6 September 2007

2 Chronicles 12: 1-12

"When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying: 'They have humbled themselves; I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance...'". (v. 7)


The anonymous writer of 1 and 2 Chronicles, usually known as the Chronicler, presents a religious view of the history of his people, judging Israel's rulers by how he saw them measuring up to the standards set by God. Thus we do not read Chronicles as historically accurate documents, but for their spiritual insights. Written probably around 300 BC, today's passage describes incidents during the time of King Rehoboam, who reigned 600 years before. 

Verse 1 sets the scene for the story, in telling how King Rehoboam abandoned the law of the Lord. Sure enough the Egyptian armies invade, and threaten Jerusalem itself. Shemaiah the prophet puts forward the religious viewpoint, that this disaster is the result of God's displeasure with Rehoboam. 

The role of a court prophet could be dangerous, but Rehoboam and his government heed Shemaiah's warning, and recognise what they have done. God is touched by their humility, and the nation is not destroyed. The king of Egypt is appeased by being allowed to loot the Temple and the royal palace, but the story has a happy ending. 

The Chronicler's message is clear - turn away from God at your peril!

To Ponder

The role of the prophet was to read the signs of the times in terms of the action of God. How does that help us to understand the world in which we live now?

We are asked to put God's ways before our own ways. Does being humble before God diminish our value as human beings?

Bible notes author

The Revd Richard Bielby

Richard is a supernumerary Methodist presbyter in Stockton on Tees. He is a part-time prison chaplain and also serves as a voluntary chaplain at Durham Cathedral.