Rehoboam, the Kingdom Divides (1 Kings 12)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, September 29, 2019
We will be turning to 1 Kings 12 in a minute.
A number of years ago I read a book called “Good to Great.” This is a book by Jim Collins about how companies went from beyond being “good” companies to actually being “great” companies. Collins and his research team looked at several different companies and compared many different things about what the companies did or didn’t do. One thing consistent about the “great” companies is that their CEO’s were humble. Even when they were rich they were humble. They would look to themselves first when looking at mistakes. They would look out the window to other people to give credit to success as opposed to looking in the mirror, at themselves. The companies that were successful but didn’t last had CEO’s that liked to talk about themselves.
Collins says on page 193:
“Shortly before his death, I had the opportunity to meet Dave Packard. Despite being one of Silicon Valley’s first self-made billionaires, he lived in the same small house that he and his wife built for themselves in 1957, overlooking a simple orchard. The tiny kitchen, with its dated linoleum, and the simply furnished living room bespoke a man who needed no material symbols to proclaim ‘I’m a billionaire. I’m important. I’m successful.’ ‘His idea of a good time,’ said Bill Terry, who worked with Packard for thirty-six years, ‘was to get some of his friends together to string some barbed wire.’ Packard bequeathed his $5.6 billion estate to a charitable foundation and, upon his death, his family created a eulogy pamphlet, with a photo of him sitting on a tractor in farming clothes. The caption made no reference to his stature as one of the great industrialist of the twentieth century. It simply read: ‘David Packard, 1912-1996, Rancher, etc.’”
There is something that we all admire about humility and we all hate about people who talk about themselves. However, it is so easy to talk about our achievements and our successes. We all do it. But how much do we do this.
In conversation with Professor S. F. B. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, the Rev. George W. Hervey asked this question:
“Professor Morse, when you were making your experiments yonder in your room in the university, did you ever come to a stand, not knowing what to do next?”
“Oh, yes, more than once.”
“And at such times what did you do next?”
“I may answer you in confidence, sir,” said the professor, “but it is a matter of which the public knows nothing. I prayed for more light.”
“And the light generally came?”
“Yes, and may I tell you that when flattering honors come to me from America and Europe on account of the invention which bears my name, I never felt I deserved them. I had made a valuable application of electricity, not because I was superior to other men, but solely because God, who meant it for mankind, must reveal it to someone, and was pleased to reveal it to me.” In view of these facts, it is not surprising that the inventor’s first message was, “What hath God wrought!”
He is what Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great would call a type 5 leader. A type 5 leader gives credit to other people for success. A type 5 leader is humble.
As we look at Rehoboam we see that he was far from humble and he did not seek the Lord. Let’s look at Rehoboam.
Theme and application:
Seek the Lord and His wisdom and we will be alright. Rehoboam sought the wisdom of man and not the wisdom of the Lord.
Let’s read 1 Kings 12:1-24:
Then Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. 2 Now when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it, he was living in Egypt (for he was yet in Egypt, where he had fled from the presence of King Solomon). 3 Then they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, 4 “Your father made our yoke hard; now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.” 5 Then he said to them, “Depart for three days, then return to me.” So the people departed.
6 King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, “How do you counsel me to answer this people?”7 Then they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” 8 But he forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him. 9 So he said to them, “What counsel do you give that we may answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?” 10 The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to this people who spoke to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us!’ But you shall speak to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! 11 Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”
12 Then Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day as the king had directed, saying, “Return to me on the third day.” 13 The king answered the people harshly, for he forsook the advice of the elders which they had given him, 14 and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people; for it was a turn of events from the Lord, that He might establish His word, which the Lord spoke through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
16 When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying,
“What portion do we have in David?
We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse;
To your tents, O Israel!
Now look after your own house, David!”
So Israel departed to their tents. 17 But as for the sons of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. 18 Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the forced labor, and all Israel stoned him to death. And King Rehoboam made haste to mount his chariot to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.
20 It came about when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, that they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. None but the tribe of Judah followed the house of David.
21 Now when Rehoboam had come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, 180,000 chosen men who were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. 22 But the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,23 “Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin and to the rest of the people, saying, 24 ‘Thus says the Lord, “You must not go up and fight against your relatives the sons of Israel; return every man to his house, for this thing has come from Me.”’” So they listened to the word of the Lord, and returned and went their way according to the word of the Lord.
