First Kings 12 Commentary
Rehoboam becomes king over Israel, but he is young and inexperienced. But we also learn from the men of Israel that Solomon had oppressed the people. This should be easy to understand. With ungodliness comes a marked lack of respect for humanity.
Israel under Jeroboam breaks away from Judah. So we have two kingdoms: The Southern Kingdom was in the hands of Rehoboam and was called Judah; the Northern Kingdom called Israel was now under the leadership of Jeroboam an Ephraimite. It wasn’t a complete scattering but it reduced the fortunes of the people of God.
The crisis deepened when Jeroboam, as a matter of national security, made two idols for Israel, one at Bethel and the other at Dan. These golden calves were declared as Israel’s new gods. This should sound familiar! Remember the golden calf at Horeb? Then you know there is trouble right in the midst of God’s people. How quickly the golden days have vanished!
Jeroboam installs a parallel worship system and everything goes wayward. At Horeb the LORD had reacted by wanting to exterminate the entire community. But how will the LORD react now?
Here is something interesting to note: while politics at the national level are shaping Israel’s destiny, it is actually the powerful word of God directing the outcomes of everything going on. The prophets are speaking decisively on behalf of the LORD. To an onlooker, it is Rehoboam’s inexperience and poor decision-making that is responsible for the division. But the reader is reminded of the word of the LORD via the prophet Ahijah. Even an attempt to reunite the nation is actively stopped by yet another prophet, Shemaiah.
The Book of Kings can be viewed as an obedience record of the kings of Israel. It is showing us how the LORD is struggling to find good leaders to shepherd His people Israel.
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