Some of the People Rebel
(2 Chronicles 10.1-19)
1Rehoboam went to Shechem where everyone was waiting to crown him king.
2Jeroboam son of Nebat heard what was happening, and he stayed in Egypt, where he had gone to hide from Solomon. 3But the people from the northern tribes of Israel sent for him. Then together they went to Rehoboam and said, 4“Your father Solomon forced us to work very hard. But if you make our work easier, we will serve you and do whatever you ask.”
5“Give me three days to think about it,” Rehoboam replied, “then come back for my answer.” So the people left.
6Rehoboam went to some leaders who had been his father's senior officials, and he asked them, “What should I tell these people?”
7They answered, “If you want them to serve and obey you, then you should do what they ask today. Tell them you will make their work easier.”
8But Rehoboam refused their advice and went to the younger men who had grown up with him and were now his officials. 9He asked, “What do you think I should say to these people who asked me to make their work easier?”
10His younger advisors said:
Here's what we think you should say to them: “Compared to me, my father was weak. 11He made you work hard, but I'll make you work even harder. He punished you with whips, but I'll use whips with pieces of sharp metal!”
12Three days later, Jeroboam and the others came back. 13Rehoboam ignored the advice of the older advisors. 14He spoke bluntly and told them exactly what his own advisors had suggested: “My father made you work hard, but I'll make you work even harder. He punished you with whips, but I'll use whips with pieces of sharp metal!”
15-19 When the people realized that Rehoboam would not listen to them, they shouted: “We don't have to be loyal to David's family. We can do what we want. Come on, people of Israel, let's go home! Rehoboam can rule his own people.”
Adoniram was in charge of the forced labor, and Rehoboam sent him to talk to the people. But they stoned him to death. Then Rehoboam ran to his chariot and hurried back to Jerusalem.
So the people from the northern tribes of Israel went home, leaving Rehoboam to rule only the people from the towns in Judah. Ever since that day, the people of Israel have opposed David's family in Judah. All of this happened just as the Lord's prophet Ahijah had told Jeroboam.
20When the Israelites heard that Jeroboam was back, they called everyone together. Then they sent for Jeroboam and made him king of Israel. Only the people from the tribe of Judah remained loyal to David's family.
The consequences of Solomon’s idolatry came to pass just as God had declared through the prophet Ahijah. Rehoboam thought that he was the only one who decided on the path to take, but it was not so. Verse 15 explicitly tells who had established his plan: “…for it was a turn of events from the Lord…” We can learn a few lessons from this.
Rehoboam and his father were both born in a palace unlike David, the shepherd king.
They were far from the people and their challenges. These descendants of David only knew luxury and were served in opulence. Rehoboam did not have the wisdom of his father and knew neither the heart nor the precepts of God, as his grandfather did. Some of the elders had known David and David, following their advice, had used kindness to gain the northern tribes to unify the kingdom. These elders now said to Rehoboam: “If you want them to serve and obey you, then you should do what they ask today. Tell them you will make their work easier” (v 7). For Rehoboam this must have seemed extremely unreasonable. To him servants were supposed to be in the king’s service, not vice versa.
The greatest descendant of David, Jesus said “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45).
The kingdom of God is all about serving, starting with Jesus the King of kings and continuing with his disciples. Let’s learn to serve God and our neighbour as his Son has served us.
O God, teach us your ways from your word, so that we might live like David and Jesus. Give us the wisdom to see the situations in our lives with the eyes of faith in a God who is wise, just and good through your Holy Spirit in us. Amen.