Through the Bible Day by Day
And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.
THE WISE KING’S FOOLISH SON
Solomon’s reign had been splendid but very oppressive, and it was reasonable to ask for some relief. The people felt that the accession of the new king gave them their opportunity, and apparently they took the first step in this momentous crisis. We are expressly told that Rehoboam came to Shechem. If this mighty gathering had been called by himself or his court, the people would have had to come to him at Jerusalem. Here was the muttering of the rising storm.
There was much wisdom in the counsel of the older men: “Serve them… then they will be thy servants forever,” This principle underlay the sacrifice of Calvary. “Thou art worthy to take the book, for thou wast slain,” Rev_5:9. It is because Jesus girded Himself with humility and washed our sins in His own precious blood, that He has ascended to the throne, not only of God, but of our hearts and lives. And He has taught us, that whosoever would become great must begin by being the servant of all. The proud and lofty in this world are served often enough with the eye-service that gives superficial obedience for wages and rewards, Eph_6:6, but what is this compared with that which is yielded by gratitude and love!
1 Kings 12:1
BREAKING THREE COMMANDMENTS
1Ki_21:1-29; 1Ki_1:1-53; 1Ki_2:1-46; 1Ki_3:1-28; 1Ki_4:1-34; 1Ki_5:1-18; 1Ki_6:1-38; 1Ki_7:1-51; 1Ki_8:1-66; 1Ki_9:1-28; 1Ki_10:1-29; 1Ki_11:1-43; 1Ki_12:1-33; 1Ki_13:1-34; 1Ki_14:1-31; 1Ki_15:1-34; 1Ki_16:1-34
From a worldly point of view Naboth might have done a good stroke of business by selling his estate to. Ahab. A royal price and assured favor might have been his-but he had a conscience! Above the persuasive tones of the monarch’s offer sounded the voice of God: “The land shall not be sold for ever, for the land is mine.” See Lev_25:23; Num_36:7; Eze_46:18.
Ahab knew perfectly well that Jezebel could not give him the property of another except by foul means, but he took pains not to inquire. Though the direct orders for Naboth’s death did not come from him, yet, by his silence, he was an accomplice and an accessory; and divine justice penetrates all such specious excuses. God holds us responsible for wrongs which we do not arrest, though we have the power. The crime was blacker because of the pretext of religion, as suggested by a fast. See also 2Ki_9:26. The blood of murdered innocence cries to God, and his requital, though delayed, is inevitable. See Rev_6:9-10.
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.
THE KINGDOM RENT IN TWAIN
Rehoboam richly deserved his fate. He was forty-one years old, 2Ch_12:13, and ought to have known better. His speech betrayed the despot. He had no right to speak with such arrogant insolence to a great and liberty-loving people. It is only a weak man who boasts of deeds he cannot perform, and there was a rasping flavor in his comparison which indicated the malice of an unregenerate heart. We have heard people speak like this to those whom they counted their inferiors, but all such words are the scattering of thistledown, which will spoil the harvests of their own fields. Learn to speak civilly, or not at all. Insist that young lads and girls keep a civil tongue in their heads. Curses are like boomerangs; they come back on the man that utters them.
Twice over we are told that it was a thing brought about by God- 1Ki_12:15; 1Ki_12:24. Beneath all political changes and revolutions you will find the slow evolving of a divine purpose. God does not instigate sin. This arises from man’s abuse of his own free-will. But God will so control the warring wills of men that the plan of His eternal counsel and foreknowledge shall not be interfered with but furthered.
Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel.
Jeroboam knew better than to make these two calves. The prophet had clearly told him that the stability of his throne was contingent upon his obedience, 1Ki_11:38. It was definitely promised that if he would hearken to do all that was commanded him, God would be with him and build him a sure house. But he was not content with this.
Fearing that if his people went up to the annual feasts at Jerusalem, they would return to their ancient loyalty to David’s throne and kill him, Jeroboam set up the worship of Jehovah under the semblance of these two calves. He thus broke not the First but the Second Commandment, and sowed seeds from which his descendants were destined to reap a succession of bitter harvests. He was like the foolish man of our Lord’s parable, who heard and did not; and whose house, however carefully it might have been constructed, was sapped by the rising waters. Expediency always deceives those who turn from God and rely on the devices of their own hearts. It seems that Jeroboam constituted himself priest as well as king. There is no knowing to what lengths men may drift, when they lose their moorings in God.