Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
1 Kings 1:31).
I. SOLOMON IS DEAD.
1. His active form is no longer seen.
(1) He "slept with his fathers" (1 Kings 11:43). He has stiffened into a corpse. Perfectly passive now! What a moral! The doom of all Work while it is day.
(2) He was "buried in the city of David his father." He had a royal funeral. But all this state was simply to bury him - to put him out of sight. Much wisdom is buried alive in state display.
(3) Jeroboam may now return from Egypt. The protection of Shishak is no longer needed. Human wrath has its limitations. Not so Divine wrath (see Matthew 10:28).
2. Where is the disembodied spirit?
(1) Not extinct. Not in stupor. The term "sleep" relates to the body. It anticipates for it an awaking - a resurrection.
(2) Stirring in the world of spirits as it stirred when embodied in this world of matter.
(3) What a world is that! How populous! How darkly veiled! yet how interesting to us who are on our way thither!
II. BUT HE SURVIVES IN REHOBOAM. This fact is the ground of -
1. Rehoboam's claim to the throne.
(1) He is Solomon's representative. This is more than a law phrase. Had he not been the son of Solomon he would not have been invited to Shechem. We inherit responsibilities.
(2) Solomon lives in Rehoboam with a potency to move "all Israel." See the nation from Dan to Beersheba, under this influence, streaming down to Shechem.
2. The nation's suit to the claimant.
(1) In this they recognise the claim of Solomon's representative to the crown.
(3) How history verifies prophecy (see 1 Samuel 8:10-18).
III. SO SURVIVING, HIS INFLUENCE IS MODIFIED.
1. A new individual appears.
(1) Rehoboam is not the facsimile of Solomon. He is indeed the son of a wise man; but the son, not of his wisdom, but of his folly. His mother was an Ammonitess. This fact is emphasised, according to the Hebrew style, by being stated and restated (1 Kings 14:21, 31).
(2) His character is the resultant of the influences of Solomon, of Naamah, and of those which also flowed into the current of his life during the apostasy of his father. He became the impersonation of these various moral forces.
(3) The influence of Solomon in Rehoboam, therefore, is considerably modified. Parents are to a large extent responsible not only for their own direct influence upon the character of their children, but also for the contemporary influences to which they allow them to be exposed.
2. New relationships have therefore to be formed.
(1) The people suffered the imposts of Solomon while he lived. They grew upon them by degrees, and brought with them a system of vested interests. The whole system became so crystallized around the person of the king that it was difficult to obtain relief.
(2) Now Solomon is dead all this is loosened, and the opportunity is given for the nation to remonstrate. They are prompt to improve it.
(3) Jeroboam is not only present now, which he would not have been had Solomon lived, but is made the spokesman of the people.
(4) Rehoboam confesses the force of these altered circumstances in listening to the suit, and taking time to deliberate upon the nature of his reply. The value of influences is a most profitable subject for Christian consideration; present - posthumous (see 2 Peter 1:15). - M.
I. DANGERS OFTEN COME DISGUISED.
1. It was a time of joyous expectation. Nothing betokened the nearness of rebellion and disaster. All Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. There was no dispute about the succession, and no unwillingness to own the sway of the house of David. All was hopeful. Danger may lurk in joy like a venomous insect in a flower.
2. The people's request was reasonable. Rehoboam could shield himself under no plea of Divine right. David was appointed to shepherd Israel, and the people had a right to protest against their burdens.
3. Their demand seems to have been urged with moderation. There was as yet no determination to rebel. The issue lay with the king. It was to bear the stamp of his mind as well as theirs. There are moments that face us with a sudden demand to manifest the spirit that is in us and to make or mar our future. Should the demand come to thee today, what mark would be left, what work would be done?
II. A DANGER WISELY MET.
1. The importance of the juncture was felt and owned. He took time for consideration. A good decision is nothing the worse of a calm review: a bad one needs it.
2. He sought counsel. We are helped by the light of others' judgment, but above all we need the direction of God.
III. THE BEGINNING OF DISASTER.
1. A grave defect. Among all that is said of these three days there is no mention of his inquiring of the Lord, or lifting up one cry for guidance. There is pride and passion in us which only God can subdue: these retained are worse than all our foes; they can only harm us through the enemies we harbour within our breast.
2. The counsels of wisdom are rejected (vers. 7, 8).
3. The counsels of folly accepted (vers. 8-11). He was seeking for the reflection of his own proud, vengeful thought, and he now found it in the advice of those who were like minded. What we need is not the strengthening of our own judgment, but its correction by the utterance of love and righteousness and truth.
IV. FOLLY'S HARVEST.
1. The shame of rejection and desertion (ver. 16).
2. His last attempt to assert his authority defeated (ver. 18).
3. His ignominious flight. He who might have won a kingdom has to flee for his life.
4. The separation of the ten tribes completed (vers. 19, 20). If Rehoboam had fled from the evil which was in himself, he would not have required to flee from his people. We give birth to the terrors which pursue us. There is but one flight possible from loss and death - the flight from sin. - U.
I. LIMITED MONARCHY IS BEST FOR THE PEOPLE.
1. Because it recognises their rights.
(1) The people do not exist for the king. They may be governed as republic without a king.
(2) But the king exists for the people. Where no people are there can be no king.
(3) For a king, therefore, to use the people simply for his own aggrandisement and ignore their rights is preposterous (Jeremiah 2:14).
2. respects their happiness.
(1) Since the people collectively are of more importance than an individual monarch, the haughty bearing of a monarch is out of place. So the sages counselled Rehoboam to "serve" the people and "speak good words to them."
(2) The interests of a good king will be bound up with the happiness of his subjects, and he cannot reasonably object to a constitution that will recognise this community of interests.
II. IT IS BEST ALSO FOR THE PRINCE.
1. It encourages his virtues.
(1) It does this by limiting his extravagance. Solomon would have been far happier had his people been saved the charge of building palaces for, and sustaining in state, seven hundred princesses and three hundred concubines.
(2) For what would be necessary to sustain his rank a constitutional king might trust the good sense of his people. At Shechem they did not seek exemption from taxation, but relief from its excesses. They knew that it would not be to the credit of a great people to pauperise their prince.
2. It gives stability to his throne.
(1) "They will be thy servants forever." Such was the manner in which this was expressed by the sages. It will be their interest to be so. Gratitude also will bind them. The loyalty of love is stronger and more enduring than that of fear. This is the loyalty which the gospel claims, and the constancy of the subjects of the kingdom of Christ is witnessed in's million martyrdoms.
(2) Who rules over a loving people may be tranquil. He need not fear the poniard of the assassin. (This is the paradise of tyrants!) He will have the joy of ruling over a happy nation. The typical constitutional monarch is the father of his people.
III. ADVOCATES OF TYRANNY SCORN TO REASON.
1. The young counsellors give no reasons.
(1) This method they leave to the ancients. For reasons they substitute smart speech. "Thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins." Pertness too often has displaced reason.
(2) Why should reasons be given by one who claims a Divine right to act as he pleases?
2. But may there not be a benevolant autocracy?
(1) Certainly. And if this can be guaranteed, together with competent wisdom, then there is no better government. For is not this the very idea of the government of God?
(2) But who can guarantee this in human kingdoms? The people certainly are as likely to know what is for their welfare as the majority of their kings.
(3) What if the autocrat should prove a fool? What if he should prove a devil? Would not a kingdom in this case be a hell upon earth?
(4) Rehoboam seems to have combined the satanic and the foolish. Lost the greater part of his kingdom; reigned over the remnant wickedly. Christians should pray for their rulers. They should bless God for their liberties. - M.
I. IN HIS REFUSAL TO HEARKEN TO THE PEOPLE.
1. They assembled to honour him.
(1) He was invited to Shechem to meet them that they might crown him.
(2) They promised to serve him as they had served his father. They had a reservation, but -
2. Their reservation was not unreasonable.
(1) They had suffered what they called a "grievous yoke" of taxation and servitude, of which they desired a relaxation. Had they not a right to demand this? Did the people exist to be the slaves of their kings?
(2) They did not ask to be released from all taxation and service. They acknowledged the duty of sustaining the legitimate burdens of the state. Why, then, did he not hearken?
II. IN THE ANSWER HE GAVE THEM.
1. Respecting his father's administration.
(1) He owned that his father had ruled with rigour; that he had made their yoke heavy. He put it even stronger than the complainants; that he had "chastised them with whips."
(2) Might he not rather have softened it to them? He could have reminded them that Solomon had created their commerce; that their commerce had so enriched them that they might hear the taxes; that his wisdom had made the nation great and respected; that he had built their temple; that they had something for their taxes in great public works.
(3) But he lacked, not only the wisdom of his father, but also the feelings of a good son.
2. Respecting his own.
(1) He declares that he will rule them more oppressively than his father did; that he will increase their burdens and sting them with "scorpions" - knotted whips armed with iron points.
(2) These rough and hard words were paraded and rendered more offensive by the rough and hard manner (ver. 18).
(3) How gratuitous was this insolence! What but infatuation could have prompted it? It is seen -
III. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES ATTENDING THE ANSWER.
1. It was deliberately given.
(1) It could not claim the excuse of being uttered thoughtlessly in haste, for he had taken three days to consider it.
(2) In taking these three days the tyrant betrayed the fool. It gave the people time to confer and agree upon a policy.
2. It was advisedly given.
(1) He did not speak without counsel. He had taken the advice of the wits with whom he had been brought up.
(2) He had also consulted the sages who had been schooled in the wisdom of Solomon, and he might have acted upon it but did not.
(3) He left God out of his counsels, though his Shechinah was still in the temple.
3. He trusted in his fortune.
(1) He was the son of Solomon. Probably the only son. We read of no other; had there been one he would probably have been mentioned as a rival who would keep the nation united. (Note: population is not increased by polygamy. Hosea 4:10.) Rehoboam, therefore, presumed upon the strength of his claim to the throne.
(2) Even the presence of Jeroboam at the head of the remonstrants did not shake his confidence in his fortune. He could scarcely have been ignorant of the message of God to his father, and the corresponding prophecy of Ahijah. But what are the words of Jehovah to this son of Naamah the Ammonitess, whose national god was Molech?
(3) But the Providence he ignored is seen in the infatuation that ignored it. The cause, the (סבה) revolution, was from the Lord (ver. 15.) "They that lose the kingdom of heaven throw it away as Rehoboam did his, by their own willfulness and folly" (Matthew Henry). Miserable is the infatuation that imperils the salvation of the soul. - M.
(1) at the human element,
(2) at the Divine element, in this transaction. It is full of meaning forevery age.
I. THE HUMAN ELEMENT. The rending of the kingdom was not a sudden event that came without warning. As in all such cases, a variety of circumstances prepared the way for it. There were slumbering sources of mischief, certain conditions of thought and feeling, specially old jealousies between the tribes of Ephraim and Judah, that made it inevitable. But having regard to the nearer occasions, note
(1) How the seed of evil sown in one generation bears deadly fruit in the next. Trace the calamity back to the time when Solomon's heart first began to turn from the Lord. The root of it lay in his idolatry, and in the oppressions into which his luxury led him. That idolatry undermined the deepest foundation of the nation's unity in its loyalty to Jehovah, the Great Invisible King; that tyranny violated the public sense of righteousness, which is the strength of every nation, and kindled smouldering fire of discontent, which was sure, when occasion served, to burst into a flame. So true is it that the evil, as well as the good, men do "lives after them." Through the subtle relations that exist between man and man, generation and generation, the possible influence of any form of wrong doing can never be measured. It spreads in widening circles. As in the line of individual history every man reaps what he sows -
"Our deeds still travel with us from afar, (2) The danger there is in following the prompting of foolish inexperience and headstrong self will. Rehoboam was wise in taking counsel of his advisers in this emergency. His folly lay in listening to those who flattered his vanity, rather than those whose prudence was a safer guide; and in supposing that, whether the discontent that urged the plea of oppression was reasonable or not, heavier oppression would cure it. It is a familiar picture of human life that we have here. "Days should speak, and multitude of years teach wisdom" (Job 32:7); but how often is the counsel of youthful incompetence followed because it is more agreeable. There is a time to resist as well as to yield; but experience shows that the pride that refuses all reasonable concession, and perhaps adds insult to wrong, defeats its own end. To stoop is often to conquer. To humble one's self is the way to be exalted. Imperious self will rushes blindly to its own ruin. Kindly human sympathy and generous self abandonment win honour and power. "He that would be great among you," etc. (Matthew 20:26, 27). II. THE DIVINE ELEMENT. This is seen in two respects. (1) So far as these events were the result of the wrong doing of men, God ordains the laws by virtue of which that result comes to pass. All sin is a defiance of the Divine Authority. But the sovereignty of God is proclaimed in the very disasters that follow it and avenge it. What is the punishment of sin but an assertion, in a form that cannot be avoided, of the authority against which it is a rebellion? We can no more avert the penalty that treads on the heels of trangression than we can escape from our own shadow, or change the course of nature, and that because we cannot get beyond the reach of God. The law that governs it is backed by all the forces of Omnipotence. It is but a phase of the Will that is "holy and just and good." Learn to look through all the wayward and uncertain forms of human action to the majesty of that Eternal Righteousness that "cannot be mocked," but will vindicate itself in unfailing sequences of reward and punishment. (2) Evil as these events and doings may be, God works out through them His own all-wise purposes. The principle involved in this may be profoundly mysterious to us, but the fact is too manifest to be denied. Jeroboam may have been utterly wrong in the spirit that moved him, taking advantage of tribal jealousy for the purposes of his own ambition; and yet he did but fulfil the Divine decree expressed through Ahijah the Shilonite (1 Kings 11:29 seq.), and even through the prediction of the patriarch Jacob, which gave to Joseph the ascendancy and declared that the seed of Ephraim should "become a multitude of nations." Rehoboam's high-handed policy was without excuse, and yet he and his foolish counsellors were but ministers of the Divine purpose, maintaining God's choice of the house of David, and helping to fulfil the prophecy that the "sceptre should not depart from Judah until Shiloh come." All history is full of illustrations of the way in which God makes the evil of the world, in itself essentially at variance with His will, to serve Him. All streams of human folly and wrong, wandering and tortuous as they may be, become tributary to the great river of His purpose, "He maketh the wrath of man to praise Him." The highest example is the sacrifice of Jesus, man's iniquity working out the world's redemption. "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands," etc. (Acts 2:23). The final verification of this truth belongs to the time when, out of all the sin and strife and sorrow of the ages, God shall bring forth the glorious triumph of His gracious sovereignty, the gathering together into one of all things in Christ." - W.
(2) The danger there is in following the prompting of foolish inexperience and headstrong self will. Rehoboam was wise in taking counsel of his advisers in this emergency. His folly lay in listening to those who flattered his vanity, rather than those whose prudence was a safer guide; and in supposing that, whether the discontent that urged the plea of oppression was reasonable or not, heavier oppression would cure it. It is a familiar picture of human life that we have here. "Days should speak, and multitude of years teach wisdom" (Job 32:7); but how often is the counsel of youthful incompetence followed because it is more agreeable. There is a time to resist as well as to yield; but experience shows that the pride that refuses all reasonable concession, and perhaps adds insult to wrong, defeats its own end. To stoop is often to conquer. To humble one's self is the way to be exalted. Imperious self will rushes blindly to its own ruin. Kindly human sympathy and generous self abandonment win honour and power. "He that would be great among you," etc. (Matthew 20:26, 27).
II. THE DIVINE ELEMENT. This is seen in two respects.
(1) So far as these events were the result of the wrong doing of men, God ordains the laws by virtue of which that result comes to pass. All sin is a defiance of the Divine Authority. But the sovereignty of God is proclaimed in the very disasters that follow it and avenge it. What is the punishment of sin but an assertion, in a form that cannot be avoided, of the authority against which it is a rebellion? We can no more avert the penalty that treads on the heels of trangression than we can escape from our own shadow, or change the course of nature, and that because we cannot get beyond the reach of God. The law that governs it is backed by all the forces of Omnipotence. It is but a phase of the Will that is "holy and just and good." Learn to look through all the wayward and uncertain forms of human action to the majesty of that Eternal Righteousness that "cannot be mocked," but will vindicate itself in unfailing sequences of reward and punishment.
(2) Evil as these events and doings may be, God works out through them His own all-wise purposes. The principle involved in this may be profoundly mysterious to us, but the fact is too manifest to be denied. Jeroboam may have been utterly wrong in the spirit that moved him, taking advantage of tribal jealousy for the purposes of his own ambition; and yet he did but fulfil the Divine decree expressed through Ahijah the Shilonite (1 Kings 11:29 seq.), and even through the prediction of the patriarch Jacob, which gave to Joseph the ascendancy and declared that the seed of Ephraim should "become a multitude of nations." Rehoboam's high-handed policy was without excuse, and yet he and his foolish counsellors were but ministers of the Divine purpose, maintaining God's choice of the house of David, and helping to fulfil the prophecy that the "sceptre should not depart from Judah until Shiloh come." All history is full of illustrations of the way in which God makes the evil of the world, in itself essentially at variance with His will, to serve Him. All streams of human folly and wrong, wandering and tortuous as they may be, become tributary to the great river of His purpose, "He maketh the wrath of man to praise Him." The highest example is the sacrifice of Jesus, man's iniquity working out the world's redemption. "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands," etc. (Acts 2:23). The final verification of this truth belongs to the time when, out of all the sin and strife and sorrow of the ages, God shall bring forth the glorious triumph of His gracious sovereignty, the gathering together into one of all things in Christ." - W.
I. REHOBOAM'S FEEBLENESS OF CHARACTER. We should expect of one who succeeded to the throne in the prime of his life some clear notions of the policy he would pursue. Brought up in a court to which the rulers of other peoples came (1 Kings 10:24), over which the wisest king of that age ruled, he was rich in natural advantages. He could also have discovered for himself the condition of the people, their causes of complaint, etc. Had he given himself to such thought he would have been prepared for prompt and resolute action on his accession. Instead of this he seems helpless; turns now to these and now to those for counsel, and has not even enough wisdom to weigh the value of advice when it is given. "Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel," is a law of far-reaching application. Amongst the virtues we should inculcate in our children is that of sober self-reliance. It may be fostered in the home with safety and advantage. Trust a child with something which he is free to use or abuse, in order to test him, and develop in him this grace. Probably Rehoboam had been brought up in the harem, and so had the heart of a child, with the years of a man. All gifts must be exercised to increase their value. "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways," and an example of this lies before us.
II. REHOBOAM'S CONTEMPT OF EXPERIENCE. He consulted the old advisers of Solomon, it is true, but clearly for the look of the thing only. Directly after speaking with "the responsible ministers of the crown," he turned to the courtiers, who were far less able to advise in such a crisis. Job says, "With the ancients is wisdom; and in length of days understanding." This is not always true. A man may be old without being wise, he may go through many experiences without being experienced. Still, other things being equal, a long study of affairs gives knowledge and discretion. It would clearly be so, with men chosen by the wise Solomon. Besides, those who have already won their honours are more disinterested than those who are ambitiously seeking to win them; and those whose reputations are high are more careful to guard themselves against folly than those who have no reputation to lose. [Found on such principles the duties of submission to authority, of reverence to age, etc., which are the essentials of a happy home and of a peaceful society.]
