he is sick: thus and thus shalt thou say unto her; for it will be, when she cometh in, that she will feign herself to be another woman.
Jeroboam in this maneuver confessed his estrangement from God, but he thought by hiding his identity that he might procure God's blessing by subterfuge.
TRYING TO HIDE FROM GOD
I. Adam and Eve tried to hide in Eden.
II. Ahab tried to hide in battle (1 Kings 22:30).
III. Jonah tried to hide by flight to Tarshish.
IV. Some try to hide from God by moving to some large city.
V. Forsaking the church is a means of hiding from God for some.
VI. Jeroboam found that no man can hide from God.
Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick
(1 Kings 14:1). Both the word of the prophet and the mourning of the people indicate that Abijah was not wicked like his father.
(1 Kings 14:2). It is strange indeed that Jeroboam believed that he could deceive Ahijah. Of course, Ahijah was blind, and that might have prompted Jeroboam's foolish maneuver.
Take . ten loaves ... cakes ... cruse of honey
(1 Kings 14:3). What a paltry gift from a king! She was pretending to be the wife of a farmer.
And Jehovah said unto Ahijah
(1 Kings 14:5). The message of God for Jeroboam through this prophet is the important part of this chapter, and that comes next.
GOD'S MESSAGE TO JEROBOAM AND TO ISRAEL (1 Kings 14:6-16)
And it was so, when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, that he said, Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself to be another? for I am sent to thee with heavy tidings.
The disguise did not work. It is always so. Adam and Eve in the garden; Jonah on the ship, bound for Tarshish; Ahab in the battle; and the Christian who quits the church -- all people, sooner or later, find that God indeed sees and knows!
GOD'S MESSAGE OF REJECTION TO JEROBOAM
Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel: Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel, and rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee; and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes, but hast done evil above all that were before thee, and hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back: therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every man-child, him that is shut up and him that is left at large in Israel, and will utterly sweep away the house of Jeroboam, as a man sweepeth away dung, till it be all gone.
And hast gone and made thee other gods
(1 Kings 14:9). This verse out of the mouth of one of God's true prophets contradicts all of that nonsense written by some present-day commentators who explain Jeroboam's golden bulls as symbols of Jehovah, or as pedestals upon which the invisible Jehovah stood. Those bulls were idols in the simplest and most shameful sense! God, in this passage, through the mouth of Ahijah, called them what they certainly were -- other gods. How do the critics get around that? We shall explain this following 1 Kings 14:16.
FURTHER BAD NEWS FOR JEROBOAM
Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the birds of the heavens eat: for Jehovah hath spoken it. Arise thou therefore, get thee to thy house: [and] when thy feet enter into the city, the child shall die. And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him; for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward Jehovah, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam.
Jeroboam inquired of the prophet concerning one of his sons, but here he learned the fate of all of them, and these indeed were heavy tidings as the prophet had promised in 1 Kings 14:5.
GOD'S REJECTION OF JEROBOAM AS KING OF ISRAEL
Moreover Jehovah will raise him up a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day: but what? even now.
God did not here promise that Jeroboam's successor would be a righteous king or even that he would be any better than Jeroboam, but that he would surely take care of the business of liquidating the house of Jeroboam.
But what? even now
(1 Kings 14:14). The RSV translates this, Who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam today, but that translation offers no help in understanding the passage. If the word today belongs in the passage, then it applies to the action of God, not to the action of Jeroboam's successor. God cut off Jeroboam and rejected him the day the prophet spoke, but that did not mean that Jeroboam would be replaced that day. Just as in the case of Saul, God rejected him and cut him off' a long time before the Philistines killed him!
PROPHECIES OF THE REMOVAL OF ISRAEL FROM PALESTINE; THEIR DEPORTION BEYOND THE EUPHRATES; AND OF THEIR EVENTUAL JUDICIAL HARDENING
Verses 15, 16
For Jehovah will smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water; and he will root up Israel out of this good land which he gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the River, because they have made their Asherim, provoking Jehovah to anger. And he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he hath sinned, and wherewith he hath made Israel to sin.
