1 Kings chapter 12

King Rehoboam rejects wise counsel. He acts upon advice from fools. The nation resists. Rehoboam recants. He does evil.





VERSE 1. Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king.

Rehoboam. In the previous chapter, Solomon had died. His son Rehoboam his son became the new king.


VERSE 2. When Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was yet in Egypt, where he had fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam lived in Egypt;

Jeroboam. In the previous chapter, Jeroboam was recognized as a mighty man of valor.

But Jeroboam lifted up his hand against king Solomon. That made him an enemy of the state. Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled into Egypt.

Now that Solomon is dead, Jeroboam returns.


VERSE 3. and they sent and called him), Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came, and spoke to Rehoboam, saying,


VERSE 4. “Your father made our yoke difficult. Now therefore make the hard service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, lighter, and we will serve you.”

the hard service of your father. Jeroboam asks king Rehoboam to be more gentle than Solomon.


VERSE 5. He said to them, “Depart for three days, then come back to me.” So the people departed.


VERSE 6. King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men who had stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, saying, “What counsel do you give me to answer these people?”

the old men. These are Solomon’s cabinet members.

Solomon was wise. And he probably recruited advisors who were wise.


VERSE 7. They replied, “If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them, and answer them with good words, then they will be your servants forever.”

They replied. These wise men suggest a course of action that leads to the common good for the people and the nation.


VERSE 8. But he abandoned the counsel of the old men which they had given him, and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him.

he abandoned the counsel of the old men. King Rehoboam rejects the advice of the wisest people alive.

took counsel with the young men. Instead, Rehoboam turns to fools.


VERSE 9. He said to them, “What counsel do you give, that we may answer these people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Make the yoke that your father put on us lighter?’ ”


VERSE 10. The young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Tell these people who spoke to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but make it lighter to us’— tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist.


VERSE 11. Now my father burdened you with a heavy yoke, but I will add to your yoke. My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.’ ”

I will add to your yoke. These fools counsel Rehoboam to be even more harsh than Solomon.




VERSE 12. So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king asked, saying, “Come to me again the third day.”


VERSE 13. The king answered the people roughly, and abandoned the counsel of the old men which they had given him,

abandoned the counsel of the old men. Previously the wisest people alive counseled Rehoboam to be gentle. But he rejected their advice, turning instead to fools.

Now his rejection of wisdom is becoming the policy of the nation.

In our day this happens all the time. Politicians receive wise advice from wise people who have the good of the people in mind. But instead, the politician listens to fools.


VERSE 14. and spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.”

according to the counsel of the young men. Now the foolish counsel from fools is becoming the policy of the nation.


VERSE 15. So the king didn’t listen to the people; for it was a thing brought about from the LORD, that he might establish his word, which the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.




VERSE 16. When all Israel saw that the king didn’t listen to them, the people answered the king, saying, “What portion have we in David? We don’t have an inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, Israel! Now see to your own house, David.” So Israel departed to their tents.


VERSE 17. But as for the children of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.


VERSE 18. Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the men subject to forced labor; and all Israel stoned him to death with stones. King Rehoboam hurried to get himself up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.

men subject to forced labor. King Solomon had built up this empire of slaves. Now king Rehoboam continues it.

all Israel stoned him to death. This is a sign of how much contempt the people have for king Rehoboam.


VERSE 19. So Israel rebelled against David’s house to this day.

to this day. That is, the day when this chapter was originally written.


VERSE 20. When all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the congregation, and made him king over all Israel. There was no one who followed David’s house, except for the tribe of Judah only.

Jeroboam. He was the exile who counseled the new king to be gentle.

made him king. Now we have two kings:

  • Jeroboam the exile, ruling over Israel
  • Rehoboam the fool, ruling over Judah




VERSE 21. When Rehoboam had come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, a hundred and eighty thousand chosen men who were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.

Rehoboam. His own foolishness caused all this trouble. Now this foolish man is about to make it worse. Much worse.


VERSE 22. But the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,


VERSE 23. “Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, saying,


VERSE 24. ‘The LORD says, “You shall not go up or fight against your brothers, the children of Israel. Everyone return to his house; for this thing is from me.” ’ ” So they listened to the LORD’s word, and returned and went their way, according to the LORD’s word.




VERSE 25. Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and lived in it; and he went out from there and built Penuel.


VERSE 26. Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will return to David’s house.


VERSE 27. If this people goes up to offer sacrifices in the LORD’s house at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, even to Rehoboam king of Judah; and they will kill me, and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.”


VERSE 28. So the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold; and he said to them, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Look and behold your gods, Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”

made two calves of gold. Really? Again?

behold your gods, Israel. Really? Again?


VERSE 29. He set the one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.


VERSE 30. This thing became a sin, for the people went even as far as Dan to worship before the one there.

people went even as far as Dan to worship. Foolish Rehoboam leads multitudes into evil.


VERSE 31. He made houses of high places, and made priests from among all the people, who were not of the sons of Levi.


VERSE 32. Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast that is in Judah, and he went up to the altar. He did so in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made, and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made.


VERSE 33. He went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and he ordained a feast for the children of Israel, and went up to the altar to burn incense.


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