Wednesday, December 10, 2008

0 The Dividing of the Kingdom

Interesting how certain things strike you when studying. This morning I was reading in 2 Chronicles 10, concerning the conflict brought about when Rehoboam, son of Solomon, was raised to the throne in Israel. His father had died, and upon ascending to the throne, Rehoboam consulted with his father's counselors as to what he policy he ought to pursue as he consolidated his rule over the people.
So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” And the king answered them harshly; and forsaking the counsel of the old men, King Rehoboam spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by God that the Lord might fulfill his word, which he spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat. (2 Chron. 10:12-15, ESV)
Rehoboam had the benefit of Solomon's counselors - those who had stood with and by Solomon during his reign. These counselors had, according to the previous chapter, stood by Solomon and gained wisdom from Solomon (who had received that wisdom from the Lord):
And she said to the king, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, half the greatness of your wisdom was not told me; you surpass the report that I heard. Happy are your wives! Happy are these your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on his throne as king for the Lord your God! Because your God loved Israel and would establish them forever, he has made you king over them, that you may execute justice and righteousness.” (2 Chronicles 9:5-8, ESV)
The fruit of Solomon's wisdom was the execution of justice and righteousness in Israel - and through him the Lord blessed his people. Now, however, upon his death, and Rehoboam's rising to power, we see a turn of affairs in which the wisdom of Solomon's faithful counselors was rejected and Rehoboam's own desires followed. He quickly turns to counselors who will tell him what he wants to hear, and encourage him to undertake the policies that he sinfully wishes to enact... those of a tyrant. How quickly was Solomon's wisdom rejected, and the whims of the youthful Rehoboam played out in the royal chamber! What a warning to those of us who would seek counsel only from those whose predilections match ours! Perhaps, too, this is warning to those of us who would give counsel to friends, that we should avoid simply telling our friends what they want to hear, and rather, let iron sharpen iron, as we are encouraged to do. If we are seeking wisdom from the Lord as we must, we are duty bound to bring that wisdom to bear on friends who seek advice, and not simply tell them what they want to hear. Isn't that what we'd TRULY prefer they did for us?

Furthermore, another note jumped out at me this morning - from the end of the quoted section:
So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by God that the Lord might fulfill his word, which he spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat. (2 Chron. 10:15, ESV)
God brought this about, no doubt using the human agency of Rehoboam's friends... yet it was God's purpose to divide his kingdom (see the section referred to regarding Ahijah in 1 Kings 11:29-39) and scatter the tribes. God's ways are above our ways, indeed - surely we would have purposed the continued union of the 12 tribes unto eternity, but this was not God's sovereign decree. The sinful actions of Rehoboam, listening to his own heart and seeking counselors after his heart (not God's) were decreed by God to bring about the ends that He desired... namely, the division of the tribe. How hard this is for us to grasp (but how clearly put in God's word)! I stand in awe at the ways in which God works.



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