JUSTICE AND MERCY MEET
Lord, Your grace and mercy continue to astound us.
Read 1 KINGS 11:26–43
Jeroboam Rebels Against Solomon
26 Also, Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against the king. He was one of Solomon’s officials, an Ephraimite from Zeredah, and his mother was a widow named Zeruah.
27 Here is the account of how he rebelled against the king: Solomon had built the terraces[a] and had filled in the gap in the wall of the city of David his father. 28 Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the tribes of Joseph.
29 About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country, 30 and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give you ten tribes. 32 But for the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, he will have one tribe. 33 I will do this because they have[b] forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molek the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in obedience to me, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my decrees and laws as David, Solomon’s father, did.
34 “‘But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon’s hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose and who obeyed my commands and decrees. 35 I will take the kingdom from his son’s hands and give you ten tribes. 36 I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name. 37 However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. 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.’”
40 Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt, to Shishak the king, and stayed there until Solomon’s death.
41 As for the other events of Solomon’s reign—all he did and the wisdom he displayed—are they not written in the book of the annals of Solomon? 42 Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. 43 Then he rested with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David his father. And Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king.
a 1 Kings 11:27 Or the Millo
b 1 Kings 11:33 Hebrew; Septuagint, Vulgate and Syriac because he has
New International Version (NIV)
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“At the cross of Jesus, pardon is complete. Love and justice mingle, truth and mercy meet” (John Eddison, 1916–2011).
Solomon’s idolatry has provoked God into action. He has “raised up” (14,23) three adversaries. To the south of Israel prince Hadad of Edom (14–22) and to the north the outlaw Rezon of Aram (23–25) now threaten Israel’s security and vital trade routes. Within Israel, Jeroboam the Ephraimite begins a rebellion which ultimately tears the kingdom apart (26–40). God, however, is faithful. His promise to David is an everlasting promise (2 Sam. 7:16), tempering his judgment against Solomon. Jeroboam is to be allowed authority over ten tribes; Judah and its chief city, Jerusalem, will remain with the sons of David. (Tiny Benjamin probably stayed with Judah; 1 Kings 12:23.) Judgment is to be deferred until Solomon himself is dead.
The Lord’s desire is to “humble” (39) and discipline David’s descendants, not to destroy them. Solomon and Israel are not left to guess that this is the Lord’s doing. He declares this divine decision ﬁrst to Solomon (11–13) and then to Jeroboam via the prophet Ahijah (29–39), as a way of explaining his actions. The word of the Lord is always a sign of his steadfast covenant love and mercy.
Note the Lord’s description of David in verse 34, especially that the Lord remembers his overall obedience. There’s no mention of his sin in relation to Uriah and Bathsheba. Repentance and forgiveness have blotted it out in the Lord’s eyes (Isa. 43:25; Acts 3:19). Do you have that same assurance with regard to your own past and forgiven sins? Compare the description of David through the writer’s eyes in 1 Kings 15:5. Are you refusing to forget some other person’s sin—a sin that the Lord has long since blotted out? Consider the one in whom forgiveness of all sin is made possible, in whom perfect justice meets perfect mercy—Jesus Christ.
Praise and adore Jesus Christ. Sing an appropriate hymn, for example, “Jesus the name high over all” (Charles Wesley, 1707– 1788). Pray for any who struggle to know the assurance of sins forgiven.
Lord, although we deserve much more retribution than we get, continue to deal with us kindly, as You did with Solomon.