2 Chronicles 12
by Pastor David Groendyk
Rehoboam is a tragic figure in Judah’s history. What we mainly remember him for is his foolish decision to oppress the people of Israel more than his father Solomon did, in accord with the advice of his younger counselors rather than the older, wiser counselors (2 Chronicles 10). However, today’s chapter is another tragedy in and of itself. First Kings 14:25–28 also records the events of this chapter, but the Chronicler expands greatly on it. Verses 1–2 explain why Egypt came to plunder Judah: because Rehoboam abandoned the law of the Lord, and Israel as a whole had become unfaithful to the Lord. Rehoboam had abandoned God, so God abandoned Rehoboam (v. 5).
In fact, the two big words to focus on in this chapter are ‘abandoned’ and ‘humbled’. Those two words tell the story of why the Chronicler expands on this scene so much from 1 Kings. Notice the finally summary of Rehoboam’s reign in verse 14: “He did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.” The exact opposite of that had been David’s charge to Solomon and his officials in 1 Chronicles 22:19: “Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.” Rehoboam chose not to worship the Lord, and it led to dire consequences, a near-complete destruction. The lesson is quite clear. If you abandon the Lord, then he will abandon you; but if you humble yourself and turn back to him, then the Lord will turn away his wrath from you (v. 12).
How exactly was Rehoboam’s heart led away from God? The key idea seems to be the very first line of the chapter: “When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong…” God had made Rehoboam strong, and, apparently, over about three years’ time (see 2 Chr. 11:17), Rehoboam came to believe that he had become strong on his own and didn’t need God. Rehoboam had ascribed to himself what God had done for him. It is very easy, as one commentator writes, for “strength from the Lord” to turn into arrogant self-sufficiency. Moses warned Israel about this in Deuteronomy 8:17–19: “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.”
We must beware the sin of pride showing itself in our lives through the arrogance of self-sufficiency. The warning is pretty clear that if we feel as though we can handle things on our own and don’t need God, then God will let us handle them on our own! That will never work out well for us, and we can be assured that the Lord’s abandonment will have eternal consequences as well. And yet, the warning is not given here without a message of hope. All it takes to return to God is a humble heart, repentance, and commitment to him. That is the message played out over and over and over again throughout the Old Testament. Humble yourself, repent of your sin, and the Lord can in no way cast you out. That is a great promise for us sinners.