1 Kings 15 – Week Six
A couple of years ago my girls gave me an Apple watch. They got it all set up and told me the different things that it would do. I put it on and had been wearing it for about an hour or so when I felt a vibration and a message appeared on the screen: Time to Stand! This was a bit new to me so I asked the girls what does this mean? They laughed and said, “It means you’ve been sitting for too long and need to stand up.” Oh, okay. I admit I thought that was a bit ridiculous. At that point in my life, I figured I’d know when I needed to stand up. But you know what’s funny? I now appreciate that reminder. It not only reminds me to stand up but also to move around for a least a minute. It’s too easy to get comfortable and forget to stand up. It’s too easy to lose track of time and not realize how long it’s been since you’ve been active. Not just physically, but spiritually and morally. We can easily become lazy, apathetic, and using a keyword from last week’s lesson, selfish when it comes to living for the Lord. We must be reminded that it’s time to stand up and stand up for God!
In our studies so far, we’ve seen the end of King David’s life. We’ve studied along as King Solomon started off so well in his royal position. We talked about how God spoke to Solomon in a dream and asked what He could give him. Solomon asked for wisdom or a discerning heart. And this pleased God. 1 Kings 3: 15 NKJV tells us “Then Solomon awoke; and indeed it had been a dream. And he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, offered up burnt offerings, offered peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.”
We read as King Solomon, at the completion of the temple “stood in front of whole assembly of Israel and faced the Lord’s altar. Solomon spread his hands and looked toward heaven 23 and said, “Lord, God of Israel, there is no other god like you in heaven or on the earth.” (1 Kings 8:22-23 ERV) As he finished his prayer for forgiveness for the sins he knew the Israelites would commit, scripture tells us that “when Solomon had finished praying all this prayer and supplication to the Lord, that he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. 55 Then he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying: 56 “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.” (1 Kings 8:54-56 NKJV)
Solomon stood up for God and God blessed Him and all of Israel.
But, of course, all of that standing up for God was replaced by a divided and wandering heart. 1 Kings 11:6 ISV “Solomon practiced what the Lord considered to be evil by not fully following the Lord, as had his father David. “ Then in verse 9, we learn of God’s reaction “The Lord became angry at Solomon because his heart wandered away from the Lord God of Israel,” And then the consequences come beginning in verse 11. “God said to Solomon, “Since this is the way it is with you, that you have no intention of keeping faith with me and doing what I have commanded, I’m going to rip the kingdom from you and hand it over to someone else. But out of respect for your father David I won’t do it in your lifetime. It’s your son who will pay—I’ll rip it right out of his grasp. “
Solomon failed to stand up and move a little for God and as a result, God promises that the united kingdom will be divided.
His son, Rehoboam, started his reign destined for doom because of his father’s actions but finds new ways to displease God. As we discussed last week, God caused Rehoboam to play his part in the division of the kingdom by his pledge to be harsher on the Israelites than his father had been. King Rehoboam witnesses firsthand the fulfillment of God’s promise and watches as the 12 tribes are split, and the kingdom is divided. He is left with 2 tribes, Judah and Benjamin and yet, even with fewer people, he still manages to fail miserably in standing up for God. In fact, 1 Kings 14:21 ERV tells us, “Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was 41 years old when he became king of Judah. Rehoboam ruled 17 years in Jerusalem, the city the Lord chose for his own. He chose this city from all the other tribes of Israel. Rehoboam’s mother was Naamah. She was an Ammonite.22 The people of Judah did things that the Lord considered evil. They made him angry with all their sins—more than any of their ancestors had done.”
Meanwhile, the other 10 tribes elect Jeroboam as their king. This was God’s doing. In fact, God makes a promise to Jeroboam in 1 Kings 11:38 NASB “Then it shall be, that if you listen to all that I command you and walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight by keeping My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build you an enduring house as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.” God gives the bulk of His kingdom over to Jeroboam and essentially says, “As long as you stand up for Me, move and walk in my ways and do what is right, I’m going to stand up for you.” But it doesn’t take long before Jeroboam fails to heed that reminder: Time to Stand Up!
He takes it upon himself to have two golden calf idols made and placed them in cities outside of Jerusalem and he told the Israelites that they were to worship these idols. He built shrines. He ordained priests outside of the tribe of the Levites. But wait, there’s more! He totally changed the date of the Tabernacle Festival. He delayed it a month from the date that God had originally ordained. That would be like changing Christmas to late January just because. Jeroboam was standing, but only standing up for himself. He was moving, but only moving in selfish ways.
God gets his attention when Jeroboam’s son falls ill. 1 Kings 14:1 TLB “Jeroboam’s son Abijah now became very sick. 2 Jeroboam told his wife, “Disguise yourself so that no one will recognize you as the queen, and go to Ahijah the prophet at Shiloh—the man who told me that I would become king. 3 Take him a gift of ten loaves of bread, some fig bars, and a jar of honey, and ask him whether the boy will recover.” 4 So his wife went to Ahijah’s home at Shiloh. He was an old man now and could no longer see. 5 But the Lord told him that the queen, pretending to be someone else, would come to ask about her son, for he was very sick. And the Lord told him what to tell her.”
Ahijah, at this point, is blind but that doesn’t stop him from seeing what God reveals to him. Ahijah identifies the queen and asks why she pretends to be someone else. And then, without her even asking him a question or telling him why she’s there, Ahijah tells her he has bad news. He relays a message from God to Jeroboam. 1 Kings 14:7b ICB “‘Jeroboam, I chose you from among all the people of Israel. I made you the leader of my people. 8 I took the kingdom away from David’s family. And I gave it to you. But you are not like my servant David. He always obeyed my commands. He followed me with all his heart. He did only the things I said were right. 9 But you have done more evil things than anyone who ruled before you. You have quit following me. You have made other gods and idols of metal. This has made me very angry. 10 So I will bring disaster to the family of Jeroboam.”
She had gone to inquire about their sick son, but Ahijah delivers unexpected news to her about the kingdom and all of her family. Disaster is on its way because Jeroboam failed to stand up and walk with God. And then in a final blow, Ahijah tells her “As for you, get up and go to your house. When your feet enter the city, the boy will die.” (1 Kings 14:12 HCSB) Because of the wickedness and sinfulness, Jeroboam’s wife is made to stand and walk back home and as she does, she’s told that her son will die. Her husband, King Jeroboam, eventually dies after serving for 22 years, and his son, Nadab becomes king of Israel.
Death also comes to Rehoboam and his son, Abijah takes the crown and is named king of Judah. The first two verses of 1 Kings 15 tell us that Abijah was king for 3 years and his mother’s name was Maakah. In verse 6, there is a brief mention of a war between King Abijah and King Jeroboam. We have to go to 2 Chronicles 13:3 ICB to fill in more of the details of that war.
“Abijah led an army of 400,000 capable soldiers into battle. And Jeroboam prepared to fight him with 800,000 capable soldiers. 4 Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim in the mountains of Ephraim. He said, “Jeroboam and all Israel, listen to me! 5 You should know this: The Lord, the God of Israel, gave David and his sons the right to be king over Israel forever.”
While Abijah is standing up and making this declaration, he recounts the division of the kingdom, the golden calves that Jeroboam had made for worship as well as the non-ordained priests that Jeroboam had put in place. King Abijah stands up for God in verse 10. “But as for us, the Lord is our God. We have not left him. The priests who serve the Lord are Aaron’s sons. And the Levites help the priests serve the Lord. 11 They offer burnt offerings and sweet-smelling incense to the Lord every morning and evening. They also put the bread on the special table in the Temple. And they light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We obey the command of the Lord our God. But you have left the Lord. 12 God himself is with us. He is our ruler, and his priests are with us. The priests blow the trumpet to call us to war against you. Men of Israel, don’t fight against the Lord because you won’t succeed. He is the God of your ancestors.”
Unbeknownst to Abijah, Jeroboam has part of his troops sneak in behind Abijah’s army. Not only was the army of Judah greatly outnumbered, but it was also sandwiched in between its enemy. Scripture tells us that they cried out to the Lord and gave a battle cry. When they did, God defeated Jeroboam and the army of Israel.
2 Chronicles 13:16 ICB “The men of Israel ran away from the men of Judah. God let the army from Judah defeat them. 17 Abijah’s army killed many of Israel’s men. Of Israel’s best men 500,000 were killed. 18 So at that time the people of Israel were defeated. And the people of Judah won. They won because they depended on the Lord, the God of their ancestors.”
King Abijah stood up for the Lord and the Lord stood up for him. But that wasn’t the case throughout all of King Abijah’s reign. His obituary would read in 1 Kings 15:3 GNT “He committed the same sins as his father and was not completely loyal to the Lord his God, as his great-grandfather David had been. 4 But for David’s sake the Lord his God gave Abijah a son to rule after him in Jerusalem and to keep Jerusalem secure.”
Once again, comparisons are made between David and the current king, and once again, David continues to hold onto the title of “A Man After God’s Own Heart”. It’s because of that love that God had for David that a son is given to Abijah to take over the throne. Asa, one out of 22 sons and 16 daughters that were born to Abijah, begins his 41-year reign and he starts off on his feet.
1 Kings 15:11 ICB “Asa did what the Lord said was right. This was as his ancestor David had done. 12 There were male prostitutes at the places where false gods were worshiped. Asa forced them to leave the country. He also took away the idols that his ancestors had made. 13 His grandmother Maacah had made a terrible Asherah idol. So Asa removed her from being queen. He cut down this idol and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 14 Asa was faithful to the Lord all his life. But he did not destroy the places where false gods were worshiped. 15 Asa and his father had given some things to God. They had given gifts of gold, silver and other objects. Asa put all these things in the Temple.”
