Rending of the Kingdom
slept with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David his father:
and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead." 1 Kings 11:43.
his accession to the throne, Rehoboam went to Shechem, where he expected
to receive formal recognition from all the tribes. "To Shechem were
all Israel come to make him king." 2 Chronicles 10:1.
present was Jeroboam the son of Nebat --the same Jeroboam who during
Solomon's reign had been known as "a mighty man of valor," and
to whom the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite had delivered the startling
message, "Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon,
and will give ten tribes to thee." I Kings 11:28, 31.
through His messenger had spoken plainly to Jeroboam regarding the
necessity of dividing the kingdom. This division must take place, He had
declared, "because that they have forsaken Me, and have worshiped
goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the
god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in My ways, to do that
which is right in Mine eyes, and to keep My statutes and My judgments, as
did David." Verse 33.
been further instructed that the kingdom was not to be divided before the
close of Solomon's reign. "I will not take the whole kingdom out of
his hand," the Lord had declared; "but I will make him prince
all the days of his life for David My servant's sake, whom I chose,
because he kept My commandments and My statutes: but I will take the
kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten
tribes." Verses 34, 35.
Solomon had longed to prepare the mind of Rehoboam, his chosen successor,
to meet with wisdom the crisis foretold by the prophet of God, he had
never been able to exert a strong molding influence for good over the mind
of his son, whose early training had been so grossly neglected. Rehoboam
had received from his mother, an Ammonitess, the stamp of a vacillating
character. At times he endeavored to serve God and was granted a measure
of prosperity; but he was not steadfast, and at last he yielded to the
influences for evil that had surrounded him from infancy. In the mistakes
of Rehoboam's life and in his final apostasy is revealed the fearful
result of Solomon's union with idolatrous women.
had long suffered grievous wrongs under the oppressive measures of their
former ruler. The extravagance of Solomon's reign during his apostasy had
to tax the
people heavily and to require of them much menial service. Before going
forward with the coronation of a new ruler, the leading men from among the
tribes determined to ascertain whether or not it was the purpose of
Solomon's son to lessen these burdens. "So Jeroboam and all Israel
came and spake to Rehoboam, saying, Thy father made our yoke grievous: now
therefore ease thou somewhat the grievous servitude of thy father, and his
heavy yoke that he put upon us, and we will serve thee."
taking counsel with his advisers before outlining his policy, Rehoboam
answered, "Come again unto me after three days. And the people
King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men that had stood before Solomon
his father while he yet lived, saying, What counsel give ye me to return
answer to this people? And they spake unto him, saying, If thou be kind to
this people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be
thy servants forever." 2 Chronicles 10:3-7.
Rehoboam turned to the younger men with whom he had associated during his
youth and early manhood, and inquired of 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?" 1 Kings 12:9. The
young men suggested that he deal sternly with the subjects of his kingdom
and make plain to them that from the very beginning he would brook no
interference with his personal wishes.
the prospect of exercising supreme authority, Rehoboam determined to
disregard the counsel of the older
men of his
realm, and to make the younger men his advisers. Thus it came to pass that
on the day appointed, when "Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam" for a statement concerning the policy he intended to
pursue, Rehoboam "answered the people roughly, . . . saying, May
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."
and his inexperienced counselors understood the divine will concerning
Israel, they would have listened to the request of the people for decided
reforms in the administration of the government. But in the hour of
opportunity that came to them during the meeting in Shechem, they failed
to reason from cause to effect, and thus forever weakened their influence
over a large number of the people. Their expressed determination to
perpetuate and add to the oppression introduced during Solomon's reign was
in direct conflict with God's plan for Israel, and gave the people ample
occasion to doubt the sincerity of their motives. In this unwise and
unfeeling attempt to exercise power, the king and his chosen counselors
revealed the pride of position and authority.
The Lord did
not allow Rehoboam to carry out the policy he had outlined. Among the
tribes were many thousands who had become thoroughly aroused over the
oppressive measures of Solomon's reign, and these now felt that they could
not do otherwise than rebel against the house of David. "When all
Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the
king, saying, What
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." Verse 16.
created by the rash speech of Rehoboam proved irreparable. Thenceforth the
twelve tribes of Israel were divided, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin
composing the lower or southern kingdom of Judah, under the rulership of
Rehoboam; while the ten northern tribes formed and maintained a separate
government, known as the kingdom of Israel, with Jeroboam as their ruler.
Thus was fulfilled the prediction of the prophet concerning the rending of
the kingdom. "The cause was from the Lord." Verse 15.
saw the ten tribes withdrawing their allegiance from him, he was aroused
to action. Through one of the influential men of his kingdom, "Adoram,
who was over the tribute," he made an effort to conciliate them. But
the ambassador of peace received treatment which bore witness to the
feeling against Rehoboam. "All Israel stoned him with stones, that he
died." Startled by this evidence of the strength of revolt,
"King Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to
Jerusalem." Verse 18.
"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." Verses 21-24.
years Rehoboam tried to profit by his sad experience at the beginning of
his reign; and in this effort he was prospered. He "built cities for
defense in Judah," and "fortified the strongholds, and put
captains in them,
and store of
victual, and of oil and wine." He was careful to make these fortified
cities "exceeding strong." 2 Chronicles 11:5, 11, 12. But the
secret of Judah's prosperity during the first years of Rehoboam's reign
lay not in these measures. It was their recognition of God as the Supreme
Ruler that placed the tribes of Judah and Benjamin on vantage ground. To
their number were added many God-fearing men from the northern tribes.
