The kingdom being divided into that of Judah and that of Israel, we
must henceforward, in these books of Kings, expect and attend their
separate history, the succession of their kings, and the affairs of
their kingdoms, accounted for distinctly. In this chapter we have,
I. The prophecy of the destruction of Jeroboam's house,
1 Kings 14:7-16.
The sickness of his child was the occasion of it
(1 Kings 14:1-6),
and the death of his child the earnest of it
(1 Kings 14:17,18),
together with the conclusion of his reign,
1 Kings 14:19,20.
II. The history of the declension and diminution of Rehoboam's house
(1 Kings 14:21-28)
and the conclusion of his reign,
1 Kings 14:29-31.
In both we may read the mischievous consequences of sin and the
calamities it brings on kingdoms and families.
Abijah's Sickness; the Prophet Ahijah Consulted.
B. C. 960.
1 At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick.
2 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, which told me that I should be king over this people.
3 And take with thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of
honey, and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of the
4 And Jeroboam's wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh,
and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see; for
his eyes were set by reason of his age.
5 And the LORD said unto Ahijah, Behold, the wife of Jeroboam
cometh to ask a thing of thee for her son; for he is sick: thus
and thus shalt thou say unto her: for it shall be, when she
cometh in, that she shall feign herself to be another woman.
6 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.
How Jeroboam persisted in his contempt of God and religion we read in
the close of the foregoing chapter. Here we are told how God proceeded
in his controversy with him; for when God judges he will overcome, and
sinners shall either bend or break before him.
I. His child fell sick,
1 Kings 14:1.
It is probable that he was his eldest son, and heir-apparent to the
crown; for at his death all the kingdom went into mourning for him,
1 Kings 13:1-34
His dignity as a prince, his age as a young prince, and his interest in
heaven as a pious prince, could not exempt him from sickness, dangerous
sickness. Let none be secure of the continuance of their health, but
improve it, while it continues, for the best purposes. Lord, behold,
he whom thou lovest, thy favourite, he whom Israel loves, their
darling, is sick. At that time, when Jeroboam prostituted the
profaned the priesthood
(1 Kings 13:33),
his child sickened. When sickness comes into our families we should
enquire whether there be not some particular sin harboured in our
houses, which the affliction is sent to convince us of and reclaim us
II. He sent his wife in disguise to enquire of Ahijah the prophet
what should become of the child,
1 Kings 14:2,3.
The sickness of his child touched him in a tender part. The withering
of this branch of the family would, perhaps, be as sore an affliction
to him as the withering of that branch of his body,
2 Kings 13:4.
Such is the force of natural affection; our children are ourselves but
once removed. Now,
1. Jeroboam's great desire, under this affliction, is to know what
shall become of the child, whether he will live or die.
(1.) It would have been more prudent if he had desired to know what
means they should use for the recovery of the child, what they should
give him, and what they should do to him; but by this instance, and
those of Ahaziah
(2 Kings 1:2)
(2 Kings 8:8),
it should seem they had then such a foolish notion of fatality as took
them off from all use of means; for, if they were sure the patient
would live, they thought means needless; if he would die, they thought
them useless; not considering that duty is ours, events are God's, and
that he that ordained the end ordained the means. Why should a prophet
be desired to show that which a little time will show?
(2.) It would have been more pious if he had desired to know wherefore
God contended with him, had begged the prophet's prayers, and cast away
his idols from him; then the child might have been restored to him, as
his hand was. But most people would rather be told their fortune than
their faults or their duty.
