I Kings 12

Taking the counsel of unspiritual men always spells blunder and a rough answer never fails to bring division.
If we make God the source of our counsel (James 3:15) we will avoid all folly.

1 And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.

2 And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard of it, (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;)

3 That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying,

4 Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.

5 And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days, then come again to me. And the people departed.

6 ¶ And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people?

7 And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.

8 But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:

9 And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter?

10 And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins.

11 And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.

12 ¶ So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.

13 And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him;

14 And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.

15 Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

16 ¶ So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.

17 But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.

18 Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.

19 So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.

20 And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.

21 ¶ And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.

22 But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying,

23 Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying,

24 Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD.

25 ¶ Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel.

26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:

27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.

28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

29 And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan.

30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.

31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.

32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Beth-el, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Beth-el the priests of the high places which he had made.

33 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Beth-el the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

1 Kings 11:41-43; 12:1-11 – ​The Wise King’s Foolish Son

   Solomon’s reign had been splendid but very oppressive, and it was reasonable to ask for some relief. The people felt that the accession of the new king gave them their opportunity, and apparently they took the first step in this momentous crisis. We are expressly told that Rehoboam came to Shechem. If this mighty gathering had been called by himself or his court, the people would have had to come to him at Jerusalem. Here was the muttering of the rising storm.
   There was much wisdom in the counsel of the older men: “Serve them… then they will be thy servants forever” (1 Kings 12:7). This principle underlay the sacrifice of Calvary. “Thou art worthy to take the book… for thou wast slain” (Revelation 5:9). It is because Jesus girded Himself with humility and washed our sins in His own precious blood, that He has ascended to the throne, not only of God, but of our hearts and lives. And He has taught us, that whosoever would become great must begin by being the servant of all. The proud and lofty in this world are served often enough with the eye-service that gives superficial obedience for wages and rewards, Ephesians 6:6, but what is this compared with that which is yielded by gratitude and love!

1 Kings 12:12-24 – ​The Kingdom Rent in Twain

   Rehoboam richly deserved his fate. He was forty-one years old, II Chronicles 12:13, and ought to have known better. His speech betrayed the despot. He had no right to speak with such arrogant insolence to a great and liberty-loving people. It is only a weak man who boasts of deeds he cannot perform, and there was a rasping flavor in his comparison which indicated the malice of an unregenerate heart. We have heard people speak like this to those whom they counted their inferiors, but all such words are the scattering of thistledown, which will spoil the harvests of their own fields. Learn to speak civilly, or not at all. Insist that young lads and girls keep a civil tongue in their heads. Curses are like boomerangs; they come back on the man that utters them.
   Twice over we are told that it was a thing from the LORD—I Kings 12:15, 24. Beneath all political changes and revolutions you will find the slow evolving of a divine purpose. God does not instigate sin. This arises from man’s abuse of his own free-will. But God will so control the warring wills of men that the plan of His eternal counsel and foreknowledge shall not be interfered with but furthered.

1 Kings 12:25-33 – ​Man-made Religion

   Jeroboam knew better than to make these two calves. The prophet had clearly told him that the stability of his throne was contingent upon his obedience, I Kings 11:38. It was definitely promised that if he would hearken to do all that was commanded him, God would be with him and build him a sure house. But he was not content with this.
   Fearing that if his people went up to the annual feasts at Jerusalem, they would return to their ancient loyalty to David’s throne and kill him, Jeroboam set up the worship of Jehovah under the semblance of these two calves. He thus broke not the First but the Second Commandment, and sowed seeds from which his descendants were destined to reap a succession of bitter harvests. He was like the foolish man of our Lord’s parable, who heard and did not; and whose house, however carefully it might have been constructed, was sapped by the rising waters. Expediency always deceives those who turn from God and rely on the devices of their own hearts. It seems that Jeroboam constituted himself priest as well as king. There is no knowing to what lengths men may drift, when they lose their moorings in God.

1 Kings 12:33—The month which he had devised of his own heart.

   Jeroboam acted on expediency. It did seem reasonable to argue that the constant going up to Jerusalem to worship might alienate the people from his throne, and awaken a desire for the old national unity; and without doubt a mere worldly wisdom extolled his setting-up of idol-gods at Bethel and Dan; but his policy in this respect led to the downfall of his kingdom. Had he trusted God’s promise, made through the prophet Ahijah, the Divine purpose would have ensured the continuance of his rule; but the prompting of expediency resulted in ultimate disaster (I Kings 14).
   How prone we all are to devise out of our own hearts! We take counsel with ourselves, and do what seems prudent and farseeing, with the inevitable result of being betrayed into courses of action that God cannot approve, and of which we have reason to repent bitterly. It is infinitely better to wait on God till He develop His plan, as He most certainly will, when the predestined hour strikes. He who trusts in his own heart, and takes his own way, is a fool. To run before God is to sink knee-deep into the swamp. We must make all things after the pattern shown us on the Mount, and take our time from God’s almanac. What a contrast to the course of Jeroboam was that of the Son of Man! He would do nothing of Himself. His eye was always on His Father’s dial-plate, and thus He knew when His time was not yet fulfilled. He was always consulting the movement of His Father’s will, and did only those things which He saw His Father doing. Similarly make God’s will and way thy Pole-star. Oh to be able to say with our blessed Lord, “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30)!