The tragedy of the disobedience of Solomon is compounded by the manner in which the nation responds to his successor on the throne.
As a delegation approaches the new King, they present a request for fairer working conditions. King Rehoboam got great advice from those who were around with Solomon and so had some understanding of what it was to rule well. Indeed if a leader truly serves the needs of his people, he himself will be served well by those he serves. It’s all well and good talking about fulfilling prophecy, there is still something to learn from how Rehoboam despised that advice.
It’s also important to learn how Rehoboam preferred the advice of his peers. That advice fed the ego of someone who wanted to establish himself as the big man in charge. There is something about that which appeals to the need for control and acts of machismo can certainly keep people intimidated … if you have the capacity to wield such intimidation. As Rehoboam discovered, that was certainly not the case, leading to the split of the Kingdom.
From there, however, the new King of the larger Northern Kingdom of Israel had an opportunity to follow the great advice he had received earlier from the prophet Ahijah. Jeroboam had been told that if he obeyed the Lord and followed Him just as King David did, then his rule would be established for generations. Once again if the king served properly, he would be served properly too.
Yet once more, the concerns of maintaining his position outweighed the call to follow good advice. With fear of the people returning to Jerusalem and eventually to Rehoboam because of their religious connections, Jeroboam followed bad advice. He went further than any of his predecessors as judge or King by establishing idolatry to prevent people going to Jerusalem. In so doing not only did he neglect the God who gave him the Kingdom, he actively lead the people with him into disobedience.
Not all advice we receive is good advice. This is why it’s so important not to be driven by pride or fear in what advice we follow. Following those compelling urges will only lead to disastrous outcomes. These episodes are shared so we are made ever aware of our capacity to stray from what is right. Let us today endeavour to trust in God and follow His way, so as to avoid disastrous outcomes.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden