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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

1 Kings 12

Verses 1-33

  1. Intro: Leadership Lessons
    1. These chapters record the beginning of the end. With the death of Solomon, the nation’s glory begins to fade.
      1. 1st Kings covers about 125 years of history: 40 years of Solomon’s reign, & about 85 years for the divided kingdom of Israel & Judah.
      2. Only 5 kings reigned in Judah during that period, while 8 kings reigned in Israel, & all of them were wicked.
      3. 2nd Kings then takes up the account of the Assyrian captivity of Israel (the northern tribes) and the Babylonian captivity of Judah (the southern tribes).
    2. Let’s learn from these 2 men some valuable lessons:
      1. Rehoboam...lessons on leadership & listening to wrong voices/counsel.
      2. Jeroboam...insecurities & fears of leaders. The problems with a man-made religion. What happens when we make God in our image.
  2. REHOBOAM’S FOLLY (1-24) Listening to the wrong voices
    1. Following the death of Solomon, Rehoboam becomes king of Israel.
      1. Ancient Near Eastern monarchies typically practiced primogeniture (primo/1st) succession, the right of the eldest son to succeed to the throne.
    2. (4) Note the contrast between Solomon’s wise judgment & Rehoboam’s folly.
      1. He doesn’t seek God’s wisdom as Solomon did in his beginning. Instead, he turned to men for guidance, but even then, he did not listen to the right advice.
      2. Like some people who seek council today, he wanted somebody to tell him to do...what he already decided to do.
    3. (5) 3 days - A common literary phrase indicating a short period of time.
    4. Slide8a (7) I think this might be a great 4-point outline for leadership:
      1. Be a Servant (lead by serving).
        1. Mt.20:26-28 Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.
      2. Serve them (actually do what you say). A true leader seeks to lighten loads people carry - Mt.11:28-30, 23:4. Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light. Contrast with Mt.23:4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.
      3. Answer them (a leader has good communication. And has reasons why he/she does what they do).
      4. Speak good words to them (the phrase means more than a favorable verbal response; it also means improving conditions by showing grace - in this case, by lightening the peoples’ burden).
        1. But King Rehoboam used the people to build his authority instead of using his authority to build the people.
    5. (13) Roughly/harshly - opposite of speak good words.
      1. Their decision to lay an even heavier load of taxation on the people, caused a fault line to break open, splitting the nation into 2 kingdoms.
      2. So Rehoboam was unwilling to be a servant of his people.
    6. (16) To your tents, Israel. Now see to your own house David. The statements here reflect the northern tribes’ decision to cut ties w/Judah, the tribe of David & Rehoboam.
      1. From here, to the end of 2 Kings we have a divided nation. But we also get to meet some godly characters, like Elijah, Elisha, and Isaiah. And ungodly characters like Manasseh, Jezebel, & Ahab.
    7. (24) This last verse is key.
      1. Yes, a key theme is folly...but God was still at work with His people.
      2. Our chapter is filled with folly, but underneath still, lie flickers of encouragement. Read 24b they obeyed.
      3. God is still in control, and glimmers of wisdom still remain in Judah.
    8. As much as we love unity, we must accept the fact that some divisions are of God. (Warren Wiersbe, With the Word, pg.203)
    9. This thing is from Me. Or in NIV, This is My doing! [yes only 4 words, but might be a pillow to rest your weary head on]
      1. Maybe God wants to whisper in your ear tonight, that that black storm cloud hovering over you will shine with glory. That rough road will be made smooth.
      2. I want to learn when temptations attacks me, or the enemy comes at me like a flood...this is My doing.
        1. I want to learn that My weakness needs His strength, and my safety lies in letting Him fight my battles.
      3. I want to learn in difficult circumstances, surrounded by people who do not understand me, never ask my opinion, and always push me aside...this is My doing.
        1. I am the God of circumstances. You did not come to this place by accident - you’re exactly where I meant for you to be.
        2. Maybe with what you’re going through, life in a protective bubble might sound good to you. But how strong would your faith be? In Oracle, AZ is a 3 acre Biosphere that the Univ of AZ has.2 Trees grew so fast but 1 day they came in & 1 had toppled. What they realized is that with no wind they collapsed under their own weight. These trees needed wind stress to grow strong. We are made the same way. God designed us so that the winds of circumstances would strengthen our faith. Jesus sent his disciples right into gale-force winds to strengthen their faith. But remember even the winds & waves obey Him!
      4. ​​​​​​​Are you having problems with money, finding it hard to make enough to survive...this is My doing.
        1. I am the One who keeps your finances. And I want you to learn to depend upon Me.
        2. My supply is limitless and I will meet all your needs.
      5. Are you experiencing a time of sorrow, finding it hard to make enough to survive...this is My doing.
        1. I am a man of sorrows & familiar with suffering. I have allowed your earthly comforters to fail you, so that by turning to Me you may receive eternal encouragement and hope.
      6. Have you been longing to do some great work for Me but instead have been set aside on a bed of sickness and pain?...this is My doing.
        1. You were so busy I could get your attention, and I wanted to teach you some of my deepest truth.
        2. In fact, some of my greatest workers are those physically unable to serve, but who have learned to wield the powerful weapon of prayer.
        3. Laura Barter Snow said, Today I placed a cup of holy oil your hands. Use it freely, my child. Anoint with it every new circumstance, every word that hurts you, every interruption that makes you impatient, and every weakness you have. The pain will leave as you learn to see ME in all things.
  3. JEROBOAM’S SIN (25-33) making God in our image
    1. ​​​​​​​Jeroboam, who reigned in Israel 930-909 bc, implements a number of religious changes that set the northern kingdom on the path to destruction.
      1. Jeroboam failed to live up to his opportunities, for he led the 10 tribes into idolatry. The man with so much potential failed miserably.
      2. No other king, outside of King David, was given so much promise (via the prophet Ahijah)...but Jeroboam squandered them all. What could have been.
    2. (28) Here are your gods - literally behold your gods.
      1. People in the ancient Near East associated bovine imagery and iconography with chief male deities, including Horus (Egypt), Gugalanna (Mesopotamia), El and Baal (Canaan), and the Hittite storm god. Even Yahweh is occasionally referred to as a bull (Num 23:22; Isa 10:13).
      2. This was almost exactly the same language used by Aaron in presenting the golden calves to Israel at Sinai, This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt. Ex 32:4
    3. (29) Dan was in the far N of the kingdom, Bethel was in the Southernmost.
    4. So he made his own Feast (like the one in Judah) on the day he devised in his own heart. He made his own Sacrifice. Altar. Priesthood. Offerings. & Incense.
    5. He was afraid that the people of his kingdom would go up to Jerusalem for the annual feasts, and there revolt against him, so he made it convenient for them to worship in their own territory.
      1. This is a religion of Convenience & Compromise.
      2. A man-made religion, designed for the convenience of the people; therefore, it had nothing of the power of God or the blessing of God.
    6. Convenience & Compromise are the best words to describe the course of action Jeroboam took.
      1. Keeping power was a higher priority for him than spiritual purity and principle.
      2. Jeroboam sin was shocking but then, sin is always shocking.
      3. Given the lavish grace and love God has showered on us, it’s shocking whenever one of his children compromises.
        1. Let’s take a moment: take a reading of your spiritual integrity. Is there anything that you’re putting ahead of your relationship with God? Personally search your heart and life, and plan to deal with any budding compromise or unfaithfulness He may reveal to you.
    7. We’ve all heard the slogan, the family that prays together stays together. Jeroboam seemed to think that the northern kingdom would stay together if they pray together.
      1. He recognize one major threat, if his people continued to worship in Jerusalem they would reunite with Rehoboam.
    8. He needed the bonding glue of corporate worship. But there was a big problem, his prescribed form of worship was fundamentally flawed.
      1. Jeroboam violated the divinely commanded form of worship.
        1. Eg. other gods/idolatry.
        2. He repeated Aaron’s sin (Ex.32:1-6) and made calves of gold, putting one in Dan and the other in Bethel.
      2. Jeroboam violated the divinely prescribed place of worship.
        1. Orig the tabernacle then the temple was the true place of worship.
        2. His 2 new satellite campuses had a veneer of piety in their connection of Abraham, Jacob, & Moses...but they were not divinely sanctioned places of worship.
      3. Jeroboam violated the divinely appointed leaders of worship.
        1. Rather than the explicitly chosen Levites, Jeroboam chose his priests from every class of people (31).
      4. Jeroboam violated the divinely appointed times of worship.
        1. Rather than following the prescribed worship calendar, Jeroboam created a new festival which he had devised in his own heart (33).
    9. Scripture was clear, now this thing became a sin (30).
      1. God will only accept worship in the way He prescribes.
      2. A self-made religion, however convenient or sensible is only idolatry and false worship.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/1-kings-12.html. 2017.