2 Chronicles 11:18-23 – The Bible Teaches Often Through the Mistakes of God’s People

Posted: August 15, 2020 in 14-2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 11:18-23

Rehoboam Fortifies Judah

Opening Illustration/Comments

There’s a joke about those who practice polygamy by those who do not, “Multiple wives? That’s crazy! I have enough trouble handling one!” In this short passage, there’s a great amount of intrigue that just screams off the page. Many wives. Eighteen of them. And then 60 concubines. That’s seventy-eight women! Then there the 88 children, yes, 88 (60 daughters and 28 sons)! Then there’s favorite sons and favorite wives! There’s intrigue aplenty waiting to happen. And, this was not a new problem. Even David had multiple wives and multiple children by multiple wives. And guess what? The greatest intrigue and most difficult times for David as a king were caused by all these kids from all these wives. Likewise, the natural intrigue that comes about with multiple wives and marrying foreign wives for political reasons drew Solomon away from God. Here, Rehoboam, like David and Solomon before him, tries to be like the cultures around Judah where polygamy by kings was a common practice. Even though these things are mentioned in Scripture, it does not mean that Scripture condones the practice. The Bible is telling us the history of God’s people, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here, when you read this passage, your first thought is OMG! There is no way that having 78 wives and concubines who bear 88 children going to turn out to be a big ol’ mess! Not to mention the tax burden that would go along with supporting such an expansive royal family. As we study the Bible, we must remember God’s commands and then how these kings of Israel are disobeying those commands.

God’s commands are not to restrict our living but to prevent us from hurting ourselves. Just remember all the trouble David had in his day with the jealousies of the children and the jockeying for position and the intrigue and David’s trying to sweep all under the rug to ignore it. The political intrigue of his family almost brought his entire kingdom down. How much more worse are things going to be for Rehoboam!

From the beginning in Genesis 2:24, the Bible has made it clear that marriage should be a covenantal relationship between one man and one woman. It is within this covenant between just one man and just one woman that all sexual intercourse is to occur. It is the great benefit of the covenant. Simply put, God knew that we could not handle sex properly so his desire for us was that it only occur in the bond of matrimony between one man and one woman. All other forms of sexual relations outside this one male-one female relationship only cause trouble, heartache, and destruction. Just think about the sexual relationships that have occurred in your own life that were outside the marriage covenant between one man and one woman. How many of those ended in marriage? How many just ended with deep wounds? How many just ended and left you feeling empty and used?

That’s why I look at Rehoboam and just scratch my head! Can you imagine what heartaches in the kingdom that can be traced back to the intrigue caused by having children by multiple wives and concubines. Just think of the intrigue that many of us have had to deal with in divorce situations when it comes to children. Many of us know that intrigue very well. Many of us know about the intrigue of my kids vs. your kids in marriages subsequent to your first one. All of that can make you crazy when dealing with these family issues that won’t go away – because it’s family. Just multiply that by 78 wives and concubines and 88 kids. Talk about your messed up family situations! This has disaster written all over it!

It is that idea God protecting us from ourselves in His commands that I thought about this morning when reading this passage, 2 Chronicles 11:18-23. Let’s read through it this morning, together, with that idea in mind:

Scripture Passage

18 Rehoboam married his cousin Mahalath, the daughter of David’s son Jerimoth and of Abihail, the daughter of Eliab son of Jesse. 19 Mahalath had three sons—Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham.

20 Later Rehoboam married another cousin, Maacah, the granddaughter of Absalom. Maacah gave birth to Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. 21 Rehoboam loved Maacah more than any of his other wives and concubines. In all, he had eighteen wives and sixty concubines, and they gave birth to twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters.

22 Rehoboam appointed Maacah’s son Abijah as leader among the princes, making it clear that he would be the next king. 23 Rehoboam also wisely gave responsibilities to his other sons and stationed some of them in the fortified towns throughout the land of Judah and Benjamin. He provided them with generous provisions, and he found many wives for them.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that the Bible shows us a mirror to ourselves through the history of God’s people. The fact that the Bible reports that Israelite kings (including the man after God’s own heart, David) had multiple wives and concubines does not mean that the Bible is validating the practice. The condoning of having multiple wives and concubines would be contrary to what the rest of the Bible teaches about marriage (as being between one man and one woman for the remainder of their lives). The mentioning of these things by the Bible is to demonstrate that God’s people have often strayed away from God’s command (and that it always ends badly for them). This issue of polygamy is one that was one that almost destroyed David’s kingdom, one that led to Solomon’s kingdom beginning to fracture even before he died, and certainly played roles in all the in-fighting and self-absorption that weakened the northern and southern kingdoms to the point that they were easy prey for the Assyrians (northern kingdom) and the Babylonians (southern kingdom). Thus, God’s commands and prohibitions from certain behaviors is not Him just being mean and capricious with us. He is God and possesses all knowledge. He knows what horrors and sins that will befall us when we act in ways that are contrary to His benevolent commands.

Life Application

I think the thing that we need to takeaway this morning is that we need to trust God on His commands and prohibitions. We must trust Him like our children trust us when we tell them not to do certain things. It’s not that we are being mean to our kids and holding them back from something. It is because we KNOW that if they enter into the prohibited behavior that the children will end up getting hurt either physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. We KNOW that it will end badly in some way for them. That’s why we tell them they are prohibited from those acts. We KNOW how it will end. We should have the same trust with God. He KNOWS! Therefore, when God says throughout His Word that sexual relations should only occur within the confines of the marriage covenant, He knows that anything more than that just creates all kinds of heartache, pain, sometimes disease or sickness, and a whole lot of drama that can lead us away from Him. He is not trying to hold us back. He is simply trying to protect His children.

Amen and Amen.

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