1 Kings Chapter 12

Rehoboam was the son of Solomon, who began to rule once Solomon died. Solomon had been promised that his kingdom would no longer remain whole and under the rule of his family, but rather, that the kingdom would be split during the reign of his son, and ten of the tribes would leave to follow another ruler. That new ruler would be Jeroboam, who had been promised these things through the prophet. Those who ruled over the Israelites would be blessed if they were faithful to the Lord. This chapter tells of both Rehoboam and Jeroboam.

1 And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.
2 And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard of it, (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;)
3 That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying,
4 Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.
5 And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days, then come again to me. And the people departed.

Rehoboam went to Shechem to be made king over the people. Jeroboam, who had fled to Egypt during the reign of Solomon, heard of this and returned to be there. Jeroboam and the Israelites asked for a lighter burden upon them, then they had with Solomon. In return, they promised to serve Rehoboam. He told the people to leave him for three days, and so they did.

6 And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people?
7 And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.
8 But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:
9 And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter?
10 And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins.
11 And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.

Rehoboam sought the advice of the older men, or elders of Israel, that had served Solomon as his advisors. They told him that the people would remain loyal to him, if he would serve them and answer them with good words, which I think means to tell them he would do as they asked. Rehoboam ignored their advice, and then turned to the advisors of his own generation, who told him to say that he would be harder and harsher on them than his father had been.

12 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.
13 And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him;
14 And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
15 Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the Lord, that he might perform his saying, which the Lord spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

Jeroboam and the people returned after the third day, and he told them that he would make their burdens heaver and harder. He did not listen to the request of his people and this would lead to the fulfillment of the words of the prophet to Jeroboam.

16 So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.
17 But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.
18 Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.
19 So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.
20 And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.

The Israelites were upset with his decision, and returned to their own homes feeling separated from the king and disenchanted with his kingdom. Rehoboam continued to rule over those who lived in Judah (and those near it, which included those from the tribe of Benjamin). He sent out his servant to collect tribute from the rest of Israel, but the people of Israel stoned him. Learning of the revolt of his people, Rehoboam fled to Jerusalem. The ten tribes turned from the house of David and instead turned to Jeroboam to be their king.

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bc/images/03990_000_bible-map-3.pdf

21 And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.
22 But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying,
23 Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying,
24 Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the Lord, and returned to depart, according to the word of the Lord.

The tribes of Judah and Benjamin were gathered under Rehoboam (the southern kingdom), and he made an army to fight against the men of Israel, so that he could bring the kingdom back together under his rule. Shemaiah, a prophet, was given revelation to tell Rehoboam not to go up and fight against their brothers, the Israelites, because this fight was not acceptable to the Lord. They listened to the word of the Lord and departed.

25 Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel.
26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:
27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
29 And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan.
30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Beth-el, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Beth-el the priests of the high places which he had made.
33 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Beth-el the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

Jeroboam, who now ruled over the ten tribes of Israel (the northern kingdom), built Shechem and lived there. He also built Penuel. Jeroboam worried that those of his people who wanted to worship would go to Jerusalem and turn to the Lord and possibly back to Rehoboam. He worried that this might lead to his own death and loss of the kingdom. So after taking counsel, he built two golden calves for the Israelites to worship, saying that they were the gods who brought the people out of Egypt. He led the people into worshiping these false gods. He called false priests who were not Levites. Jeroboam established their own feast like the feast which the Lord had established, and made sacrifices and offerings on an altar. So, Jeroboam ruled with the practice of idolatry, over the children of Israel. In this, they became an apostate nation.

This is yet another example of two things. First, the negative effects from deliberately choosing not to follow the counsel of our elders in favor of those who might say more of the words that are easier for us to hear. In his case, Rehoboam lost the united kingdom of Israel and would spend the rest of his days against those in the kingdom of Jeroboam. Rehoboam could have avoided this, if he had listened to the elders. Those who have wisdom that comes with age and years of service, especially in a time or area where people are trying to do what is right, are more likely to advise us to do things that are good and better for us. People in my life that would be better to listen to are my parents, church leaders, and older people who have the same standards as I do. I am so grateful for the spirit, which allows me the gift of discernment, when there are many opinions and voices trying to be heard.

The second example is the bad that can come from following leaders who are not righteous. Unrighteous rulers will most likely lead their people into a life of unrighteousness. Idolatry has never been acceptable to the one true and living God, and it results in eventual destruction of the wicked. It is important for followers of Christ, to be watchful for those who say things that are pleasing to hear and those who tempt others to turn to false idols of all kinds.

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