King Asa brought about change and reformation. He removed those things which were evil and displeasing to God. He fired his own grandmother and publicly destroyed the idol that she worshipped. He then replaced those things which were good and pleasing to God back in the temple where they belonged. Did you catch that about firing his own grandmother?!? Talk about taking a stand! He sought to weed out those who were not pleasing to God. 2 Chronicles 15:13 ICB “Anyone who refused to obey the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be killed. It did not matter if that person was important or unimportant. It did not matter if that person was a man or woman.”
Asa, overall, was a good king who sought to “clean up” the evildoings of those who had ruled before him. King Asa didn’t care to follow in the footsteps of his father, his grandfather, or his great-grandfather. King Asa took a stand and moved much like his great-great-grandfather, David. And like his great-great-grandfather, King Asa wasn’t perfect. He removed some of the treasures from the Temple as well as from his own home and used them to bribe the king of Aram to form an allegiance with him. This did not go unnoticed. 2 Chronicles 16:7 NIV “At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand.”
2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV “The Lord searches all the earth for people who have given themselves completely to him. He wants to make them strong. Asa, you did a foolish thing. From now on you will have wars.”
10 Asa was angry with Hanani the seer because of what he had said. Asa was so angry that he put Hanani in prison. Asa was cruel with some of the people at that same time.
11 The things Asa did as king, from the beginning to the end, are written down. They are in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his rule, Asa got a disease in his feet. His disease was very bad. But he did not ask for help from the Lord. He only asked for help from the doctors. 13 Then Asa died in the forty-first year of his rule.”
King Asa took a stand for God and moved for God throughout most of his reign and God took a stand and moved for King Asa. He, like his ancestor, King David, goofed and made mistakes. It’s ironic, though isn’t it, that his feet, the very part of the body needed to stand up became infected? You’d have thought he’d turn to the Lord for healing, but he didn’t. You would have thought that King Asa would have remembered the words of God spoken through Azariah in 2 Chronicles 15:1 ICB “The Spirit of God entered Azariah son of Oded. 2 Azariah went to meet Asa. Azariah said, “Listen to me, Asa and all you people of Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you obey the Lord, you will find him. But if you leave him, he will leave you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God. And they were without a priest to teach them and without the teachings. 4 But when they were in trouble, they turned to the Lord again. He is the God of Israel. They looked for the Lord and found him. 5 In those days no one could travel safely. There was much trouble in all the nations. 6 One nation would destroy another nation. And one city would destroy another city. This happened because God troubled them with all kinds of trouble. 7 But you should be strong. Don’t give up, because you will get a reward for your good work. Asa felt brave when he heard these words and the message from Azariah.”
Somewhere, along the way, Asa lost his bravery. He lost his footing and didn’t stand up for God.
As far as our physical bodies, what are the benefits of standing up? It lowers the risk of heart disease for one. It’s been shown that just simply standing more often helps to regulate our cholesterol and blood sugar levels. “One study even suggests that you can raise average life expectancy by two years by simply reducing your daily sitting time to three hours.” More standing strengthens your back muscles as well as tones other muscles. It also lessens the risk of other diseases such as cancer, diabetes, etc. “Standing helps increase energy levels and improve mood.” Standing also boosts productivity. And it’s not just that there are benefits to standing, there are dangers to not standing. [i] “Blood circulation slows when you sit for long periods of time. When this happens, blood cells may clump together, forming a clot.”[ii]
As far as our spiritual bodies, what are the benefits of standing up for God?
It lowers the risk of heart disease. John 14:1 NLT ““Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” Standing up for God also betters our health and can extend our life. Proverbs 3:1-2 HCSB “My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands; 2 for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being.”
Standing up and moving for God strengthens us. Isaiah 40:29 NIV “He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
Taking a stand for God and seeking Him and His will increases our happiness. Psalm 37:4 GNT “Seek your happiness in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desire.” It boosts our productivity. “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 HCSB)
Standing up for God and moving for God increases our spiritual circulation. John 7:38 ISV “The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have rivers of living water flowing from his heart.”
The world tries to tell us differently, but we are to stand, walk, and follow God as He directs us. Psalm 37:23 NLT “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.”
These kings, from Solomon to Rehoboam, Jeroboam, Abijah to Asa could have benefitted from a smartwatch that reminded them it’s time to stand up! Some of them did from time to time, but that little constant reminder to stand up, walk with and follow God would have made a tremendous difference in the world at that time. Ladies, we are no different. We find ourselves in positions of authority, maybe not kingdoms, but still, as women who have a voice, a heart, and two feet. As Samuel said to the Israelites as he delivered their first requested king, “Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes.” (1 Samuel 12:16 KJV) It’s time to stand up and move!