Lord, guide me with Your counsel.
Read 1 KINGS 12:1–24
Israel Rebels Against Rehoboam
12 Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone there to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from[a] Egypt. 3 So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: 4 “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”
5 Rehoboam answered, “Go away for three days and then come back to me.” So the people went away.
6 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.
7 They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”
8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. 9 He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?”
10 The young men who had grown up with him replied, “These people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. 11 My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’”
12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” 13 The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, 14 he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the Lord, to fulfill the word the Lord had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite.
16 When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:
“What share do we have in David,
what part in Jesse’s son?
To your tents, Israel!
Look after your own house, David!”
So the Israelites went home. 17 But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them.
18 King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram,[b] who was in charge of forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.
20 When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David.
21 When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, 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.
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.
a 1 Kings 12:2 Or he remained in
b 1 Kings 12:18 Some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac (see also 4:6 and 5:14); Hebrew Adoram
New International Version (NIV)
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“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Prov. 19:21).
The chief task of a king under the Lord is to place himself under the Lord’s direction in a posture of humility, then to love and serve the Lord’s people. Solomon’s son Rehoboam, however, seems to have been a weak and greedy bully, easily swayed by his peer group and his own self-interests. He has the sufficient sense to ask for advice from experienced elders, but not the sufficient sense to heed it. He clearly hasn’t read his father’s proverbs (e.g., Prov. 13:10; 27:10; 28:3,16). Rehoboam has little love or respect either for the people or for his own ministers. He sends the tax man Adoniram to his death, runs away rather than admitting he got it wrong, and tries to solve his self-generated problems by military means. He ﬁnally listens to and obeys the word of the Lord only as a last resort, when forced to do so by the pressure of circumstances (24). Does the Word of God tend to be a last resort for you too, or have you made it your ﬁrst resort?
Fortunately, there is a contrast in today’s verses between Rehoboam’s senseless folly and the Lord’s wise sovereignty (24: “this is my doing”), between Rehoboam’s unreliability and the absolute reliability of God’s Word. So, as prophesied, the ten northern tribes reject the rule of Solomon’s son. They clearly know what they are doing: rejecting rule by the house of David (16) and thereby rule by the Lord. The kingdom splits in two. Levites and faithful worshippers of the Lord from throughout Israel flee south, strengthening Judah, and for three years Judah “walks in the way of David and Solomon” (2 Chr. 11:14–17, KJV) while Israel steadily degenerates. You can read the rest of Rehoboam’s story in 2 Chronicles 12. His obituary is a sad one (2 Chr. 12:14), but his story does serve to illustrate the lasting truth of Proverbs 19:21.
How do you treat those who are under you in the Lord? Meditate upon the way the Lord’s purpose has prevailed in your life and theirs. Praise and pray accordingly.
Lord, keep us from the folly of making substantive decisions without consulting You about what we should do.