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The Kingdom Divides and Idolatry Becomes the Norm 

First Kings 12

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • November 6, In the year of our Lord, 2016

  1. First Kings 12.1–5 | Making Rehoboam King

    1 And Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone to Shechem to make him king. 2 So it happened, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard it (he was still in Egypt, for he had fled from the presence of King Solomon and had been dwelling in Egypt), 3 that they sent and called him. Then Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, 4 “Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.” 5 So he said to them, “Depart for three days, then come back to me.” And the people departed.

    1. Why did they go to Shechem to make Rehoboam king?
      1. Why did they not do it in Jerusalem?
      2. Two reasons:
        1. Shechem was right in the middle of the land, North and South, East and West.
        2. Shechem was located in Ephraim; perhaps this was a way of heading off trouble with Jeroboam, an Ephraimite.
    2. Jeroboam was a worker, and
      1. even as Solomon recognized him for it,
      2. the people must have also since they had him as their representative.
    3. Were the children of Israel willing to serve Rehoboam?
      1. What condition did they put upon Rehoboam?
      2. They wanted him to lighten their burden.
    4. Rehoboam wisely did not make a snap decision, but sought advice.
      1. And set aside enough days to consider that advice.
      2. His father had taught him,

        5 A wise man will hear and increase learning,
        And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel…
        (Pro 1.5)

        14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
        But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
        (Pro 11.14)

        15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
        But he who heeds counsel is wise.
        (Pro 12.15)

        20 Listen to counsel and receive instruction,
        That you may be wise in your latter days.
        (Pro 19.20)

        18 Plans are established by counsel;
        By wise counsel wage war.
        (Pro 20.18)

        6 For by wise counsel you will wage your own war,
        And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.
        (Pro 24.6)

  2. First Kings 12.6–11 | Rehoboam’s Consultations

    6 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, and he said, “How do you advise me to answer these people?” 7 And they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” 8 But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. 9 And he said to them, “What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?” 10 Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you should speak to this people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’—thus you shall say to them: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! 11 And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with
    scourges scorpions!’”

    1. Rehoboam did well to seek advice.
      1. Why did he consult the groups at different times?
      2. Did he anticipate that there would be unity within the groups, but not between the groups?
    2. Surprisingly the older men, Solomon’s advisers, did not continue his tradition.
      1. Why do you think that is?
      2. Had they tried to get him to do the very thing they advised Rehoboam?
    3. When this text refers to the young men who had grown up with Rehoboam, what age do you think the writer meant?
      1. See First Kings 14.21.
      2. Thus we speak not of men in their teens, twenties, or even thirties!
        1. Why did they encourage him to add to their burden?
        2. Why did they encourage a more severe punishment?
    4. Does this mean that the advice of the aged is always right and that the advice of the youth is always wrong?
      1. In the very next chapter, we find a younger prophet taking bad advice from an older prophet.
      2. What then is the standard? How do we know what counsel is right?
  3. First Kings 12.12–15 | Rehoboam Did Not Listen to the People

    12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had directed, saying, “Come back to me the third day.” 13 Then the king answered the people roughly, and rejected the advice which the elders 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 chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!” 15 So the king did not listen to the people; for the turn of events was from the LORD, that He might fulfill His word, which the LORD had spoken by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

    1. In this section, whom did the writer say Rehoboam did not give audience?
    2. The writer noted:
      1. That Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men.
      2. That Rehoboam spoke according to the advice of the young men.
      3. That Rehoboam did not listen to the people.
    3. A prophet referred to this incident,
      1. speaking of Rehoboam’s youth and inexperience,
      2. which kept him from withstanding Jeroboam.
        1. This gives us insight into what happened in First Kings 12.
        2. Rehoboam felt threatened or challenged, and
          1. he sought to establish his credibility
          2. with tough talk.
  4. First Kings 12.16–20 | The Kingdom Divides

    16 Now when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying:

    “What share have we in David?
    We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse.
    To your tents, O Israel!
    Now, see to your own house, O David!”

    So Israel departed to their tents. 17 But Rehoboam reigned over the children of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah. 18 Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was in charge of the revenue; but all Israel stoned him with stones, and he died. Therefore King Rehoboam mounted his chariot in haste to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. 20 Now it came to pass when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had come back, they sent for him and called him to the congregation, and made him king over all Israel. There was none who followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.

    1. Since the people saw that Rehoboam would not listen to them, they decided that they would not be loyal to him.
    2. Yes, leaders need to lead, but
      1. they also need to consider the people whom they lead.
      2. See Genesis 33.13–14.
    3. The response of the congregation:
      1. Did they act too fast against Rehoboam?
      2. Why did they kill Adoram? Again, did they act too fast?
      3. Did they realize that in making Jeroboam king, they made this a permanent decision?
  5. First Kings 12.21–24 | The Division Came from the Lord

    21 And when Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah with the tribe of Benjamin, one hundred and eighty thousand chosen men who were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, that he might 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, to all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, saying, 24 ‘Thus says the LORD: You shall not go up nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel. Let every man return to his house, for this thing is from Me.’” Therefore they obeyed the word of the LORD, and turned back, according to the word of the LORD.

    1. Rehoboam was ready to wage a full scale war against Jeroboam and Israel.
    2. Whom did the prophet say ultimately caused this division?
    3. Note that Rehoboam obeyed the Lord.
  6. First Kings 12.25–33 | Jeroboam Insures Israel’s Loyalty to Him

    25 Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim, and dwelt there. Also he went out from there and built Penuel. 26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom may return to the house of David: 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn back to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam king of Judah.” 28 Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!” 29 And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan. 31 He made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi. 32 Jeroboam ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the feast that was in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did at Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And at Bethel he installed the priests of the high places which he had made. 33 So he made offerings on the altar which he had made at Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in the month which he had devised in his own heart. And he ordained a feast for the children of Israel, and offered sacrifices on the altar and burned incense.

    1. What was Jeroboam’s motive for introducing calf worship?
    2. Did Israel have a problem with a golden calf before?
      1. We read of the Pharaoh in Exodus 1, who did not know Joseph, but sometimes God’s own people forget their own history.
      2. How much do we know the history of the church?