III. REHOBOAM'S RESORT TO THE FOOLISH. The answer of the young men showed their folly. That such a spirit should exist is a proof that in the later years of Solomon the people about him had sadly deteriorated.
(1) These were the boon companions of Rehoboam, and knowing his haughty temper they flattered him to the top of his bent.
(2) They were courtiers brought up amid the luxuries of the splendid reign just ended, and knew little or nothing of the condition of the people. For these and other reasons they were of all others the most unfit to give counsel in this crisis. [Give examples from history of kings ruined by their favourites.] We should always suspect those who gratify our vanity, or seek to further our lower pleasures. Show the evils which arise, especially to weak characters, from foolish associates. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." "Forsake the foolish, and live." "Blessed is he that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful."
IV. REHOBOAM'S BOASTFULNESS OF HIS POWER. "My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins." A proverbial expression to denote that his power was greater than his father's. Such bragging is no sign of courage. At the first outbreak of rebellion, this boaster "made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem." A strong character expresses itself not in great words, but in great deeds. The boastful Peter fails, the silent John stands firm. The Pharisee is rejected, the publican justified. "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and he that exalteth himself shall be abased."
V. REHOBOAM'S ABUSE OF HIS AUTHORITY. "My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke," etc. This was not the speech of one who felt himself to be a shepherd of God's flock, but of one who assumed despotic authority. This was never permitted to a king of Israel, nor is it intended by God that any man should thus rule. It would be an evil to the ruler himself as well as to his people. Least of all is it to be tolerated in the Christian Church. The highest in ecclesiastical office are forbidden to be "lords over God's heritage," but are to be "examples to the flock." Christ said, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them... but ye shall not be so" (Luke 22:24-29).
VI. REHOBOAM'S NEGLECT OF PRAYER. How differently he began his reign from his father! Solomon went first to God; Rehoboam went hither and thither for counsel, but never turned to God at all. How often we act thus in our temporal perplexities, in our theological difficulties, etc. How sadly we forget the words, "If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God," etc. (James 1:5-8). Throw the lurid light of this story on Proverbs 1., and make personal application of the warning given there. - A.R.
I. IT COMMENCED WITH THE REJECTION OF THE KING.
1. This act was done in haste.
(1) By his hesitation at such a time, under such circumstances, to listen to their grievances, the people saw that Rehoboam was a tyrant. They accordingly availed themselves of the three days he took to consider his reply, to concert their measures, and were therefore ready for action.
(2) They soon "saw that the king hearkened not." He left them in no doubt, for he took high ground at once. And they were as prompt in their resolution.
2. It was done in anger.
(1) This is seen in the manner in which the leaders of the people mingle their advice to their constituents with their answer to the king (ver. 16).
(2) Also in the promptness with which the people acted upon the advice. "So Israel departed unto their tents."
3. But their anger carried them too far.
(1) Why include David in their resentment? Had they no inheritance in the son of Jesse? Would they have said so when David delivered them from the hand of Goliath? How fitful is the passion of the multitude! How soon are good men forgotten!
(2) In rejecting David did they not forsake the Lord who gave them David and his seed forever by a covenant of salt? (2 Chronicles 13:5-8.)
(3) In rejecting David, in whom was the promise of Messiah, did they not go far towards rejecting Christ? See Stephen's argument, Acts 7.
(4) Were they not impolitic in this? In so rejecting David they alienated from their cause the great tribe of Judah. Wrong is never truly politic.
(5) In their hot haste they do not consult God, either by urim or by prophet (Hosea 8:4).
II. IT WAS COMPLETED IN THE CROWNING OF JEROBOAM.
1. Between these acts there was an interval.
(1) While in their tents the Israelites were still open to consider. They were as yet committed to no policy for the future. Time and reflection might have shown them that their anger had been carried too far.
(2) Wise counsel now might have brought before them the evils of a division in the nation. Thus they would be weakened in the presence of the heathen. And in case of differences with Judah difficulties might arise in respect to their religious duties. For their temple was in the dominion of Judah. They may, therefore, be liable to temptations to irreligion, if not to idolatry.
(3) While in their tents they were likewise still open to negotiations. Reasonable concessions now from Rehoboam might bring them back to their allegiance.
2. But Rehoboam's .folly hastened the sequel
(1) He sent among them "Adoram, who was over the tribute." Adoram, from his office, was odious to them, for the taxes he had collected were the very ground of their complaint. Thus the infatuation of the king was as conspicuous in his choice of an ambassador as in that of his counsellors.
(2) The haste with which this was done aggravated the evil. It was done while he was yet in Shechem, before his return to Jerusalem. If Adoram was commissioned then to collect taxes, Rehoboam lost no time in producing his scorpion.
(3) Irritated as they were, this act roused their resentment to fury, and "all Israel stoned" Adoram to death.
3. They now completed the revolution.
(2) Israel, now free from the embarrassment of the monarch's presence proceeded at once to crown Jeroboam.
(3) But in all this there is no consultation with the Lord; yet to the letter are the predictions of Ahijah verified. There is a Providence in human affairs. Prophecy makes this evident. Wicked men are, in their very waywardness, unconsciously made the instruments of that Providence in bringing punishment upon themselves. - M.
Marseillaise of Israelitish history. We heard it first after the revolt of Absalom (2 Samuel 20:1). It appears to have originated with "Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite." The revolt described in our text was more serious, beginning as it did the ruin of Solomon's splendid kingdom. All such national events (the wars of the Roses, the civil war of the sixteenth century, the revolution of 1688, the French Revolution of the last century, etc.) are worthy of study. Moral causes lie at the root of them all, and the hand of God is over them all. The moral and Divine are more clearly revealed in Old Testament history; hence in part its value. In tracing this great revolution to its causes, we do not forget, though we do not dwell upon, two factors to which our attention is called by Scripture -
(1) the design of God, and
(2) the ambition of Jeroboam.
We must remember, however, in regard to the former that God expressly declared that He would base future events on the king's obedience or disobedience to His law. And as to the ambitious designs of Jeroboam, they would all have been futile if (as God had foreseen) there had not been popular discontent, combined with princely folly. What, then, were the ultimate causes of the event described?
