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26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:

21 And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.

27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill

22 But the word of God came unto Shemaiah theme, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. man of God, saying,

28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

23 Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying, 24 Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD.

29 And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan."

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not now.

V. 25-33. We have here the beginning of the reign of Jeroboam. He built Shechem first, and then Penuel-beautified and fortified them, and, probably, had a palace in each of them for himself, (v. 25;) the former in Ephraim, the latter in Gad, on the other side Jordan. This might be proper; but he formed another project for the establishing of his kingdom, which was fatal to the interests of religion in it.

I. That which he designed, was, by some effectual means to secure those to himself, who had now chosen him their king, and to prevent their return to the house of David, v. 26, 27. It seems, 1. He was jealous of the people, afraid that, some time or other, they would kill him, and go again to Rehoboam. Many that have been advanced in one tumult, have been hurled down in another. Jeroboam could not put any confidence in the affections of his people, though now they seemed extremely fond of him; for what is got by wrong and usurpation, cannot be enjoyed or kept with any security or satisfaction. 2. He was distrustful of the promise of God; could not take his word, that if he would keep close to his duty, God would build him a sure house, (ch. 11. 38,) but he would contrive ways and means, and sinful ones too, for his own safety. A practical disbelief of God's all-sufficiency, is at the bottom of all our treacherous departures from him.

II. The way he took to do this, was, by keeping the people from going up to Jerusalem to worship. That was the place God had chosen, to put his name there; Solomon's temple was there, which God had, in the sight of all Israel, and in the memory of many now living, taken solemn possession of, in a cloud of glory. At the altar there, the priests of the Lord attended, there all Israel were to keep the feasts, and thither they were to bring their sacrifices.

30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.

31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.

32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth

title of a prince; and yet he would not contend for it, in oppo-have freed yourselves from other burdens, free yourselves from sition to God, for then he had been unworthy the title of an Is- this; why should we now be tied to one place any more than raelite. To proceed in this war, would be not only to fight in Samuel's time?" against their brethren, (v. 24,) whom they ought to love, but to fight against their God, whom they ought to submit to: This thing is from me. These two considerations should reconcile us to our losses and troubles, that God is the Author of them, and our brethren are the instruments of them; let us not therefore meditate revenge. Rehoboam, and his people, hearkened to the word of the Lord, disbanded the army, and acquiesced. Though, in human probability, they had a fair prospect of success; for their army was numerous and resolute, Jeroboam's party weak and unsettled: though it would turn to their reproach among their neighbours, to lose so much of their strength, and never have one push for it, to make a flourish, and do nothing; yet, [1.] They regarded the command of God, though sent by a poor prophet. When we know God's mind, we must submit to it, how much soever it crosses our own mind. [2] They consulted their own interest; concluding that though they had all the advantages, even that of right, on their side, yet they could not prosper, if they fought in disobedience to God: it was better to sit still, than to rise up and fall. In the next reign, God allowed them to fight, and gave them victory, (2 Chr. 13.) but

Now, 1. Jeroboam apprehended that if the people continued to do this, they would, in time, return to the house of David, allured by the magnificence both of the court and of the temple. If they cleave to their old religion, they will go back to their old king. We may suppose, if he had treated with Rehoboam for the safe conduct of himself and his people to and from Jerusalem, at the times appointed for their solemn feasts, it would not have been denied him; therefore he fears not their being driven back by force, but their going back to Rehoboam.

2. He therefore dissuaded them from going up to Jerusalem, pretending to consult their ease; "It is too much for you to go so far to worship God, (v. 28,) it is a heavy yoke, and it is time to shake it off; you have gone long enough to Jerusalem." So some read it; "The temple, now that you are used to it, does not appear so glorious and sacred as it did at first:" (sensible glories wither, by degrees, in men's estimation :)

you

z Gen. 28. 19. a Judg. 18. 29. Am. S. 14. b Deut. 24. 15. c. 13. 24. c Num. 3. 10. 2 Kings 17. 32. Ez. 44.6-8.

3. He provided for the assistance of their devotion at home. Upon consultation had with some of his politicians, he came to this resolve, To set up two golden calves, as tokens or signs of the divine presence; and persuade the people they might as well stay at home, and offer sacrifice to those, as go to Jerusalem to worship before the ark; and some are so charitable as to think they were made to represent the mercy-seat, and the cherubims over the ark But, more probably, he learned it of the Egyptians, in whose land he had sojourned for some time, and who worshipped their god Apis, under the similitude of a bull or calf. (1.) He would not be at the charge of building a golden temple, as Solomon had done; two golden calves are the most that he can afford. (2.) He intended, no doubt, by these to represent, or rather make present, not any false god, as Moloch or Chemosh, but the true God only, the God of Israel, the God that brought them up out of the land of Egypt, as he declares, v. 28. So that it was no violation of the first commandment but the second. And he chose thus to engage the реоple's devotion, because he knew there were many among them, so in love with images, that, for the sake of the calves, they would willingly quit God's temple, where all images were forbidden.. (3.) He set up two, by degrees to break people off from the belief of the unity of the godhead, which would pave the way to the polytheism of the pagans. He set up these two at Dan and Beth-el, one the utmost border of his country northward, the other southward, as if they were the guardians and protectors of the kingdom. Beth-el lay close to Judah: he set up one there, to tempt those of Rehoboam's subjects over to him, who were inclined to image worship, in lieu of those of his subjects, that would continue to go to Jerusalem. He set up the other at Dan, for the convenience of those that lay most remote, and because Micah's images had been set up there, and great veneration paid to them for many ages, Judg. 18. 30. Beth-el signifies the house of God, which gave some colour to the superstition; but the prophet called it Beth-aven, the house of vanity, or iniquity.

4. The people complied with him herein, and were fond enough of the novelty; they went to worship before the one, even unto Dan, (v. 30,) to that of Dan first, because it was first set up; or even to that at Dan, though it lay such a great way off. They that thought it much to go to Jerusalem, to worship God according to his institution, made no difficulty of going twice as far, to Dan, to worship him according to their own inventions. Or, they are said to go to one of the calves at Dan, because Abijah, king of Judah, within twenty years, recovered Beth-el, (2 Chr. 13. 19,) and, it is likely, removed the golden calf, or forbade the use of it, and then they had only that at Dan to go

to.

This became a sin; and a great sin it was, against the express letter of the second commandment. God had sometimes dispensed with the law concerning worshipping in one place, but never allowed the worship of him by images. Hereby they justified their fathers in making the calf at Horeb, though God had so fully shown his displeasure against them for it, and threatened to visit for it in the day of visitation, Ex. 32.24. So that it was as great a contempt of God's wrath as it was of his law; and thus they added sin to sin. Bishop Patrick quotes a saying of the Jews, That till Jeroboam's time the Israelites sucked but one calf, but from that time they sucked two.

5. Having set up the gods, he fitted up accommodations for them: wherein he varied from the divine appointment, we are here told; which intimates that, in other things, he imitated what was done in Judah, (v. 32,) as well as he could. See how one error multiplied into many.

(1.) He made a house of high places, or of altars; one temple at Dan, we may suppose, and another at Beth-el, (v. 31,) and in each many altars, probably, complaining of it as an inconvenience, that in the temple of Jerusalem there was but one. The multiplying of altars passed with some for a piece

month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Beth-el, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Beth-el "the priests of the high places which he had made. 33 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Beth-el, the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised fof his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

CHAPTER XIII.

of the we left Jeroboam attending his altar at Beth-el,

and there we find him the beginning of this, when he received a testimony from

God against his idolatry and apostacy. This was sent him by a prophet, a man of God that lived in Judah, who is the principal subject of the story of this chap

ter, where we are told, I. What passed between him and the new king. 1. The prophet threatened Jeroboam's altar, (v. 1, 2,) and gave him a sign, (v. 3,) which Immediately came to pass, v. 5. 2. The king threatened the prophet, and was himself made another sign, by the withering of his hand, (v. 4,) and the restoring of it, upon his submission, and the prophet's intercession, v. 6. 3. The prophet refused the kindness offered him thereupon, v. 7-10. II. What passed between him and the old prophet. 1. The old prophet fetched him back by a lie, and gave him entertainment, v. 11-19. 2. He, for accepting it, in disobedience to the divine command, is threatened with death, v. 20-22. And, 3. The threatening

is executed, for he is slain by a lion, (v. 23, 24,) and buried at Bethel, v 25-32

4. Jeroboam is hardened in his idolatry, v. 33, 34. Thy judgments, Lord, are a great deep.

a man of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Beth-el: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.

there

d Lev. 23. 33, 34. or, went up to the altar. tor, to sacrifice. e Am. 7. 13. I or, went up to. f Num. 15. 39. § to burn. c. 13.1. a c. 12. 32, 33. or, afer. b 2 Kings 23. 15-17. c 18, 7. 14. 38. 7, 22. John 2. 18. 1 Cor. 1. 22.

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of devotion, but God, by the prophet, puts another construction upon it; (Hos. 8. 11,) Ephraim has made many altars to sin.