2. That he might know the child's doom, he sent to Ahijah the prophet,
who lived obscurely and neglected in Shiloh, blind through age, yet
still blest with the visions of the Almighty, which need not bodily
eyes, but are rather favoured by the want of them, the eyes of the mind
being then most intent and least diverted. Jeroboam sent not to him for
advice about the setting up of his calves, or the consecrating of his
priests, but had recourse to him in his distress, when the gods he
served could give him no relief. Lord, in trouble have those visited
thee who before slighted thee. Some have by sickness been reminded
of their forgotten ministers and praying friends. He sent to Ahijah,
because he had told him he should be king,
1 Kings 14:2.
"He was once the messenger of good tidings, surely he will be so
again." Those that by sin disqualify themselves for comfort, and yet
expect their ministers, because they are good men, should speak peace
and comfort to them, greatly wrong both themselves and their
3. He sent his wife to enquire of the prophet, because she could best
put the question without naming names, or making any other description
than this, "Sir, I have a son ill; will he recover or not?" The heart
of her husband safely trusted in her that she would be faithful both in
delivering the message and bringing him the answer; and it seems there
were none of all his counsellors in whom he could repose such a
confidence; otherwise the sick child could very ill spare her, for
mothers are the best nurses, and it would have been much fitter for her
to have staid at home to tend him than go to Shiloh to enquire what
would become of him. If she go, she must be incognito--in
disguise, must change her dress, cover her face, and go by another
name,not only to conceal herself from her own court and the country
through which she passed (as if it were below her quality to go upon
such an errand, and what she had reason to be ashamed of, as Nicodemus
that came to Jesus by night, whereas it is no disparagement to the
greatest to attend God's prophets), but also to conceal herself from
the prophet himself, that he might only answer her question concerning
her son, and not enter upon the unpleasing subject of her husband's
defection. Thus some people love to prescribe to their ministers, limit
them to smooth things, and care not for having the whole counsel of
God declared to them, lest it prove to prophesy no good
concerning them, but evil. But what a strange notion had Jeroboam
of God's prophet when he believed that he could and would certainly
tell what would become of the child, and yet either could not or
would not discover who was the mother! Could he see into the thick
darkness of futurity, and yet not see through the thin veil of this
disguise? Did Jeroboam think the God of Israel like his calves, just
what he pleased? Be not deceived, God is not mocked.
III. God gave Ahijah notice of the approach of Jeroboam's wife, and
that she came in disguise, and full instructions what to say to her
(1 Kings 14:5),
which enabled him, as she came in at the door, to call her by her name,
to her great surprise, and so to discover to all about him who she was
(1 Kings 14:6):
Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam, why feignest thou thyself to be
another? He had no regard,
1. To her rank. She was a queen, but what was that to him, who had a
message to deliver to her immediately from God, before whom all the
children of men stand upon the same level? Nor,
2. To her present. It was usual for those who consulted prophets to
bring them tokens of respect, which they accepted, and yet were no
hirelings. She brought him a handsome country present
(1 Kings 14:3),
but he did not think himself obliged by that to give her any finer
language than the nature of her message required. Nor,
3. To her industrious concealment of herself. It is a piece of
civility not to take notice of those who desire not to be taken notice
of; but the prophet was no courtier, nor gave flattering titles; plain
dealing is best, and she shall know, at the first word, what she has to
trust to: I am sent to thee with heavy tidings. Note, Those who
think by their disguises to hide themselves from God will be wretchedly
confounded when they find themselves disappointed in the day of
discovery. Sinners now appear in the garb of saints, and are taken to
be such; but how will they blush and tremble when they find themselves
stripped of their false colours, and are called by their own name: "Go
out, thou treacherous false-hearted hypocrite. I never knew thee.
Why feignest thou thyself to be another?" Tidings of a portion with
hypocrites will be heavy tidings. God will judge men according to what
they are, not according to what they seem.
The Ruin of Jeroboam's House Foretold; Abijah's Character and Death.
B. C. 960.
7 Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel,
Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee
prince over my people Israel,
8 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;
9 But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou
hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke
me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back:
10 Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of
Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against
the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will
take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh
away dung, till it be all gone.
11 Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat;
and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat:
for the LORD hath spoken it.
12 Arise thou therefore, get thee to thine own house: and
when thy feet enter into the city, the child shall die.
13 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 the LORD God of Israel in the
house of Jeroboam.
14 Moreover the LORD shall raise him up a king over Israel, who
shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day: but what? even now.
15 For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the
water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which
he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the
river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to
16 And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam,
who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.
17 And Jeroboam's wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah:
and when she came to the threshold of the door, the child died;
18 And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him,
according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by the hand of
his servant Ahijah the prophet.
19 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.
20 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.
When those that set up idols, and keep them up, go to enquire of the
Lord, he determines to answer them, not according to the pretensions of
their enquiry, but according to the multitude of their idols,
So Jeroboam is answered here.
I. The prophet anticipates the enquiry concerning the child, and
foretels the ruin of Jeroboam's house for the wickedness of it. No one
else durst have carried such a message: a servant would have smothered
it, but his own wife cannot be suspected of ill-will to him.
