So, when I started through the Old Testament this time I decided I wanted to read it chronologically. So when we got to the end of Solomon's life and epoch is about to end, I thought about stopping to read some other books by David and Solomon. However, I got seriously bogged down in the psalms. Part of that was an extremely busy season at work and the recent holiday travel, but they seem a bit random at times, making them a bit of a grind right now.
I pray there's a season when they bring as much to me as God has revealed in the narrative storyline; but for now, I'm worried about losing the thread of the primary story and I'm heading back to I Kings and II Chronicles.
I Kings 12
V. 1-4 Rehoboam's Coronation; Jeroboam's Negotiation
So Rehoboam (Solomon's son) was to be king and all Israel assembled for the occasion.
Jeroboam was Solomon's adversary, whom God had chosen to rule over 10 tribes. Solomon sought to kill him, so he had been hiding in Egypt as God promised not to break up the kingdom in Solomon's lifetime out of respect for David. He got word of Rehoboam's coronation and came to him as a representative of the people.
He brought the people's grievances to the king-elect, pointing out the heavy yoke of taxes and forced labor. He asked the king-elect to lighten their yoke, and in exchange, they would willingly serve their king.
So Jeroboam is already acting more like a king than Solomon did for most of his years, seeking the needs of the people.
Thinking of all of the other kings in history, it would be odd to have the people trying to negotiate at the coronation. But Rehoboam was the going to be the King of the Jews, not the same as other king circumstances. And he didn't have the luxury of being God's chosen. He couldn't quiet the rabble by asserting God's name. It left him to rely on the tools other secular kings must resort to...
v. 5-11 Rehoboam Seeks Counsel
He asked for three days to consider it.
Then he went to the elders who had served Solomon for advice. The told him that if he would be their servant for one day and grant them their ask, then they would serve him forever.
That's quite a deal. He was supposed to be their servant everyday. The King of Israel was supposed to take care of his brothers, not rule over them for his own power. Solomon's demonstrated the wrong way and Rehoboam learned it well.
He declined the elder's advice.
And instead he went for alternate counsel to the "young men who grew up with him and served him." I bet this is going to be some premium advice. If your fiends and servants (who lack all of the same skills and experience that you do) can't help, I don't know who can...
Oh, wait. I was wrong. They gave terrible advice. They told him to tell the people that if they thought Solomon's yoke was heavy...they hadn't seen nothin' yet! They actual said to tell the people that Rehoboam's pinky was bigger than his dad's loins! And he planned to add to their yoke and bring even harsher discipline. "My dad disciplined you with whips (which is bad enough considering the king's guidelines in Deuteronomy), but I will discipline you with scorpions."
I can't even think of a way to exaggerate how bad this advice was. It's its own exaggeration. The Terrible of terrible advice. This would be bad enough if this was a secular king. But it would be rational. You might think that you have to use brute strength and fear to keep an authoritarian government going. But this man was to be the king of Israel. God of the Universe's house.
This is one more indictment on Solomon. It would seem that he did nothing to prepare Rehoboam for this transition. No godly counsel; no transition plan. He had truly just gone off of the rails.
v. 12 Rehoboam's Reply
Now Jeroboam and the people return on the third day to hear Rehoboam' reply, as he had instructed.
Rehoboam denied their request and stated that he would be even harsher than his father.
In verse 15 it says this was a turn of events from the lord, that He might establish his Word as He had promised Jeroboam.
This is one of those moments to remember. The bad king won this round; but by God's design that he might bring His Will to pass--in which the people would benefit. We just don't know what we don't know.
v. 16 The Division Becomes Permanent
I get the impression that Rehoboam and his friends were the equivalent of the modern day cosmopolitan, elitist snobs who thought that all of their world travel with Dad made them special. They thought they could treat their people like the leaders did in the nations and tribes a round them.
However, these were God's people. they were taught the traditions and promises of God. They did what they did, in large part, because of their history with the living God. And when this King told them that he had no responsibility to them and they had no influence on him; it broke them.
What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, Oh Israel. Now look after your own house, David.I Kings 12:16b
They became untethered. There were innumerable times that the people revolted because they wanted their way; but this time was different. This king didn't care for them and proclaimed his plan to punish and work them beyond reason. This wasn't a revolt against God or Hid chosen. It was revolt against the illegitimate king of Israel. He had not been placed on that throne by God and Solomon knew it. Solomon, to his last, subverted God's will for his own. And everyone in the nation paid dearly and permanently.
So the northern tribe left, leaving Rehoboam only ruling over Judah. (verse 17) Again, this wasn't the first time this happened. But When David was king, he was continually able to unify them. Solomon must not have been watching or, if he did, he did not pass that wisdom on to Rehoboam.
But David and Solomon were gone and this king, Rehoboam, didn't see the full picture. He sent Adoram to them. Adoram had oversee the forced labor under Solomon. Rehoboam must have seen him as the perfect person to get these people back in line. He was wrong, wrong, wrong.
But without the legitimate God-chosen king to restrain them, Israel took control of the situation and stoned Adoram to death.
Suddenly, Rehoboam gained some quick wisdom and realized his place in the world. He ran back to Jerusalem.