(2.) He made priests of the lowest of the people; and the lowest of the people were good enough to be priests to his calves, and too good. He made priests from the extremest parts of the people, that is, some out of every corner of the country, whom he ordered to reside among their neighbours, to instruct them in his appointments, and reconcile them to them. Thus were they dispersed as the Levites, but were not of the sons of Levi. But the priests of the high places, or altars, he ordered to reside in Beth-el, as the priests at Jerusalem, (v. 32,) to attend the public service.

(3.) The feast of tabernacles, which God had appointed on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, he adjourned to the fifteenth day of the eighth month, (v. 32,) the month which he devised of his own heart, to show his power in ecclesiastical matters, v. 33. The passover and pentecost he observed in their proper season, or did not observe them at all, or with little solemnity in comparison with this.

(4.) He himself assuming a power to make priests, no marvel if he undertook to do the priests' work with his own hands: He offered upon the altar twice; it is mentioned, (v. 32, 33,) as also that he burned incense. This was connived at in him, because it was of a piece with the rest of his irregularities; but in king Uzziah it was immediately punished with the plague of leprosy. He did it himself, to make him look great among the people, and to get the reputation of a devout man; also to grace the solemnity of his new festival, with which it is likely, at this time, he joined the feast of the dedication of his altar.

NOTES TO CHAPTER XIII.

2 And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar! thus saith the LORD, Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall be offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.

3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.

4 And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Beth-el, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.

V. 1-10. Here is,

I. A messenger sent to Jeroboam, to signify to him God's pleasure against his idolatry, v. 1. The army of Judah, that aimed to ruin him, was countermanded, and might not draw a sword against him, (ch. 12. 24;) but a prophet of Judah is, instead thereof, sent to reclaim him from his evil way, and is sent in time, while he is but dedicating his altar, before his heart is hardened by the deceitfulness of his sin; for God delights not in the death of sinners, but would rather they would turn, and live. How bold was the messenger, that durst attack the king in his pride, and interrupt the solemnity he was proud of! They that go on God's errand, must not fear the face of man; they know who will bear them out. How kind was He that sent him to warn Jeroboam of the wrath of God revealed from heaven against his ungodliness and unrighteousness!

II. The message delivered in God's name, not whispered,

5 The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD.

6 And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Entreat now the face of the LORD thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me

the man of God and the king's hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.

the

d 2 Chr. 16. 10. 18. 25, &c. 25. 15, 16. Ps. 105. 15. Jer. 20.2-4. Am. 7. 10–17. Matt. 25. 40. John 13. 20. Acts 6. 12. ver. 3. f Ex. 8. 8. Num. 21. 7. Acts 8. 24. Jam. 5. 16. the face of the LORD.

And thus, [1.] Jeroboam sinned himself; yet perhaps excused himself to the world and his own conscience, with this, that he did not do so ill as Solomon did, who worshipped other gods. [2.] He made Israel to sin, drew them off from the worship of God, and entailed idolatry upon their seed. And hereby they were punished for deserting the thrones of the house of David. The learned Mr. Whiston, in his chronology for the adjust-written in heaven. ing of the annals of the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel, supposes that Jeroboam changed the calculation of the year, and made it to contain but eleven months, and that by those years the reigns of the kings of Israel are measured, till Jehu's revolution, and no longer; in which interval, eleven years of the annals of Judah answer to twelve in those of Israel.

but cried with a loud voice, denoting both the prophet's courage, that he was neither afraid nor ashamed to own it, and his earnestness, that he desired to be heard and heeded by all that were present, who were not a few, on this great occasion. It is directed, not to Jeroboam, or to the people, but to the altar, the stones of which will sooner hear and yield, than they who were mad upon their idols, and deaf to divine calls. Yet, in threatening the altar, he threatens the founder and worshippers, to whom it is as dear as their own souls, and who might conclude, "If God's wrath fasten upon the lifeless guiltless altar, how shall we escape?" That which is foretold concerning the altar, (v. 2,) is, that in process of time, a prince of the house of David, Josiah by name, should pollute this altar by sacrificing the idolatrous priests themselves upon it, and burning the bones of dead men. Let Jeroboam know, and be sure, 1. That the altar he now consecrated, should be desecrated. Idolatrous worship will not continue, but the word of the Lord will endure for ever. 2. That the priests of the high places he now made should themselves be made sacrifices to the justice of God, and the first and only sacrifices upon this altar, that would be pleasing to him. If the offering be such as is an abomination to God, it would follow, of course, that the offerers must themselves fall under his wrath, which will abide upon them, since it is not otherwise transmitted. 3. That this should be done by a branch of the house of David. That family which he and his kingdom had despised, and treacherously deserted, should recover so much power as to demolish that altar which he thought to establish; so that right and truth should, at length, prevail both in civil and sacred matters, notwithstanding the present triumphs of those that were given to change the fear both of God and the king. It was about 356 years, ere this prediction was fulfilled, yet it was spoken of as sure and nigh at hand, for a thousand years with God are but as one day. Nothing more contingent and arbitrary than the giving of names to persons, yet Josiah is here named above 300 years before he was born. Nothing future is hidden from God. There are names in the book of the divine prescience, (Phil. 4. 3,) names

