Rehoboam was apparently a family man in that he used his sons wisely in his rule. He also had a MUCH more reasonable list of wives and concubines.
We are told that Rehoboam had eighteen wives but are only told details about two of them. Rehoboam was the son of David and Bathsheba. Both the wives we receive information about are direct descendants of David in the same generation as he is. None of them share both parents though. They were first cousins. This is considered taboo in some places and even illegal in others. My mother would say ABSOLUTLY NOT to such a union. I know this because I was once attracted to a second cousin of mine and she stomped HARD on that crush and we didn’t share ANY genetic makeup as he was a cousin by marriage. I cannot imagine how freaked she would be in this relationship!
I applaud the fact that Rehoboam didn’t follow completely in his father’s footsteps with wives and concubines. Solomon had more than 1,000 women who shared his bed. Rehoboam had 78. Still too many if you ask my opinion, but he didn’t so I had nothing to say about it.
From these 78 women Rehoboam had 88 children. He had MANY more daughters than sons and I’m assuming that some of his wives and concubines bore him no children. I say this because there are only ten more children than there are wives and concubines, plus the fact that his favorite of them all bore him four of them. I’m not sure if she bore him four sons and the daughters are not listed, or only four children and some of these named are girls.
Rehoboam is the first king that we are told used his children wisely in his kingdom. David had many sons but we don’t see him placing them throughout his kingdom as rulers. I have no doubt that some of them were in positions of authority at one time or another. Absalom wanted more power and even made a play for the throne. We know how that ended. As for Solomon, we hear nothing of his children until we meet Rehoboam as he takes the throne. Thinking from a point as a reasonable smart person, I would think that Solomon would have put Rehoboam in positions of authority, at the very least to train him to one day rule the kingdom.
A thought just occurred to me. Is it possible that Rehoboam put his sons in authority throughout his kingdom to prevent the sort of rebellion Absalom tried? Rehoboam had already decided who his successor would be but by distributing his sons into positions of authority he helped them feel valued as a child of the king and made the people feel heard by the king. Rehoboam cared about the lives of his sons.
As I was rereading this I noticed one important word that I apparently skipped over the first time. That word is “some”, as in Rehoboam “distributed SOME of his sons throughout all the districts of Judah and Benjamin” (verse 23b). I wonder how he chose which ones to place in positions of authority. And were they in positions of authority or were they just distributed about the kingdom so that an attack on Jerusalem would not leave him with no surviving children? This last premises would change my earlier conclusions a LOT. This is one that I’m going to have to ask those much more learned than me. At least we know that his son Abijah was given more power than all his other sons as he was “chief prince among his brothers, for he [Rehoboam] intended to make him king” (verse 22b).
This brings me back to the issue of the wives. Abijah was not, as far as I know, the first son of Rehoboam but he was the first son of Rehaboan’s favorite wife. I wonder if ‘favored mother status’ is what made Rehoboam choose Abijah as his successor. Solomon was most likely given the throne this same way. He was NOT David’s first son, but he was the first son of David and Bathsheba who lived.
I have a feeling that this ‘favored mother status’ came from Jacob/Israel. He actually set Joseph up as his chief heir by giving an inheritance to both of Joseph’s sons. This decision was probably also fueled by Joseph’s role in saving his family. But ‘favored child status’ can get sticky for all concerned. One is made to feel, or even be stated, as superior to all others while the others feel devalued. I seriously doubt this is the plan of any parent but it is the result of not acknowledging and promoting the inherent value in each individual child. Imagine how much easier things would have been in Israel’s household if he doted on, or even acknowledged, each of his children for their unique talents.
I’ve tried to do this with each of my children. I had to work hard at making connections with what they were each into. I remember taking my oldest on one of my daily walks and bringing up video games with him. He was deeply into the Mega Man saga and we spent an entire afternoon talking about the different characters. I personally hadn’t played but a few hours of this video game but I had watched him enough to know how much he enjoyed them. I was lost in the conversation but it didn’t matter because it was time spent focused on him and his interests. I wonder if he remembers that day with me. It meant a LOT to this mother’s heart, to be let into his world if even for a little while. He was also my consummate Lego architect but I had to put limits on this because he wanted to keep whatever he built as a permanent structure and we didn’t have enough Legos for that to happen.
I was wondering what the Holy Spirit would bring out of today’s text. I even asked that question up front. For today, I feel the ‘take away’ is to build strong relationships. Don’t just focus on a favorite. Look for something to connect with in each relationship. That is the only way to make them grow. Cherish the little things you share, even if it is just being a lap to lay in or a body to drape yourself over as my youngest used to do with me. He would catch me laying down on the couch and lay down on my side just to be near me. He never laid down with me but on top of me so I told him I was his Barcalounger.
Father God, thank You for all the memories today of my children. Thank You for allowing me to be their mother. Not everything was rosy or easy. There were MANY struggles but You brought us all through them. I pray they remember many of the good times and think back to them every now and then. Did You laugh as Joseph draped himself down my side? Did You smile as Don and I walked that day, me just offering occasional “ya” and “uh-hu” comments? Did You and Jesus ever spend silly times together or were You always focused on the goal ahead? I hope You found time to laugh together. I would love to hear Your joyful laugh. Someday.
Come to think of it Lord, YOU are the one who creates special moments with ALL of Your children. I wouldn’t even have known to do this if it weren’t for You. THANK YOU for modeling that for me and impressing on me its importance. Let me NEVER forget the joy of those moments.