The Kingdom Divided
Open Your Bible
1 Kings 12:1-33, 1 Kings 13:1-34, 1 Kings 14:1-20, Ephesians 4:1-6
As far as I know, there were no prophecies about me when I was born. I was one of those blissful “surprise” babies, a child that arrived into the world without permission from her parents. My mother has recounted the tale many times, and I won’t bore you with the details, but needless to say, many “security gates” were jumped in order for me to exist. Today, my mother tells me that, while they might not have thought they wanted me, God knew they needed me. And I believe her. After all, He went through quite a bit of trouble to make sure I got here.
When I sat down to read this long passage in 1 Kings, I was immediately struck by the number of prophecies that are attached to this one family. How did they keep track? And when Rehoboam came to power after his father Solomon died, did he know that the Lord was about to tear his kingdom in two?
Imagine if he had known of the prophecy. Was his ego puffed up by fear, fueled by the prophecies—prophecies that were not in his favor? It would be a deadly mix leading to a whole lot of posturing, pretending to have strength, rather than turning to God to be strengthened by Him. After all, He is the source of all true wisdom and strength.
Rehoboam’s leadership style was vindictive and harsh, perhaps because he assumed that those qualities and that leadership style would translate into strength. Maybe he thought that if he took control of the reins, he could avoid the prophesied loss of power. Instead, his feigned strength led to the exact result he was trying to avoid. After watching his father Solomon rise in wealth and power, Rehoboam was cut down to size.
What does this mean for us? And what does it tell us about God?
First, we must see that God takes His vows seriously. What He says happens. There is no false posturing, no ego, no vindictive stripe in our God. He doesn’t punish in order to prove His power. He follows through on His word, because His word is good and always comes to fruition. Second, we must see that God holds a high standard for His people, one that requires our faith and trust be placed in Him alone. The division and destruction we see in 1 Kings happened because God allows it, but not because He wants it. Instead, He calls us to live “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2–3).
God wants His people to be united as one, and so, the Bible is ultimately a tale of restoration—how one man born of one tiny tribe, Judah, is the true and righteous King. He came not just for Israel, and not just for Judah. He came for the entire world.