III. A sign is given for the confirming of the truth of this prediction, that the altar should be shaken to pieces by an invisible power, and the ashes of the sacrifice scattered, (v. 3,) which came to pass immediately, v. 5. This was, 1. A proof that the prophet was sent of God, who confirmed the word with this sign following, Mark 16. 20. 2. A present indication of God's displeasure against these idolatrous sacrifices. How could the gift be acceptable, when the altar that should sanctify it, was an abomination? 3. It was a reproach to the people, dis-whose hearts were harder than these stones, and rent not under the word of the Lord. 4. It was a specimen of what should be done to it in the accomplishment of this prophecy by Josiah; it was now rent, in token of its being then ruined.

IV. Jeroboam's hand withered, which he stretched out to seize or smite the man of God, v. 4. Instead of trembling at the message, as he might well have done, he assaulted him that brought it, in defiance of the wrath of which he was warned, and contempt of that grace which sent him the warning. Rebuke a sinner, and he will hate thee, and do thee a mischief if he can; yet God's prophets must rather expose themselves than betray their trust: he that employs them, will protect them, and restrain the wrath of man, as he did Jeroboam's here, by withering his hand, so that he could neither hurt the prophet, nor draw it in to help himself. When his hand was stretched

7 And the king said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give hee a reward.

8 And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place:

9 For so was it charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest.

10 So he went another way, and returned not by the way that he came to Beth-el.

11 Now there dwelt an old prophet in Beth-el: and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Beth-el: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father.

12 And their father said unto them, What way went he? for his sons had seen what way the man of God went which came from Judah.

13 And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass, and he rode thereon, 14 Ánd went after the man of God, and found

g1 Sam. 9. 7. 2 Kings 5. 15. A Num. 22. 18. 24. 13. i1 Cor. 5. 11. zon. kver. 8, 9.

him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? and he said, I am.

15 Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread.

16 And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee; neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place:

17 For it was said to me by 'the word of the LORD, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou

out to burn incense to his calves, it was not withered; but when it was stretched out against a prophet, he shall have no use of it, till he humble himself. Of all the wickedness of the wicked, there is none more provoking to God than their malicious attempts against his prophets, of whom he has said, Touch them not, do them no harm. As this was a punishment of Jeroboam, and answering to the sin, so it was the deliverance of the prophet. God has many ways of disabling the enemies of his church to execute their mischievous purposes. Jeroboam's inability to pull in his hand, made him a spectacle to all about him, that they might see and fear. If God, in justice, harden the hearts of sinners, so that the hand they have stretched out in sin, they cannot pull in again by repentance, that is a spiritual judgment, represented by this, and much more dreadful.

19

V. The sudden healing of the hand that was suddenly dried up, upon his submission, v. 6. That word of God which should have touched his conscience, humbled him not, but this which touched his bone and his flesh, brings down his proud spirit. He looks for help now, 1. Not from his calves, but from God only, from his power and his favour. He wounded, and no hand but his can make whole. 2. Not by his own sacrifice or incense, but by the prayer and intercession of the prophet, whom he had just now threatened, and aimed to destroy. The time may come, when those that hate the preaching, would be glad of the prayers, of faithful ministers. "Pray to the Lord thy God," says Jeroboam; "thou hast an interest in him, improve it for me. But observe, He does not desire him to pray that his sin might be pardoned, and his heart changed, only that his hand might be restored; thus Pharaoh would have Moses to pray that God would take away this death only, (Ex. 10. 17,) not this sin. The prophet, as became a man of God, renders good for evil, upbraids not Jeroboam with his impotent malice, nor triumphs in his submission, but immediately addresses himself to God for him. Those only are entitled to the blessing Christ pronounced on the persecuted, that learn of him to pray for their persecutors, Matt. 5. 10, 44. When the prophet thus honoured God, by showing himself of a forgiving spirit, God put this further honour upon him, that, at his word, he recalled the judgment, and by another miracle healed the withered hand; that by the goodness of God Jeroboam might be led to repentance, and if he were not broken by the judgment, yet might be melted by the mercy. With both he seemed affected for the present, but the impressions wore off.

VI. The prophet's refusal of Jeroboam's kind invitation: in which observe, 1. That God forbade his messenger to eat or drink in Bethel, (v. 9,) to show his detestation of their execrable idolatry and apostacy from God, and to teach us not to have fellowship with the works of darkness, lest we have infection from them, or give encouragement to them. He must not turn back the same way, but deliver his message, as it were, in transitu-as he passes along. He shall not seem to be sent on purpose, (they were unworthy such a favour,) but as if he only called by the way, his spirit being stirred, like Paul's at Athens, as he passed, and saw their devotions. God would, by this command, try his prophet, as he did Ezekiel, whether he would not be rebellious, like that rebellious house, Ez. 2. 8. 2. That Jeroboam was so affected with the cure of his hand, that though we read not of his thanksgivings to God for the mercy, or of his sending an offering to the altar at Jerusalem, in acknowledgment of it, yet he was willing to express his gratitude to the prophet, and pay him for his prayers, v. 7. Favours to the body will make even graceless men seem grateful to good ministers. 3. That the prophet, though hungry and weary, and, perhaps, poor, in obedience to the divine command, refused both the entertainment, and the reward, proffered him. He might have supposed his acceptance of it would give him an opportunity of discoursing further with the king, in order to his effectual reformation, now that he was convinced; yet he will not think

camest.

18 He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied "unto him.

19 So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water.

20 And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came unto the prophet that brought him back:

21 And he cried unto the man of God that came

↑ a word was. I c. 20. 35. 1 Thes. 4. 15. m Is. 9. 15. Jer. 23. 32. n Deut. 13. 1, 3, 5. 18. 20. Acts 4. 19.

himself wiser than God, but, like a faithful careful messenger, hastens home when he has done his errand. They have little learned the lesson of self-denial, that cannot forbear one forbidden meal.

V. 11-22. The man of God had honestly and bravely refused the king's invitation, though he promised him a reward; yet was over persuaded by an old prophet, to come back with him, and dine in Beth-el, contrary to the command given him. Here we find how dear his dinner cost him. Observe with wonder,

I. The old prophet's wickedness. I cannot but call him a false prophet, and a bad man; it being much easier to believe that from one of such a bad character, should be extorted a confirmation of what the man of God said, (as we find, v. 32,) than that a true prophet, and a good man, should tell such a deliberate lie as he did, and father it upon God. A good tree could never bring forth such corrupt fruit. Perhaps, he was trained up, among the sons of the prophets, in one of Samuel's colleges not far off, whence he retained the name of a prophet, but, growing worldly and profane, the spirit of prophecy was departed from him. If he had been a good prophet, he would have reproved Jeroboam's idolatry, and not have suffered his sons to attend his altars, as, it should seem, they did.

Now, 1. Whether he had any good design in fetching back the man of God, is not certain. One may hope that he did it, in compassion to him, concluding he wanted refreshment, and out of a desire to be better acquainted with him, and more fully to understand his errand than he could from the report of his sons; yet his sons having told him all that passed, and particularly that the prophet was forbidden to eat or drink there, which he had openly told Jeroboam, it is supposed to have been done with a bad design, to draw him into a snare, and so to expose him; for false prophets have ever been the worst enemies to the true prophets, usually aiming to destroy them, but sometimes, as here, to debauch them, and draw them from their duty. Thus they gave the Nazarites wine to drink, (Am. 2. 12,) that they might glory in their fall.

But, 2. It is certain that he took a very bad method to bring him back. When the man of God had told him, "I may not, and therefore I will not, return to eat bread with thee," (his resolutions concurring with the divine command, v. 16, 17,) he wickedly pretended that he had an order from heaven to fetch him back; he imposed upon him his former character as a prophet, I am a prophet also as thou art; he pretended he had a vision of an angel that sent him on this errand; but it was all a lie, it was a banter upon prophecy, and profane in the highest degree. When this old prophet is spoken of, (2 Kings 23. 18,) he is called the prophet that came out of Samaria, whereas there was no such place as Samaria, till long after, (ch. 16. 24;) therefore I take it he is so called there, though he was of Beth-el, because he was like those who were afterward the prophets of Samaria, who caused God's people Israel to err, Jer. 23. 13. II. The good prophet's weakness, in suffering himself to be thus imposed upon; He went back with him, v. 19. He that had resolution enough to refuse the invitation of the king, who promised him a reward, could not resist the insinuations of one that pretended to be a prophet; good people are more in danger of being drawn from their duty by the plausible pretences of divinity and sanctity than by external inducements; we have therefore need to beware of false prophets, and not believe every spirit.

III. The proceedings of divine justice, hereupon; and here we may well wonder that the wicked prophet, who told the lie, and did the mischief, went unpunished, while the holy man of God, that was drawn by him into sin, was suddenly and severely punished for it. What shall we make of this? The judgments of God are unfathomable: the deceived and the deceiver are his, and he giveth not account of any of his matters: certainly there

from Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee,

22 But caniest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place of the which the LORD did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcass shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.

23 And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back.

24 And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him; and his carcass was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcass.

25 And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcass cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcass: and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.

26 And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he said, It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the

o Num. 20. 12. 1 Sam. 13. 13, 14. 15. 23. p ver. 19. ver. 9. rver. 30, c. 14. 13. 2 Chr. 21. 20. Is. 11. 18-20. Jer. 22. 18, 19.

must be a judgment to come, when these things shall be called over again, and when those that sinned most, and suffered least, in this world, will receive according to their works. 1. The message delivered to the man of God was strange; his crime is recited; (v. 21, 22,) it was, in one word, disobedience to an express command; judgment is given upon it, Thy carcass shall not come to the sepulchre of thy fathers; that is, "Thou shalt never reach thy own house, but shalt be a carcass quickly, nor shall thy dead body be brought to the place of thy fathers' sepulchres, to be interred." 2. Yet it was more strange that the old prophet himself should be the messenger: of this we can give no account, but that God would have it so, as he spake to Balaam by his ass, and read Saul his doom by the devil in Samuel's likeness; we may think God designed hereby, (1.) To startle the lying prophet, and make him sensible of his sin; the message could not but affect him the more, when he himself had the delivering of it, and had so strong an impression made upon his spirit by it, that he cried out, as one in an agony, v. 21. He had reason to think, if he must die for his disobedience in a small matter, who sinned by surprise, of how much sorer punishment he should be thought worthy, who had belied an angel of God, and cheated a man of God, by a deliberate forgery. If this were done to the green tree, what shall be done to the dry? Perhaps, it had a good effect upon him; those who preach God's wrath to others, have hard hearts indeed, if they fear it not themselves. (2.) To put the greater mortification upon the prophet that was deceived, and to show what they must expect, who hearken to the great deceiver; they that yield to him as a tempter, will be terrified by him as a tormentor; whom he now fawns upon, he will afterward fly upon, and whom he draws into sin, he will do what he can to drive to despair. V. 23-34. Here is,

LORD; therefore the LORD hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the LORD, which he 'spake unto him.

I. The death of the deceived disobedient prophet. The old prophet that had deluded him, as if he would make him some amends for the wrong he had done him, or help to prevent the mischief threatened him, furnished him with an ass to ride home on; but, by the way, a lion set upon him, and killed him, v. 23, 24. He did but turn back to refresh himself when he was hungry, and behold, he must die for it; see 1 Sam. 14. 43. But we must consider, 1. That his offence was great, and it would, by no means, justify him, that he was drawn into it by a lie; he could not be so certain of the countermand sent by another, as he was of the command given to himself; nor had he any ground to think that the command would be recalled, when the reason of it remained in force, which was, that he might testify his detestation of the wickedness of that place. He had great reason to suspect the honesty of this old prophet, who did not himself bear his testimony, nor did God think fit to make use of him, as a witness against the idolatry of the city he lived in; however, he should have taken time to beg direction from God, and not have complied so soon. Did he think this old prophet's house safer to eat in than other houses at Bethel, when God had forbidden him to eat in any? That was to refine upon the command, and make himself wiser than God. Did he think to excuse himself, that he was hungry? Had he never read, that man lives not by bread alone? 2. That his death was for the glory of God; for by this it appeared, (1.) That nothing is more provoking to him than disobedience to an express command, though in a small matter, which makes his proceedings against our first parents, for eating forbidden fruit, the easier to be accounted for. (2.) That God is displeased at the sins of his own people, and no man shall be protected in disobedience by the sanctity of his profession, the dignity of his office, his nearness to God, or any good services he has done for him. Perhaps God, by this, intended, in a way of righteous judgment, to harden Jeroboam's heart, since he was not

27 And he spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they saddled him.

28 And he went, and found his carcass cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcass: the lion had not eaten the carcass, nor tornt the ass.

29 And the prophet took up the carcass of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him.

30 And he laid his carcass in his own grave, and they mourned over him, saying, Alas, "my brother!

31 And it came to pass, after he had buried him, that he spake to his sons, saying, When I am dead, then bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of God is buried: lay my bones beside his bones:

32 For the saying which he cried by the word of the LORD against the altar in Beth-el, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria," shall surely come to pass.

ver. 9. ↑ broken. u Jer. 2. 18.

8 c. 20. 36. Prov. 22. 13. 26. 13. • broken. v2 Kings 23. 16-19. to c. 16. 24.

reformed by the withering of his hand: for he would be apt to make a bad use of it, and to say that the prophet was well enough served for meddling with his altar, he had better have stayed at home; nay, he would say that Providence had punished him for his insolence, and the lion had done that which his withered hand might not do; however, by this he intended to warn all those whom he employs, strictly to observe their orders, at their peril.