"Out of all the tribes of Israel," the record reads, "such
as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to
sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers. So they strengthened the
kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three
years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon."
Verses 16, 17.
this course lay Rehoboam's opportunity to redeem in large measure the
mistakes of the past and to restore confidence in his ability to rule with
discretion. But the pen of inspiration has traced the sad record of
Solomon's successor as one who failed to exert a strong influence for
loyalty to Jehovah. Naturally headstrong, confident, self-willed, and
inclined to idolatry, nevertheless, had he placed his trust wholly in God,
he would have developed strength of character, steadfast faith, and
submission to the divine requirements. But as time passed, the king put
his trust in the power of position and in the strongholds he had
fortified. Little by little he gave way to inherited weakness, until he
threw his influence wholly on the side of idolatry. "It came to pass,
when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself,
the law of
the Lord, and all Israel with him." 2 Chronicles 12:1.
How sad, how
filled with significance, the words, "And all Israel with him"!
The people whom God had chosen to stand as a light to the surrounding
nations were turning from their Source of strength and seeking to become
like the nations about them. As with Solomon, so with Rehoboam--the
influence of wrong example led many astray. And as with them, so to a
greater or less degree is it today with everyone who gives himself up to
work evil--the influence of wrongdoing is not confined to the doer. No man
liveth unto himself. None perish alone in their iniquity. Every life is a
light that brightens and cheers the pathway of others, or a dark and
desolating influence that tends toward despair and ruin. We lead others
either upward to happiness and immortal life, or downward to sorrow and
eternal death. And if by our deeds we strengthen or force into activity
the evil powers of those around us, we share their sin.
God did not
allow the apostasy of Judah's ruler to remain unpunished. "In the
fifth year of King Rehoboam Shishak king of Egypt came up against
Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the Lord, with twelve
hundred chariots, and three score thousand horsemen: and the people were
without number that came with him out of Egypt....And he took the fenced
cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem.
came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam, and to the princes of Judah, that
were gathered together to
because of Shishak, and said unto them, Thus saith the Lord, Ye have
forsaken Me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak."
had not yet gone to such lengths in apostasy that they despised the
judgments of God. In the losses sustained by the invasion of Shishak, they
recognized the hand of God and for a time humbled themselves. "The
Lord is righteous," they acknowledged.
when the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came
to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not
destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and My wrath shall
not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they
shall be his servants; that they may know My service, and the service of
the kingdoms of the countries.
Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the
treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house;
he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had
made. Instead of which King Rehoboam made shields of brass, and committed
them to the hands of the chief of the guard, that kept the entrance of the
king's house.... And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the Lord turned
from him, that He would not destroy him altogether: and also in Judah
things went well." Verses 6-12.
But as the
hand of affliction was removed, and the nation prospered once more, many
forgot their fears and turned again to idolatry. Among these was King
Rehoboam himself. Though humbled by the calamity that had befallen
failed to make this experience a decisive turning point in his life.
Forgetting the lesson that God had endeavored to teach him, he relapsed
into the sins that had brought judgments on the nation. After a few
inglorious years, during which the king "did evil, because he
prepared not his heart to seek the Lord," "Rehoboam slept with
his fathers, and was buried in the City of David: and Abijah his son
reigned in his stead." Verses 14, 16.
rending of the kingdom early in Rehoboam's reign the glory of Israel began
to depart, never again to be regained in its fullness. At times during the
centuries that followed, the throne of David was occupied by men of moral
worth and far-seeing judgment, and under the rulership of these sovereigns
the blessings resting upon the men of Judah were extended to the
surrounding nations. At times the name of Jehovah was exalted above every
false god, and His law was held in reverence. From time to time mighty
prophets arose to strengthen the hands of the rulers and to encourage the
people to continued faithfulness. But the seeds of evil already springing
up when Rehoboam ascended the throne were never to be wholly uprooted; and
at times the once-favored people of God were to fall so low as to become a
byword among the heathen.
notwithstanding the perversity of those who leaned toward idolatrous
practices, God in mercy would do everything in His power to save the
divided kingdom from utter ruin. And as the years rolled on and His
purpose concerning Israel seemed to be utterly thwarted by the devices of
men inspired by satanic agencies, He still manifested His
designs through the captivity and restoration of the chosen nation.
of the kingdom was but the beginning of a wonderful history, wherein are
revealed the long-sufferance and tender mercy of God. From the crucible of
affliction through which they were to pass because of hereditary and
cultivated tendencies to evil, those whom God was seeking to purify unto
Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, were finally to
is none like unto Thee, O Lord; Thou art great, and Thy name is great in
might. Who would not fear Thee, O King of nations? ... Among all the wise
men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto
Thee." "The Lord is the true God, He is the living God, and an
everlasting King." Jeremiah 10:6, 7, 10.
worshipers of idols were at last to learn the lesson that false gods are
powerless to uplift and save. "The gods that have not made the
heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from
under these heavens." Verse 11. Only in allegiance to the living God,
the Creator of all and the Ruler over all, can man find rest and peace.
accord the chastened and penitent of Israel and Judah were at last to
renew their covenant relationship with Jehovah of hosts, the God of their
fathers; and of Him they were to declare:
made the earth by His power,
established the world by His wisdom,
stretched out the heavens by His discretion.
uttereth His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the
causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth;
lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of
man is brutish in his knowledge:
is confounded by the graven image:
molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.
are vanity, and the work of errors:
In the time
of their visitation they shall perish.
of Jacob is not like them:
is the former of all things;
And Israel is
the rod of His inheritance:
The Lord of
hosts is His name."