Solomon had died and his son Rehoboam is his successor. All Israel is ready to follow him IF he will but meet one concession. And Jeroboam is leading them in this.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Rehoboam was Solomon’s oldest son and he passed the kingdom down in the usual manner. There doesn’t appear to be anything special about this young man. He is NOT wise. His heart isn’t for the people. He isn’t seeking God’s counsel. He instead appears to be a spoiled brat who likes the company of others just like him. This is of course my opinion. He was however a wicked king by God’s standards. He allowed and encouraged idol worship even more that Solomon did in the end. But that is for another day.
We start out hearing that ALL of Israel was ready to crown Rehoboam as king. “All Israel had come to Shechem to make him king” (verse 1b). Jeroboam heard about this and came running back from Egypt. He had gone there to escape Solomon.
Jeroboam was apparently well known as he spoke for the people in their request. He was also “sent” for by the people. They apparently trusted his counsel. I wonder how many people he shared the prophecy he received from Ahijah the Shilonite with. The interesting fact is that, even after the prophecy, Jeroboam was willing to follow Rehoboam IF there were certain concessions made for the people.
The people wanted the taxes lowered. They had been paying exorbitant taxes under Solomon’s rule. Each tribe was tasked with providing for the king’s household for one month. They were also paying enough in gold that Solomon received 666 talents a year. Yes, things were good economically in Israel but the building projects of Solomon were done so there was no need of such a heavy tax any more.
Rehoboam initial response comes off as very wise. He wants three days to consider the mater. His next response was also wise; that of seeking counsel. The problem came when he started ‘shopping’ for the answer he wanted.
The counselors who had served Solomon had an answer for him. “Listen to the people and do as they say. They will love you for it and remain faithful.” Rehoboam liked the “faithful” part but he didn’t like the rest of the answer. So he turned to his friends to get their opinion.
Strutting peacocks comes to mind when I think of this group of ‘advisers.’ A peacock at peace gathers his feathers together and carries them behind him like a tail. When he is challenged or looking to make himself desirable to a mate, he spreads them into the huge fan we all think of as beautiful. Rehoboam’s friends encouraged him to be that peacock. “Show them whose boss! Don’t back down even a little. If they think they had it bad before, just wait. They will rue the day they challenged you!” THIS was the answer he was after and the one he would give the people.
We know God had a hand in this. He knew what Rehoboam was going to do before he was even asked. This was the price for Solomon’s sin coming due. And because of how Rehoboam had been raised, there was no question that he would bring it about with his own actions.
A leader can’t lead if the people won’t follow. When Rehoboam delivered his answer to the people they made good on their threat. They refused to follow him any more. Rehoboam lost the ‘peacock battle’ and the people followed the man who had promised to listen to them instead.
I have NO doubt that Jeroboam had made promises long before this day. “If I were king…” promises that gave the people an alternative when Rehoboam refused their request. The promise of lower taxes was most certainly key among them. The people did what they believed was best for them.
Neither king would follow the Lord. Both led their people into deeper idol worship. So Solomon’s sin impacted everyone in Israel. Sin has a way of doing that. It doesn’t stay hidden and the consequences can be far reaching IF you ignore it. Solomon’s sin wasn’t a one time event. It was a consistent lifestyle. His son picked it up and so did all those around him.
My sin with food has touched, and still continues to touch, nearly every member of my family. I am loathe to call it sin but it fits in the category that Paul framed. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). It much farther reaching consequences when it was a consistent lifestyle but even now, with the occasional slip, the impact is still present in the scars my family carries. It even alters how my children view the behaviors of their children. All I can do is keep turning it back over to the Lord whenever it tries to crop up in my life again and pray for His healing in those I have injured.
Father God, forgive me again for falling prey to Satan’s voice. Thank You for pulling me back again. Keep me walking in Your ways. Give me Your strength and direction in how to WIN this battle for life. Give my family peace too that YOU are on top of this issue in my heart.