22 But this word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: 23 “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to all Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, 24 ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is My doing.’” So they obeyed the word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered.
1 Kings 12:22-24
Knowing that context is king, recall yesterday we read God was going to punish Solomon for following the Gods of his many wives in his old age. His punishment was to have the united nation of Israel torn apart into two kingdoms, the north kingdom Israel and the south kingdom Judah containing Jerusalem. God had chosen Jeroboam to lead the northern kingdom even though Rehoboam had succeeded his father Solomon as king of all of Israel initially.
Solomon had driven Jeroboam out of Israel as he sought to avoid God’s judgment and maintain the kingdom for his on Rehoboam. Still, after hearing of Solomon’s death Jeroboam returned and sought peace with Rehoboam. It was not to be for Rehoboam ignored the advice of his elders and instead followed the advice of the young men around him. Rebellion ensued and Rehoboam in the midst of the rebellion managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day (v18b-19).
As you might easily imagine, Rehoboam was not pleased with the turn of events so he mustered all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin—a hundred and eighty thousand able young men—to go to war against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon (v21). Blood would be shed in a terrible civil war. Except … that is when the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God and told him to in our verses of the day
“Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to all Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is My doing.’” So they obeyed the word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered.
1 Kings 12:23-24
I was initially surprised they so quickly obeyed the words from Shemaiah, the man of God, until I read in Gill’s Exposition of the Bible
they knew Shemaiah was a prophet of the Lord, and they believed the message he brought came from him, and therefore hearkened and were obedient to it; and with the consent of Rehoboam were disbanded, and returned to their habitations, being satisfied with, and submissive to, the will of God, both king and people.
In addition, they Judah and Benjamin, even with 180,000 men were smaller than the ten tribes of Israel.
As an end note, Jeroboam did not heed the warnings he had been given by God in chapter 11 and did great evil before God.
38 If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. 39 I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever.’”
1 Kings 11-38-39
Bottom line: What God said would happen came to be despite Rehoboam’s best efforts and the united kingdom was torn apart. All too often we think we can get around what God has to say. We cannot. We would do well to listen to what He has to say.