1 Kings 12:25
Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. And from there he went out and built Penuel.
Political ReligionAlexander Maclaren1 Kings 12:25
An Error that Could not be RepairedJ. Urquhart 1 Kings 12:21-33
Jeroboam's DespondencyJ.A. Macdonald 1 Kings 12:25-27
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. Jeroboam's ambition was to be a king, and God gave him his desire. This was to punish Solomon and his house for their apostasy, and the men of Israel who had been led away in it. The sequel proved that the ambition of Jeroboam also brought its punishment, for he soon found his throne the reverse of a comfortable seat.


1. They seem to have become resistive under his rule.

(1) This was likely to be the case. Their complaint against the house of David was the pressure of their burdens. But these could not be lightened when two kings had to be maintained instead of one; when a court had to be supported by a greatly diminished constituency.

(2) They had to create a capital worthy of the kingdom. So Jeroboam set about building Shechem, which was a ruin; for, two centuries before, it had been demolished by Abimelech (Judges 9:45). The cost of this, including that of the palace there, appears to have been so disagreeable, that Jeroboam, for his tranquillity, shifted his court to Penuel, on the east of the Jordan.

(3) Penuel now stood in need of improvements. It had suffered at the hands of Gideon nearly three centuries before, when the tower was destroyed (Judges 8:17). A second palace here was not likely to ease their burdens.

(4) Then their ability to pay taxes was reduced; for their commerce, created in the days of Solomon, seems to have declined. This would not improve their temper.

2. He therefore became gloomily apprehensive.

(1) He feared that, having now discovered that their burdens were no lighter, they might reflect that they had done wrong in throwing off allegiance to their legitimate sovereign, and that the "kingdom would return to the house of David."

(2) Further, that this disposition must be encouraged by their visits to Jerusalem for religious purposes (Deuteronomy 16:16, 17). They would then see that neither Shechem nor Penuel, as capitals, could compare with Jerusalem.

(3) And he feared that a counter revolution must imperil his life, for Rehoboam would demand this as a condition of their reconciliation. But the true cause of his despondency was that -


1. Had he no assurance in the words of Ahijah?

(1) Did not Ahijah give him ten pieces of the rent garment? Did he not accompany the sign with assuring words? (1 Chronicles 11:37.) Has not this part of the prophecy been fulfilled?

(2) Is it not, therefore, in the power of Jeroboam to perpetuate his throne by faithfully serving God? (1 Chronicles 11:38.) The fulfilment of the former part of the prophecy surely pledges the latter.

(3) Ah, but this promise is conditional! So are all God's promises. If we comply not with the conditions we shall infallibly forfeit the kingdom of heaven.

2. But he was moved by ambition feather than piety.

(1) Had he complied with the holy conditions, instead of apprehending mischief to his throne from the visits of his subjects to Jerusalem, it would be the other way. For the more they learnt to love and serve God, the more loyal must they be to a godly king.

(2) But he felt in his soul that he had not so complied: nor had he any disposition to repent; therefore, instead of seeking help in God, as he should have done, he trusted to his own wicked policy. There is no real happiness without God. The very pinnacle of human ambition is a throne: yet without God is there no happiness here. "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" - M.

This thing is from me.
I. SOME EVENTS ARE SPECIALLY FROM GOD. God is in events which are produced by the sin and the stupidity of men. This breaking up of the kingdom of Solomon into two parts was the result of Solomon's sin and Rehoboam's folly; yet God was in it. God had nothing to do with the sin or the folly, but in some way, which we can never explain, God was in it alL The most notable instance of this truth is the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; that was the greatest of human crimes, yet it was fore. ordained and predetermined of the Most High, to whom there can be no such thing as crime, nor any sort of compact with sire How, then, was "this thing" from God?

1. First, it was so as a matter of prophecy.

2. And, secondly, "this thing" was from God as a matter of punishment. God setteth evil against evil that He may destroy evil, and He uses that which cometh of human folly that He may manifest His own wisdom.

II. WHEN EVENTS ARE SEEN TO BE FROM THE LORD, THEY ARE NOT TO BE FOUGHT AGAINST. Rehoboam had summoned his soldiers to go to war against the house of Israel; but, inasmuch as it was from God that the ten tribes had revolted from him, he must not march into the territories of Israel, nor even shoot an arrow against them.

1. The thing that is happening to you is of the Lord, therefore resist it not, for it would be wicked to do so. If it be the Lord's will, so may it be.

2. But, next, it is also vain, for what can we do against the will of God?

3. Next, it would be mischievous, and would be sure to bring a greater evil upon us if we did resist.

III. THIS GENERAL PRINCIPLE HAS MANY SPECIAL APPLICATIONS. I believe it often happens that events are most distinctly from the Lord, and when it is so, our right and proper way is to yield to them.

1. A case in which this principle applies is when severe afflictions arise.

2. Sometimes, also, we are troubled by certain disquieting plans proposed by our friends or our children.

3. A very pleasant phase of this same truth is when some singular mercy comes.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

The scribe is more properly said to write than the pen, and he that maketh and keepeth the clock is more properly said to make it go and strike than the wheels and poises that hang upon it, and every workman to effect his works rather than the tools which he useth as his instruments. So the Lord, who is the chief agent and mover in all actions, may more fitly be said to bring to pass all things which are done in the earth than any subordinate causes, as meat to nourish, clothes to keep us warm, the sun to lighten us, friends to provide for us, etc., seeing that they are but His instruments.

(T. Downame.)

Those who care to watch the hand of God in history may soon discern this truth in this incident. The attempts of France to acquire the sovereignty of the British Isles, and the corresponding efforts of the earlier English kings to become what their coins so long styled them, "King of France," have all been marvellously foiled by the Almighty Ruler of nations to the true welfare of both. Sir A. Alison has described the scene on the French coast in 1804, when the first Napoleon surveyed the flotilla which was to carry an invading army across the Channel, and saw them broken and dispersed by Him who rules the waves. God will not suffer the might or the cunning of man to wrest the sceptre from His hands.

The Old Testament "philosophy of history" regards all events as at once the results of human forces and of God's purposes, and finds no contradiction in the double aspect. Rehoboam was no less a criminal fool, Jeroboam no less a crafty traitor, because they were both working out God's purpose. The possible co-existence of freedom of action, necessarily involving responsibility, and God's sovereignty, is inexplicable, and as certain as it is inexplicable. Metaphysicians and metaphysical theologians may fumble at, or cut, the knot till doomsday, but it will not be untied or denied. Rehoboam ran the ship on the rocks, but God willed that it should be wrecked. But another mystery emerges, for the Divine resolve to shatter the kingdom was due to the thwarting of the Divine purpose in establishing it. Sovereign as that Divine will is, man has power to oppose it and to block its course, and lead to changes of its direction, as we sometimes hear of an army of caterpillars stopping a train. God's methods vary, but His purposes remain the same. The ship tacks as the wind shifts, but it's always steering for the one port. The unifying of the tribes into a kingdom, and the disruption of the kingdom, were equally in the Divine plan, and were both, in a real sense, also the direct results of men's sin and opposition to God. Hence it follows that "the history of the world is the judgment of the world." The "natural" consequences of national acts are the punishments or rewards of these acts. Solomon's tyranny, Rehoboam's folly, the rebels' indifference to the unity of the nation worked out the catastrophe, which was both a political effect, produced by political causes, and a Divine judgment, and was the latter just because it was the former. For nations, and for individuals, God "makes whips to scourge" them of their "vices," and in the mighty maze of human acts, has so ordered the issues of things that "every transgression and disobedience receives its just recompense of reward." So the "undevout" historian "is mad."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

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