Study Notes

1Kings 12:1-13:34


You should recall from our last study that King Solomon had married hundreds of foreign women, and they turned his heart away from God. He had fallen into sin, bringing God's judgment upon his throne. God said that Solomon's descendants would not rule and reign over all of Israel anymore, but that the kingdom would be taken by one of Solomon's servants. However, in honor of his father David, Solomon's son would retain rule over two of the twelve tribes.

When we finished chapter eleven, we read,

1Kgs. 11:42-43 Thus the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. And Solomon slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of his father David, and his son Rehoboam reigned in his place.

Now, we pick up in chapter twelve.

12:1-2 Rehoboam Becomes King

Shek-EM was one of the cities of refuge. It was in the hill country of Ephraim. Rehoboam traveled to Shek-EM, where all of Israel was gathering to crown him king.

However, there was a man from Ephraim who no longer lived there, but was hiding out in Egypt. His name was Jeroboam - the man whom God had foretold would become king over ten of the tribes of Israel.

12:3-5 Lighten The Yoke

Jeroboam and the rest of Israel appealed to the new king to be more merciful on the country than Solomon his father had been. After all, Solomon had levied forced labor from the people in order to construct his various building projects (see chapter nine).

It seems that this was the very reason that Jeroboam had rebelled against Solomon. We read in chapter eleven,

1Kgs. 11:27-28 Now this was the reason why he rebelled against the king: Solomon built the Millo, {and} closed up the breach of the city of his father David. Now the man Jeroboam was a valiant warrior, and when Solomon saw that the young man was industrious, he appointed him over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph.

I don't think it was the Millo that Jeroboam was opposed to, but the forced labor from the house of Joseph. Remember, the house of Joseph was made up of two tribes: Ephraim and Manasseh. The Ephraimites were Jeroboam's own people!

Together, they appealed to Rehoboam to lighten the burden that the throne had placed upon the people. The new king said that he would let them know of his decision in three days.

12:6-7 The Counsel Of The Elders

Rehoboam sought counsel with two groups. The first group was the elders that had served King Solomon. They counseled the king that in order to be served, he must present himself first as a servant.

These men were very wise, for they already knew what Jesus would come and try to teach us again: servanthood. When His disciples were arguing about which of themselves was the greatest,

Mark 9:35 ...He called the twelve and said to them, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all."

A short time later He told them,

Mark 10:42-45 ..."You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Jesus, the king of the universe, became a servant of His own kingdom. He...

Phil. 2:7-9 ...emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name...

Jesus became a servant and promised us greatness if we would follow His example. These elders were very wise to counsel Rehoboam in this way.

12:8-11 The Counsel Of The Young

Rehoboam didn't like the idea of being a servant. And like many people do today, when he didn't like the advice he received, he just found people to ask who had different advice. In this case, he asked his high school buddies - the guys he'd grown up with.

Their counsel was much different. They said, "You should tell them, 'You think it was bad before? Just you wait!'"

Unfortunately, Rehoboam liked this counsel better. It was easier for him, involving no self-sacrifice or growth on his part. Nothing strange about that. After all, isn't that the counsel most people choose to take?

A truly wise person accepts the difficult way when it is right. They don't take the easy advice or the carnal counsel. The proverb says,

Prov. 1:5 A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel

But Rehoboam is proving himself a fool here, rather than a wise man. Interestingly, when Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, he expressed his concern about Rehoboam's wisdom. He said,

Eccl. 2:18-19 ...I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun...

Would Rehoboam be a wise man or a fool? I think we have the answer to our question.

12:12-20 Israel Is Divided

When the nation of Israel heard Rehoboam's threat, they rebelled. This fool would not be their king, if they could help it. They made Jeroboam king over Israel. Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained with Rehoboam.

At this point, the Jews will be divided into the nations of Israel and Judah until the Babylonian captivity, about 350 years later.

12:21-24 Rehoboam Relents From War

Rehoboam wasn't about to take this sitting down. If these ten tribes wouldn't willingly serve him, he would force them with military might. But Shem-aw-YAW (a prophet not heard of other than here and 2Chron. 12) heard from the Lord. He was told to tell Rehoboam not to fight this war. The enemy were their own brothers.

Believe it or not, they actually obeyed the command, and returned. Two of the major surprises in ministry are that 1) Good people will often disregard the Word of God and do their own thing. 2) Bad people will sometimes give regard to the Word of God and actually do it!

Now, I don't feel bad when I'm amazed at this, because Jesus was amazed at it to. As a matter of fact, there were only two times the Scriptures say that Jesus was astonished at anything.

The Greek word "thou-MAD-zo" means, "amazed, astonished, surprised, marveled." On two occasions, Jesus was thou-MAD-zo at people. Both times were at the state of people's faith.

In Mark 6:6, He was amazed at the lack of faith of the people of Nazareth. In Matthew 8:10 and Luke 7:9, He wondered at another man's abundance of faith - a Roman Centurion.

Jews from the hometown of Jesus rejecting Jesus - amazing. A Roman heathen with faith to come to Jesus for healing for his servant - amazing.

Rehoboam heard the word of God and relented. I'm amazed.

12:25-33 Jeroboam's Sin

Jeroboam made Shek-EM his capital city. I have to wonder if it wasn't as a dig at Rehoboam - after all, it was the location of Israel's rebellion. He also built up Pen-oo-ALE.

