1 Kings 12:12-15
So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.…
Whom the gods mean to destroy they first infatuate. Such was the observation of a heathen philosopher; and it is true, only that the infatuators are devils, and God permits. The text furnishes a case in point. What but infatuation could have prompted Rehoboam to have acted so insanely? It is seen -
I. IN HIS REFUSAL TO HEARKEN TO THE PEOPLE.
1. They assembled to honour him.
(1) He was invited to Shechem to meet them that they might crown him.
(2) They promised to serve him as they had served his father. They had a reservation, but -
2. Their reservation was not unreasonable.
(1) They had suffered what they called a "grievous yoke" of taxation and servitude, of which they desired a relaxation. Had they not a right to demand this? Did the people exist to be the slaves of their kings?
(2) They did not ask to be released from all taxation and service. They acknowledged the duty of sustaining the legitimate burdens of the state. Why, then, did he not hearken?
II. IN THE ANSWER HE GAVE THEM.
1. Respecting his father's administration.
(1) He owned that his father had ruled with rigour; that he had made their yoke heavy. He put it even stronger than the complainants; that he had "chastised them with whips."
(2) Might he not rather have softened it to them? He could have reminded them that Solomon had created their commerce; that their commerce had so enriched them that they might hear the taxes; that his wisdom had made the nation great and respected; that he had built their temple; that they had something for their taxes in great public works.
(3) But he lacked, not only the wisdom of his father, but also the feelings of a good son.
2. Respecting his own.
(1) He declares that he will rule them more oppressively than his father did; that he will increase their burdens and sting them with "scorpions" - knotted whips armed with iron points.
(2) These rough and hard words were paraded and rendered more offensive by the rough and hard manner (ver. 18).
(3) How gratuitous was this insolence! What but infatuation could have prompted it? It is seen -
III. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES ATTENDING THE ANSWER.
1. It was deliberately given.
(1) It could not claim the excuse of being uttered thoughtlessly in haste, for he had taken three days to consider it.
(2) In taking these three days the tyrant betrayed the fool. It gave the people time to confer and agree upon a policy.
2. It was advisedly given.
(1) He did not speak without counsel. He had taken the advice of the wits with whom he had been brought up.
(2) He had also consulted the sages who had been schooled in the wisdom of Solomon, and he might have acted upon it but did not.
(3) He left God out of his counsels, though his Shechinah was still in the temple.
3. He trusted in his fortune.
(1) He was the son of Solomon. Probably the only son. We read of no other; had there been one he would probably have been mentioned as a rival who would keep the nation united. (Note: population is not increased by polygamy. Hosea 4:10.) Rehoboam, therefore, presumed upon the strength of his claim to the throne.
(2) Even the presence of Jeroboam at the head of the remonstrants did not shake his confidence in his fortune. He could scarcely have been ignorant of the message of God to his father, and the corresponding prophecy of Ahijah. But what are the words of Jehovah to this son of Naamah the Ammonitess, whose national god was Molech?
(3) But the Providence he ignored is seen in the infatuation that ignored it. The cause, the (סבה) revolution, was from the Lord (ver. 15.) "They that lose the kingdom of heaven throw it away as Rehoboam did his, by their own willfulness and folly" (Matthew Henry). Miserable is the infatuation that imperils the salvation of the soul. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.