I. TRIBAL JEALOUSY. This had always existed. Ephraim and Judah had specially displayed it. The jealousy of Ephraim had asserted itself both against Gideon and Jephthah (Judges 8:1; Judges 12:1). The pride of this tribe was fostered by such facts as these: Joshua sprung from it, Samuel was born within its borders, Saul was of Benjamin, hereditary with Joseph; its geographical position gave it power, etc. Hence, till David's time, the leadership of the nation was practically in the hands of Ephraim. He reigned seven years over Judah before he could obtain supremacy over the other tribes. He dealt wisely with those who belonged to Ephraim, selecting some of them for special favour, etc. Solomon, however, aggravated the discontent by his oppression towards the close of his reign, so that Rehoboam had no easy task before him. All was ripe for revolt.
1. National strength is impossible without national unity. Clans must lose their jealousies if they would become a strong people. The severance of the rich from the poor, the hostility between capital and labour, the disaffection of any section of the people must be a source of weakness, a sign of decadence.
2. The Church's power is sapped by sectarian hostility. There may be diversity in modes of work and worship, but amongst all Christians should be unity of spirit. "There are diversities of operations, but the same spirit." Each tribe may march through the wilderness with its own banner, but all must find their one centre in the Divine presence, and seek their one Canaan as a laud of rest. Isaiah foretells the day when "Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim" (1 Kings 11:13).
II. HEAVY TAXATION. It affected the people's wealth, and still more painfully their personal labour. A more foolish step than that which Rehoboam took could scarcely be imagined. He sent to appease the people "Adoram, who was over the tribute;" the very man who represented the oppression they resented! Quem Dens vult perdere, prius dementat. Show how extravagance, disregard of the rights of others, unjust demands, carelessness of the interests of dependants, lead to disaster - in homes, in business, in national and ecclesiastical affairs. Illustrate this from history; the decline and fall of the Roman Empire; the dissolution of the formerly vast dependencies of Spain, etc. So if a Church demands too much, as Rome does, she loses all. The intelligent men of Roman Catholic countries are sceptics.
III. RELIGIOUS INDIFFERENCE. That this existed is evident from the ease with which Solomon set up the worship of Ashtoreth, Milcom, and Chemosh; and from the fact that Jeroboam, directly after the revolt, erected the calves at Bethel and Daniel J.D. Michaelis and others have sought to justify the people in their rebellion, but there can be no doubt that so far as they were concerned the revolt was criminal Neither in this nor in any other act of man does higher causality affect the morality of an act. They were anxious about the decrease of taxation, but not about the removal of idolatry. To them it mattered little whether Jehovah were worshipped or not. But it was to represent Him, to fulfil His purpose, to preserve His truth, that the kingdom existed. Indifference to God is destructive of the stability of human hopes, of the kingliness of human character, of the peace and security of human kingdoms. Christ has come into the world to arouse it from indifference, that all men may go out to greet Him as "King of kings, and Lord of lords." If you lose the kingdom of heaven it is because, like Rehoboam, you throw it away. The lost opportunity never came to him again. He was forbidden to try to recover by force what he sacrificed by folly (ver. 24). Over him and over many a man the lament may be heard," Oh that thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace, but now they are hid from thine eyes." - A.R.
I. THE MESSAGE.
1. It was the word of Jehovah.
(1) So it is worthy of all respect. It is the word of Infinite Wisdom and Knowledge. It is the word of the Supreme Arbiter.
(2) God does not speak immediately to men upon ordinary occasions. Indirectly He speaks to us evermore and in a million voices.
(3) Happy is that people among whom the voice of God is heard. This was eminently the happiness of Israel. It was a sad day in Israel when there was "no open vision" (1 Samuel 3:1).
2. It came by the hand of Shemaiah.
(1) God spake "in divers manners." By audible voice, as from Sinai; by urim, as in the temple; by dream; and by prophet, as in the present case.
(2) Ahijah was a man of God. Such in general were the prophets. But sometimes it pleased God to use persons of equivocal character; - Balaam, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Caiaphas (John 11:49-52).
3. It came to the whole community.
(1) To Rehoboam. He was first mentioned as the head. Also because he was the principal cause of the mischief which he now sought to repair.
(2) To Judah and Benjamin. These tribes were so united as to be viewed as "one tribe," and are unitedly called "Judah." The temple was actually within Benjamin's boundary.
(3) To the remnant of the people. These consisted of priests and Levites, and godly people out of all the tribes who were unwilling to separate themselves from the house of David (2 Chronicles 11:18-16).
4. It commanded peace.
(1) They were not to fight with their brethren. The case must be extreme that can justify a civil war. What miseries must have ensued if 180,000 warriors of Judah had encountered a corresponding army of Israel!
(2) They were to submit to a revolution which was from the Lord. Not that God was the author of it, but permitted to be brought about by the king and his people for the punishment of their wickedness. "What is brought about in the course of God's providence is considered and spoken of as done by Him as a general would say that he drew the enemy into a snare, which he had only laid in his way" (Julius Bate).
II. ITS RECEPTION.
1. They hearkened to the word.
(1) They recognized it as the word of God. Shemaiah was known to be a "man of God." His message also agreed to that of Ahijah, the fulfilment of a part of which pledged the fulfilment of the remainder.
(2) To resist now would be to fight against God. This would be a hopeless business. But is not this the attitude of every sinner?
2. They returned to their houses.
(1) The remnant of Israel were naturally glad to be spared the horrors of a war with their brethren.
(2) So were the people of Judah and Benjamin. People are generally averse to war unless stirred up to it by their rulers. What a responsibility rests with war makers!
(3) Rehoboam is powerless without the people. He is now thoroughly cowed. The discipline was good for him. This was seen in the next three years of his reign. It were well if all men recognised God's word when it comes to them. We have God's word written in the Scriptures of truth. Do we take it homo to guide and control our conduct?
1 Kings 12:21-331 Kings 12:21-33.
I. AN ERROR THAT COULD NOT BE REPAIRED (verse 21-24). Rehoboam had zeal and strength behind him in his attempt to bring back the tribes by force. One hundred and eighty thousand men responded to his call; but all were dispersed at the lifting up of God's hand. The attempt was forbidden,
1. Because of the ties of kindred. These were forgotten by Rehoboam when he threatened the people with a heavier yoke. Tyranny is possible only in the denial of the brotherhood of man. It was forgotten now as he gathered his hosts together. Wars are impossible in the recognition of the brotherhood of man. This is God's word to the nations, to England as to the rest: "Ye shall not... fight against your brethren."