II. The wonderful preservation of his dead body, which was a token of God's mercy remembered in the midst of wrath; the lion that gently strangled him, or tore him, did not devour his dead body, nor so much as tear the ass, v. 24, 25, 28. Nay, what was more, he did not set upon the travellers that passed by, and saw it, nor upon the old prophet, (who had reason enough to fear it,) when he came to take up the corpse; his commission was, to kill the prophet, hitherto he should go, but no further: thus God showed that though he was angry with him, his anger was turned away, and the punishment went no further than death.

III. The care which the old prophet took of his burial; when he heard of the unusual accident, he concluded it was the man of God, who was disobedient to his Master, (and whose fault was that?) therefore the Lord has delivered him to the lion, v. 26. It had well become him to have asked why the lion was not sent against him and his house, rather than against the good man whom he had cheated. He took up the carcass, v. 29. If there were any truth in the vulgar opinion, surely the corpse bled afresh, when he touched it, for he was, in effect, the murderer, and it was but a poor reparation for the injury, to inter the dead body: perhaps, when he cheated him into his ruin, he intended to laugh at him; yet now his conscience so far relents, that he weeps over him, and, like Joab at Abner's funeral, is compelled to be a mourner for him whom he had been the death of; they said, Alas, my brother! v. 30. The case was indeed very lamentable, that so good a man, a prophet so faithful, and so bold in God's cause, should, for one offence, die as a criminal, while an old lying prophet lives at ease, and an idolatrous prince in pomp and power. Thy way, O God, is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, We cannot judge of men by their sufferings, nor of sins by their present punishments; with some, the flesh is destroyed, that the spirit may be saved, while, with others, the flesh is pampered, that the soul may ripen for hell.

IV. The charge which the old prophet gave his sons concerning his own burial, that they should be sure to bury him in the same grave where the man of God was buried; (v. 31,) "Lay my bones beside his bones, close by them, as near as may be, so that my dust may mingle with his though he was a lying prophet, yet he desired to die the death of a true prophet; "Gather not my soul with the sinners of Beth-el, but with the man of God." The reason he gives, is, because what he cried against the altar of Beth-el, that men's bones should be burned upon it, shall surely come to pass, v. 32. Thus, 1. He ratifies the prediction, that out of the mouth of two witnesses, (and one of them such a one as St. Paul quotes, Tit. 1. 12, one of themselves, even a prophet of their own,) the word might be established, if possible, to convince and reclaim Jeroboam. 2. He does honour to the deceased prophet, as one whose word would not fall to the ground, though he did; ministers die, die prematurely it may be; but the word of the Lord endures for ever, and does not die with them. 3. He consults his own interest; it was foretold that men's bones should be burned upon Jeroboam's altar; "Lay mine" (says he) "close to his, and then they will not be disturbed;" and it was, accordingly, their security, as we find, 2 Kings 23. 18. Sleeping and waking, living and dying, it is safe being in good company. No mention is made here of the inscription on the prophet's tomb; but it is

33 After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places.

34 And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.

CHAPTER XIV.

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 Jero

boam's house, v. The of was the occasion of it, (v. 1— 6,) and the death of his child the earnest of it, (v. 17, 18;) together with the con

clusion of his reign, v. 19, 21. 11. The history of the declension and diminution

of Rehoboam's house and his kingdom, (v. 21-28,) and the conclusion of his reign, v. 29-31. In both which, we may read the mischievous consequences of sin, and the calamities it brings on kingdoms and families.

A sick.
T that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell

2 And Jeroboam said to his wife, Arise, I pray

c. 12. 31, 32. 2 Chr. 11. 15. 13. 9. • returned and made. y 2 Tim. 3. 13. † filled his hand. Judg. 17. 12. c. 14. 10. Prov. 13. 6. a c. 11. 31.

spoken of 2 Kings 23. 17, where Josiah asks, What title is that? And is told, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, that came from Judah, who proclaimed these things which thou hast done; so that the epitaph upon the prophet's grave preserved the remembrance of his prophecy, and was a standing testimony against the idolatries of Beth-el, which it would not have been, so remarkably, if he had died, and been buried elsewhere. The cities of Israel are here called cities of Samaria, though that name was not yet known; for, however the old prophet spake, the inspired historian wrote in the language of his own time.

