1 Kings 12
Sermon Bible
And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.

1 Kings 12:21-24

I. We must not suppose that the sentence which affirms that this great calamity of the rending of the kingdom was from the Lord is an isolated one, or that it can be explained into some general notion that all men's doings, good or evil, may be attributed to an omnipotent Ruler. In chap. xi. we are distinctly told that a prophet stirred up those thoughts in the mind of Jeroboam which led him to rise against Solomon. The prophet is a true witness for the Lord God of Israel. He announces an eternal, unchangeable law. It had been declared that idolatry must produce degradation and division in the land. Solomon had introduced the worship of visible things. The very ground of the unity of the nation had been taken away, its acknowledgment of one Lord. A perpetual growth of internal corruption, of internal division, would follow, falsehood spreading in the vitals of the people, with nothing to remind them that it was falsehood. Such a state of things is incon ceivable if we suppose that human beings are as much under a Divine order as natural things are. That order must vindicate itself, must show what it is; the punishment of the transgression must be the way of proclaiming the principle which has been transgressed.

II. The charge which is brought against Jeroboam of making Israel to sin is scarcely intelligible if we forget that his kingdom stood like that which was in Jerusalem: upon the promise and covenant of God. He had a right to believe that the God of Abraham and of Isaac, of David and of Solomon, would be with him, and would establish for him a sure house. He had a right to live and act upon this conviction. His sin was that he did not act upon it. He did not trust the living God. He thought, not that his kingdom stood on a Divine foundation, but that it was to be upheld by certain Divine props and sanctions. He wanted a god as the support of his authority; what god he cared very little. His thoughts were very natural and very sagacious. Jerusalem was not merely the capital of Rehoboam; it was the seat of God's temple. If the people had the bond of a common worship, they might desire the bond of a common kingdom. To prevent the second wish, you must extinguish the first.

III. The setting up of the calves shows us why the separation of the kingdoms was a thing from the Lord. It asserted the real dignity of Jerusalem as the place in which it had pleased God to put His name; it asserted the real unity of the nation to be, not in a king, but in the King; it showed that the only basis of any political fellowship of the tribes lay in that name which was revealed to the first father of them.

F. D. Maurice, The Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament, p. 89.

References: 1 Kings 12:25-33.—W. G. Horder, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 62; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xi., p. 62; Parker, Fountain, Jan. nth, 1877. 1 Kings 12:28.—J. D. Kelly, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 375; Bishop Temple, Rugby Sermons, 2nd series, p. 79. 1Ki 12—Parker, vol. vii., pp. 349, 354. 1 Kings 13:1-10.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iv., p. 63.

And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard of it, (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;)
That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying,
Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.
And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days, then come again to me. And the people departed.
And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people?
And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.
But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:
And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter?
And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins.
And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.
And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him;
And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.
But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.
Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.
So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.
And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.
And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.
But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying,
Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying,
Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD.
Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel.
And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:
If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.
William Robertson Nicoll's Sermon Bible

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