READ: 2 Chronicles 12-13
THINK: The great preacher Charles Spurgeon lays out a pretty clear explanation of Rehoboam’s life and what we can learn from it:
And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord. — 2 Chronicles 12:14
His is the summing up of Rehoboam’s life: he was not so bad as some, but he did evil in various ways, not so much from design as from neglect. The evil effects of the father’s sin and the mother’s idolatry were seen in their son, yet there was another cause, namely, a want of heart-preparation. The son of Solomon very naturally desired many wives (2 Chron. 11:23); and it was no marvel that the child of Naamah the Ammonitess allowed images and groves to defile the land; yet there was a deeper cause of his life’s evil, and that lay in himself. His heart was not thorough with the Lord, and he, himself, was not carefully consecrated to the worship of Jehovah. He might have done well had he not been Rehoboam the Unready.
I. HE DID NOT BEGIN LIFE WITH SEEKING THE LORD.
1. He was young, and should have sought wisdom of God; but he went to Shechem to meet the people without prayer or sacrifice (2 Chron. 10:1). That which commences without God will end in failure.
2. He leaned on counselors, saying, “What advice give ye?” Of those counselors he chose the worst, namely, the younger and prouder nobles (2 Chron. 10:8). Those who reject divine wisdom generally refuse all other wisdom.
3. He committed great folly by threatening the people, and refusing their just demands; and that while as yet he had not been accepted as their king (2 Chron. 10:13-14). He had none of his father’s wisdom. How can they act prudently and prosperously who are not guided of the Lord?
II. HE SHOWED NO HEART IN SEEKING THE LORD AFTERWARDS.
1. He obeyed the prophet’s voice when the man of God forbade him to fight with Israel; yet afterwards he forsook the law of the Lord (2 Chron. 12:1 ). He is said to have been “young and tender-hearted,” which means soft (2 Chron. 13:7).
2. He winked at the most horrible crimes among the people whom he ought to have judged (1 Kings 14:24).
3. He fell into his father’s sins.
4. He busied himself more for the world than for God. We hear nothing of his worship but much of his building, nothing of his faith but much of his fickleness (2 Chron. 11:5-12).
III. HE WAS NOT FIXED AND PERSEVERING IN HIS SEEKING THE LORD.
1. For three years his loyalty to his God made him prosper, by bringing into Judah all the better sort of people who fled from Jeroboam’s calf-worship (2 Chron. 11:13-17), yet he forsook the Lord who had prospered him.
2. He grew proud, and God handed him over to Shisbak (verse 5).
3. He humbled himself and was pardoned, yet he stripped the Lord’s house to buy off the king of Egypt.
4. He wrought no great reforms and celebrated no great passover, yet he owned, “the Lord is righteous” (verse 6).
IV. HE HAD NO CARE TO SEEK THE LORD THOROUGHLY.
Yet no man is good by accident: no one goes right who has not intended to do so. Without heart, religion must die.
1. Human nature departs from the right way, especially in kings, who are tolerated in more sin than others.
2. Courtiers usually run the wrong way, especially the young, proud, and frivolous. Rehoboam loved the gay and proud, and gave himself up to their lead.
3. Underlings are apt to follow us and applaud us if we go in an evil path, even as Judah followed Rehoboam. Thus, those who should lead are themselves led.
Before the University Boat race comes off, the men undergo a long and severe training. They would not think of contending for the mastery without preparation; and do we imagine that we can win the race of life at a venture, without bringing under the body and cultivating the mind? The preacher studies his discourse carefully, though it will only occupy part of an hour; and is our life-sermon worthy of no care and consideration? A saintly life is a work of far higher art than the most valuable painting or precious statue, yet neither of these can be produced without thought. A man must be at his best to produce an immortal poem, yet a few hundred lines will sum it all up. Let us not dream that the far greater poem of a holy life can be made to flow forth like impromptu verse.
Well known to me was a kindly, well-disposed gentleman, who, like Rehoboam, was tender-hearted or persuasible. He was a worldling of pleasing manners, who delighted in the esteem of the circle which surrounded him. He had a great respect for religious persons, and especially for ministers; but he could not afford to be a godly man himself, for then he might have become unpopular with a large circle of worldly fashionables. He once quitted an assembly which I addressed, because he said, “I felt almost on the go, and should soon have been converted if I had not rushed out.” “There,” said he, “Spurgeon, I am like an india-rubber doll when you are preaching; you can make me into any shape you like; but then I get back into my old form when you have done.” He was an accurate reproduction of the soft-soured son of Solomon: a very Pliable, easily persuaded to set out on pilgrimage, but equally ready to return at the world’s call.
The parable of the two sons will come in here. Rehoboam said, “I go, Sir”; but he went not. The modern Rehoboam is a perfect gentleman: if he did but know his own mind, he would also be a man. He is inclined to obey God, but others incline him to keep in the fashion. He is like the pear which the French call Bon Chretien, very promising, but apt to become sleepy, and to rot at the core. This sort of people is not of much use either to the good cause or to its opposite.
PRAY: Think about your own spiritual life and the parts of it that you are trying to do unprepared. Ask for forgiveness, and ask God to help you commit to growth and constantly seeking him so that your life doesn’t mirror Rehoboam’s.