Remember that God had promised Jeroboam,

1Kgs. 11:38 ‘Then it will be, that if you listen to all that I command you and walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight by observing My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build you an enduring house as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.

But in spite of God's promise, Jeroboam was concerned that when the people went down south to Jerusalem, offering their sacrifices on the altar of the temple, they would be sucked into following the house of David again.

As a result, he decided to make his own sacrificial altars. He made two golden calves and put them in convenient places for the people to go and offer their sacrifices: one in Bayth-ALE, the other in Dan.

Now, this is a mistake that many leaders in the church continue to make. Pastors and ministers get so possessive of the people in their church that they won't allow the people to attend functions at other churches. "If they hear what a good preacher he is, if they see what great programs they have, if they meet nice Christian folks over there, I'll lose them." And so they create a false religion of exclusivity.

But what is God's intention for the church today? The same as it was in the book of Acts.

Acts 2:47 ...The Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

You see, it is supposed to be the Lord that adds to the church body. And if He is the one who adds, then why do we fight the possibility of subtraction - for the Lord to move people to other places?

Jesus, in His role as the Good Shepherd, said,

John 10:27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me"

The same is true for His undershepherds. If you come to Calvary Chapel, and the Lord speaks to you through my mouth, then He's called you to fellowship here. But if you come and say, "I don't understand what he's saying. I never get anything out of that guy's teaching," then that's a good indicator that I'm not supposed to be your shepherd. If I was, then you'd hear my voice. And if you don't hear my voice, I'm certainly not going to erect some golden calves to keep you from leaving!

13:1-5 Judgment On The Altar

A prophet of God prophesied against the altar in Bayth-ALE. God would judge that altar, and the priests who offered sacrifices on it.

He prophesied of a man named Josiah - born to the house of David - who would be the instrument of God's judgment. About 300 years later, this prophecy came true. We will read about Josiah when we get to 2Kings 21.

When Jeroboam pointed to the prophet and told his men to grab him, Jeroboam's arm was paralyzed - dried up in that position.

13:6-10 Mercy For Jeroboam

Although God split the altar in two, He had mercy on Jeroboam and restored his arm. Even so, the prophet would not enter into the house of Jeroboam when he offered to repay him for his kindness.

God had made it abundantly clear to the prophet that he was not to eat bread or drink water in that place. Nor was he to return by the way he came.

13:11-15 An Old Prophet

An old prophet living in Bayth-ALE heard about what this other prophet had said and done. The old prophet tracked him down and invited him to his house to eat bread. What was his motivation for doing so? Was he simply wanting fellowship? I don't think so.

The young prophet from Judah had plainly said to Jeroboam,

1Kgs. 13:9 " was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came.'"

And we know that these words had been reported to the old prophet, for we read,

1Kgs. 13:11 ...the words which he had spoken to the king, these also they related to their father.

This old prophet is clearly putting a stumbling block in front of the prophet from Judah.

13:16-17 The Young Prophet Stands On The Word

The young prophet rests on the word of God - he knows what God told him, and that's what he will do.

13:18-19 The Young Prophet Is Deceived

The young prophet was deceived by the words of the old prophet. How? The man claimed to have a revelation - a word of God that contradicted the word of God. Millions have been deceived over the generations with this same ploy. People who claim to have a revelation that contradicts the given word. This is what has birthed the cults, and what has led so many into aberrant doctrines.

The Lord warned,

Deut. 12:32-13:4 "Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it. If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him."

Saints, it is so important to check what is said against the given Word of God. There are so many people out there saying, "God told me this! God showed me that! God has revealed this new truth in these last days! God's Spirit is doing something different than before!" And they sound so spiritual, they sound so right. But they are contradicting the given Word of God.

The young prophet believed the old prophet's deception, and he violated the commandment - he ate bread and drank water.

13:20-22 judgment For Disobedience

The scary thing is that even this deceptive old man was still able to prophecy. That is what is so deceptive about religious liars - a certain percentage of what they say is the truth. As Hank Hanegraaff so often puts it, "they have the skin of the truth stuffed with a lie." That is why you can listen to a heretical teacher for 10 or 15 minutes and think, "well, that guy's right on. Everything he said was true." But the lies will eventually come to the surface.

And so now the old prophet tells the truth - that the young prophet had violated the ordinance, disobeyed the command. For this he will die.

13:23-25 A Public Spectacle

The young prophet was killed by a lion, just as our adversary the devil - who is portrayed as a roaring lion (1Pet. 5:8), seeking whom he may devour - seizes opportunities to kill us when we stray from the narrow path of righteousness.

The young prophet had publicly pronounced the judgment upon the altar nationally. He had publicly proclaimed what God had commanded for him personally. But he had also publicly violated that command by going to the old prophet's house. Now, his judgment is public as well - men pass by and see his dead body.

13:26-32 The Old Prophet Mourns

The thing that gets me about this story is the double-minded nature of the old prophet. Although the faithful Levites had moved south (2Chron. 11:13-16), he continued to live in Bath-ALE after the nation fell into idolatry. He deceived the young prophet, yet prophesied the word of the Lord. Although he was the stumbling block that causes the man's death, now he mourns him and will be buried with him. People like this are too difficult for me to figure out.

13:33-34 Jeroboam Remains In Idolatry

Even though God had demonstrated His power and shown His mercy, Jeroboam did not repent for making the abominable altars. This sin will lead to the destruction of his house.

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