Judah is Strengthened
Verse 1 – Rehoboam had made a foolish decision by causing the division of Israel, but now tried to take it back by force. True unity, however, cannot come about by force. It must be the free response of willing hearts.
Verses 2-4 – Shemaiah, God’s prophet, showed up and told Rehoboam that he would not go up against his brothers!
God had foretold of this division, as punishment, but the higher purpose was being exposed. By Judah being pressured, David’s line would keep intact His plan for the Messiah to be a descendant of David. God always wants unity, but when division comes, look for a higher purpose that God has ordained. Rehoboam and all the people followed the advise of Shemaiah and went home to their houses.
Verses 5-12 – Instead of carrying out an invasion Rehoboam fortified cities throughout the territory of Judah and Benjamin. He needed to reestablish a smaller circle around Jerusalem. Cities that had not been that important, such as Bethlehem, now became crucial defensive posts. Not only did he see to it that they were physically reinforced, but each had leaders, a supply of food, oil, and wine, and large shields and spears. Having started off on the wrong foot, he made sure his kingdom did not become vulnerable to attack.
Verses 13, 14 – After the split, Jeroboam, the new king of Israel, saw these priests and Levites as threats to his new government because they remained loyal to Jerusalem, now the capital of Judah. So he appointed his own priest (a no-no with God). He banned the Levites from their duties and forced them to move to the southern Kingdom. Jeroboam’s pagan priests encouraged idol worship. They were seriously abandoning God. We have to watch who we follow. They might just lead you off a cliff.
Verse 17 – During the first three years, the south rallied around the temple and the service of the Lord, while the north focused on the cult of idolatry, instigated by Jeroboam.
Verses 18-21 – Rehoboam had 18 wives, many from blood relations. Maacah (also called Micaiah), was probable Absalom’s grand-daughter by his son or son-in-law, Uriel (13:2). She would become influential in leading the people into idolatry.
Verses 22, 23 – There was one matter, however, that Rehoboam seemed to be wiser in than both David and Solomon. Both had left their sons in Jerusalem, where they had been given important titles but not much responsibility. Having spent his first 41 years living in limbo, Rehoboam made sure his son’s had a meaningful purpose. He put them in charge of the newly fortified cities and provided them with numerous wives. (I’m not sure all those wives were a good thing).