James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.1 Kings 12:1-14:31
EARLY DAYS OF TWO KINGDOMS
CAUSE OF THE DIVISION (1 Kings 12:1-25)
1 Kings 12:2-4 look as though there were a preconcerted purpose to revolt, and yet who can tell what a different history might have followed had the new king heeded wiser counsel?
Note the reason of the protest, which was not Solomon’s idolatry and the heathenism he introduced, but their financial burdens; their civil oppression, rather than their religious wrongs. It is still so, and political reform looks only on the surface and never takes into account the root of difficulties. Had Solomon kept true to God the people would not have been oppressed; but they were blinded to this because they partook of his sins. They, too, loved the heathen worship and only murmured at its cost.
And yet there was an overruling cause why Rehoboam hearkened to the younger men, for God had intended to inflict punishment (1 Kings 12:15).
Rehoboam seems to have been incredulous as to the reality of the revolt; but if so, what event opened his eyes (1 Kings 12:18)? What action is now taken by him (1 Kings 12:21), and why is it brought to a standstill (1 Kings 12:23-25).
JEROBOAM’S FOLLY (1 Kings 12:26-33)
To build Shechem and Penuel meant probably to fortify them as protection from attack (1 Kings 12:25).
Had Jeroboam ground for thinking as is recorded in 1 Kings 12:26-27? (Compare 1 Kings 11:37-38.) He had become familiar with calf worship in Egypt (1 Kings 12:28), but in any event Solomon had prepared the people thus to be led astray.
Notice that it was for political reasons Jeroboam did this (1 Kings 12:27). He had no intention of throwing off the yoke of Jehovah altogether, but was foolish enough to think He could be worshipped in one way as well as another. Why was he compelled to make priests “from among all the people”? (Compare again 2 Chronicles 11:12-13.) What change did he make as to the time of the feast of tabernacles? (Compare 1 Kings 12:32 with Leviticus 23:33-34.) Where did he get the idea (1 Kings 12:33)?
A PRELIMINARY WARNING (1 Kings 13)
The story of this chapter, although containing supernatural wonders, is in the recital and meaning very plain. Jeroboam has his chance to repent and turn to the Lord if he will, but his heart is set to do evil.
No one knows the name of the prophet (1 Kings 13:1) who, although a “man of God,” acted so unworthily as to be denied the honor of its record. Note the prophecy he uttered and compare its fulfillment, over three hundred years later, in 2 Kings 23:15-16. This has been cited as one of the most remarkable prophecies in Holy Writ, “whose definiteness and minuteness stand in marked contrast to the obscure oracles of the heathen.” What sign was given to its ultimate fulfillment (1 Kings 13:3)? What personal judgment fell on the king and why (1 Kings 13:4)? Do you think he was genuine in his invitation (1 Kings 13:7)?
And the prophet referred to in the subsequent verses, if he were ever a servant of the Lord, surely he was a castaway now (1 Corinthians 9:27). What a warning his conduct brings before Christian workers today! Could his motive have been to curry favor with the King? How many supernatural events can be counted in 1 Kings 13:20-29? (Compare 2 Kings 23:15-18.)
A FINAL JUDGMENT (1 Kings 14:1-20)
Taking 1 Kings 14:1-2 together, how do they reveal Jeroboam’s hypocrisy, political caution, fear and ignorance?
The Lord’s commendation of David as contrasted with Jeroboam (1 Kings 14:8) is to be considered in the light of the pure worship the former maintained in accordance with the divine law. It does not mean that David never sinned, although, of course, even in that he differed from Jeroboam because he repented of his sin. The phrase in 1 Kings 14:10 refers to “a man child” and is so rendered in the Revised Version.
What “good” was found in Abijah (1 Kings 14:13) is not stated, but doubtless he was not in sympathy with all his father’s wickedness and idolatry.
Note the earliest prediction of the captivity of Israel by the Assyrians as it subsequently came to pass (1 Kings 14:15 compared with 2 Kings 17:6).
REHOBOAM’S INIQUITY AND ITS RESULT (1 Kings 14:21-31)
What allusion (1 Kings 14:21) furnishes a hint to the reason of Rehoboam’s apostasy (1 Kings 14:22-24)? What judgment falls on him and his people (1 Kings 14:25-26)?
We should not misunderstand “the book of the chronicles” (1 Kings 14:29), as meaning the book of the Old Testament bearing that name, but only one of the customary records of the kings. Neither should we imagine verse 30 to be a contradiction of 1 Kings 12:21-24, as the former (1 Kings 14:30) may refer to skirmishes in contrast with an aggressive war of conquest.
1. were the people of Israel any more religious and God-fearing than their first king?
2. Rehearse the story of God’s relation to the division of the kingdom.
3. Did Jeroboam outwardly break the first or second commandment?
4. What king of Judah was named by the Lord over three hundred years before his birth?
5. Quote 1 Corinthians 9:27.