The Kingdom is Divided
Before Solomon died, he promoted a brave, hardworking young man named Jeroboam to an important position in the kingdom. What Solomon did not know was that this was part of God’s plan to take most of the kingdom away from his descendants (see #127 - More Wealth, Less Wisdom). God was preparing Jeroboam to become the ruler of ten of the tribes of Israel. One day while Jeroboam was on a business trip, he met a prophet who was wearing a brand-new coat. When the prophet saw Jeroboam, he took the coat off, ripped it into twelve pieces and said, “I have a message for you from God. Ten of these pieces are for you. Solomon’s heart was not completely mine—he worshipped false gods. Therefore I am going to rip apart the kingdom he ruled and give you ten of the tribes. But because of my promise to David, Solomon’s son will rule over the remaining tribes—the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. If you follow me and obey my commandments, you will have a lasting dynasty just like the one I promised David.” When Solomon heard about this incident, he tried to kill Jeroboam. But the young man fled to Egypt and hid. When he learned that Solomon had died, he returned to Israel. Rehoboam, one of Solomon’s sons, was next in line to become the king of Israel. He went to Shechem expecting the ten northern tribes of Israel to accept him as their new king. However, the leaders heard that Jeroboam had returned to Israel. They wanted to get his advice first. With his help, they came up with a petition to present to Rehoboam. It said, “Your father burdened us with heavy taxes to pay for all of his great building projects. If you promise us that you will lower our taxes, we will gladly serve you.” Rehoboam told them he needed three days to think this over. During those three days, he asked advice from the older counselors his father had used. They said, “You should do as they ask. If you are kind to these people, they will serve you the rest of their lives.” But Rehoboam wasn’t happy with this response. So he talked to some of the young men he had grown up with. They said, “Tell them, ‘No way!’ Say, ‘My father was easy on you compared to how harsh I’m going to be. He hit you with whips. I’m going to sting you with scorpions!’’’ Rehoboam chose to follow the unwise advice of his immature friends. When the leaders of the northern tribes of Israel received Rehoboam’s response, they were angry and started a rebellion. Rehoboam sent an official to restore order, but they stoned him to death and asked Jeroboam to become their king. Rehoboam gathered an army of all the able-bodied men from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to war and regain control. But before they left for battle, a prophet showed up with a message from God: “Don’t fight your brothers! Go home. I’m the one who caused them to rebel against you.” Everyone listened to the prophet and went home. But the nation was now divided. The Northern Kingdom kept the name Israel, and the Southern Kingdom was called Judah. Solomon’s divided heart and his son’s foolish choice left a broken nation.
Rehoboam was too arrogant to value the advice of the older generation. He was not interested in anything that did not immediately enhance his pleasure or increase his power. As a result, God’s nation was shattered forever. Are you willing to listen to the advice of older believers? Are you humble enough to ask them to pray for you?