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What the Bible says about Rehoboam
(From Forerunner Commentary)

2 Samuel 7:14

When God promised David He would establish his throne forever, He also stipulated that, if his son sinned, He would "chasten him with the rod of men" (II Samuel 7:14). The word son refers not only to Solomon but also to any of David's descendants who would become king over Israel. Around 975 BC, Solomon died, having ruled Israel in unparalleled splendor for forty years (I Kings 11:42). "And Rehoboam his son reigned in his place" (I Kings 11:43).

Now was the time for chastening. God, having responded to Solomon's apostasy by committing Himself to ripping a part of his kingdom from his descendants, looked about for a suitable ruler of the remaining tribes. He found Jeroboam, a talented and ambitious Ephraimite whom Solomon had years before placed in charge of Joseph's labor force (I Kings 11:28). God, apparently recognizing potential in Jeroboam, made him two promises through the prophet Ahijah (I Kings 11:35-39). One of these promises is conditional, while the other is unconditional.

» Unconditional promise: "I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you" (verse 31). God goes on to explain that He will leave one tribe, Judah, under the Davidic monarchy in order "that My servant David may always have a lamp before Me in Jerusalem" (verse 36). God did this to honor His promise to David that He would "establish the throne of [Solomon's] kingdom forever" (II Samuel 7:12-13). Christ, the last King, descended from Judah and will sit on that throne forever.

» Conditional promise: ". . . if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you" (I Kings 11:38). This is a remarkable promise. God says He will establish in Jeroboam a permanent dynasty over ten tribes if he keeps His covenant.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part Five): Solomon and the Divided Kingdom

1 Kings 11:42

The reign of King Solomon is a rather bittersweet one. Here he was, the wisest man who had ever lived, ruling over a powerful, wealthy nation at peace, yet the evidence that we glean from Scripture is that his forty-year reign was the prelude to disaster. As Solomon breathes his last breath, the kingdom is poised on the brink of rebellion because of heavy taxation and forced labor (see I Kings 9:20-22; 12:1-5); his heir, Rehoboam, is proud and listens only to his foolish friends (see I Kings 12:6-11); and God has been shunted aside to share glory with a menagerie of other deities (see what happened in Israel immediately after his reign; I Kings 12:25-33).

The Bible provides us both sides of the coin of Solomon's time on the throne of Israel. He presided over Israel's Golden Age and the building of the Temple and a grand palace for the royal family (see I Kings 4:20—8:66). The Queen of Sheba and countless others visited Jerusalem to gaze on the wonders collected there by the king and to hear his wisdom firsthand (see I Kings 4:29-34; 10:1-13). Scripture informs us that gold and silver were as common in Israel's capital as baser metals were elsewhere (I Kings 10:14-23; II Chronicles 9:27). Solomon was so strong and the nations around were so weak that no one dared disturb the peace of the time (except at the very end of his reign; I Kings 11:14-40).

But the underside of the coin is far darker. Though Solomon had been humble as a young man, asking God for understanding so that he could properly rule and judge his people, his pride soon led him to disobedience. He began to flout the instructions given by God through Moses to Israel's kings (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). He made alliances with foreign nations, particularly Egypt, marrying hundreds of domestic and foreign princesses to cement these ties (I Kings 11:1-3). Of course, these women brought their own gods and goddesses to worship, and it was not long before Solomon was honoring their wishes to have various shrines and "high places" built to house their idols (see I Kings 11:4-8).

As usually happens, when the people saw that Solomon had compromised with idolatry, they followed suit, visiting the ancient groves and hilltop altars that had lain unfrequented but not forgotten. With few exceptions, subsequent kings either neglected God's command to destroy these high places or made half-hearted efforts. Solomon's reign set an unfortunate standard for most of the kings of Judah who followed him, and the people sank deeper into lifestyles contrary to the law of God.

The number forty is frequently a biblical indication of testing. Solomon received forty years from God to see if he would follow His ways or not. The book of Ecclesiastes indicates that, perhaps at the end of his life, Solomon made an effort to repent—or at least he realized that, in the end, it is a person's chief duty to fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13). We really do not know if he passed or failed his test, but we can learn a great lesson from the forty years of his wonderful, terrible reign.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh

1 Kings 12:4

Though Solomon may have been the wisest man who ever lived, his many extensive building projects placed a heavy burden of servitude on the people, and they had had enough. Notice that the people did not ask Rehoboam to remove the load, just lighten it a bit so that they could handle it. It was not an unreasonable request.

When the people had first asked for a king more than a century before this, God had warned them that this would happen. That story is told in I Samuel 8, and in verses 11-18, Samuel tells them that the king would take all the good things for himself and make them his servants. Nevertheless, the people wanted a king "like all the nations" (verse 19-20), so God gave them one. We should always be careful what we ask for; we might just get it.

Ronny H. Graham
Take My Yoke Upon You

1 Kings 12:15

God hardened Rehoboam's heart so that he rejected the wise counsel and accepted the foolish because God was determined to split Israel asunder.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 2)

Related Topics: Rehoboam


1 Kings 12:24

This event took place during the reign of Rehoboam, son of Solomon, approximately two hundred years before Isaiah lived. To finance his massive building projects, Solomon had taxed the people heavily during his reign. Following his death, the ten northern tribes appealed for relief from the heavy tax burden, but Rehoboam refused. The Israelites returned home in rebellious anger. Rehoboam sent the head of that day's Internal Revenue Service to either collect some overdue revenues or negotiate. The Israelites assassinated him. Fearing the northern ten tribes' secession, the Jews raised an army and prepared to go to war against their northern brethren. At that point, God directly intervened by sending a prophet to deliver the message contained in verse 24.

God says He was personally maneuvering events to bring about His will. He wanted to divide Israel and Judah into two separate kingdoms with two separate histories—a situation that exists to this day. Israel was later scattered in captivity by Assyria. Judah followed Israel into captivity over one hundred years later but at the hands of Babylon. If God scattered Israel, why can He not scatter the church if somewhat similar conditions to Israel and Judah's appear in the church (Leviticus 26:33)? Should we presumptuously assume that the church is exempt from God's chastening? Moreover, why could He not scatter it for any number of other purposes He might have in mind?

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Sovereignty and the Church's Condition (Part One)

1 Kings 12:26-27

The man possessed a real fear, but his behavior was motivated by a selfish regard for his life and his position as king and a disregard of the promise that God had made to him. God had already told him, "Obey Me, and I will establish you as king."

Obviously, Jeroboam was not walking by faith because he was more concerned about the people leaving him. Down in Jerusalem was the Temple and the brazen altar where the sacrifices were made—Jerusalem was the central location of the worship of God.

What could he do to keep the people from returning to Jerusalem and shifting their loyalty back to King Rehoboam through religion? Jeroboam was no dummy when it came to political things; he was politically astute, a real man of the world. He was as pragmatic as one can get, a practitioner of situation ethics.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Deception, Idolatry and the Feast of Tabernacles

Find more Bible verses about Rehoboam:
Rehoboam {Nave's}

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