Abijah’s War with Jeroboam
Abijah began to rule over Judah in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel. 2He reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother was Maacah, the daughter of Uriel from Gibeah.
Then war broke out between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3 Judah, led by King Abijah, fielded 400,000 select warriors, while Jeroboam mustered 800,000 select troops from Israel.
Outnumbered 2 to 1!
4 When the army of Judah arrived in the hill country of Ephraim, Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim and shouted to Jeroboam and all Israel: “Listen to me! 5 Don’t you realize that the Lord, the God of Israel, made a lasting covenant with David, giving him and his descendants the throne of Israel forever? 6 Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, a mere servant of David’s son Solomon, rebelled against his master. 7 Then a whole gang of scoundrels joined him, defying Solomon’s son Rehoboam when he was young and inexperienced and could not stand up to them.
This is quite a spin on the facts! The “gang of scoundrels” were perhaps less to blame than the fool Rehoboam. Yet even Rehoboam has some shining moments of faithfulness! Praise God that “when we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). So as God shows grace to us, we can extend it to others, even to the Rehoboams in our lives.
8 “Do you really think you can stand against the kingdom of the Lord that is led by the descendants of David? You may have a vast army, and you have those gold calves that Jeroboam made as your gods. 9 But you have chased away the priests of the Lord (the descendants of Aaron) and the Levites, and you have appointed your own priests, just like the pagan nations. You let anyone become a priest these days! Whoever comes to be dedicated with a young bull and seven rams can become a priest of these so-called gods of yours!
10 “But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not abandoned him. Only the descendants of Aaron serve the Lord as priests, and the Levites alone may help them in their work. 11 They present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the Lord every morning and evening. They place the Bread of the Presence on the holy table, and they light the gold lampstand every evening. We are following the instructions of the Lord our God, but you have abandoned him. 12 So you see, God is with us. He is our leader. His priests blow their trumpets and lead us into battle against you. O people of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed!”
Abijah did not consider his circumstances to be beyond the arm of the Lord! But how many times do I wonder (in my deepest heart) if God is unable or unwilling to help me? Far be it from any of us to think, even for a moment, that God has abandoned us! The cross of Calvary shows us irrevocably that God cares for us, and deeply loves us, and will do whatever it takes to save us!
An old, old hymn — “Leaning on the everlasting arms,” sung HERE by Iris Dement after a couple minutes of piano solo.
The story of this hymn: Anthony Showalter was leading a singing school in an Alabama church in 1887. When he returned to his boardinghouse room one night, two letters awaited him. Both were from former students, and both men told of the recent loss of their wives. Mr. Showalter wrote back, seeking to comfort the young men in the midst of their grief.
But what to write? When he came to the end of each letter, he wanted to include a Bible verse. He picked Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms ….”
He pondered the words of that verse as he penned them into the letters, and the lyrics of the chorus of Leaning on the Everlasting Arms came to his mind. He wrote to his friend, Elisha Hoffman, explaining that he had a chorus, but no verses. Mr. Hoffman wrote back with the rest of the words of this famous hymn.
–Hymns We Love
13 Meanwhile, Jeroboam had secretly sent part of his army around behind the men of Judah to ambush them. 14 When Judah realized that they were being attacked from the front and the rear, they cried out to the Lord for help. Then the priests blew the trumpets, 15 and the men of Judah began to shout. At the sound of their battle cry, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel and routed them before Abijah and the army of Judah.
Psalm 22:5 (NIV)
They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
16 The Israelite army fled from Judah, and God handed them over to Judah in defeat. 17 Abijah and his army inflicted heavy losses on them; 500,000 of Israel’s select troops were killed that day. 18 So Judah defeated Israel on that occasion because they trusted in the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 19 Abijah and his army pursued Jeroboam’s troops and captured some of his towns, including Bethel,
Bethel was one of the towns in which Jeroboam had placed a golden calf. See, the idol could not even protect itself, much less the army of Israel!
Jeshanah, and Ephron, along with their surrounding villages.
20 So Jeroboam of Israel never regained his power during Abijah’s lifetime, and finally the Lord struck him down and he died. 21 Meanwhile, Abijah of Judah grew more and more powerful. He married fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters.
22 The rest of the events of Abijah’s reign, including his words and deeds, are recorded in The Commentary of Iddo the Prophet.
1 When Abijah died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. There was peace in the land for ten years.
The profile of Abjiah in 1 Kings 15 is overwhelmingly negative. We read, he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.(1 Kings 15:3) Yet the Chronicler says nothing good or bad about the overall reign of Abjiah.
This was because the Chronicler wanted to emphasize the good that happened under the reign of Abijah; namely, the great deliverance that came when Judah relied on God. The Chronicler assumes the reader knows the material about Abijah in 1 Kings; yet he wanted to show that even a bad man can be shown grace when he relies on the Lord. This would be a great encouragement to the returned exiles to whom the Chronicler first wrote.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.