THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL
DIVIDED AND THE HISTORY OF
THE SOUTHERN KINGDOM, JUDAH, 10:1–36:23
A. The Division of the Kingdom: A Picture of Man’s Arrogance and of God’s Sovereign Judgment, 10:1-19
(10:1-19) Introduction: arrogance is a lofty opinion of one’s self. It is being puffed up, inflated with one’s own importance, capabilities, achievements or attractiveness. Arrogance leads to bragging, cockiness, and pride, causing a person to downgrade others and to treat them with a cold shoulder or a contemptuous attitude. Arrogance often causes a person to dominate other people or to be overbearing and high-handed in dealing with them. Arrogance will degrade, scorn, ridicule, and abuse other people. Arrogance always leads to divisiveness, a fracturing of relationships between family members, friends, co-workers, businesses, and even nations! It works against unifying people, instead dividing and splitting them asunder.
God warns the arrogant person: he will face the hand of God’s judgment. And because God is sovereign, He has the power to execute justice against the arrogant and the wicked of this earth. Furthermore, by His sovereign power, God is moving world events toward that glorious day when true justice and righteousness will be executed. The righteous will be rewarded, and the arrogant and wicked will face the terrifying judgment of God.
A spirit of wickedness and arrogance led to the division of the great nation of Israel. It was the wickedness of Solomon in the latter years of his life and the arrogance of his son that caused the rupture of the nation. Remember that Solomon had imposed a heavy yoke of forced labor on the people (8:7-10; 10:4, 8-11, 14). Right after his death, the leaders of the ten northern tribes approached Solomon’s son Rehoboam, requesting that he reduce both the heavy taxation and the forced labor demanded of the people. When Rehoboam rejected both demands with a spirit of condescension, the result was inevitable. The ten tribes revolted and formed what was thereafter to be known as the Northern Kingdom. The nation was torn apart, ruptured. The Southern Kingdom would include only the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, which was included within the territory of Judah and would thereafter be identified as part of the tribe of Judah.
From this point on the great book of Second Chronicles concerns only the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The rupture of the nation into the Southern and Northern Kingdoms is first explained (2 Chr.10:1-19); then the kings of Judah, both good and bad, are covered for the returning exiles to study (11:1–36:13); and finally, the fall of Jerusalem and the exile of the people into Babylon are discussed (36:14-23). The nation had in many ways reached its summit under the rule of David and Solomon. But sadly, immediately after Solomon’s death, the people were torn apart and split into two nations—all because of sin, the sins of Solomon and his son and those of Jeroboam and the ten northern tribes. This is, The Division of the Kingdom: A Picture of Man’s Arrogance and of God’s Sovereign Judgment, 10:1-19.
1. The revolt against Rehoboam: A picture of pride and oppression (vv.1-14).
2. The rupture of the kingdom: a picture of God’s sovereignty and judgment upon Israel because of their terrible sin, 1 Kings 11:27-40 (vv.15-19).
1. (10:1-14) Arrogance, Example of—Conceit, Example of—Oppression, Caused by—Revolt, Against Rehoboam—Social Reform, Need for, in Israel—Counsel, Example of, Bad: there was the revolt against Rehoboam by the ten northern tribes of Israel. Scripture gives the details of the revolt against the son of Solomon:
1. The coronation of Rehoboam was to take place in Shechem (v.1). The Bible Knowledge Commentary makes the point that Shechem was an ideal location for the coronation service, for it was at Shechem that the Lord first appeared to Abraham and gave him the wonderful promises of the promised land and the promised seed (Ge.12:1-7). It was also the site chosen by Jacob as a permanent residence, and it was the place where Joseph was buried (Ge.33:18-20; Jos.24:32). After Israel had entered the promised land, it was in the Valley of Shechem between Mt. Ebel and Mt. Gerizim where the Israelites rededicated themselves to the Lord (Jos.24:1-27). Thus, Shechem was a memorable, sacred location that reminded the Israelites of God’s very special promises to them.
Apparently, Rehoboam had already been acknowledged as, if not crowned, king in the city of Jerusalem (9:31). Hence, the coronation service in Shechem was to be the official crowning of Rehoboam over all Israel.
