Solomon’s son Rehoboam had already been warned that he would lose the vast majority of his kingdom. Now, as the new king, the people have asked that he reduce the work and tax burden on the people. Rehoboam seeks the advice of his father’s mature counselors and then casts it aside in favor of the foolish advice of the guys who grew up with him whom he has now made his counselors.
Instead of cutting the people any slack, Solomon arrogantly announces, “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!” (I Kings 12:14b, NLT).
What was so bad about the advice the older counselors had given Rehoboam? They’d told him to “be a servant to these people” (I Kings 12:7a). Rehoboam and his immature buddies wanted no part of serving – they wanted to be served!
Remember, the prophet Ahijah had already delivered the Lord’s message to Jeroboam: “I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and I will give ten of the tribes to you!” (I Kings 11:31b). But Rehoboam was enjoying the sound of his own voice too much to listen to anyone else, including the Lord.
“When all Israel realized that the king had refused to listen to them, they responded, ‘Down with the dynasty of David! We have no interest in the son of Jesse. Back to your homes, O Israel! Look out for your own house, O David!’ So the people of Israel returned home. But Rehoboam continued to rule over the Israelites who lived in the towns of Judah.
King Rehoboam sent Adoniram, who was in charge of the labor force, to restore order, but the people of Israel stoned him to death. When this news reached King Rehoboam, he quickly jumped into his chariot and fled to Jerusalem. And to this day the northern tribes of Israel have refused to be ruled by a descendant of David.
When the people of Israel learned of Jeroboam’s return from Egypt, they called an assembly and made him king over all Israel. So only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the family of David” (I Kings 12:16-20).
What is here referred to as “the tribe of Judah” is actually made up of two tribes: Judah and Benjamin. Just as God had said, Jeroboam became the leader of the ten tribes that made up what was considered the Northern Kingdom of Israel while Rehoboam kept only a remnant of what his father had once ruled over. Israel now had its own king, Jeroboam, who was not of the lineage of David. Only the tiny Southern Kingdom of Judah remained under the rule of Rehoboam.
If you think things are bad now, just wait and see what happens next.
“In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.” (John Ruskin)
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates