Whenever a new boss takes charge, they make changes. Some of those decisions are welcomed by their employees, others are met with disapproval. After King Solomon died, two men stepped into leader- ship. Solomon’s son and successor, Rehoboam, and his rival, Jeroboam. For Rehoboam, this was a chance to rise to the occasion of leadership and cultivate an identity apart from his father.
Unlike David, Solomon seems to have made a clear plan for succession, there was no confusion as when David died. But Rehoboam had a different problem. Although Israel prospered under Solomon, the prosperity came at a cost. The people had experienced heavy taxation and a forced labor system. They yearned for relief (v. 4). They found a spokesperson for their cause in Jeroboam, the man who had fled to Egypt to hide from Solomon (v. 2). He led a delegation to make a request of the new king (Rehoboam). “Lighten the hard service…and we will serve you” (v. 4).
Initially Rehoboam sought counsel from his father’s advisors who advised Rehoboam to speak gently to the people and agree with their request (v. 7). But the king rejected their advice and consulted a younger set of advisors, men he had known for years. They advised that he take a hard line: “My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier” (v. 11). Agreeing, Rehoboam spoke harshly to the people and watched as ten tribes sided with Jeroboam and formed their own kingdom.
Here we see God’s sovereignty on display, even through the poor choice of their new leader. It is easy to wonder if Rehoboam could have avoided this situation if he had listened to older, wiser men. But we must not forget that this was the plan of God. He was at work even through these difficulties.
Are you facing a difficult situation? Do not despair, rather consider how God might be guiding you through it. God is still on the throne. What might He be teaching you?