1 Kings 12:1-5
And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.
The king is dead; long live the king! This paradox expresses an important truth. Bathsheba recognized it when David on his deathbed promised her that Solomon, her son, should succeed him on the throne, and she said, "Let my lord king David live forever" (1 Kings 1:31).
I. SOLOMON IS DEAD.
1. His active form is no longer seen.
(1) He "slept with his fathers" (1 Kings 11:43). He has stiffened into a corpse. Perfectly passive now! What a moral! The doom of all Work while it is day.
(2) He was "buried in the city of David his father." He had a royal funeral. But all this state was simply to bury him - to put him out of sight. Much wisdom is buried alive in state display.
(3) Jeroboam may now return from Egypt. The protection of Shishak is no longer needed. Human wrath has its limitations. Not so Divine wrath (see Matthew 10:28).
2. Where is the disembodied spirit?
(1) Not extinct. Not in stupor. The term "sleep" relates to the body. It anticipates for it an awaking - a resurrection.
(2) Stirring in the world of spirits as it stirred when embodied in this world of matter.
(3) What a world is that! How populous! How darkly veiled! yet how interesting to us who are on our way thither!
II. BUT HE SURVIVES IN REHOBOAM. This fact is the ground of -
1. Rehoboam's claim to the throne.
(1) He is Solomon's representative. This is more than a law phrase. Had he not been the son of Solomon he would not have been invited to Shechem. We inherit responsibilities.
(2) Solomon lives in Rehoboam with a potency to move "all Israel." See the nation from Dan to Beersheba, under this influence, streaming down to Shechem.
2. The nation's suit to the claimant.
(1) In this they recognise the claim of Solomon's representative to the crown.
(2) Also that he may likewise oppress them as Solomon had done (see 1 Kings 4:7, 22; 1 Kings 9:15). From Solomon's oppressions they seek of Solomon, in Rehoboam, relief.
(3) How history verifies prophecy (see 1 Samuel 8:10-18).
III. SO SURVIVING, HIS INFLUENCE IS MODIFIED.
1. A new individual appears.
(1) Rehoboam is not the facsimile of Solomon. He is indeed the son of a wise man; but the son, not of his wisdom, but of his folly. His mother was an Ammonitess. This fact is emphasised, according to the Hebrew style, by being stated and restated (1 Kings 14:21, 31).
(2) His character is the resultant of the influences of Solomon, of Naamah, and of those which also flowed into the current of his life during the apostasy of his father. He became the impersonation of these various moral forces.
(3) The influence of Solomon in Rehoboam, therefore, is considerably modified. Parents are to a large extent responsible not only for their own direct influence upon the character of their children, but also for the contemporary influences to which they allow them to be exposed.
2. New relationships have therefore to be formed.
(1) The people suffered the imposts of Solomon while he lived. They grew upon them by degrees, and brought with them a system of vested interests. The whole system became so crystallized around the person of the king that it was difficult to obtain relief.
(2) Now Solomon is dead all this is loosened, and the opportunity is given for the nation to remonstrate. They are prompt to improve it.
(3) Jeroboam is not only present now, which he would not have been had Solomon lived, but is made the spokesman of the people.
(4) Rehoboam confesses the force of these altered circumstances in listening to the suit, and taking time to deliberate upon the nature of his reply. The value of influences is a most profitable subject for Christian consideration; present - posthumous (see 2 Peter 1:15). - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.