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31. Rehoboam the Unready
And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord. II Chronicles 12:14

This is the summing up of Rehoboam's life: he was not so bad as some, but he did evil in various ways, not so much from design as from neglect.

The evil effects of the father's sin and the mother's idolatry were seen in their son, yet there was another cause, namely, a want of heart-preparation. The son of Solomon very naturally desired many wives (2 Chron. 11:23); and it was no marvel that the child of Naamah the Ammonitess allowed images and groves to defile the land; yet there was a deeper cause of his life's evil, and that lay in himself. His heart was not thorough with the Lord, and he, himself, was not carefully consecrated to the worship of Jehovah. He might have done well had he not been Rehoboam the Unready.

I. HE DID NOT BEGIN LIFE WITH SEEKING THE LORD.

  1. He was young, and should have sought wisdom of God; but he went to Shechem to meet the people without prayer or sacrifice (2 Chron. 10:1). That which commences without God will end in failure.
  2. He leaned on counselors, saying, "What advice give ye?" Of those counselors he chose the worst, namely, the younger and prouder nobles (2 Chron. 10:8). Those who reject divine wisdom generally refuse all other wisdom.
  3. He committed great folly by threatening the people, and refusing their just demands; and that while as yet he had not been accepted as their king (2 Chron. 10:13-14). He had none of his father's wisdom. How can they act prudently and prosperously who are not guided of the Lord?

II. HE SHOWED NO HEART IN SEEKING THE LORD AFTERWARDS.

  1. He obeyed the prophet's voice when the man of God forbade him to fight with Israel; yet afterwards he forsook the law of the Lord (2 Chron. 12:1 ). He is said to have been "young and tender-hearted," which means soft (2 Chron. 13:7).
  2. He winked at the most horrible crimes among the people whom he ought to have judged (1 Kings 14:24).
  3. He fell into his father's sins.
  4. He busied himself more for the world than for God. We hear nothing of his worship but much of his building, nothing of his faith but much of his fickleness (2 Chron. 11:5-12).

III. HE WAS NOT FIXED AND PERSEVERING IN HIS SEEKING THE LORD.

  1. For three years his loyalty to his God made him prosper, by bringing into Judah all the better sort of people who fled from Jeroboam's calf-worship (2 Chron. 11:13-17), yet he forsook the Lord who had prospered him.
  2. He grew proud, and God handed him over to Shisbak (verse 5).
  3. He humbled himself and was pardoned, yet he stripped the Lord's house to buy off the king of Egypt.
  4. He wrought no great reforms and celebrated no great passover, yet he owned, "the Lord is righteous" (verse 6).

IV. HE HAD NO CARE TO SEEK THE LORD THOROUGHLY.

    Yet no man is good by accident: no one goes right who has not intended to do so. Without heart, religion must die.

  1. Human nature departs from the right way, especially in kings, who are tolerated in more sin than others.
  2. Courtiers usually run the wrong way, especially the young, proud, and frivolous. Rehoboam loved the gay and proud, and gave himself up to their lead.
  3. Underlings are apt to follow us and applaud us if we go in an evil path, even as Judah followed Rehoboam. Thus, those who should lead are themselves led.

  • The kind of preparation required by me, in order to the diligent and acceptable seeking of the Lord, my God, is somewhat after this fashion:
  • To feel and confess my need of God in the whole of my life.

  • To cry unto him for help and wisdom.

  • To yield to his guidance, and not to follow the counsel of vain persons, nor to bluster at those around me.

  • To be anxious to be right in everything, searching the Scriptures, and seeking by prayer, to know what I should do.

  • To serve the Lord carefully and earnestly, leaving nothing to chance, passion, fashion, or whim.

  • Are there any professors among us of the same sort as Rehoboam?

  • Are there any hopeful young men who lack whole-hearted devotion to the Lord?

  • Are there any older men who have suffered already from vacillation, hesitation, or double-mindedness?

  • Are there any just escaped from such trouble who nevertheless are not firm, and ready even now?

Oh, for a clear sense of the evil and folly of such a condition!
Oh, for the confirming power of the Holy Ghost!
Oh, for vital union with the Lord Jesus!

Examples

Before the University Boat race comes off, the men undergo a long and severe training. They would not think of contending for the mastery without preparation; and do we imagine that we can win the race of life at a venture, without bringing under the body and cultivating the mind? The preacher studies his discourse carefully, though it will only occupy part of an hour; and is our life-sermon worthy of no care and consideration? A saintly life is a work of far higher art than the most valuable painting or precious statue, yet neither of these can be produced without thought. A man must be at his best to produce an immortal poem, yet a few hundred lines will sum it all up. Let us not dream that the far greater poem of a holy life can be made to flow forth like impromptu verse.