I. In 1 Kings 12:1-24 it introduces Rehoboam and tells how the kingdom is divided and they are not to go to war. We can find similar information in 2 Chronicles 10.
a. In verse 1it tells us that he goes to Shechem because all Israel went to Shechem to make him king.
b. Notice verse 2 introduces us to Jeroboam, son of Nebat. He was in Egypt where he fled because of Solomon, yet he hears the news of Rehoboam becoming king. We see this in 1 Kings 11:26, 40.
c. Verses 4-5 give conditions which 10 tribes would like before his coronation.
i. Before his coronation they would like their load lightened.
ii. In verse 5, he asks them to depart for three days and he will look into it.
iii. In 1 Kings 4:7, 21–25; 9:15 it tells of Solomon’s demands.
d. In verses 6-11 we have the wise words of the older men (verses 6-7) and the wicked words of the younger men (verses 8-11).
i. If Rehoboam is a servant they will serve him.
ii. Proverbs 15:1: a gentle answer turns away wrath
iii. Verse 8 tells us he forsook the council of the elders and sought and followed the council of those he grew up with.
iv. Verse 10 is telling: Sarcasm: “My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins.” In other words, my father was weak!
v. Verse 11: he will intensify the discipline.
e. In verses 12-15: Rehoboam rejects the council of Israel’s leaders.
i. Someone has said: The error of youth is to believe that intelligence is a substitute for experience, while the error of age is to believe that experience is a substitute for intelligence.
ii. Verse 12: they all came to Rehoboam the third day like he requested.
iii. Jeroboam was part of their group.
iv. Verse 13: he answered them harshly
v. Verse 14: he spoke to them with the advice of the young men.
vi. Verse 15 tells us why. This was from the Lord. Solomon and Jeroboam knew this would happen: 1 Kin 11:11, 31.
f. Verses 16-20: the reaction of the leaders:
i. Verse 16 shares the rejection of the other tribes. They were essentially saying, “what portion do we have in David’s tribe.”
ii. They go to their tents, basically saying: David’s tribe is on their own.
iii. Verse 17: Those that lived in Judah stayed under Rehoboam.
iv. This was prophesied in: 1 Kin 11:13, 36
v. Verse 18: King Rehoboam sends Adoram, head of the first labor and he is stoned. Rehoboam flees to Jerusalem for safety.
vi. Verse 19: until the day of the writing Israel and Judah were in rebellion against each other.
vii. The other 10 tribes made Jeroboam king.
g. Verses 21-24: the aborted attack (Title from the Outline Bible)
i. Verse 21; he assembles 180,000 to go to war
ii. Verses 22-24 have the message from Shemaiah the prophet that this division is from the Lord.
iii. The war is aborted.
II. The summary of Rehoboam in 1 Kings 14:21-28
a. We must read 7 more verses to complete the picture:
b. 1 Kings 14:21-28: Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen from all the tribes of Israel to put His name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess. 22 Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy more than all that their fathers had done, with the sins which they committed. 23 For they also built for themselves high places and sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and beneath every luxuriant tree. 24 There were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel. 25 Now it happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam, that Shishak the king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. 26 He took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house, and he took everything, even taking all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. 27 So King Rehoboam made shields of bronze in their place, and committed them to the care of the commanders of the guard who guarded the doorway of the king’s house. 28 Then it happened as often as the king entered the house of the Lord, that the guards would carry them and would bring them back into the guards’ room.
c. We see in verse 21: he was 41 when he became king and reigned 17 years in Jerusalem
d. Notice the detail, the city that the Lord chose to put His name there.
e. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess.
f. Moody Bible Commentary shares: This pagan nation east of the Jordan was frequently in conflict with Israel (cf. Gn 19:30-38; Dt 23:3; 1Sm 11:1-15), and Ammonites were specifically forbidden to be part of the assembly of Israel (cf. Dt 23:3; Neh 13:1-2). Rehoboam’s failure to follow the Lord was compounded by his mother’s pagan influence. And what impacted the king would also have spiritual consequences for the people.
