1 Kings 12:15
Why the king listened not to the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
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(15) For the cause was from the Lord.—The very idea of the Scriptural history, referring all things to God, necessarily brings us continually face to face with the great mystery of life—the reconcilement of God’s all-foreseeing and all-ordaining Providence with the freedom, and, in consequence, with the folly and sin of man. As a rule, Holy Scripture—on this point confirming natural reason—simply recognises both powers as real, without any attempt, even by suggestion, to harmonise them together. It, of course, refers all to God’s will, fulfilling or avenging itself in many ways, inspiring and guiding the good, and overruling the evil, in man. But it as invariably implies human freedom and responsibility. Rehoboam’s folly and arrogance worked out the ordained judgment of God; but they were folly and arrogance still.

12:1-15 The tribes complained not to Rehoboam of his father's idolatry, and revolt from God. That which was the greatest grievance, was none to them; so careless were they in matters of religion, if they might live at case, and pay no taxes. Factious spirits will never want something to complain of. And when we see the Scripture account of Solomon's reign; the peace, wealth, and prosperity Israel then enjoyed; we cannot doubt but that their charges were false, or far beyond the truth. Rehoboam answered the people according to the counsel of the young men. Never was man more blinded by pride, and desire of arbitrary power, than which nothing is more fatal. God's counsels were hereby fulfilled. He left Rehoboam to his own folly, and hid from his eyes the things which belonged to his peace, that the kingdom might be rent from him. God serves his own wise and righteous purposes by the imprudences and sins of men. Those that lose the kingdom of heaven, throw it away, as Rehoboam, by wilfulness and folly.The cause was from the Lord - i. e., "the turn of events was from the Lord." Human passions, anger, pride, and insolence, worked out the accomplishment of the divine designs. Without interfering with man's free will, God guides the course of events, and accomplishes His purposes. 15-18. the king hearkened not unto the people, for the cause was from the Lord—That was the overruling cause. Rehoboam's weakness (Ec 2:18, 19) and inexperience in public affairs has given rise to the probable conjecture, that, like many other princes in the East, he had been kept secluded in the harem till the period of his accession (Ec 4:14), his father being either afraid of his aspiring to the sovereignty, like the two sons of David, or, which is more probable, afraid of prematurely exposing his imbecility. The king's haughty and violent answer to a people already filled with a spirit of discontent and exasperation, indicated so great an incapacity to appreciate the gravity of the crisis, so utter a want of common sense, as to create a belief that he was struck with judicial blindness. It was received with mingled scorn and derision. The revolt was accomplished, and yet so quietly, that Rehoboam remained in Shechem, fancying himself the sovereign of a united kingdom, until his chief tax gatherer, who had been most imprudently sent to treat with the people, had been stoned to death. This opened his eyes, and he fled for security to Jerusalem. The cause was from the Lord; who gave up Rehoboam to so foolish and fatal a mistake, and alienated the people’s affections from him, and ordered all circumstances by his wise providence to that end. Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people,.... To lessen their taxes, and ease them of their burdens, as they desired:

for the cause was from the Lord; it was according to his will and appointment; the defection of the people was willed by the Lord, and various things in Providence turned up to alienate their minds from Rehoboam, and dispose them to a revolt from him in favour of Jeroboam; and the Lord suffered the counsellors of Rehoboam to give him the advice they did, and gave him up to the folly of his own heart to take it:

that he might perform his saying, which the Lord spake to Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat; see 1 Kings 11:29.

Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
15. Wherefore the king] Better, as R.V., ‘So the king.’ The original has merely the ordinary copulative ו, and there is no giving of a reason implied, but the summing up of a narrative.

for the cause was from the Lord] R.V. for it was a thing brought about of the Lord. The Hebrew noun signifies ‘the turn of events’ and is represented in the LXX. by μεταστροφή. For a similar idea, compare the case of Pharaoh (Exodus 4:21). Also (Acts 2:23) ‘Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.’ Josephus says these events happened κατὰ τὴν τοῦ θεοῦ βούλησιν. The course of events had been shaped by Solomon’s transgression, and they were left by God to work out their natural results. The sin of the father was here visited on the child.

perform his saying] R.V. establish his word. This is the rendering of the same words in A.V. 1 Samuel 1:23, and ‘to establish’ or ‘confirm’ a word, is a more natural expression than ‘to perform’ it. For the word of Ahijah cf. above 1 Kings 11:31.Verse 15. - Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people, for the cause [or course of events; lit., turn] was from the Lord ["Quem Deus vult perdere, prius dementat." God did not inspire Rehoboam's proud and despotic reply, but used it for the accomplishment of His purpose, the partition of the kingdom (cf. Exodus 14:4; Matthew 26:24). God makes the wrath of man to praise Him], that [Heb. in order that] he might perform his saying, which the Lord spake by [Heb. in the hand of; cf. 1 Kings 14:18; 1 Kings 2:25, note] Ahijah the Shilonite [see on 1 Kings 11:11] unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat. But Rehoboam forsook this advice, and asked the younger ministers who had grown up with him. They advised him to overawe the people by harsh threats. "My little finger is stronger than my father's loins." קטי, from קטן, littleness, i.e., the little finger (for the form, see Ewald, 255, b.), - a figurative expression in the sense of, I possess much greater might than my father. "And now, my father laid a heavy yoke upon you, and I will still further add to your yoke (lay still more upon you): my father chastised you with whips, I will chastise you with scorpions." עקרבּים, scorpiones, are whips with barbed points like the point of a scorpion's sting.

(Note: The Rabbins give this explanation: virgae spinis instructae. Isidor. HisPal. Origg. v. c. 27, explains it in a similar manner: virga si est nodosa vel aculeata, scorpio vocatur. The Targ. and Syr., on the other hand, מרגגין, Syr. mārganā', i.e., the Greek μάραγνα, a whip. See the various explanations in Bochart, Hieroz. iii. p. 554f. ed. Ros.)

This advice was not only imprudent, "considering all the circumstances" (Seb. Schmidt), but it was unwise in itself, and could only accelerate the secession of the discontented. It was the language of a tyrant, and not of a ruler whom God had placed over His people. This is shown in 1 Kings 12:13, 1 Kings 12:14 : "The king answered the people harshly, and forsook the counsel of the old men," i.e., the counsellors who were rich in experience, and spoke according to the counsels of the young men, who flattered his ambition. It is very doubtful, indeed, whether the advice of the old men would have been followed by so favourable a result; it might probably have been so for the moment, but not for a permanency. For the king could not become the עגלים of the people, serve the people, without prejudicing the authority entrusted to him by God; though there is no doubt that if he had consented to such condescension, he would have deprived the discontented tribes of all pretext for rebellion, and not have shared in the sin of their secession.

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