Which King Are You? Abijah
After Rehoboam dies the kingdom of Judah goes to Abijah.
He is a short term king; only three years. In it though he delivers one of the best speeches that you can attribute to the kings. Jeroboam is back with a huge army and Abijah and his small army meet him on the battle field. Abijah, climbs to the highest point and starts speaking to Jeroboam’s army.
When I read his speech in 2 Chronicles 13, I imagine him standing on the hill, tears in his eyes, trying to make one last appeal to reason, hoping that it doesn’t have to go as far as fighting.
Here is his speech:
“Jeroboam and all Israel, listen to me! 5 Don’t you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt? 6 Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, an official of Solomon son of David, rebelled against his master. 7 Some worthless scoundrels gathered around him and opposed Rehoboam son of Solomon when he was young and indecisive and not strong enough to resist them.
8 “And now you plan to resist the kingdom of the LORD, which is in the hands of David’s descendants. You are indeed a vast army and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made to be your gods. 9 But didn’t you drive out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and make priests of your own as the peoples of other lands do? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams may become a priest of what are not gods.
10 “As for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the LORD are sons of Aaron, and the Levites assist them. 11 Every morning and evening they present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the LORD. They set out the bread on the ceremonially clean table and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We are observing the requirements of the LORD our God. But you have forsaken him. 12 God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. Men of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you will not succeed.”
A friend of mine is getting married this summer. No one in our group of friends has met the guy she is marrying. One day all my friends decided that if we get out to California and they decided they didn’t like the guy, that it was going to be my job to tell her because I can be heartfelt but still diplomatic and articulate the things that need to be explained.
That is Abijah. He doesn’t want to go to war with his brothers, but if he has to he will. He is standing on the mountain, talking to his brothers like the main speaker at a family intervention. Abijah saying “You drove out your priests, you’ve forgotten your God, you’ve fallen for other gods” is not much different from someone saying to their brother or friend, “you’re hurting yourself, you’ve abandoned your family, you are consumed by drugs.”
Abijah is talking to his brother on Meth, his friend who is divorcing his wife or his daughter who has run away. Abijah’s plea to his brothers is not much different than the pleas we often give those around us who are throwing their lives away.
So, he stands up on the mountain, tears in his eyes and says, “Please, don’t do this.” As is the case with many of us who have been in this situation, the person we are speaking to doesn’t listen. Maybe they aren’t ready. Maybe they get mad. Maybe they feel like you are talking down to them. But they don’t listen.
So, Abijah is put in the position that many friends are put in, many brothers, many mothers. Abijah has to do what he has to do. Just as today when we have to report our children to the police, have them checked into rehab, or have DHS called on them– Abijah has to call in the authority.
I have known people whose life is summed up by that decision. I have met elderly women who still dwell daily on calling the police on their children decades before. It is the hardest decision that many parents ever have to make and it is something that sticks with you. It is in a lot of ways just as traumatic as losing a child, because often times the kid will never speak with their parents again. In some ways its like killing your child.
Abijah’s army defeats Israel, killing 500,000 people. Jeroboam is tracked down and killed. Towns are destroyed. Lives are ruined.
Just like the elderly mothers, Abijah’s whole life is summed up in that decision. There is nothing about his life before that day, nor about his life after that day. It seems that decision is all that mattered.
I imagine Abijah as an old man, sitting in his palace, still thinking about that day. I imagine him wondering if there was something else he could have said, where he went wrong, and what he could have done better.
I have never heard the story of Abijah suggested as a tale of comfort for mothers in these situations, but I will recommend it from now on. I wish I could go back in time and show it to people I have already met. I wish I could just show these people that what they are going through is awful, but it happened in God’s house too. I want to show them the story and assure them that calling in the authority is the right decision. God feels that pain. God dealt with the same situation.
I think there is some comfort in that.