1. God calls himself the Lord God of Israel. Though Israel had
forsaken God, God had not cast them off, nor given them a bill of
divorce for their whoredoms. He is Israel's God, and therefore will
take vengeance on him who did them the greatest mischief he could do
them, debauched them and drew them away from God.
2. He upbraids Jeroboam with the great favour he had bestowed upon him,
in making him king, exalting him from among the people, the common
people, to be prince over God's chosen Israel, and taking the kingdom
from the house of David, to bestow it upon him. Whether we keep
an account of God's mercies to us or no, he does, and will set even
them in order before us, if we be ungrateful, to our greater confusion;
otherwise he gives and upbraids not.
3. He charges him with his impiety and apostasy, and his idolatry
particularly: Thou hast done evil above all that were before
1 Kings 14:9.
Saul, that was rejected, never worshipped idols; Solomon did it but
occasionally, in his dotage, and never made Israel to sin. Jeroboam's
calves, though pretended to be set up in honour of the God of Israel,
that brought them up out of Egypt, yet are here called other
gods, or strange gods, because in them he worshipped God as
the heathen worshipped their strange gods, because by them he
changed the truth of God into a lie and represented him as
altogether different from what he is, and because many of the ignorant
worshippers terminated their devotion in the image, and did not at all
regard the God of Israel. Though they were calves of gold, the richness
of the metal was so far from making them acceptable to God that they
provoked him to anger, designedly affronted him, under colour of
pleasing him. In doing this,
(1.) He had not set David before him
(1 Kings 14:8):
Thou hast not been as my servant David, who, though he had his
faults and some bad ones, yet never forsook the worship of God nor grew
loose nor cold to that; his faithful adherence to that gained him this
honourable character, that he followed God with all his heart,
and herein he was proposed for an example to all his successors. Those
did not do well that did not do like David.
(2.) He had not set God before him, but
(1 Kings 14:9),
"Thou hast cast me behind thy back, my law, my fear; thou hast
neglected me, forgotten me, and preferred thy policies before my
4. He foretels the utter ruin of Jeroboam's house,
1 Kings 14:10,11.
He thought, by his idolatry, to establish his government, and by that
he not only lost it, but brought destruction upon his family, the
universal destruction of all the males, whether shut up or left,
married or unmarried.
(1.) Shameful destruction. They shall be taken away as dung, which is
loathsome and which men are glad to be rid of. He worshipped
dunghill-deities, and God removed his family as a great dunghill. Noble
and royal families, if wicked, are no better in God's account.
(2.) Unusual destruction. Their very dead bodies should be meat for the
dogs in the street, or the birds of prey in the field,
1 Kings 14:11.
Thus evil pursues sinners. See this fulfilled,
1 Kings 15:29.
5. He foretels the immediate death of the sick child,
1 Kings 14:12,13.
(1.) In mercy to him, lest, if he live, he be infected with the sin,
and so involved in the ruin, of his father's house. Observe the
character given of him: In him was found some good thing towards the
Lord God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam. He had an affection
for the true worship of God and disliked the worship of the calves.
[1.] Those are good in whom are good things towards the Lord God of
Israel, good inclinations, good intentions, good desires, towards
[2.] Where there is but some good thing of that kind it will be
found: God, who seeks it, sees it be it ever so little and is pleased
[3.] A little grace goes a great way with great people. It is so rare
to find princes well affected to religion that, when they are so, they
are worthy of double honour.
[4.] Pious dispositions are in a peculiar manner amiable and acceptable
when they are found in those that are young. The divine image in
miniature has a peculiar beauty and lustre in it.
[5.] Those that are good in bad times and places shine very brightly in
the eyes of God. A good child in the house of Jeroboam is a
miracle of divine grace: to be there untainted is like being in the
fiery furnace unhurt, unsinged. Observe the care taken of him: he only,
of all Jeroboam's family, shall die in honour, shall be buried, and
shall be lamented as one that lived desired. Note, Those that are
distinguished by divine grace shall be distinguished by divine
providence. This hopeful child dies first of all the family, for God
often takes those soonest whom he loves best. Heaven is the
fittest place for them; this earth is not worthy of them.