2. Because the loss was of God. "This thing is from Me." These two thoughts assuage anger and beget repentance; they who are against us are our brethren, and the blow is from our Father's hand. Our mistakes are permitted, and we eat their bitter fruit in God's righteous judgment. Keep the way of love and lowly dependence on God. Every other is full of mistake and irreparable loss.
II. THE BLINDNESS OF WORLDLY POLICY (vers. 25-33). Judged from a merely human standpoint, Jeroboam showed commendable foresight, and took effectual precautions against a great and possible danger. Yet he did not look far enough or high enough. The range of his vision did not embrace the mightiest of all forces. It shut out God, and every step he took ensured the destruction of the power he sought to guard,
1. His fear was unbelief. There did seem to be a danger in the recourse of the tribes to Jerusalem, but he had God's promise that he would build him a sure house if he would do that which was right in God's sight (1 Kings 11:38). Do not our fears go right in the face of the promises of God?
2. It was base forgetfulness of God's mercy. The Lord had fulfilled part of what He had said. The very circumstances in which the fear arose (the possession of the kingdom) were thus its answer. Our fears not only deny God's promises, but also the testimony of the past. Unbelief and ingratitude are the first steps in the path of sin (Romans 1:21).
3. His defiance of God. When unbelief has shut Him out of the heart, His commandments are lightly esteemed. To suit the exigencies of state, God's ordinances were overturned, other holy places were set up, the commandment against image worship broken, the priesthood and the feast time changed. Jeroboam's sin lives still in our statecraft, in the conduct of our business, etc. God's purpose regarding us and the world is nothing! His commandments are the only things that with safety can be disregarded!
4. His misdirected ingenuity. He cleverly takes advantage
(1) of the jealousy of the tribes. Why should Jerusalem be the only holy place, or Levi the one servant of God?
(2) He only repeats the sin, and quotes the words, of Aaron, and the fathers (Exodus 32:4).
(3) He uses places already consecrated, Bethel by Jacob's vision and altar, and Dan, the shrine of Micah's image (Judges 18:30).
(4) He hides zeal for his own safety under the plea of care for the people's convenience (ver. 28). Misused ability cannot shield[ from God's judgment. In every step he took he was the more surely sealing his own doom, and ensuring the final extinction of his people. "Be not deceived, God is not mocked." - U.
I. HIS FAITH IN HIS PEOPLE WAS SHAKEN.
1. They seem to have become resistive under his rule.
(1) This was likely to be the case. Their complaint against the house of David was the pressure of their burdens. But these could not be lightened when two kings had to be maintained instead of one; when a court had to be supported by a greatly diminished constituency.
(2) They had to create a capital worthy of the kingdom. So Jeroboam set about building Shechem, which was a ruin; for, two centuries before, it had been demolished by Abimelech (Judges 9:45). The cost of this, including that of the palace there, appears to have been so disagreeable, that Jeroboam, for his tranquillity, shifted his court to Penuel, on the east of the Jordan.
(3) Penuel now stood in need of improvements. It had suffered at the hands of Gideon nearly three centuries before, when the tower was destroyed (Judges 8:17). A second palace here was not likely to ease their burdens.
(4) Then their ability to pay taxes was reduced; for their commerce, created in the days of Solomon, seems to have declined. This would not improve their temper.
2. He therefore became gloomily apprehensive.
(1) He feared that, having now discovered that their burdens were no lighter, they might reflect that they had done wrong in throwing off allegiance to their legitimate sovereign, and that the "kingdom would return to the house of David."
(2) Further, that this disposition must be encouraged by their visits to Jerusalem for religious purposes (Deuteronomy 16:16, 17). They would then see that neither Shechem nor Penuel, as capitals, could compare with Jerusalem.
(3) And he feared that a counter revolution must imperil his life, for Rehoboam would demand this as a condition of their reconciliation. But the true cause of his despondency was that -
II. HE HAD FORGOTTEN TO TRUST IN GOD.
1. Had he no assurance in the words of Ahijah?
(1) Did not Ahijah give him ten pieces of the rent garment? Did he not accompany the sign with assuring words? (1 Chronicles 11:37.) Has not this part of the prophecy been fulfilled?
(2) Is it not, therefore, in the power of Jeroboam to perpetuate his throne by faithfully serving God? (1 Chronicles 11:38.) The fulfilment of the former part of the prophecy surely pledges the latter.
(3) Ah, but this promise is conditional! So are all God's promises. If we comply not with the conditions we shall infallibly forfeit the kingdom of heaven.
2. But he was moved by ambition feather than piety.
(1) Had he complied with the holy conditions, instead of apprehending mischief to his throne from the visits of his subjects to Jerusalem, it would be the other way. For the more they learnt to love and serve God, the more loyal must they be to a godly king.
(2) But he felt in his soul that he had not so complied: nor had he any disposition to repent; therefore, instead of seeking help in God, as he should have done, he trusted to his own wicked policy. There is no real happiness without God. The very pinnacle of human ambition is a throne: yet without God is there no happiness here. "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" - M.
1 Kings 11:31, 38). But this setting up of the golden calves, this only too successful attempt to sever the sacred bond that bound the people of the whole land in one common allegiance to the temple and the great invisible King who sat enthroned there, bore a widely different character. This was not "from the Lord." It was wholly evil. "The thing became a sin," and the sin of Jeroboam Became the prolific source of sin in Israel through all succeeding generations (see 1 Kings 14:7-16). This transaction illustrates -
I. THE FATAL PERVERSITY OF A LAWLESS AMBITION. This was Jeroboam's ruin. God, by the prophet Ahijah, had promised to establish him in the kingdom on certain conditions (1 Kings 11:38). There was no wrong in the mere fact of his seeking to verify this prediction. His sin lay in the nature of the means he adopted. He thought it needful in order to his having a "sure house" that the people should be kept from going up to sacrifice at Jerusalem. In other words, he would strengthen his house at the expense of doing deep dishonour to the "House of the Lord." His own petty kingship was more to him than the infinite Majesty of Jehovah. Thus we see how a carnal ambition
(1) is subject to needless fears;
(2) trifles with or defies a power that it finds to be infinitely stronger than itself;
(3) thinks to secure its ends by means that actually defeat them;
(4) is deceived by its seeming successes.
