Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Kings 14:13 - 14:13

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Kings 14:13 - 14:13


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

DISCOURSE: 341

ABIJAH’S PIETY REWARDED

1Ki_14:13. He only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, became in him there is found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.

MEN most addicted to wickedness, or most confident in their avowal of infidelity, no sooner come into circumstances of great affliction, than they feel the weakness of their principles, and their need of other supports than any they have yet experienced. In such seasons they secretly begin to see the value of that faith and piety, which they have been wont to deride. No man ever appeared more confident in his iniquities than Jeroboam; yet, when he was in deep affliction on account of the dangerous illness of his son Abijah, to whom did he go? to his idols? No; he knew that “an idol was nothing in the world.” Did he send for those whom he had constituted his priests? No; he expected no good whatever from them. But there was in the land a prophet of the Lord, even that very prophet, who, many years before, had been sent to declare to him his destined elevation to the throne of Israel. To him he sends in his affliction, even to him whom hitherto he had neglected and despised. But, ashamed to have his sentiments known, he will not go himself; nor will he send a servant, lest he should be betrayed: he therefore sends his wife, who, on the one hand, was as deeply concerned as himself about the issue of his son’s illness; and, on the other hand, was equally concerned to preserve an appearance of consistency in his conduct: her therefore he sends in disguise, that he may at once obtain the information he desires, and prevent the discovery which he fears. Unhappy and foolish man! What favour could he expect from God, when he was seeking him in such a way; when he did not even ask for any spiritual blessing, or desire to be instructed how to obtain one, but sought merely relief from a state of painful suspense? The answer was such as he might well expect; namely, that his unparalleled iniquities should be visited on him, and on his whole family. Respecting the son about whom he was so anxious, there was some exception: all the rest should die unlamented, and be devoured by birds and beasts; but he should come to the grave, because there was in him “some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel.”

We propose, in considering what is here said of young Abijah, to notice,

I.       His commendation—

This appears at first sight exceeding low: and so indeed it is, if compared with a more advanced state of religion, even as an infant appears scarcely worthy of consideration, when compared with a person of mature age: but if compared, as it ought to be, with a state of spiritual death, it is really great, and worthy, if we may so speak, of the notice taken of it. Consider it,

1.       As it was in itself—

[The state of a natural man is that of “enmity against God [Note: Rom_8:7.].” Now though the state of Abijah was the lowest that could consist with real piety, yet was it worthy of commendation when compared with that. There was certainly in Abijah a disapprobation of the reigning idolatry: there was also a sincere desire after God’s favour, and a secret purpose, if ever it should be in his power, to check the prevailing abominations. Less than this could not consist with sincerity of heart: and more than this does not appear to have manifested itself in him. But this involved in it a change of heart: this was a fruit of divine grace, and formed the first lineaments of the divine image on the soul: and hence it was that God so noticed and approved it.]

2.       As existing under his peculiar circumstances—

[He was a young man, and at a time of life when contrary dispositions most generally prevail. This therefore rendered it the more pleasing to God, who, as the Father of his whole family, loves “the new-born babes” as truly, if not as ardently, as those who have attained to riper years. Besides, he was a youth of high distinction, the son of a king. Now, though “God is no respecter of persons,” but loves the poor as well as the rich, yet, inasmuch as the maintenance of holy principles is far more difficult in high life than it is in a humbler sphere, he approves most eminently that, which exerts itself under circumstances of greatest difficulty. Above all, he cultivated holy principles in a family and a nation sunk in all manner of iniquity. Now to withstand such a torrent, and to exhibit even the feeblest light in a place of such gross darkness, was a most honourable distinction; and it rendered him, who in another situation would have been undeserving of notice, a proper object of God’s approbation.

In this view his character is peculiarly deserving the attention of the young, and especially of those in the higher circles of life, and in places where impiety abounds: and happy will they be who have grace to seek such a distinction as his, and courage to maintain it — — —]

Small as his stature was in grace, he, even in this world, met with,

II.      His reward—

The reward bestowed on him seems, like his attainments, of little value; for, as the body is insensible after death, and the soul is unconscious either of the honours that may be paid to the mortal frame, or the indignities it may suffer, it seems to signify very little, whether our body be committed to the grave, or be devoured by beasts. But there is in all of us a desire to have the customary respect paid to our body, after the departure of the soul from it: and, if we knew beforehand that after death it would be treated with all manner of indignities, we should feel life itself considerably embittered to us: we may therefore regard the distinction conferred on young Abijah, as of great value; more especially as it was intended to express the divine approbation of him, in opposition to the displeasure exercised towards his offending family. In this, at all events, it was of great use, in that it served to shew,

1.       That God loveth piety wherever he beholds it—

[God himself is not only holy, but “The Holy One;” and wherever he beholds his own image, he delights in it. There is not a grace without some appropriate expression of God’s high regard for it. The poor, the meek, the contrite have all their peculiar promises, and are represented as possessing “ornaments, which in the sight of God are of great price” — — — and such is the estimation in which he beholds these dispositions, that he looks with peculiar complacency upon every person in whom they are found; nor can all the glorious angels around his throne divert his attention from them; yea rather, the angels themselves participate the pleasure, and derive new joys, even in the very presence of their God, from such a sight [Note: Isa_66:2; Luk_15:10.].]

2.       That he will reward it, wherever it is found in the lowest degree—

[When God himself asks, “Who hath despised the day of small things [Note: Zec_4:10.]?” we may be sure that he himself does not. The smallest gift to a person for his sake, even “a cup of cold water, shall not lose its reward.” In like manner the silent thoughts of the heart are noticed by him with a view to their ultimate reward. The prophet tells us that not only they who spoke one to another, but they also “who thought upon his name,” had their thoughts recorded in the “book of his remembrance, and were to be his, in the day that he should count up his jewels [Note: Mal_3:16-17.].” Nor can we doubt but that David’s desire to build the temple was as much accepted of God, and as liberally rewarded also, as was the actual raising of the edifice by Solomon.]

Address—

1.       Those in whom there is no good thing towards the Lord God of Israel—

[Jeroboam’s family bore the name of Israelites, as we do of Christians; yet was there only one among them that had any good thing in him. And is not this the state of many individuals at least, if not of families, amongst us? How many are there who feel no concern about the iniquities of the land, no desire after God in their own souls, and no purpose ever to exert themselves in his sacred cause! — — — What then can such persons expect at the hands of God? What, but to be made monuments of his heavy displeasure? O that we would consider what his Prophets and Apostles have spoken respecting such characters, and that we would seek for mercy ere it be too late!]

2.       Those in whom it is doubtful whether there be any good thing or not—

[There frequently are found some transient motions in the heart, like those in the stony-ground hearers, which yet are not regarded by God as good, because they have no solid principle as their foundation. And from hence arises a considerable difficulty in judging of our real state: our self-love is apt to flatter and deceive us. But let us remember that God “searcheth the heart and trieth the reins:” he “discerneth the thoughts and intents of the heart:” yea, he “weigheth the spirits,” and that too with such exactness as enables him to ascertain with infallible certainty whether there be in them the smallest measure of solid good. Let us fear lest we deceive our own souls, and lest, after all our favourable appearances, “our religion at last be found vain [Note: Jam_1:26.].” It is “by the fruits alone that the tree can be known,” and that we can ascertain with comfort to ourselves, that “the root of the matter is found in us [Note: Job_19:28.].”]

3.       Those in whom there is evidently some good thing—

[Rejoice, and give glory to “God, who hath begun a good work in you.” But do not rest satisfied with any attainments. Have you reason to hope that you are “as new-born babes?” then “desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” Whereinsoever you have hitherto done well, seek to “abound more and more:” and let it be your daily endeavour so to “grow up into Christ in all things as your living Head,” that you may “come to a perfect man,” even to “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”]