So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.I King 12:19
The sins of Solomon bore the fruit according to the promises God made to him on several occasions.
The Rise of Jeroboam
Verse 20 The rebelling tribe called for Jeroboam and made him king over Israel.
Only Judah stayed with the house of David and Rehoboam. So Rehoboam brought together Judah and Benjamin and assembled to fight Israel. But God spoke to Shemaiah, called the man of God, and told him to have everyone stand down. He said that this had come from Him. And they listened to Him!
Again, it is so important to remember that we're supposed to live out God's plan. It may not make sense from our perspective, but we see so little of the board.
Jeroboam's Reign in Israel
Oh, Lord. This takes a dark turn...
God chose this man and made an agreement with him similar to the one he made with Solomon. He could have been a great man of God. He saw prophesy come to pass from the front row. Why?
How can we have these amazing encounters with God and then return to sin? It's incomprehensible, but I've done it myself.
In verse 25 he builds Shechem. Then he builds Penuel.
Then in verse 26, he gets fearful or insecure or greedy or something and says in his heart the Kingdom will return to the house of David.
First, so what? You saw God working firsthand. If He wants it to go back to David- then so be it. He'll bless you plenty if you're in His will.
Second, again, this plan came directly from God. You signed the contract, buddy. Stick with the agreement or suffer the consequences.
This is the life application portion of the show...when we let our mind wander and we start worrying about our future, then we've taken our eyes off of God- WHO HOLDS OUR FUTURE!!! Why or why do we do this?
This is a profile in worrying and the outcomes can be predicted from here. If we're worrying and our eyes are off of God, then our eyes start roaming about looking for something to give us security. How can we take our future into our own hands so that we'll be safe? [pro tip: we can't]
In verse 27, Jeroboam reasons that if the people take their required sacrifice to Jerusalem then their rebellious hearts will return to God and they'll even be willing to put up with Rehoboam. That will lead to them killing Jeroboam.
Se what happens when we lose sight of God and let our minds be our masters? If he had taken his fears to God, he could have gotten direction from God. But he let his mind wander and it found a probable outcome that leapt to a worst case scenario, and then he acted on the worst case scenario.
Oh my Lord! How many times have I done this to You? We have to pull down those imaginings or they will become all we can see.
I almost don't even want to type what he does from here. It's too stupid and evil.
He makes two golden calves. What is it with golden calves? Cute little bovine and yet everyone chooses this as their symbol of worship. there has to be a reason for it. So anyway...we now have two golden calves. Jeroboam tells the people that it's just too much for them to go to Jerusalem. They should just stay in the northern region and worship his idols.
Did you catch that?
It's just too much that your God asks of you. Here's an easier options. Come and get your sin, says the con man.
This conversation should remind us of another time someone was tempted by the lie that there was an option better than the one God had for them. [Eve and her buddy the serpent.]
The ironic truth, though, was that he placed one in Bethel, which is about two thirds of the way to Jerusalem- only saving them a third of their trip to Jerusalem- and the other one in Dan! That's the northern tip of the kingdom! They would have to travel 4 times as far as their trip to Jerusalem to get to Dan. But they did it.
Lord, how many times have I taken the longer, harder road because I took my eyes off of you and tried to do it myself!
He has the ever-loving nerve to claim that these two brand new stupid, mute, lifeless idols are to be credited with bringing the people out of the land of Egypt.
I truly don't understand how he fell so far so fast, except that the devil somehow grabbed hold of him. What he is doing is so evil.
And the people fell for it! Why? They knew the truth. I guess since they broke off from the house of David they were already sinning. Maybe it made sense to start fresh with new ideas.
Maybe God was just a religion to them and they thought it was interchangeable? Maybe we're all a bunch of stupid sheep.
He then furthers his new evil plan by building houses on high places (forbidden) and making priests from people who were not Levites (forbidden) and he makes a new feast where he sacrifices to his freshly minted idol (super double forbidden with a cherry on top).
II Chronicles 10
Here's the same events as told in II Chronicles.
The story is identical, word-for-word for most of it.
Except...they don't mention, at all, anything about Jeroboam becoming king.
As I understand it, II Chronicles if just about Judah, so it doesn't make mention of the leader of the rebels.
Wiersbe contrasts David's decision-making with Rehoboam's:
- David went to God first
- Rehoboam went to elders first, but didn't follow their counsel, so it seems like even that much was a hollow gesture.
- And David accepted counsel from leaders within the kingdom- he bought them into the plan, gave them skin in the game.
- Rehoboam just talked to his friends and servants so they would tell him what he wanted to hear- assuming everyone would comply.
Wiersbe also points out that this isn't the first time the third generation fell away. The people stayed faithful under Joshua, after Moses; but the third generation let it all slide.
Regarding Jeroboam, Wiersbe points to his years in Egypt as to where he would have grown tolerate to idols and how people could be manipulated by them.
Wow. He uses some of the exact same terms and concepts that I saw. Especially regrading fear and taking eyes off of God.
Wiersbe says calves and bulls connote fertility.
We can make all of the religions we want; but without God- there is no light and no salvation.