Rehoboam Reigns over Judah and Builds Cities
11 Now when Rehoboam had come to Jerusalem, he assembled the house of Judah and Benjamin, 180,000 chosen men who were warriors, to fight against Israel to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam. 2 But the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 3 “Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying, 4 ‘Thus says the Lord, “You shall not go up or fight against your [a]relatives; return every man to his house, for this thing is from Me.”’” So they listened to the words of the Lord and returned from going against Jeroboam.
5 Rehoboam lived in Jerusalem and built cities for defense in Judah. 6 Thus he built Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, 7 Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, 8 Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, 9 Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, 10 Zorah, Aijalon and Hebron, which are fortified cities in Judah and in Benjamin. 11 He also strengthened the fortresses and put officers in them and stores of food, oil and wine. 12 He put shields and spears in every city and strengthened them greatly. So he held Judah and Benjamin.
13 Moreover, the priests and the Levites who were in all Israel stood with him from all their districts.
For all Rehoboam’s impudence, we can actually learn something good from him in this passage. He was ready to go to war to throw down Jeroboam and start a civil war. So much that he had an army of 180,000 ready to destroy anyone who would resist.
But then God sends a prophet to warn them not to fight against their own relatives, and Rehoboam actually listens. Now it’s possible that, after the message from God, the soldiers themselves were less keen to go to battle and cooler heads started to prevail.
However, what I want to focus on is the fact that Rehoboam messed up very badly here, to the extent that he lost most of the kingdom. And this wasn’t temporary, even though Rehoboam didn’t know that. But when confronted directly by God, he doesn’t ignore the message like many would do. Several kings of Israel had (and would) defy God and go through with their own plans.
Instead, Rehoboam realizes there is no fixing his mistake and the best course of action is to obey God’s command. So no matter what we’ve done, no matter how tragic or misguided our actions might be, it is never too late to change course. God is still speaking, and all we have to do is listen and he will guide us in the way that we should go.