Well known to me was a kindly, well-disposed gentleman, who, like Rehoboam, was tender-hearted or persuasible. He was a worldling of pleasing manners, who delighted in the esteem of the circle which surrounded him. He had a great respect for religious persons, and especially for ministers; but he could not afford to be a godly man himself, for then he might have become unpopular with a large circle of worldly fashionables. He once quitted an assembly which I addressed, because he said, "I felt almost on the go, and should soon have been converted if I had not rushed out." "There," said he, "Spurgeon, I am like an india-rubber doll when you are preaching; you can make me into any shape you like; but then I get back into my old form when you have done." He was an accurate reproduction of the soft-soured son of Solomon: a very Pliable, easily persuaded to set out on pilgrimage, but equally ready to return at the world's call.

The parable of the two sons will come in here. Rehoboam said, "I go, Sir"; but he went not. The modern Rehoboam is a perfect gentleman: if he did but know his own mind, he would also be a man. He is inclined to obey God, but others incline him to keep in the fashion. He is like the pear which the French call Bon Chretien, very promising, but apt to become sleepy, and to rot at the core. This sort of people is not of much use either to the good cause or to its opposite.

Charles Hadden Spurgeon


32. Help Asked and Praise Rendered
And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord. II Chronicles 20:4

The sudden news of a great invasion came to Jehoshaphat, and, like a true man of God, he set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast. The people came together with all speed, and the whole nation earnestly cried to the Lord for his aid.

Let us notice carefully:

I. HOW THEY ASKED HELP.

  • They expressed their confidence; Jehoshaphat cried, "Art not thou God in heaven? In thine hand is there not power and might" (verse 6)?

  • They pleaded his past acts. "Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land?" (verse 7).

  • They urged the promise given at the dedication of the temple. Read verse 9. "Thou wilt hear and help."

  • They confessed their condition: humbly did they acknowledge their danger and their impotence. They had:—

    • No power. "We have no might against this great company."

    • No plan. "Neither know we what to do" (verse 12).

    • No allies. Their wives and their little ones only increased their care (verse 13).

    • They then lifted their souls to God. "Our eyes are upon thee." Where could they look with more certainty?

II. HOW THEY RECEIVED IT.

  • By renewed assurance."The Lord will be with you" (verse 17).

  • By the calming of their fears. "Be not afraid! Fear not, nor be dismayed." Courage keeps the field, but fear flies.

  • By urging them to greater faith. "Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established" (verse 20).

  • By distinct direction. "Tomorrow go ye down against them; ye shall find them at the end of the brook" (verse 16)

  • By actual deliverance. The Moabites and Ammonites slew the Edomites, and Israel triumphed without striking a blow.

  • It shall be greatly to our joy to see the right hand of the Lord getting us the victory.

III. HOW THEY ACTED BY THIS HELP.

  • They worshipped. With every sign of reverence, the king and; his people bowed before Jehovah (verse 18). Worship girds us for warfare.

  • They praised. Before they received the mercy, "He appointed singers unto the Lord." Read verse 21.

  • They went forth, preceded by the singers, till they reached "the watch-tower in the wilderness" (verse 24).

  • They saw the promise fulfilled. "They looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies" (verse 24).

  • They gathered the spoil. "They were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much" (verse 25).

  • They blessed the Lord (verse 26). The valley of Berachah heard their joyful notes, and then they returned to the house of the Lord with harps and psalteries and trumpets.

  • They had rest. "So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about" (verse 30). God's victories end the war. The fear of God fell on all the kingdoms, and they dared not invade Judah.

  • Let us when in difficulties have immediate resort to the Lord.

  • Let us do this in the spirit of confidence and praise.

  • Is there not a cause for our assembling even now to plead against the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites of superstition, worldliness, and infidelity?

Observations

This chapter, which begins with danger, fear, and trouble all round, ends with joy, peace, quiet, and rest. Two words seem to stand out in this chapter — PRAISE and PRAYER — twin sisters which should always go together. One word links them here — FAITH.

"Jehoshaphat set himself to seek the Lord." His good example was soon followed. Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord? What a prayer-meeting — a real one, a united one, with a definite object, and the king presiding! Notice the prayer (verse 5). It is a pattern one. Jehoshaphat felt his weakness and need; but he recognized that God is all, and over all, and has all power and might. He brings forward every plea and argument. He appeals to God's power and promises, to his justice and love, and winds up with simple yet prevailing faith in God himself. "We have no might, neither know we what to do; but our eyes are upon thee" (verse 12). Placing all the responsibility on God, and they just looking to him, waiting for him: God answered at once. — Captain Dawson, in "Thoughts in the Valleys"

Charles Hadden Spurgeon


33. Ruins
But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel. II Chronicles 28:23

Narrate the actual circumstances. Ahaz turned away from Jehovah to serve the gods of Damascus, because Syria enjoyed prosperity. "For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of, him, and of all Israel."

The consequent introduction of false deities and defilement of the worship of God became the ruin of Ahaz and his kingdom.

We fear lest this should be the ruin of England; for the idols of the Papists and the doctrines of Rome are again being set up in our land. Though no country prospers in which these prevail, yet besotted minds are laboring to restore the gods of the Vatican. This subject deserves many faithful sermons.

At this time we shall turn the text to more general use.

