1 Kings 12:25-27
Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelled therein; and went out from there, and built Penuel.…
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.
I. HIS FAITH IN HIS PEOPLE WAS SHAKEN.
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 -
II. HE HAD FORGOTTEN TO TRUST IN GOD.
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.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel.