So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah and supported Rehoboam son of Solomon for three years, because they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon.
I. THE SEVERITY OF THE STRUGGLE. These servants of Jehovah, priests and people, had to triumph over great obstacles in order to take the step on which they decided. They had:
1. To set at nought the commandments of the king. This was a more serious thing then than it would be now; it meant more rebelliousness in action, and it involved more danger to the person.
2. To cut themselves adrift from old and sacred associations. They had to forsake their neighbours and (many of them, no doubt) their relatives; many had to leave their vocation or, at any rate, its exercise in familiar spots and among old and early acquaintances; they had to make little of those sentiments of which it is in our human heart to make much.
3. To sacrifice material advantages. Of the Levites we read that they "left their suburbs and their possession" (ver. 14); and we may be sure that those who were not Levites, and who, consequently, would have a much greater interest in the occupancy and holding of the land (Deuteronomy 10:9), made still greater sacrifices than they. The families must have gone forth "not knowing the things that would befall them," but knowing that they would encounter serious loss and discomfort, and would miss much which they had been accustomed to possess and to enjoy.
II. THE WISDOM OF THEIR CHOICE.
1. They pleased God. God would accept and honour their fidelity, which was an act of faithfulness and obedience to himself.
2. They retained their self-respect. This they would not have done if they had conformed to the false rites which Jeroboam had instituted and on which he was insisting; in that case they would have sunk far and fast spiritually, and would soon have lost all hold upon the truth. For we cannot dishonour the truth in the eyes of men and retain our own appreciation of it.
3. They took a course which ennobled them - a course by which they not only became entitled to the honour of their countrymen, but by which they committed themselves definitely to the service of God and confirmed their own faith in him. They did that for which their children and their children's children would "call them blessed" and noble.
4. They added materially to the strength of the kingdom which bore witness to the truth (ver. 17), and helped to make durable its godly institutions.
5. They became located where they could take part in the worship of God according to the requirements of their own conscience. Setting their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel, they came where they could "sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers" (ver. 16). They lost much temporal, but they gained much spiritual advantage. They sowed "not to the flesh, but to the Spirit." They left houses of brick behind them, but they came where they could build up the house of a holy character, of a noble and useful life. There are those in Christian lands who do not likewise, but otherwise. For some temporal considerations they leave the home where there is everything to illumine the mind and enlarge the spirit and enrich the soul, and go where all this is absent. Doubtless the removal from one town to another is an action in which many motives may and should have their force, but let spiritual considerations have a great weight in the balance. - C.
For three years they walked in the way of David.
(J. Parks, D. D.).
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