V. The obstinacy of Jeroboam in his idolatry; (v. 33,) He returned not from his evil way; some hand was found, that durst repair the altar God had rent, and then Jeroboam offered sacrifice on it again, and the more boldly, because the prophet who disturbed him before, was in his grave, (Rev. 11. 10,) and because the prophecy was for a great while to come. Various methods had been used to reclaim him, but neither threats nor signs, neither judgments nor mercies, wrought upon him, so strangely was he wedded to his calves; he did not reform, no not his priesthood, but whoever would, he filled his hand, and made him priest, though ever so illiterate or immoral, and of what tribe soever; and this became sin, that is, a snare first, and then a ruin, to Jeroboam's house, to cut it off, v. 34. Note, The diminution, disquiet, and desolation, of families, are the fruit of sin; he promised himself that the calves would secure the crown to his family, but it proved they lost it, and sunk his family. Those betray themselves, that think by any sin to support themselves.

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 child.

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.d

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.

b 1 Sam. 9. 7, 8. in thine hand. tor, cakes, 1 or, bottle. c c. 11. 29. § stood for his hoariness. d Ec. 12. 3. e Ps. 139. 1-4. hard.

tended 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 obsure and neglected in Shiloh, blind through age, yet still blessed 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 has recourse to him in his distress, when the gods he served 'could give him no relief: Lord, in trouble have they visited thee, who before slighted thee; some have by sickness been reminded of their forgotten ministers, and praying friends: he sends to Ahijah, because he had told him he should be king, v. 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 ministers.

NOTES TO CHAPTER XIV.

V. 1-6. 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.

3. He sent his wife to inquire 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 have spared her, for mothers are the best nurses, and it had been much fitter for her to have stayed at home to tend him, than to go to Shiloh to inquire what would become of him. If she go, she must go incognito-must disguise herself, 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 I. His child fell sick, v. 1. It is probable that he was his it were below her quality to go upon such an errand, and what eldest son, and heir-apparent to the crown; for, at his death, all she had reason to be ashamed of, as Nicodemus that came to the kingdom went into mourning for him, v. 13. Neither his Jesus by night, whereas it is no disparagement to the greatest dignity as a prince, nor his age as a young prince, nor his in- to attend God's prophets,) but also to conceal herself from the terest in heaven as a pious prince, could exempt him from sick-prophet himself, that he might only answer her question conness, dangerous sickness; let none be secure of the continuance cerning her son, and not enter upon the unpleasing subject of of their health, but improve it, while it continues, for the best her husband's defection; thus some people love to prescribe to purposes; Lord, behold he, whom thou lovest, thy favourite, he their ministers, limit them to smooth things, and care not for whom Israel loves, their darling, is sick. At that time, when having the whole counsel of God declared to them, lest it prove Jeroboam prostituted and profaned the priesthood, (ch. 13. 33,) to prophesy no good concerning them, but evil. But what a his child sickened; when sickness comes into our families, we strange notion had Jeroboam of God's prophet, that he believed should inquire whether there be not some particular sin har- he could and would certainly tell what would become of the boured in our houses, which the affliction is sent to convince child, and yet either could not, or would not, discover who was us of, and reclaim us from. the mother; could he see into the thick darkness of futurity, and yet not see through the thin vail of this disguise? Did he think the God of Israel like his calves, just what he pleased? Be not deceived, God is not mocked.

II. He sent his wife in disguise, to inquire of Ahijah the prophet, what should become of the child, v. 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, ch. 13. 4, such is the force of natural affection; our children are ourselves but once removed.

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, (v. 5,) which enabled him, as she came in at the door, to call her by her name, to her great surprise, and so to Now, 1. Jeroboam's great desire, under this affliction, is, to discover to all about him who she was; (v. 6,) Come in, thou know what shall become of the child, whether he will live or die. wife of Jeroboam: why feignest thou thyself to be another? (1.) It had been more prudent, if he had desired to know what He had no regard either, 1. To her rank; she was a queen, means they should use for the recovery of the child, what they but what was that to him, who had a message to deliver her should give him, and what they should do to him; but, by this immediately from God, before whom all the children of men instance, and that of Ahaziah, 2 Kings 1. 2, and Benhadad, stand upon the same level? Nor, 2. To her present; it was 2 Kings 8. 8, it should seem, they had then such a foolish notion usual for those who consulted prophets, to bring them tokens of fatality, as took them off from all use of means; for if they of respect, which they accepted, and yet were no hirelings; were sure the patient would live, they thought means needless; she brought him a handsome country present, (v. 3,) but he did if he would die, they thought them useless; not considering not think himself obliged by that to give her any finer language that duty is ours, events are God's, and that he that ordained than the nature of her message required. Nor, 3. To her the end, ordained the means. Why should a prophet be de-industrious concealment of herself; it is a piece of civility not sired to show that which a little time will show? (2.) It had to take notice of those who desire not to be taken notice of; been more pious, if he had desired to know wherefore God con- but the prophet was no courtier, nor gave flattering titles; plain VOL. I.-106 ( 841 )

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