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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–8
Verses 1–8

We have here a short account of the short reign of Abijam the son of Rehoboam king of Judah. He makes a better figure, 2 Chron. 13:1-22, where we have an account of his war with Jeroboam, the speech which he made before the armies engaged, and the wonderful victory he obtained by the help of God. There he is called Abijah—My father is the Lord, because no wickedness is there laid to his charge. But here, where we are told of his faults, Jah, the name of God, is, in disgrace to him, taken away from his name, and he is called Abijam. See Jer. 22:24.

I. Few particulars are related concerning him. 1. Here began his reign in the beginning of Jeroboam’s eighteenth year; for Rehoboam reigned but seventeen, 1 Kgs. 14:21. Jeroboam indeed survived Rehoboam, but Rehoboam’s Abijah lived to succeed him and to be a terror to Jeroboam, while Jeroboam’s Abijah (whom we read of 1 Kgs. 14:1) died before him. 2. He reigned scarcely three years, for he died before the end of Jeroboam’s twentieth year, 1 Kgs. 15:9. Being made proud and secure by his great victory over Jeroboam (2 Chron. 13:21), God cut him off, to make way for his son Asa, who would be a better man. 3. His mother’s name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom, that is, Absalom, David’s son, as I am the rather inclined to think because two other of Rehoboam’s wives were his near relations (2 Chron. 11:18), one the daughter of Jerimoth, David’s son, and another the daughter of Eliab, David’s brother. He took warning by his father not to marry strangers; yet thought it below him to marry his subjects, except they were of the royal family. 4. He carried on his father’s wars with Jeroboam. As there was continual war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam, not set battles (these were forbidden, 1 Kgs. 12:24), but frequent encounters, especially upon the borders, one making incursions and reprisals on the other, so there was between Abijam and Jeroboam (1 Kgs. 15:7), till Jeroboam, with a great army, invaded him, and then Abijam, not being forbidden to act in his own defence, routed him, and weakened him, so that he compelled him to be quiet during the rest of his reign, 2 Chron. 13:20.

II. But, in general, we are told, 1. That he was not like David, had no hearty affection for the ordinances of God, though, to serve his purpose against Jeroboam, he pleaded his possession of the temple and priesthood, as that upon which he valued himself, 2 Chron. 13:10-12. Many boast of their profession of godliness who are strangers to the power of it, and plead the truth of their religion who yet are not true to it. His heart was not perfect with the Lord his God. He seemed to have zeal, but he wanted sincerity; he began pretty well, but he fell off, and walked in all the sins of his father, followed his bad example, though he had seen the bad consequences of it. He that was all his days in war ought to have been so wise as to make and keep his peace with God, and not to make him his enemy, especially having found him so good a friend in his war with Jeroboam, 2 Chron. 13:18. Let favour be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness, Isa. 26:10. 2. That yet it was for David’s sake that he was advanced, and continued upon the throne; it was for his sake (1 Kgs. 15:4, 5) that God thus set up his son after him; not for his own sake, nor for the sake of his father, in whose steps he trod, but for the sake of David, whose example he would not follow. Note, It aggravates the sin of a degenerate seed that they fare the better for the piety of their ancestors and owe their blessings to it, and yet will not imitate it. They stand upon that ground, and yet despise it, and trample upon it, and unreasonably ridicule and oppose that which they enjoy the benefit of. The kingdom of Judah was supported, (1.) That David might have a lamp, pursuant to the divine ordination of a lamp for his anointed, Ps. 132:17. (2.) That Jerusalem might be established, not only that the honours put upon it in David’s and Solomon’s time might be preserved to it, but that it might be reserved to the honours designed for it in after-times. The character here given of David is very great—that he did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord; but the exception is very remarkable—save only in the matter of Uriah, including both his murder and the debauching of his wife. That was a bad matter; it was a remaining blot upon his name, a bar in his escutcheon, and the reproach of it was not wiped away, though the guilt was. David was guilty of other faults, but they were nothing in comparison of that; yet even that being repented of, though it be mentioned for warning to others, did not prevail to throw him out of the covenant, nor to cut off the entail of the promise upon his seed.