History is full of examples of the way in which men have sought power for themselves, either by the abuse or the degradation of things sacred, or have thought to serve ends right in themselves by unrighteous means. This was one form of Satanic temptation to which our blessed Lord was subject. "All these things will I give thee," etc. (Matthew 4:8, 9), and his professed followers have too often fallen before it,
II. THE ARTIFICE OF A WICKED PURPOSE. This is seen in the way in which Jeroboam practised craftily, upon the religious sentiment of the people in the service of his own ambitious designs.
(1) He pandered to their idolatrous propensities. The "golden calves" may have been intended as a memorial rather than a representation of the Deity. But they were too suggestive of the base, sensuous worship of Egypt, and violated the second commandment if not the first.
(2) He made pretence of consulting their ease and convenience. "It is too much for you," etc.
(3) He took advantage of the sacred associations of Bethel and Dan, as if the place would hallow the proceeding.
(4) He instituted a priestly order as a substitute for the Levites.
(5) He ordained festivals that should rival those of Judah and Jerusalem. In all this, while affecting to do honour to the traditions of religion, he struck a fatal blow at the religious unity and integrity of the nation, turning the highest sanctities of its life into an occasion of sin. How forcibly are we reminded that iniquity assumes its most hateful form when it prostitutes to its own ends things sacred and Divine. Satan is never so Satanic as when he wears the garb of "an angel of light." The most detestable of all vices is hypocrisy. More deadly injury has been done to the cause of religion by its false friends than its bitterest enemies could ever inflict.
III. THE DISASTROUS EFFECTS OF WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES. Jeroboam's wicked policy perpetuated and multiplied in Israel the evils of which the rending of the kingdom at first had been the penalty. With few exceptions all the kings that followed him "did evil in the sight of the Lord," and the record of their reigns is little else than a story of crime and bloodshed and misery. Moreover the leprosy of idolatry spread from the throne down through all classes of the people until the kingdom of Israel was completely overthrown and the ten tribes were carried captive into Assyria. Such are the woes that fall on a land when its princes are corrupt and reprobate. So true is it that "they that sow to the wind shall reap the whirlwind." - W.
(1) from the earthward, and
(2) from the heavenward side, we see that his policy was at once shrewd and sinful.
I. THE SHREWDNESS OF JEROBOAM'S POLICY.
(1) It was an appeal to tribal independence. In effect he said, "Why should you men of Ephraim be dependent for your worship on Judah? Why should your tribute go to support their temple? Let us have a place of our own." This argument has been repeated by demagogues in every land and age. Class has been set against class, nation against nation, Church against Church, by this spirit. Show some of the advantages of recognizing our interdependence.
(2) It was an appeal to self-indulgence. "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem." Point out instances in which religious teachers have condescended to such base suggestions as this; e.g., the theology that declares self-conquest nothing, that makes faith the executioner, instead of the sustainer of morality; the teaching that will offer "indulgences" to those of sinful habit; the worship that pleases a sensuous taste, but demands no intelligent thought, etc.
3. It was an appeal to former memories. He made Shechem his capital, a place associated with Abraham and Jacob, and afterwards assigned to the Levites, and made a free city. He erected one of the calves at Bethel, a holy place on the borders of Benjamin and Ephraim (see Genesis 32.). No doubt his design was to conciliate those who were proud of past history.
4. It was a bold attempt to deceive the devout. He pretended that it was the old worship reestablished; that Jehovah was really represented by the calves: "These be thy gods (the old gods) that brought thee out of the land of Egypt." Not the first or last time in which the prince of darkness has appeared as an angel of light Shrewd as was the policy, it was not perfectly successful even during his reign. The best people emigrated to Judah (like the Huguenots to England), to enrich another kingdom by work and wealth; and the prophets and many of the priests were roused to hostility. Even had it succeeded, however, such policy deserved to be branded with infamy. Principle must never be sacrificed to expediency. Success never condones wrong doing with God.
II. THE SINFULNESS OF JEROBOAM'S POLICY.
1. It revealed his utter distrust of God. See the promise that had been given him (1 Kings 11:38): "I will build thee a sure house." He could not believe it. He would trust his own skill rather than God's favour. So had it been with Saul and Solomon. The path of simple obedience is strait and narrow, and few there be that find it." "Do My will and trust Me," is the lesson of life, but we are slow to learn it. Many professing Christians consider religion inappropriate to business competition and to political movements. In this they resemble the son of Nebat.
2. It violated the fundamental law of the Decalogue. If the first command was not actually broken, the second was, necessarily. Had these calves merely been the outward symbols of Jehovah, they were amongst the forbidden "images." Jeroboam knew this. He remembered the calf Aaron made, for his words were an echo of those of the first high priest. He knew that only the intercession of Moses then saved the people from destruction, yet again he defiantly disobeyed. Show the peril of allowing images, crucifixes, banners, the elements in the sacrament, etc., to take a false position in Christian worship. Even if the initiated worship God through these, they break (in spirit) the second command; while the more ignorant are with equal certainty led to the violation of the first.
3. It involved and necessitated other sins.
(1) The people worshipped in the place God had not chosen, as He had chosen the temple.
(2) They had no ark of the covenant on which rested, and because of which was promised, the real presence of God.
(3) The priests were chosen by the king in opposition to the ordinance of God (vers. 31, etc., ex universo populo.
(4) The national feast of tabernacles was changed from the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34) to the eighth, not only because the harvest was later in the north than in the south of Judah, but to widen insidiously the breach between the kingdoms. So in all ages and in all spheres one sin leads to another. It would be better to die as Abigail (1 Kings 14:13) than to reign as Jeroboam. - A.R.
I. THEY WERE INTENDED TO BE IMAGES OF THE GOD OF ISRAEL.
1. So he describes them in the text.
(1) "These are thy Elohim, O Israel." Our English Bibles give the word "God" without the capital G, as though the purpose of Jeroboam were to lead the people away from the true God. This, indeed, was the effect, but that it was the design may well be doubted.
(2) He farther identifies the Elohim represented in them as having brought them up out of the land of Egypt. This expression is equivalent to saying that the Elohim he would remind them of in these figures was the same who wrought all the miracles of the Exodus.
(3) We must not be misled by the words, "Behold thy Elohim," or "These airs thy Elohim," as though he wished to impose these calves upon them as the very Elohim who wrought all the wonders of their miraculous history. For this is a Hebraism for similitudes (see Genesis 41:27; Daniel 2:38; 1 Corinthians 10:4). Note: Romanists impose their monstrous transubstantiation upon those who have not discerned this.
