Royalty and Ruin


Rehoboam’s Arrogance: The Kingdom Torn Apart

“Solomon rested with his fathers. ... And Rehoboam his son reigned in his place.” 1 Kings 11:43. RR 32.1

Soon after coming to the throne, “Rehoboam went to Shechem,” where he expected to receive formal recognition from all the tribes, “for all Israel had gone to Shechem to make him king.” 2 Chronicles 10:1. Among those present was Jeroboam, who during Solomon’s reign had been known as“a mighty man of valor,” and to whom the prophet Ahijah had delivered the startling message, “Thus says the Lord, ... ‘I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you.’” 1 Kings 11:28, 31. RR 32.2

Through His messenger, the Lord had spoken plainly to Jeroboam. This division must take place, He had declared, because Solomon “has forsaken Me, ... and has not walked in My ways, doing what is right in My sight and keeping My statutes and My ordinances, as his father David did.” Verse 33, NRSV. Yet Jeroboam had also been instructed that the kingdom was not to be divided before the close of Solomon’s reign: “I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of My servant David, whom I chose because he kept My commandments and My statutes. But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand and give it to you—ten tribes.” Verses 34, 35. RR 32.3

Although Solomon had longed to prepare Rehoboam to meet the coming crisis wisely, he had never been able to exert a strong influence for good over his son, whose early training he had sadly neglected. Rehoboam had received the stamp of a weak character from his mother, an Ammonite woman. At times he tried to serve God, but in the end he yielded to the evil influences that had surrounded him from infancy. In the mistakes of Rehoboam’s life and in his final apostasy we see the fearful result of Solomon’s union with idol-worshiping women. RR 32.4

The tribes had long suffered under the oppressive measures of their former ruler. Extravagance had led Solomon to tax the people heavily and to require much lowly service. Before crowning a new ruler, the leading men determined to find out whether Solomon’s son intended to lessen these burdens. “Jeroboam and all Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, and we will serve you.’” RR 32.5

Wanting to counsel with his advisers before outlining his policy, Rehoboam answered, “‘Come back to me after three days.’ And the people departed. Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, saying, ‘How do you advise me to answer these people?’ And they spoke to him, saying, ‘If you are kind to these people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be your servants forever.’” 2 Chronicles 10:3-7. RR 33.1