Choose Wisely

Key Verse: “They spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.”
—I Kings 12:7

Selected Scriptures:
I Kings 12:3, 4,
6-11, 13, 16

AFTER SOLOMON DIED, Rehoboam, from the tribe of Judah in the south, succeeded his father as king. Because of the frail relationship between the northern and southern tribes, Rehoboam could not rule over the entire nation without receiving the northern tribes approval. At the same time, Jeroboam, who had been Solomon’s rival, had returned from Egypt where he had fled for his life.

Solomon’s accomplishments were great, but he achieved many of them through harsh treatment of his subjects who were no longer willing to be treated in this manner. Jeroboam, of a more gentle character, “spake unto Rehoboam, saying, Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.” (I Kings 12:3,4) Rehoboam told him to come back after he had considered the matter for three days.

First, Rehoboam consulted the older men who had served as his father’s advisers and who recommended, “If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.” (vs. 7) Next, he sought the counsel of his young contemporaries with whom he had grown up. They advised that he discipline the people with scorpions (whips with metal tips) to make things harder rather than lighter. After three days of considering the matter, Rehoboam decided not to take the suggestion of his elders; instead, he followed the advice of his young friends, and rebuffed the people saying, “My father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.”—vs. 11

Because of the harshness of Rehoboam’s decision, the northern ten tribes, known as Israel, rebelled against him and made Jeroboam their king. In response, Rehoboam, ruler over Judah together with Benjamin, raised a large army to wrest control of the ten tribes from Jeroboam. The Lord, however, interfered with this plan and said, “Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel.”—vs. 24

Jeroboam feared his people might go to Jerusalem to worship at the house of the Lord and, should their hearts turn to Rehoboam, they would kill him. To forestall such an action, Jeroboam established idol worship, setting up two golden calves, “made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi,” and ordained a festival for offering sacrifices unto the calves.

The older, more mature, advisors gave sound advice to Rehoboam about taking the better view. They recognized that treating people fairly, not treating them harshly, brings the kind of loyalty that encourages people to give their wholehearted alliance. That truth has been verified invariably in all kinds of human relationships.

Both nations suffered loss because of Rehoboam’s failure to heed the advice of his older advisors. Judah was now a smaller nation. Jeroboam’s fear that Jerusalem would attract his subjects for worship caused the ten tribe kingdom of Israel to be more idolatrous than Judah.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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