Bible Readings for December 12th
King Abijah received a very short treatment in 1 Kings 15. There, where his name is spelled Abijam, we read three simple details. First, he walked in the sins of Rehoboam, his father (1 Kgs. 15:3). Second, Yahweh preserved Abijah’s offspring for the sake of David (1 Kgs. 15:4–5). Third, there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam (1 Kgs. 15:6–7). All of these details are repeated in 2 Chronicles 13, but the stories sound very different.
In fact, it is difficult to tell that Abijah is actually a wicked king. The narrative of 2 Chronicles 13 seems to present Abijah as a godly king who leads all of Judah to rely on “the LORD, the God of their fathers” (2 Chron. 13:18). The only clues of Abijah’s apostasy that we have, then, come in the next chapter, where we will read that King Asa, Abijah’s son, must take away foreign altars, high places, pillars, and Asherim (2 Chron. 14:3, 5)—that is, the instruments of idolatrous worship that remained from the reign of Abijah.
Instead, we read primarily in 2 Chronicles 13 about Abijah’s leadership of Judah against the rebellion Jeroboam has led against the house of David. So, Abijah stands against Jeroboam, saying, “Ought you not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?” (2 Chron. 13:5). He goes on to point out that Jeroboam has expelled all the Levites and priests who lived among the northern ten tribes from their offices, ordaining instead his own priests (2 Chron. 13:8–9), as we explored in yesterday’s meditation. So, Abijah says this: “But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him” (2 Chron. 13:10). Then, as the battle rages on, Jeroboam leads his armies to surround Judah. When the people of Judah realize this, they cry to Yahweh and blast their trumpets, and at that point, Yahweh defeats Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah (2 Chron. 13:15), so that Jeroboam never fully recovers for all the remaining days of his life (2 Chron. 13:20).
Obviously, these are different descriptions of King Abijah, but they are not contradictory. What we are reading is a high point in Abijah’s life—true stories that depict an idealized version of Abijah, like the idealized versions of David and Solomon we saw earlier—through which the narrator is showing us a glimpse of what zeal for the kingdom of God looks like. This isn’t so that we can sanitize Abijah but rather so that we can continue looking beyond Abijah—just as we have been looking beyond David and Solomon—in order to anticipate the coming of the one who holds the kingship of David forever, Jesus Christ the Lord.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.