Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rehoboam, the first king of Judah

We have already learned something of Rehoboam, the son and successor of Solomon, in connection with the division of the Kingdom. A true son of his father, he walked at first in paths of righteousness until, surrounded by a numerous harem, his heart was turned away from following the Lord. During his reign, and that of his successor, there was hostility between Judah and Israel, Judah pressing an ineffectual attempt to coerce the revolting tribes of the North.

(People to remember from 1 Kings)

Key Facts: Son of Solomon, first southern king of divided Israel (1 Kings 11:43-12:24)
Mother: Naamah (1 Kings 14:21)
Wives: 18, including Mahalath and Maacah (2 Chron. 11:18-21)
Children: Abijam, Jeush, Shemariah, Zaham, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith are named among 28 sons and 60 daughters (2 Chron. 11:19-21)
Death: Recorded in 1 Kings 14:31
Total Bible References: 50

  1. Rehoboam (first king).
  2. He began in 930 b.c. and reigned seventeen years.
  3. His cruel and tactless answer to the demands of some of Israel’s leaders help trigger the tragic civil war (1 Ki. 12:1-16).
  4. He is unknowingly helped by Jeroboam who has driven the faithful Levite priests from the north to Jerusalem. These godly men were responsible in the main for Judah’s continuation a century after Assyria had captured the northern kingdom (2 Chron. 11:16, 17).
  5. Rehoboam’s failure doubtless began by his polygamous actions, which involved eighteen wives and sixty concubines; they bore him twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters. Another factor in his downfall was his favorite wife, whose name was Maachah. This woman, the daughter of Absalom, apparently exercised an evil influence upon both Rehoboam and Abijam, their son, who succeeded his father. Finally, her wicked power was curbed by her own grandson, King Asa, who deposed her for idol-worshiping (2 Chron. 11:18-23; 12:1, 14; 2 Ki. 15:13). As his power grew, so his evil increased. Judah built shrines and obelisks and idols on every high hill and under every green tree. In addition to all this, there was homosexuality throughout the land. This vile and perverted sexual crime had possibly been introduced to the inhabitants of Palestine by Canaan, grandson of Noah. (See Gen. 9:20-25.)
Now the people of Israel had allowed this sickness of the soul to degrade them also. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul lashes out against sodomy perhaps more severely than against any other single sin. (Read Rom. 1:18-32.)
  1. During the fifth year of Rehoboam’s reign, Judah is invaded by King Shishak of Egypt with a powerful force. Because of Rehoboam’s wickedness, Jerusalem is now invaded by a foreign power for the first time in nearly 100 years. Shishak conquers the fortified cities of Judah and comes to Jerusalem. Shemaiah, the prophet, then leads Rehoboam and the frightened people in a revival. God thus spares Jerusalem, but allows the city to pay tribute to Shishak, that they might realize it is far better to serve their Heavenly King than an earthly one. Shishak plunders the Temple treasury, including the golden shields placed there by Solomon. Rehoboam then replaces them with bronze shields, symbolizing the rapidly deteriorating spiritual condition of Judah. Already the trace of Ichabod could be seen gathering over the southern kingdom (2 Chron. 12:2-12; 1 Sam. 4:21).
  2. After a reign of seventeen years, Rehoboam dies and is succeeded by his son, Abijam (1 Ki. 14:31).
  3. Abijam soon finds cause to do battle with his father’s old enemy, Jeroboam. They meet in the field, but Abijam has only 400,000 troops, as opposed to Jeroboam’s 800,000 Israeli soldiers. Just prior to the fighting, Abijam gives a long lecture to Jeroboam and his soldiers concerning the folly of rebelling against the house of David, and the wickedness of their golden calf worship. He contrasts all this to the true Temple worship still carried on in Jerusalem. Upon completing his message, however, Abijam discovers that Jeroboam has secretly outflanked him and they are surrounded. He immediately cries out to God for mercy and the priests blow their trumpets. God then turns the tide of battle their way and Jeroboam is dealt a severe defeat which costs him 500,000 men (2 Chron. 13:1-17).
  4. In spite of his heaven-sent victory on the battlefield, Abijam degenerates into a wicked king (1 Ki. 15:3, 4). After a reign of three years, Abijam dies and is succeeded by his son Asa (1 Ki. 15:8).

Rehoboam Speaks
It's just not fair! Both my father and grandfather lived to reach 70, and ruled over all 12 tribes—for 40 years each. But look at me, only 58, apparently at the end of my life after ruling over just two tribes. It's mostly the fault of those political idiots who advised me at Shechem. Had it not been for their stupid counsel, things no doubt would have turned out differently. If only my father had killed Jeroboam when he had the chance. Without his leadership the 10-tribe revolt probably would not have happened. (1 Kings 11:40; 1 Kings 12:1-20; 1 Kings 14:21)
But most of all, I blame Jehovah God. It was his prophet who encouraged Jeroboam. And he allowed the king of Egypt to embarrass me by attacking Jerusalem and carrying off many of our greatest treasures. (1 Kings 11:29-40; 1 Kings 14:25-28)
Well, for better or for worse, I've done things my way. Admittedly, at the very beginning I forsook the God of Solomon and David. It is painfully obvious now that in the final days of life he has forsaken me! (2 Chron. 12:1, 13-16)
Spiritual Lessons from Rehoboam
  • "A hothead starts fights; a cool-tempered person tries to stop them" (Proverbs 15:18). Scripture's most tragic example of this is seen in Rehoboam's senseless answer to Israel's northern leaders, which triggered the civil war (1 Kings 12:1-16).
  • When seeking advice, we should value the voice of experience (1 Kings 12:1-16).
Key Verse
"But when Rehoboam was firmly established and strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel followed him in this sin" (2 Chron. 12:1).