(2.) In wrath to the family.
[1.] It was a sign the family would be ruined when he was taken
by whom it might have been reformed. The righteous are removed from
the evil to come in this world, to the good to come in a better world.
It is a bad omen to a family when the best in it are buried out of it;
when what was valuable is picked out the rest is for the fire.
[2.] It was likewise a present affliction to the family and kingdom, by
which both ought to have been bettered; and this aggravated the
affliction to the poor mother that she should not reach home time
enough to see her son alive: When thy feet enter into the city,
just then the child shall die. This was to be a sign to her of
the accomplishment of the rest of the threatenings, as
1 Samuel 2:34.
6. He foretels the setting up of another family to rule over Israel,
1 Kings 14:14.
This was fulfilled in Baasha of Issachar, who conspired against Nadab
the son of Jeroboam, in the second year of his reign, murdered him and
all his family. "But what? Even now. Why do I speak of it as a
thing at a distance? It is at the door. It shall be done even
now." Sometimes God makes quick work with sinners; he did so with
the house of Jeroboam. It was not twenty-four years from his first
elevation to the final extirpation of his family.
7. He foretels the judgments which should come upon the people of
Israel for conforming to the worship which Jeroboam had established.
If the blind lead the blind, both the blind leaders and the
blind followers shall fall into the ditch. It is here foretold,
1 Kings 14:15,
(1.) That they should never be easy, nor rightly settled in their land,
but continually shaken like a reed in the water. After they left
the house of David, the government never continued long in one family,
but one undermined and destroyed another, which must needs occasion
great disorders and disturbances among the people.
(2.) That they should, ere long, be totally expelled out of their land,
that good land, and given up to ruin,
1 Kings 14:16.
This was fulfilled in the captivity of the ten tribes by the king of
Assyria. Families and kingdoms are ruined by sin, ruined by the
wickedness of the heads of them. Jeroboam did sin, and made Israel
to sin. If great men do wickedly, they involve many others both in
the guilt and in the snare; multitudes follow their pernicious
ways. They go to hell with a long train, and their condemnation
will be the more intolerable, for they must answer, not only for their
own sins, but for the sins which others have been drawn into and kept
in by their influence.
II. Jeroboam's wife has nothing to say against the word of the Lord,
but she goes home with a heavy heart to their house in Tirzah, a
sweet delightful place, so the name signifies, famed for its
Song of Solomon 6:4.
But death, which will stain its beauty and embitter all its delights,
cannot be shut out from it. Hither she came, and here we leave her
attending the funeral of her son, and expecting the fate of her family.
1. The child died
(1 Kings 14:17),
and justly did all Israel mourn, not only for the loss of so hopeful a
prince, whom they were not worthy of, but because his death plucked up
the flood-gates, and made a breach, at which an inundation of judgments
2. Jeroboam himself died soon after,
1 Kings 14:20.
It is said
(2 Chronicles 13:20),
The Lord struck him with some sore disease, so that he died
miserably, when he had reigned twenty-two years, and left his crown to
a son who lost it, and his life too, and all the lives of his family,
within two years after. For a further account of him the reader is
referred to the annals of his reign, drawn up by his own secretaries,
or to the public records, like those in the Tower, called here, The
Book or register, of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel,
to which recourse might then be had; but, not being divinely inspired,
these records are long since lost.
Rehoboam's Disgrace and Death.
B. C. 960.
21 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 the LORD did
choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there.
And his mother's name was Naamah an Ammonitess.
22 And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they
provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had
committed, above all that their fathers had done.
23 For they also built them high places, and images, and
groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree.
24 And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did
according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD
cast out before the children of Israel.
25 And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam,
that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem:
26 And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, 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.
27 And king Rehoboam made in their stead brasen shields, and
committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which
kept the door of the king's house.
28 And it was so, when the king went into the house of the
LORD, that the guard bare them, and brought them back into the
29 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
30 And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their
31 And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried with his
fathers in the city of David. And his mother's name was Naamah
an Ammonitess. And Abijam his son reigned in his stead.
Judah's story and Israel's are intermixed in this book. Jeroboam
out-lived Rehoboam, four or five years, yet his history is despatched
first, that the account of Rehoboam's reign may be laid together; and a
sad account it is.
I. Here is no good said of the king. All the account we have of him
1. That he was forty-one years old when he began to reign, by which
reckoning he was born in the last year of David, and had his education,
and the forming of his mind, in the best days of Solomon; yet he lived
not up to these advantages. Solomon's defection at last did more to
corrupt him than his wisdom and devotion had done to give him good
2. That he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city where God
put his name, where he had opportunity enough to know his duty, if
he had but had a heart to do it.
3. That his mother was Naamah, an Ammonitess; this is twice mentioned,
1 Kings 14:21,31.
It was strange that David would marry his son Solomon to an Ammonitess
(for it was done while he lived), but it is probable that Solomon was
in love with her, because she was Naamah, a beauty (so it
signifies), and his father was loth to cross him, but it proved to have
a very bad influence upon posterity. Probably she was daughter to
Shobi the Ammonite, who was kind to David
(2 Samuel 17:27),
and David was too willing to requite him by matching his son into his
family. None can imagine how lasting and how fatal the consequences may
be of being unequally yoked with unbelievers.
4. That he had continual war with Jeroboam
(1 Kings 14:30),
which could not but be a perpetual uneasiness to him.
5. That when he had reigned but seventeen years he died, and left his
throne to his son. His father, and grandfather, and grandson, that
reigned well, reigned long, forty years apiece. But sin often shortens
men's lives and comforts.
II. Here is much evil said of the subjects, both as to their character
and their condition.
1. See here how wicked and profane they were. It is a most sad account
that is here given of their apostasy from God,
1 Kings 14:22-24.
Judah, the only professing people God had in the world, did evil in
his sight, in contempt and defiance of him and the tokens of his
special presence with them; they provoked him to jealousy, as
the adulterous wife provokes her husband by breaking the
marriage-covenant. Their fathers had been bad enough, especially in the
times of the judges, but they did abominable things, above all that
their fathers had done. The magnificence of their temple, the pomp
of their priesthood, and all the secular advantages with which their
religion was attended, could not prevail to keep them to it. Nothing
less than the pouring out of the Spirit from on high will keep
God's Israel in their allegiance to him. The account here given of the
wickedness of the Jews agrees with that which the apostle gives of the
wickedness of the Gentile world
so that both Jew and Gentile are alike under sin,
(1.) They became vain in their imaginations concerning God, and
changed his glory into an image, for they built themselves
high places, images, and groves
(1 Kings 14:23),
profaning God's name by affixing to it their images, and God's
ordinances by serving their idols with them. They foolishly fancies
that they exalted God when they worshipped him on high hills and
pleased him when they worshipped him under the pleasant shadow of green
(2.) They were given up to vile affections (as those idolaters
for there were sodomites in the land
(1 Kings 14:24),
men with men working that which is unseemly, and not to be
thought of, much less mentioned, without abhorrence and indignation.
They dishonoured God by one sin and then God left them to dishonour
themselves by another. They profaned the privileges of a holy nation,
therefore God gave them up to their own hearts' lusts, to imitate the
abominations of the accursed Canaanites; and herein the Lord was
righteous. And, when they did like those that were cast out, how
could they expect any other than to be cast out like them?
2. See here how weak and poor they were; and this was the consequence
of the former. Sin exposes, impoverishes, and weakens any people.
Shishak, king of Egypt, came against them, and so far, either by force
or surrender, made himself master of Jerusalem itself that he took away
the treasures both of the temple and of the exchequer, of the house of
the Lord and of the king's house, which David and Solomon had amassed,
1 Kings 14:25,26.
These, it is likely, tempted him to make his descent; and, to save the
rest, Rehoboam perhaps tamely surrendered them, as Ahab,
1 Kings 20:4.
He also took away the golden shields that were made but in his father's
1 Kings 14:26.
These the king of Egypt carried off as trophies of his victory; and,
instead of them, Rehoboam made brazen shields, which the life-guard
carried before him when he went to church in state,
1 Kings 14:27,28.
This was an emblem of the diminution of his glory. Sin makes the gold
become dim, changes the most fine gold, and turns it into brass. We
commend Rehoboam for going to the house of the Lord, perhaps the
oftener for the rebuke he had been under, and do not condemn him for
going in pomp. Great men should honour God with their honour, and then
they are themselves most honoured by it.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for '1 Kings' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".