g. Swindoll shares:
h. The name Naamah means “sweetness, pleasantness,” which probably described her general disposition. This narrative tells us twice, in verses 21 and 31, so that we won’t miss its significance, that Rehoboam’s mother was “the Ammonitess.” She was an Ammonite woman with considerable influence. So much so, she convinced her husband to abandon Yahweh for a particularly detestable idol. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king. We know that Solomon reigned for forty years, so Rehoboam was nurtured by Naamah the Ammonitess, the worshiper of Milcom and Molech. One archaeologist writes,
i. Molech was a detestable Semitic deity honored by the sacrifice of children, in which they were caused to pass through or into the fire. Palestinian excavations have uncovered evidences of infant skeletons in burial places around heathen shrines. Ammonites revered Molech as a protecting father. No form of ancient Semitic idolatry was more abhorrent than Molech worship. His mother, Naamah, reared her son in the worship of Molech, and Solomon consented to the practice by building temples to the false god. The sin that Mom loved and that Dad permitted, ensnared the son. So it should come as no surprise that he led his kingdom into the same deadly trap.
j. Verse 22 is key: Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord.
i. They provoked God to jealousy more than their fathers.
ii. They committed sins.
iii. Verse 23 tells what they did: high places, asherim, sacred pillars
iv. Asherim are wooden symbol of a female deity.
v. Verse 24: cult male prostitutes
vi. They did according to all the nations which the Lord dispossessed
k. Verses 25-28: King Shishak of Egypt.
i. Verses 25-26 tell us what happened. The king of Egypt, Shishak came and took treasures from the house of the Lord and the king’s house, even the gold shields Solomon had made.
ii. 2 Chronicles 12:5-8 and 12 give more information. God was going to hand Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah over to Shishak, but the prophet Shemaiah told them that and they repented. Once they repented the Lord chose not to hand them over to Egypt, though they would be servants.
iii. Verse 27: Rehoboam replaced them with bronze shields. The Moody Bible Commentary shares: The change from gold to bronze, a much less expensive metal, indicated the decline in the wealth of the kingdom under Rehoboam after great glory under David and Solomon.
a. We must listen to elders.
b. We must only serve the Lord. It seems that Rehoboam’s mother was a pagan and we definitely see Rehoboam get into high places, sacred pillars and Asherim which were wooden symbols of female deity (14:22-23).
c. We must only serve the Lord as we see it says that they built Asherim, sacred pillars and asherim on every high hill and beneath every luxuriant tree. I notice the word every. This seems to emphasize that this was very common.
i. We may not do that, but we do have our own idols.
ii. Comfort is an idol and we must guard against the idol of comfort.
iii.Worship is our response to what we value most.
iv. Prestige can be an idol.
v. Money, obviously, can be an idol.
vi. What about the desire for nice things: nice restaurants and nice clothes and nice vacations and nice cars and nice books and nice shelves and nice desks and nice jewelry and nice watches and nice clocks and nice computers and nice televisions and nice ___________. These can be an idol.
d. 14:24 says that Judah under Rehoboam did all of the abominations of the nations which the dispossessed. Are we different from the world? James 4:4 says that friendship with the world is enmity with God. Romans 12:2 says to not be conformed to the pattern of the world but be transformed… Are we like the world? Many times we try to blur Christianity with the culture, and even other religions of the world, we cannot do this.
e. Jesus must be Lord of all.
f. When we seek the Lord and His wisdom we will be alright. Rehoboam sought the wisdom of man and not the wisdom of the Lord.
Seek the Lord and His wisdom and we will be alright. Rehoboam sought the wisdom of man and not the wisdom of the Lord.
According to the National Geographic website (their kids’ version that is) the Pufferfish can inflate into a ball shape to evade predators. Also known as blowfish, these clumsy swimmers fill their elastic stomachs with huge amounts of water (and sometimes air) and blow themselves up to several times their normal size … But these blow-up fish aren’t just cute. Most pufferfish contain a toxic substance that makes them foul tasting and potentially deadly to other fish. The toxin is deadly to humans—1,200 times more deadly than cyanide. There is enough poison in one pufferfish to kill 30 adult humans, and there is no known antidote.
Like Pufferfish, human beings can blow themselves up with pride and arrogance to make themselves look bigger than they are. And this pride can become toxic to a marriage, a church, or a friendship. No wonder the late Bible scholar John Stott once said, “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.”
Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.