He will root up Israel out of this good land . and scatter them beyond the River
(1 Kings 14:15). Many of the scholars which we have consulted on this chapter are of no help whatever. Here we have one of the great O.T. prophecies, spoken long centuries before its fulfillment, regarding the removal of Israel from Palestine and the scattering of them beyond the Euphrates; but the critical community which have assigned to themselves the task of getting rid of all predictive prophecy in the Bible, reject this prophecy out of hand. How?
They declare that the words of this prophecy are not from God at all, but from a "Deuteronomist editor,"F1 or that they are merely, "A statement of the philosophy of the final editors of Kings."F2
This writer is unwilling to allow any human being, regardless of his alleged scholarship, to take a passage from the Holy Bible which is there attributed to one of God's prophets, and which is certified unto us under the declaration that, "Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel," and then to write that, "The prophecy is merely the opinion of the historian," and that it was falsely put into the mouth of God's prophet by some mythical editor living centuries afterward. This writer has never seen a single line of proof regarding such false theories, and, if the critics can prove it, why haven't they done it? We feel only pity for those who may be willing to accept the imaginations of critics instead of the Bible.
To this writer, that type of Biblical commentary is nothing but unbelief, and our reaction to it is the same as that of the apostle Paul, "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4). If one should allow such false "explanations" of any prophecy, it would be the equivalent of discarding the Holy Bible and allowing the enemies of Christianity to re-write it!
In this passage, we are confronted with the fundamental conflict between our acceptance of this Bible as the true Word of God and the evil insinuations of many writers to the effect that it is no such thing. If they do not believe it is the Word of God, why should they discuss it at all? If, as some affirm, it is merely the philosophy of later editors, it is less than worthless. And to repeat the question, "Why do they write about it"? We believe the true answer for some such writers, at least, is that their purpose is to destroy Christian faith.
He will give Israel up, because of. sin
(1 Kings 14:16). This prophecy of God is just as wonderful as the other one in this passage. It is amazing that none of the commentators available to us has even mentioned this, and yet it is one of the great O.T. prophecies regarding Israel, namely, that God would give them up. The first chapter of Romans explains what it means when God gives up a people, or a person (Romans 1:24,26,28). It is the same as judicial hardening, blinding, darkening of the mind, or the sending of a strong delusion. Like all other prophecies of God, this one also was fulfilled. Isaiah stated that it had already happened (Isaiah 6:9-10), and his statement is repeatedly quoted in the N.T. (Matt. 13:13ff and Acts 28:26ff).
THE DEATH OF JEROBOAM'S SON, ABIJAH
Verses 17, 18
And Jeroboam's wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah: [and] as she came to the threshold of the house, the child died. And all Israel buried him, and mourned for him, according to the word of Jehovah, which he spake by his servant Ahijah the prophet.
Jeroboam's wife arose,. and came to Tirzah
(1 Kings 14:17). This place was a few miles northeast of Shechem where the royal residence was located in the times of Jeroboam.F3 Just as God's prophet had said it would happen, Abijah died as soon as Jeroboam's wife came home. It seems very strange to us that none of the critics have denied that this happened. Perhaps they deny only those passages which contradict their false theories. Ahijah's prophecy of the child's death was just as valid as the other prophecies.
A SUMMARY OF THE TWENTY-TWO YEAR REIGN OF JEROBOAM
Verses 19, 20
And the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred, and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. And the days which Jeroboam reigned were two and twenty years: and he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his stead.
What a short history of a reign that lasted nearly a quarter of a century! We shall frequently see this type of summary regarding the reigns of the kings in both Israel and Judah as we continue this study in Kings, the reason being that the sole importance of any of them regarded their faithfulness or unfaithfulness to God. Their wars, their building projects, and many other things that occupied them were of no eternal importance whatever.
THE ACCOUNT OF REHOBOAM'S EVIL REIGN IN JUDAH
And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which Jehovah had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there: and his mother's name was Naamah the Ammonitess. And Judah did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, above all that their fathers had done. For they also built them high places, and pillars, and Asherim, on every high hill, and under every green tree; and there were also sodomites in the land: they did according to all the abominations of the nations which Jehovah drove out before the children of Israel.
Little comment is needed here. Rehoboam was an evil king just like his father, and he did absolutely nothing to restrain the wickedness of the people who followed the style of idolatry with their high places and Asherim, just as their kinsmen in northern Israel were doing under the encouragement of Jeroboam. In short, all Israel was rapidly descending into the very same idolatry that was practiced by the Canaanites whom God drove out before them. The prophet Ezekiel charged that the children of Israel actually became worse than Sodom and Gomorrah (Ezekiel 16:47-52). That horrible decline was stimulated and aggravated by the actions of Jeroboam.
REHOBOAM MADE SHIELDS OF BRASS TO REPLACE THE LOST SHIELDS OF GOLD
And it came to pass 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 Jehovah, and the treasures of the king's house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. And king Rehoboam made in their stead shields of brass, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who kept the door of the king's house. And it was so, that, as oft as the king went into the house of Jehovah, the guard bare them, and brought them back into the guard-chamber.
This tragic loss of the golden shields of Solomon was a physical disaster that was, in a sense, an eloquent parable of what had already happened spiritually in Israel. Their golden shields of trust in God and faithfulness to his word they had exchanged for high places and their Asherim and their pillars with their vulgar and licentious ceremonies.
AMERICA TODAY SHOULD KEEP OUR SHIELDS OF GOLD WHILE WE STILL HAVE THEM
These golden shields are our faith in God, our Christian value judgments, the sanctity of marriage, the dignity of honest labor, the faithful worship of God, Biblical morality, honesty, sobriety, chastity, truthfulness, individual responsibility, and faith in the Bible. Like the golden shields of Rehoboam, we did not create these wonderful blessings. We inherited them from our ancestors who came to America, primarily to find a place to worship God after the manner of their own convictions in the light of the Word of God. When the forty-eight contiguous states of our country were founded, forty-seven of them, according to Dean Clarence Manion, Head of the College of Law at Notre Dame University, incorporated the Decalogue into their state constitutions.
Like poor, wicked Rehoboam, we have our own Shishaks determined to take away our shields of gold -- all of them. In place of the sacredness of our homes, they would give us endless divorces, homosexual debauchery as an "alternate" lifestyle, immoral cohabitation of the unwed, abandoned and abused children, and pitiful teenage parents. In place of our faith in God, they would give us faith in nothing, mistrust, hopelessness and despair. In place of the Biblical morality they would give us the degenerate shame of vulgar licentiousness. In place of the sanctity of human life, they would give us the aborted fetuses of millions of unborn human beings. In place of the worship of God, they offer us the worthless entertainment of all kinds of bowls, stadiums, domes and fields! In place of our faith in the Bible, we are offered the speculative nonsense of critics who do not believe it.
We may be certain that if we are foolish enough to trade in our inheritance for what is offered us instead, that we shall find in it no more satisfaction than the Israelites found in their shields of brass! May God open the eyes of America! For further comments regarding the Golden Shield which Americans know as "our government," see Vol. 6 (Romans) of our N.T. commentaries, pp. 435, 436.
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 continually. And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and his mother's name was Naamah the Ammonitess. And Abijam his son reigned in his stead.
This is the type of summary that God will write after each of the kings of divided Israel as their tragic records are unfolded in Kings.
Footnotes for 1 Kings 14
1: Arthur S. Peake's Commentary, p. 301.
2: The Layman's Bible Commentary, p. 52.
3: The Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 3, p. 129.