I. THE MAN RUINING HIMSELF Ahaz is the type of many selfdestroyers. "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself" (Hos. 13:9).

  • He would be his own master. This ruined the prodigal, and will ruin millions more.

  • He was high-handed in sin. "He walked in the way of the kings of Israel" (2 Kings 16:3-4). This is a race to ruin.

  • He lavished treasure upon it. He spent much but gained little. Profligacy and many other wrong ways are expensive and ruinous.

  • He defied chastisement. "In the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord" (2 Chron. 28:22). This defiance of correction leads to sure ruin.

  • He was exceedingly clever, and curried favor with the great. He made a copy of a classic altar, and sent it home. More men perish through being too clever than by being simple.

  • He was a man of taste. He admired the antique, and the esthetic in religion.

  • He had officials to back him. "Urijah, the priest, built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus" (2 Kings 16:11 ). Bad ministers are terrible destroyers.

  • He imitated prosperous sinners. The king of Assyria became his type. This is ruinous conduct.

  • He abandoned all worship of God." "He shut up the doors of the house of the Lord" (verse 24). This is the climax of rebellion, and the seal of ruin.

But he did not prosper; the false gods were the ruin of him.

II. THE MAN IN RUINS. We leave Ahaz to think of some around us.

  • The man becomes eaten up with secret vice. A rotting ruin haunted by bats and owls, and foul creatures of the night.

  • The man of drinking habits, not fit for society, a brute, a fiend.

  • The man of evil company and foul speech: likely to be soon in prison, or an outcast.

  • The man of unbelieving notions and blasphemous conversation, lost to God, to goodness, and moral sense.

  • All around us we see such spiritual ruins.

  • Turned from holy uses to be moldering wastes.

The man is ruined in:

  • Peace, character, usefulness, prospects. Worst of all, he is himself a ruin, and will be so for ever.

  • A ruin suggests many reflections.

  • What it was! What it might have been!

  • What it is! What it will be!

  • Meditations among ruins may be useful to those who are inclined to repeat the experiment of Ahaz.

III. OTHERS RUINED WITH HIM. "They were the ruin of him, and of all Israel."

  • Designedly. Some men by example create drunkards, by teaching make infidels, by seduction ruin virtue, by their very presence destroy all that is good in their associates.

  • Incidentally; even without intent they spread the contagion of sin. Their irreligion ruins the young, their conduct influences the unsettled, their language inflames the wicked.

  • Sin will ruin you, if persisted in.

  • Your downfall will drag down others.

  • Will you not endeavor to escape from ruin?

  • Jesus is the Restorer of the wastes.

Relics

There is an Australian missile called the boomerang, which is thrown so as to describe singular curves, and to return at last to the hand of the thrower. Sin is a kind of boomerang, which goes off into space curiously, but turns again upon its author, and with tenfold force strikes the guilty soul that launched it.

We might illustrate the evil of sin by the following comparison:— "Suppose I were going along a street, and were to dash my hand through a large pane of glass, what harm would I receiver?" You would be punished for breaking the glass: "Would that be all the harm I should receive?" "Your hand would be cut by the glass." "Yes; and so it is with sin. If you break God's laws, you shall be punished for breaking them; and your soul is hurt by the very act of breaking them." — J. Inglis

I have heard that a shepherd once stood and watched an eagle soar out from a cliff. The bird flew far up into the air, and presently became unsteady, and reeled in its flight. First one wing dropped, and then the other; presently, with accelerated speed, the poor bird fell rapidly to the ground. The shepherd was curious to know the secret of its fall. He went and picked it up. He saw that when the eagle lighted last on a cliff, a little serpent had fastened itself upon him; and as the serpent gnawed in farther and farther, the eagle in its agony reeled in the air. When the serpent touched its heart, the eagle fell. Have you never seen a man or woman in the church, or in society, rising and rising; the man becoming more and more influential, apparently strong, widely known, asserting power far and near; but, by and by, growing unsteady, uncertain, reeling, as it were, in uncertainty and inconsistency, and at last falling to the earth, and lying there in hopeless disgrace, a spectacle for angels to weep over, and scoffers and devils to jeer at. You do not know the secret of the fall, but the omniscient eye of God saw it. That neglect of prayer, that secret dishonesty in business, that stealthy indulgence in the intoxicating cup, that licentiousness and profligacy unseen of men, that secret tampering with unbelief and error, was the serpent at the heart that brought the eagle down. — T. Curler.

Sages of old contended that no sin was ever committed whose consequences rested on the head of the sinner alone; that no man could do ill and his fellows not suffer. They illustrated it thus: "A vessel, sailing from Joppa, carried a passenger, who, beneath his berth, cut a hole through the ship's side. When the men of the watch expostulated with him, saying, 'What doest thou, O miserable man?' the offender calmly replied, 'What matters it to your The hole I have made lies under my own berth.'" This ancient parable is worthy of the utmost consideration. No man perishes alone in his iniquity; no man can guess the full consequences of his transgression.

Charles Hadden Spurgeon

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"When to seek God has become life and to glorify God has become self, then you have truly found God."