2. His error was a reproduction of Aaron's.
(1) This will be clear from a comparison of the text with Exodus 32:4.
(2) Aaron could not, under the very shadow of the Shekinah, and within hearing of the voice of thunder from Sinai, have intended to substitute his calf for the very Elohim.
(3) But that he only intended it as an emblem of the true God is placed very clearly before us in the words following (Exodus 32:5, 6), in which the feast celebrated before his calf is called a "feast of Jehovah"
3. Yet this was idolatry.
(1) Idolatry may consist of worshipping the creature instead of the Creator. This the Romanist does when he worships the wafer.
(2) Or it may be substituting some imagination of his heart for the God who has miraculously revealed Himself, and whose revelations concerning Himself are written in Holy Scripture. Such were the idealizations of the ancient (and also modern) heathen.
(3) Or it may consist in attempting to worship the true God through unauthorised images (see Exodus 20:4). This was the case with Aaron, also with Jeroboam. It is likewise the case with the Romanist, who uses crucifixes, and images and pictures of the Persons of the Trinity.
II. BUT WHY DID HE MAKE CALVES?
1. He had the cherubim in his mind.
(1) These had the visage of a calf. They had, indeed, also the visages of a lion, of a man, and of an eagle. But the whole figure terminated in the foot of a calf (Ezekiel 1:7).
(2) Jeroboam's calf probably had also associated with it the other visages of the cherubim; so probably had Aaron's, for they respectively call their image by the plural name Elohim (אלהים). The single image at Bethel is also called calves (עלגים) in the plural, which suggests a plurality of visages, though not necessarily visages of calves, for the whole emblem appears to have been designated by this name.
2. But the cherubim were emblems of the Holy Trinity.
(1) The calf or young bull, which by the ancients was taken for an emblem of fire, stood here for the first Person of the Godhead. (See Bato's "Critica Hebraea," under עגל and כרוב; also his learned "Inquiry into the Occasional and Standing Similitudes of the Lord God in the Old and New Testaments.")
(2) The lion was the symbol of light, and stood for the second Person. With the face of the lion that of the man was constantly associated, foreshadowing the assumption of the manhood into the Godhead by that blessed Person.
(3) And the eagle, the emblem of air, stood for the Holy Spirit.
(4) These, therefore, are called the cherubim, or similitudes of the Great Ones, from רבים Great Ones, and כ like.
3. Micah's teraphim were like Jeroboam's calves.
(1) They were a compound or plural image like the cherubim, and used like them (see Judges 17:5, 18:5).
(2) Michael was a worshipper of the true God, and so was Laban, who also used teraphim (see Genesis 31:19, 30, 37, 49),
(4) The cerberus of the pagans, with its plurality of heads, was a corruption, and the name of that monster keeps up the sound, of the original Hebrew cherubim. How subtle is the spirit of idolatry! We cannot keep too close to God's Word. - M.
I. IN THE KIND OF WORSHIP IMPOSED.
1. As to its objects.
(1) It purported to be the worship of the God of Israel Essentially the same with the worship at Jerusalem. Thus it conciliated favour. Had it been the worship of any god of the nations, opposition would have been provoked.
(2) Yet was it idolatry. So in like manner is much of the worship of modern times which passes under the name of Christianity. Satan does not lose his identity by transforming himself into an angel of light.
2. As to its modes.
(2) Its images were imitations of the cherubim. Such also were the teraphim. And as God was said to dwell in, not "between" (ישב is to inhabit), the cherubim, so Jeroboam directed his dupes to seek the God of Israel in his calves.
(2) With these were associated altars, for sacrifice and incense, like those in the temple; and the victims would be clean animals proper for sacrifice; the incense also would be similar to that burnt in Jerusalem.
(3) He had a Feast of Tabernacles, which is described in the text as "like unto the feast that is in Judah." Only that he altered the date as well as the place from the fifteenth day of the seventh month to the corresponding day of the month following. It is significantly noted, "which he had devised of his own heart" (see Numbers 15:89). He was a forerunner of another character who has not hesitated to "change times and laws" (Daniel 7:25).
3. As to its ministers.
(1) His priests were Levites, where he could get them. In this he seems to have succeeded at Daniel For the descendants of Jonathan, who was of the family of Aaron, appear to have fallen in with his designs (see Judges 18:30).
(2) But it was different at Bethel. Here the Levites, it is to be hoped, had too much principle to serve his calves. So "he made priests of the lowest of the people."
(3) Amongst these he officiated himself. Morally he was indeed amongst the lowest of the people, notwithstanding his position as king. This, unhappily, was not sufficiently discerned. The wicked do not understand (Daniel 12:10).
II. IN THE PLACES CHOSEN FOR THAT WORSHIP.
1. Dan was chosen with sagacity.
(1) This was a city in the north, whose Canaanitish name was Laish, but which, when conquered by the Danites, received the name of their father (Judges 18:29-31). This would be convenient to the people living so distant from Jerusalem.
(2) Besides, from its founding, this city was sacred to the worship of God through the medium of teraphim. This was about the time of Joshua's death when Phinehas ministered at the tabernacle at Shiloh (compare Judges 20:27, 28). From these very teraphim, when they were in the house of Micah, God gave responses to Jonathan the priest.
(3) For the teraphim of Micah, which were carved blocks covered with silver Jeroboam substituted one of his calves, which was covered with gold; otherwise there does not appear to have been any material change in the worship there. So the prejudices of the people would not be shocked.
2. Bethel also was chosen with sagacity.
(1) This was in the southern part of the kingdom, to accommodate those who might otherwise go to Jerusalem through convenience of distance. How adroitly do the wicked place their snares!
(2) This place, too, had a memorable history. It was the scene of the vision of the ladder and renewal of the covenant with Jacob, in token of which the patriarch vowed to the Lord, anointed a pillar, and built an altar (Genesis 28:19, 20; Genesis 31:13; Genesis 35:1, 7). It was one of the stations of Samuel, and a place to which, in his days, the people were accustomed to go up to worship (1 Samuel 7:16; 1 Samuel 10:3).
(3) Here, accordingly, Jeroboam fixed his headquarters, and built a pretentious temple, or "house of high places" (ver. 31). Thus practically did Jeroboam say, with another purpose in his heart, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem." Beware of religion made easy; it may laud you in perdition. Beware of imitations of Divine things. Keep rigidly to the Word of God. - M.