Reading For Monday 1 Kings 12:1-24
Rehoboam's succession to the throne does not seem to be questioned in Judah. However, the northern tribes wanted on to ratify the coronation of the new king, and they assembled at Shechem, the most important city in Ephraim, “to make him king.” They were not determined to rebel against the new king, but they were disgruntled because of Solomon’s disagreeable policies. Their insistence that Rehoboam meet with them on their territory should have been a clear indication that they would not tolerate a negative response to their demands. Jeroboam served as the spokesman for these dissident tribes. Since the time of his rebellion against Solomon, Jeroboam had stayed in Egypt. When Solomon died, the elders of Israel invited Jeroboam to speak on their behalf to Solomon’s would-be successor, and this was a clear indication that the elders of the north meant business.
The people complained that Solomon had placed a heavy yoke upon them and requested some relief. If Rehoboam would agree to this relief, the elders promised to serve him. There is an implied threat found in this pledge of loyalty. Rehoboam showed wisdom by postponing his decision for three days. The new king did not suffer from impetuosity. Perhaps he sensed how much depended upon his response. Rehoboam turned to the older men who were experienced in statecraft. They advised him to “be a servant” to the people. Evidently, Rehoboam was not in a mood to compromise. He spurned the advice of his father’s counselors and turned to the young men who served as his personal courtiers and counselors. These friends viewed the request of the dissidents as presumptuous and urged the king to avoid any sign of weakness.
On the third day, the new king spoke harshly to the people. Rehoboam’s pride is inexcusable, but God used this incident to accomplish his purpose of bringing division within the kingdom fulfilling the predictions made by the prophet Ahijah to Jeroboam some two decades earlier. After briefly consulting among themselves, the representatives of the northern tribes defiantly retorted, “What portion do we have in David?” Rehoboam was determined to demonstrate to the rebels that he would not be intimidated, and he immediately sought to force the northern tribes to pay tribute and recognize his sovereignty. The king ordered Adoram, the superintendent of forced labor, to collect the tribute. The rebels stoned Adoram to death as Rehoboam realized the gravity of the situation and rushed to the safety of Jerusalem. The northern tribes returned and made Jeroboam king, and their secession was complete. Rehoboam was determined to crush the uprising with military force. He gathered a force of 180,000 men from Judah and Benjamin, but crushing the rebellion by force was not authorized by God and a prophet ordered a halt to the plans for the invasion. The prophetic prohibition resulted in the men of Judah calling off the planned attack on the north, and they returned to their homes.
Things To Consider:
* Why were the people so discontent?
* Why do you think Rehoboam listened to the counsel of his friends instead of the experienced leaders around him?
* Why do you think it is easier to listen to the advice of your peers than the counsel of those older?
* Where does wisdom come from?
* What does his decision demonstrate about his heart toward the people?
* This rebellion was from God. What does that tell us about God's sovereignty?