Chapter 12 opens on Solomon’s son Rehoboam. Rehoboam has inherited a kingdom in disarray evidenced by the fact that he needs to travel to Shechem to be crowned king.
Prior to the unification of the 12 tribes there was great rivalry between the tribe of Ephriam to the north and Judah to the south. Solomon had called on the tribes of the north to do heavy manual labor in the south. With the rise of a new king they wanted assurances that the forced manual labor would not continue.
The fact that the royal court is meeting in shechem and jereboam is called up out of Egypt indicates that the northern tribes are already ready to pull away from the new king. At the moment, the only thing holding the nation of Israel together is the worship of the LORD.
Rehoboam meets with Solomon’s advisors (how smart do you have to be to advise the wisest guy in the world?). He rejects his dads advisors and attempts to play a strong hand against the tribes that are threatening to withdraw.
Point: technically Rehoboam is in the right. He is the rightful king, he has the right to raise taxes and labor. His appointment comes from the LORD. The 10 tribes lead by Ephriam that are threatening to rebell are in the wrong. It’s not that Rehoboam made the wrong decision, he just made an unwise one in a seemingly impossible situation. He would gave done well to follow his fathers advisors, but most likely would have lost the 10 tribes anyway.
Jereboam was promised by the Lord that he would lead the 10 northern tribes if he would rule like David. The problem is he acts completely opposite of David. He Leads Ephriam in rebellion. David submitted to Sauls authority. David consolidated worship for the nation. Jeraboam divided it. Later Jeraboam will come to terms with his rebellion.
Note: this small chapter of scripture changes everything for the nation of Israel. The nation moves from a consoladated state with the largest boarder in it’s history to two smaller states who are not strong enough to defend themselves from their enemies. The worship of the Lord is further poluted as Jeraboam introduces idol worship in the North. Thus will ultimately bring greater consiquences on the North and the South.
Application: Solomon is credited with ruling Israel in it’s prime, however his sin and his quiet rebellion of idolitry lead to the weakened state of the nation. Solomon’s rule adversly affected every king who would rule behind him. Every step we take away from the Lord bot only effects us, but those around us and ultimately our children. What kind of legacy are you building for your children? Solomon was handed an united empire by his father, yet with all his wisdom he passed off a weakened state ready for civil war to his son.