By Dustin Allman
Pastor, The Fort Church, Kingsport
Focal Passage: 1 Kings 12:6-19
They affectionately called this decade – “the glory days.” Most people have a favorite sports team and when their team is bad, they often reminisce a bit more on their team’s glory days.
It’s common to reflect back on time periods as “glory days.” In this section, we see that the glory days of Israel are coming to an end and the kingdom is headed for a great divide.
Division. Downfall. Disobedience. Death. These are just a few of the words that describe chapters 12-14. There is plenty of drama: political manipulation, a stoning, deception, a withered hand, the death of a child, lying preachers, and to top it off, a lion kills a man. It would definitely be an interesting TV series!
Wise counsel can prevent disaster. Solomon has died and Israel wants to make Rehoboam the new king. Solomon’s other son, Jeroboam, along with the elders of Israel claim Solomon had been too hard on them and advise Rehoboam that if he wanted this royal transition and transfer of power to go smoothly, he should go easy on the people at the beginning of his reign while the nation adjusts.
But Rehoboam gets counsel from another group — his peers, and they tell him what he wants to hear. These young guys give him conflicting advice — be demanding! Use fear tactics and intimidation!
Instead of lightening the burdens, Rehoboam chooses to increase the workload! The people become disheartened and go home, yet he doubles down on his threats! A mutiny is brewing. Sound wisdom from experienced leaders is exchanged for a few “atta boys!”
Leadership is a matter of stewardship. Good stewards recognize they are owners of nothing and use what they are given to make the best impact for the good of others, whatever their role. Therefore, a wise king looks at the big picture with a focus on the future of those they lead and the generations to come afterward. A foolish king only looks to cement their power and legacy. This is not only self-serving, but foolish stewardship! Through these foolish decisions, the kingdom is splitting.
God’s purposes will be fulfilled. Humanly speaking, selfishness, stupidity and stubbornness of heart cause the split of the kingdom, but the author makes clear that, divinely speaking, this is the outworking of God’s purposes.
The prophet Ajijah gave a prophecy (1 Kings 11:26-39) that because of sin and idolatry, the kingdom would be torn apart and Jeroboam would reign over 10 tribes of Israel, not 12.
Despite the lack of wisdom demonstrated and the errors of Israel, God is keeping His word. No human or nation has the authority to usurp God’s rule and reign.
The writer of Proverbs says it like this: “A king’s heart is like streams of water in the LORD’s hand: He directs it wherever HE chooses.” (Proverbs 21:1). The kingdom may be headed for division, but God is not caught off guard and His ultimate purposes will be fulfilled.
In the middle of political, eco-nomical, and social chaos, it’s good to remember that God sits in the heavens and does as He pleases (Psalm 115:3). B&R