1 Kings 12

To Make Him King

The relationship between Solomon and the people was strained, to say the least, and now that Solomon had died, the people came to make his son Rehoboam king. It seems that Rehoboam had no opposition to the throne despite the number of wives taken by his father. However, the people did not come just for the formality of the occasion; they came to make a request of the one in line for the throne. The people gathered in Shechem with Jeroboam as their leader to make sure that they expected Rehoboam to take their demands seriously. As far as the people were concerned, Solomon had made the yoke of the people heavy through taxes and harsh tactics. They asked Rehoboam to give them some relief, and in turn, they would serve their king well. Rehoboam shows wisdom initially when he sent the people away for three days in order to consider the matter and take counsel. There was the imminent threat of a revolt, and this new king would need to think carefully before making a decision. 

Contradictory Counsel

Rehoboam sought counsel from the older men who had served alongside his father. They were experienced, and when Rehoboam sought their wisdom, they encouraged him to listen to the people and speak words of grace over them. These men believed that if Rehoboam would serve the people, they would serve him forever. Rehoboam's pride seems to have bristled at their advice and e rejected their insights. Instead, Rehoboam turned to the young men that he grew up with and asked them what their thoughts were concerning the matter. He repeats the words of the people in a way that expected a different answer from his friends. These young men recommended that the new king show these people who was the boss and set the tone for the new regime. They wanted no signs of weakness, and they encouraged Rehoboam to make it clear that his rule would be stronger than his father's. After three days, Jeroboam led the people back to Shechem to stand before the king. Rehoboam spoke harshly to the people and repeated the words of his young friends to the masses. This King was unwilling to listen to his people, and it seemed that his expectation was for them to obey no matter what the cost. The Lord used Rehoboam's sinful act to bring about a division among the people and accomplish his purpose. The arrogance of Rehoboam would be used to fulfill the words of Ahijah the prophet concerning Jeroboam.


The people heard these words and the response was swift. They could see that David's house showed no concern for them and therefore they would not submit to its reign. The northern tribes made it clear that they would look after themselves and Rehoboam could see to his own house i.e. Judah. Rehoboam was determined to exert his power over these rebels, so he sent Adoram to go and collect tribute for the new king. The people of Israel (the northern tribes) stoned him to death, and Rehoboam finally realized just how dire the situation was, and he fled to Jerusalem. The northern tribes were eager to make Jeroboam king after they learned that he had returned from Egypt. When Rehoboam returned to Jerusalem, he gathered an army to fight against Israel and restore the kingdom. The Lord sent Shemaiah the prophet to stop the plans for battle. Israel was their family, and God had brought this division upon the people. The men listened, called off the attack, and went home. 


Jeroboam established Shechem as the capital of Israel, but he knew that it would not be enough for the people. He believed that if the people returned to Jerusalem to worship that the heart of the people would turn back to Rehoboam. After seeking counsel from his advisers, Jeroboam decided to make two golden calves and offer the people two convenient locations to worship. He introduced false worship by connecting it to something from their history. Jeroboam built temples, appointed priests that were not Levites, and appointed a feast where he offered sacrifices. Jeroboam led the people to sin, and he devised all these false practices in his own heart. The kingdom was not the only thing divided. The hearts of the people were divided in worship as well.

Things To Consider:

  • Why will politics always fail?
  • What do you think cause Rehoboam to dismiss the older men?
  • Is it easier for you to listen to your friends or the counsel of older people? Why?
  • Do you think Rehoboam would have been received any differently if he had not spoken harshly? Why?
  • How was God sovereign over the king's decision?
  • Did God cause Rehoboam to sin? Why or why not?
  • How is worship twisted today?
  • Where can you see false worship that is labeled as Christian?