“Successful Failures”

“Successful Failures”




  “In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam the

son of Nebat, Abijam became king over Judah. He reigned three years in

Jerusalem. His mother’s name was  Maachah the granddaughter of

Abishalom. And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before

him; his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his

father David.”                                                                                                                                                                  (1

Kings 15:1-3)

The line of kings over Israel

began with Saul, but he disqualified himself, so the dynasty of Saul ended with

Saul – he was a one-king-dynasty. Then came David, who was perhaps Israel’s

greatest ancient king. Next was Solomon, the son of David and the one who built

the glorious temple.  Yet after Solomon

came a disaster in the name of Rehoboam. He sunk the kingdom into carnality and

civil war, and because of the division soon there were two kingdoms from the

twelve tribes of Israel. The king described in 1 Kings 15:1-3 was the son of

Rehoboam and he sat on the throne of the southern kingdom, called Judah. That

is why we read “Abijam became king over Judah .” This son of Rehoboam

only reigned three years , showing that God did not bless his reign.

From the comparing this account with 2 Chronicles 13 we learn that Abijam knew

something of the Lord, and he knew how to preach – but he did not uproot the

idolatry and sexual immorality that was introduced by Rehoboam. The successor

of Abijam (Asa) removed the centers of the sexually-charged idolatry that were

so common in the land (1 Kings 15:12-13). “His heart was not loyal to the

Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David .” This was the real

problem with Abijam’s reign – his lack of a real life or relationship with God.

King David sinned during his reign, but his heart stayed “loyal to the Lord

his God .” The same could not be said of Abijam.

2 Chronicles 13 fills in more

interesting details about the reign of Abijam (called Abijah in 2 Chronicles).

It tells us how there was war between Jeroboam of Israel and Abijam of Judah,

and how Abijam challenged Jeroboam on the basis of righteousness and

faithfulness to God. Jeroboam responded with a surprise attack, and victory

seemed certain for Israel over Judah – but Abjiam cried out to the Lord, and

God won a victory for Judah that day. 2 Chronicles 13:18 says of that war, “Thus

the children of Israel were subdued at that time; and the children of Judah

prevailed, because they relied on the Lord God of their fathers. ” God

blessed Abijam’s reign even when it seemed that he didn’t deserve it.

Yet Chronicles also tells us his

standing at the end of his brief reign: “But Abijah grew mighty, married

fourteen wives, and begot twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters ” (2

Chronicles 13:21). In the midst of his victory and good leadership for Judah,

he never had the relationship with the Lord he should have had. We could say

that Abijam is a classic example of something more and more common today: the

successful failure. He both succeeded and failed at the same time. You might

say that he climbed the ladder of success and got to the top – only to find

that that ladder leaned against the wrong building. Abijam thought that the

most important thing in life was being a good king; he missed what really

mattered most: his personal life with God. Don’t make the same mistake in your

own life