Summary: See the foolishness of man (without God) and the wisdom and certainty of God's Word.
1 Kings 11 ends with the death of Solomon, and with that, the end of a united Kingdom of Israel.
• The Kingdom will be divided into TWO – with ten tribes to be led by JEROBOAM (one of Solomon’s official), currently taking refuge in Egypt.
• And the other – the tribe of JUDAH plus Benjamin – under Solomon’s own son REHOBOAM.
This is a great turning point in Israel’s history. From this point onwards, we would have the Northern and Southern Kingdoms.
• The Northern Kingdom, comprising the TEN TRIBES, will be known as ISRAEL. Samaria will eventually become its capital.
• The Southern Kingdom, where Jerusalem is, will be known as JUDAH, led by David’s descendants.
Both Jeroboam (10 tribes) and Rehoboam (Judah), the first kings of the divided Kingdoms, no longer worship Yahweh, the God of Israel.
• We are going to read in 1 Kings 12 that both kings seek only human advice, and they are greatly motivated by their own wants.
• God is not in the picture. We are going to see them doing what they want to do, to gratify their own desires.
I entitled the sermon “Godless Delusion”. Let’s see what Rehoboam did in JUDAH.
• Next week we will look at what Jeroboam did in the Northern Kingdom.
• Read 1 Kings 12:1-14. Rehoboam made 3 foolish moves.
Rehoboam faced an uprising, led by the returning JEROBOAM from exile.
• They demanded the king to “lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke” that Solomon had put on the people. (12:4)
• We do not know if this was true, but it was used to get at the King.
• Rehoboam requested for 3 days to think through. He consulted the elders who had served his father. They suggested he shows some restraint and lightens their load.
It wasn’t really a very difficult suggestion, but Rehoboam’s reaction was quick.
• He has 3 days to make a decision but 12:8 “But Rehoboam REJECTED the advice of the elders, almost immediately.
• And he turned to his peers, those who grew up with him. 12:9 “How should WE answer these people…”
• Apparently in his mind, he has already decided to stand with his peers.
WHY? They are likely to think like him and say the things he wants to hear.
• Intimidate them. Exercise your power. Make them suffer and submit. Press them harder and they will fear you.
The King wasn’t ready to serve the people. He just wanted to stamp his authority and show off his power.
• He wanted to prove that he’s somebody to be reckoned with.
• He demanded respect, but respect can never be demanded. It is to be earned.
So 3 days later when he met with the people, the King answered them harshly and the people walked out on him.
• 12:16-17 16When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: "What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse's son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!" So the Israelites went home. 17But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them.
• We expected this, of course. Then what do you expect, after such harsh words?
But he was not seeing it. He did the second wrong move.
• 12:18a “King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labour…” to go after them.
• What is he trying to do? Enslave the deserting tribes by force? How do you expect the people to respond to your “I will scourge you with scorpions”?
12:18b “… but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem.”
• On his coronation week, we see the King running for his life.
• And it didn’t stop there. Rehoboam made the 3rd foolish mistake.
Read 1 Kings 12:21-24. He rallied 180,000 soldiers for a fight with ten tribes!
• God stepped in. God spoke! “Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.” (12:24).
• By His grace, God stepped in, not wanting to see more bloodshed among His people. Stop it! “Go home, this is my doing.”
Without God, what we see are man’s foolishness. Paul says in 1 Cor 3:19 “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God…”
• The people LISTENED this time! This is the only wise thing in this entire chapter.
• They listened and they obeyed. 12:24b “So they obeyed the Word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered.”
We see the FOOLISHNESS of man and the WISDOM of God.