1 Kings 11-14: Rehoboam and Jeroboam
- Last time we studied where God predicted the downfall of Solomon. Here we see the specifics of how that happened
- Trouble from abroad:
- Hadad the Edomite
- Rezon of Damascus
- Trouble from within: Jeroboam
1 Kings 11
26 Another rebel leader was Jeroboam son of Nebat, one of Solomon’s own officials. He came from the town of Zeredah in Ephraim, and his mother was Zeruah, a widow.
27 This is the story behind his rebellion. Solomon was rebuilding the supporting terraces and repairing the walls of the city of his father, David.
28 Jeroboam was a very capable young man, and when Solomon saw how industrious he was, he put him in charge of the labor force from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the descendants of Joseph.
29 One day as Jeroboam was leaving Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh met him along the way. Ahijah was wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone in a field,
30 and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces.
31 Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten of these pieces, for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and I will give ten of the tribes to you!
32 But I will leave him one tribe for the sake of my servant David…
[But he makes a promise to Jeroboam too…]
37 And I will place you on the throne of Israel, and you will rule over all that your heart desires.
38 If you listen to what I tell you and follow my ways and do whatever I consider to be right, and if you obey my decrees and commands, as my servant David did, then I will always be with you.
I will establish an enduring dynasty for you as I did for David, and I will give Israel to you.
39 Because of Solomon’s sin I will punish the descendants of David—though not forever.’ ”
40 Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but he fled to King Shishak of Egypt and stayed there until Solomon died.
[Then Rehoboam becomes king]
1 Kings 12
1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of this, he returned from Egypt,* for he had fled to Egypt to escape from King Solomon. 3 The leaders of Israel summoned him, and Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. 4 “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.”
5 Rehoboam replied, “Give me three days to think this over. Then come back for my answer.” So the people went away.
6 Then King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counseled his father, Solomon. “What is your advice?” he asked. “How should I answer these people?”
7 The older counselors replied, “If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.”
8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. 9 “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?”
10 The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! 11 Yes, 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!’ ”
Rehoboam gets two basic types of advice from two different groups: The advisors and his college buddies. (Go to whiteboard and draw a line down the middle)
Q: What do you notice about these two different types of advice?
Q: What are some things that might keep people from seeking counsel?
Q: What are some principles we need to keep in mind as we evaluate counsel that we get from others?
Let’s see what Rehoboam does…
12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to hear Rehoboam’s decision, just as the king had ordered. 13 But Rehoboam spoke harshly to the people, for he rejected the advice of the older counselors 14 and followed the counsel of his younger advisers. He told the people, “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!”
15 So the king paid no attention to the people. This turn of events was the will of the LORD, for it fulfilled the LORD’s message to Jeroboam son of Nebat through the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh.
16 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. 17 But Rehoboam continued to rule over the Israelites who lived in the towns of Judah. 18 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. 19 And to this day the northern tribes of Israel have refused to be ruled by a descendant of David.
[Interestingly enough, we discover that the Levites sided with Rehoboam and Judah:]
2 Chron. 11:13 But all the priests and Levites living among the northern tribes of Israel sided with Rehoboam…
16 From all the tribes of Israel, those who sincerely wanted to worship the Lord, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem, where they could offer sacrifices to Yahweh, the God of their ancestors.
[Rehoboam considers waging war on Jeroboam but his advisors talk him out of it and he listens to them this time!]
[Next we get an account of the beginning of Jeroboam’s rule. Let’s see how he does…]
26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “Unless I am careful, the kingdom will return to the dynasty of David. 27 When these people go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple of the LORD, they will again give their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and make him their king instead.”
28 So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people,* “It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!”
29 He placed these calf idols in Bethel and in Dan—at either end of his kingdom. 30 But this became a great sin, for the people worshiped the idols, traveling as far north as Dan to worship the one there.
31 Jeroboam also erected buildings at the pagan shrines and ordained priests from the common people—those who were not from the priestly tribe of Levi. 32 And Jeroboam instituted a religious festival in Bethel, held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in imitation of the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah. There at Bethel he himself offered sacrifices to the calves he had made, and he appointed priests for the pagan shrines he had made. 33 So on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a day that he himself had designated, Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar at Bethel. He instituted a religious festival for Israel, and he went up to the altar to burn incense.
What Jeroboam does here is bad. Q: How bad do you think it is and why do you think that?
Q: What do you think might be driving Jeroboam to rebel against God in this way?
Q: What are some application points we could draw from this episode?
I’ll just try to summarize the rest of this section of Scripture…
The results of Jeroboam’s sin are pretty bad…
- He basically taught the people to ignore Scripture, which commanded them to worship in Jerusalem a certain way (Levite priests, etc)
- His sin would haunt the kings of the northern kingdom for the next several centuries. A common refrain is “he followed the example of the sin of Jeroboam…” (probably a dozen times over the rest of Israel’s history). He was basically a template for sin. That’s what he came to be known as. How would you like that to be your legacy. “And they followed in the sins of <your name here>”
- 1 Kings 13: God sends a prophet to denounce Jeroboam and predicts that one day a King of Judah from the line of David will put an end to those wicked practices. A guy named King Josiah
- 1 Kings 14: We see the devastating results in his own family as well. Here we see the death of Jereoboam’s son from a childhood illness. God promises that the rest of Jeroboam’s family would experience far worse deaths.
So, things are looking bad in the northern kingdom.
If time: “I wonder how they’re going down in the southern kingdom…”
22 During Rehoboam’s reign, the people of Judah did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, provoking his anger with their sin, for it was even worse than that of their ancestors. 23 For they also built for themselves pagan shrines and set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. 24 There were even male and female shrine prostitutes throughout the land. The people imitated the detestable practices of the pagan nations the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.
25 In the fifth year of King Rehoboam’s reign, King Shishak of Egypt came up and attacked Jerusalem. 26 He ransacked the treasuries of the LORD’s Temple and the royal palace; he stole everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. 27 King Rehoboam later replaced them with bronze shields as substitutes, and he entrusted them to the care of the commanders of the guard who protected the entrance to the royal palace.
If no time to read the above verses, just say that they are also looking bad in the south.
So, things are looking bad for God’s people. They’ve fallen a long way. It’s hard to see what could go right at this point.
But, fortunately, God holds true to his promises. And next time we’re going to see God’s solution to this problem. One of the toughest dudes in all of Scripture.