Rehoboam , Solomon’s son, enters the scene and Israel is soon afterward divided. He’s the 4th king of Israel and the 1st king of Judah after the split. Rehoboam eventually rules over the tribes/ families of Judah and Benjamin . The North, also known as Samaria or Israel are separated from Judah with the remaining tribes and rule of Israel begins with King Jeroboam. Jeroboam was Solomon’s servant who rebelled against him and ran to Egypt.
Let’s backtrack... After the Israelites leave Egypt and trek through the wilderness for 40 years, God rules all Israel through Judges for many years. However, the people rebel against the Lord, they demand to have a king like other nations. God is not happy about this , He speaks and warns His people through the prophet Samuel. The people refuse to listen to God’s warnings and finally God gives them a king. His name was Saul. The Kingdom of Israel is soon taken from Saul for his disobedience and given to the next anointed king, King David. After King David dies, his son Solomon rules. Solomon dies and the kingdom splits and here we begin with the rule of King Rehoboam. ( That is the very short summary, its much more exciting and detailed than that)
At First, King Rohoboam rules over all the kingdom but Jeroboam (remember, he was the enemy of Rehoboams’s father) begins to revolt against him. I’m putting this in my own words, go to 1 Chronicles 10-13 and 1Kings 11-15 for all the details. As Rehoboam begins to rule, Jeroboam and the people stand up against the new king Rehoboam and say that his father, Solomon, was too hard on them and they need a break, long story short, Rehoboam listens to his young friends and not the wise elders and tells the people that what his father did was nothing compared to the heavy load that he will now put on them. Well, that was final straw,Jeroboam and the people of Israel say enough, what do we have to do with David, your father, anyway. ( meaning the house of David, as Rehoboam was King David’s So now Jeroboam begins to rule (revolt) in Israel and tough Rehoboam rules over Judah and Benjamin. yes, Rehoboam just lost a majority of his kingdom to the new king Jeroboam.
King Rehoboam didn’t think much of their threat to leave his rule. He sent Adoram (aka Hadoram), out to collect taxes from the rebellious tribes and they stoned and killed him. From here, the true division begins.
Things Rehoboam did – the good, the bad, and ultimately the bad……
- He was 41 when He began to rule and ruled for 17 years
- He was the son of Solomon, grandson of David, son of Jesse
- His mother was Naamah, an Ammonitess. If you go to Genesis 19:38, you’ll see that the tribe of Ammon were descendants of Lot through the younger daughter after they fled from Sodom. Lot was a nephew of Abraham.
- Maachah was his favorite wife, she was the granddaughter of Absalom, the son of David (see story of Absalom)
- King Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines. 28 sons and 60 daughters
- He began his rule in obedience to God when Shemaiah the man of God told him not to fight/war against his brethen. Both Israel and Judah were prepared and ready for war and they turned back from fighting. Even though he didn’t war against Jeroboam, they never liked each other. And , as Rehoboam obeys God to turn around in this first war, we see in Kings 14-15, 2x ” there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life.”
- King Rehoboam built fortified cities in Judah and Benjamin: he built Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, Beth Zur, Sochoh, Adullam, Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron,
- He did not reject the Levites as King Jeroboam of Israel had done. King Jeroboam selected his own priests and served idols among other wickedness, but Rehoboam brought and welcomed them into the Land.
- He did, at first, follow the righteous steps of his fathers , only because the Priests and Levites were there. Their kingdom was strengthened by the Levites and made Rehoboam strong for 3 years. However, in years 3-5 they continue to forsake the Lord, and soon disaster is about to hit.
- He began to fall away from the Lord after he had made all his defense cities – seems like he was good for 3 years, scripture says ” when Rehoboam had established the kingdom and had strengthened himself, that he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel along with him” Oh boy, everyone is in sin now. Look how easily we can fall away from God.
- Egypt comes against King Rehoboam and all Judah in his 5th year. Egypt overtakes Judah and captures their fortified cities. I can only imagine that this is a result of Him forsaking the Lord
- Shemaiah the prophet tells King Rehoboam and the leaders “‘You have forsaken Me, and therefore I also have left you in the hand of Shishak.(Egypt)’ and the leaders and King Rehoboam listen! They respond with humble hearts and respond “The Lord is righteous”. Seems like Rehoboam has redeemed himself a little bit. Notice the importance of a HUMBLE heart, it’s about to save them from complete destruction.
- Once God sees how the leaders and King Rehoboam respond by humbling themselves before God, God says that he will not destroy them ,but grant them some deliverance ” My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they will be his servants, that they may distinguish My service from the service of the kingdoms of the nations.”
- Now Rehoboam is under Egypts rule as their servants and much of their cities and items from the temple and the kings house have been taken by Egypt.
- IMPORTANCE OF A HUMBLE HEART: “When he humbled himself, the wrath of the Lord turned from him, so as not to destroy him completely; and things also went well in Judah”
- King Rohoboams life ends and the description of his life in 2 Chronicles is as follows : And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord. Then Abijah his son reigns in his place after Rehoboam’s death.
- Rehoboam is mentioned in Matthew 1:17 in the Genealogy of Jesus.
- 1 Kings description of Rehoboams rule : “Now Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. For they also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. And there were also perverted persons in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.
Rehoboam was partially good, sometimes. The description of his life’s rule was that of evil because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord. His other downfalls, pride, forsaking or ignoring the Lord, listening to the wrong advisors and allowing himself and the people to fall deep into sin.
His humble heart saved them from destruction even though they did end up serving Egypt, He knew and feared God at times, but it wasn’t enough. A humble and repentant heart is so important to the Lord. There are many examples of this throughout scripture. This is the heart the Lord is searching for today. Humble your heart before Him, Our almighty God and precious Savior, Jesus Christ.