2. But note what had happened: the news of Solomon’s death and of Rehoboam’s scheduled coronation reached Jeroboam (v.2). Remember, Jeroboam had fled to Egypt after his attempted rebellion against Solomon (1 Kings 11:27-40). Now, receiving word of Solomon’s death, he returned from Egypt. Being aware that God had earlier appointed him to be the future ruler of the northern tribes, Jeroboam sensed the need to make himself available for God to fulfill His promise.
3. As soon as the various delegations arrived in Shechem, the northern tribes demanded social reform before they would crown Rehoboam as king (vv.3-4). Note that the tribal leaders had sent for Jeroboam, probably to be their spokesman. As earlier stated, the specific demands made by the northern tribes were twofold: they wanted relief from compulsory government service, and they wanted fewer taxes to pay. Solomon had instituted the policy of compulsory government service in order to complete his building projects. He had drafted every male Israelite to serve one month in compulsory service and then two months at home throughout the year, making a total of four months a year spent in government service. Compulsory service plus heavy taxation weighed heavily upon the people, placing a harsh and heavy yoke upon their necks. For years the people had been complaining about the strenuous labor and burden of substantial taxes, but to no avail. But now, with the succession of a new king upon the throne, the opportunity was ripe to demand social reform for the people. Bear in mind that Jeroboam had been one of the chief supervisors of the massive work force, overseeing the laborers drafted from the tribes of Joseph, Ephraim, and Manasseh (1 Kings 11:28). Therefore, he was very aware of the harsh labor law, the heavy taxation, and the endless complaints of the people (see outline—•1 Kings 5:13-18 and note—•1 Kings 5:13-18 for more discussion).
4. After receiving the demand for social reform from the northern tribes, King Rehoboam requested three days to consider the unexpected appeal (vv.5-11). Upon returning to Jerusalem, Rehoboam consulted the older advisors who had served his father (vv.6-8). Through the wisdom they had gained in their years of experience, they advised King Rehoboam to consider the duty of the king. The king’s duty was to serve the people. For this reason, they recommended that Rehoboam grant the requested social reforms. By granting the requests, the king would unite the nation and assure the loyalty and allegiance of the northern tribes (v.7). But Rehoboam rejected their counsel.
Instead, he sought the advice of contemporaries, those who had grown up with him and who were his own age (vv.8-11). Once summoned into his presence, the young men heard King Rehoboam spell out the social reform demanded by the northern tribes. The king then asked for their counsel regarding exactly how he should answer the demand. With a spirit of arrogance and pride, the young men suggested that Rehoboam threaten the northern tribes, declaring...
The young counselors also advised that Rehoboam threaten more taxes, a much heavier demand for government service, and more severe punishment. Although Rehoboam’s father had scourged the people with whips, he should scourge them with scorpions (v.11).
5. Three days later, when the leaders and officials of the northern tribes had regathered, Rehoboam arrogantly rejected the demand for social reform (vv.12-14). He refused to heed the counsel of his father’s former advisors and instead followed the counsel of the younger contemporaries. He declared his harsh decision:
He would tax the tribes more heavily and make the workload heavier than his father had ever thought of doing.
He would use even more severe punishment to enforce heavier taxes and labor than his father had: he would scourge the people with whips and with scorpions (v.11).
Thought 1. There is a major lesson for us in this passage: we must guard against arrogance and pride. Rehoboam and his young advisors had grown up in the palace with all the luxury and wealth imaginable. They knew nothing of hard work and serious responsibility. On the contrary, they had most likely been pampered and indulged all their lives. As a result, they demonstrated a spirit of arrogance and pride toward the people of Israel. This evil spirit, as we will see in the next point, tore the nation apart.
When any of us has an arrogant, prideful spirit, we exalt ourselves over other people, declaring that we are better than they are:
Arrogance and pride exclude others and, carried to the extreme, can lead to such serious abuse as slavery or even war. No sin is any more evil in the eyes of God than the sin of arrogance and pride. Listen to what the Word of God says:
"And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted" (Mt.23:12).
"Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits" (Ro.12:16).
"And if any man think that he knoweth
any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know"
(1 Cor. 8:2).
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 Jn.2:15-16).
"And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down" (2 Sam. 22:28).
"Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil" (Pr.3:7).
"Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud" (Pr.16:19).
"He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction" (Pr.17:19).
"An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin" (Pr.21:4).
"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Pr.26:12).
"He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat" (Pr.28:25).
"Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!" (Isa. 5:21).
"For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit" (Isa. 14:13-15).
"The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish" (Isa. 24:4).
"Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord" (Obad.4).
2. (10:15-19) Judgment,
Surety of—Sovereignty, of God, Example of—Division, of Israel—Kingdom,
of Israel, Division—Division, of Israel, Event
of—Prophecy, Fulfilled, Concerning Israel: there was the rupture or
of the kingdom of Israel. This is a clear picture of God sovereignly using these events to work out His judgment upon
Israel—just as He had prophesied (1 Kings 11:27-40). Of course, God foresaw the sins of Rehoboam and his young
contemporaries. God knew exactly what they were going to do and the inevitable results that would take place. But the sinful behavior of Rehoboam and his counselors was within the bounds of God’s sovereignty. He used these events to work out His judgment upon Israel because of Solomon’s terrible wickedness. Just as God had prophesied, the nation of Israel was now ruptured, torn apart and divided, never again to be reunited. Scripture gives the tragic details of what happened:
1. The reaction of the northern tribes to King Rehoboam’s harsh decision was quick, abrupt. They revolted, broke off from Judah. And note: they apparently had been prepared for a harsh decision by King Rehoboam, for they made a formal, defiant statement declaring that they had no share in David and no inheritance in the son of Jesse (see 2 Sam. 20:1). Then they shouted out, "To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David."
With this formal declaration, the ten northern tribes marched away from Shechem and returned home. But the Israelites of Judah still supported Rehoboam (vv.16-17).
2. Soon thereafter, Rehoboam determined to make one final effort to enforce his control over the northern tribes. This he did by sending Adoniram, his supervisor, either to enforce the tax and labor service law or to work out a compromise (v.18). Exactly what Rehoboam’s purpose was is not stated by Scripture. But regardless of his purpose, his attempt was futile. The labor official was immediately killed, and Rehoboam himself barely escaped from the pursuing mob.
3. From that day forward, the kingdom was permanently ruptured, divided even until the very day of the author’s writing of Second Chronicles (v.19).
Thought 1. This is a clear picture of God’s sovereignty, of how He uses events to work out His will upon earth. In the present instance, God used the arrogance and pride of Rehoboam and his contemporaries to work out His judgment upon Israel. Still today, God uses events and the behavior of men to execute righteousness and judgment upon earth, to accomplish His eternal purposes and will for mankind. We can rest assured of this one truth: God works all things out for good for those who truly love Him. In fact, God’s ultimate purpose is to work all things together for good, both for Christ and for His dear followers. This is the reason that all the evil deeds and terrible wickedness committed by men down through history will be frustrated and eventually overcome by good. No tyrant and no evil nation last too long upon the earth.
Look down through the pages of human history: look at the world and society today, the good people who are still living and the good deeds that are still being done; look at the love, joy, peace, and beauty of nature that still exist. Despite all the evil, devastation, and pollution in the world, goodness and beauty are still reigning and controlling this earth. This is due to God’s sovereignty, to His moving and working all things together for good for those who truly love Him. The ultimate proof of this was the coming of the Ideal Son of David, the Messiah and Savior of this world, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. God sent Him to deliver man from his sins. The Sovereignty of God is one of the strong teachings of God’s Holy Word:
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen" (Mt.6:13).
"God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (Ac.17:24).
"Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" (Ro.9:19-21).
"For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet" (1 Cor. 15:25).
"To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen" (Jude 25).
"The Lord shall reign for ever and ever" (Ex.15:18).
"Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest" (2 Kings 19:28).
"Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all" (1 Chr.29:12).
"And said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?" (2 Chr.20:6).
"Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?" (Jb.9:12).
"He leadeth princes away spoiled, and overthroweth the mighty" (Jb.12:19).
"The Lord is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land" (Ps.10:16).
"For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and he is the governor among the nations" (Ps.22:28).
"Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be: and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth. Selah" (Ps.59:13).
"That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth" (Ps.83:18).
"The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved" (Ps.93:1).
"The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all" (Ps.103:19).
"Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places" (Ps.135:6).
"The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will" (Pr.21:1).
"Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this" (Isa. 9:7).
"But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me. Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult, is come up into mine ears, therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest" (Isa. 37:28-29).
"Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish" (Isa. 44:24-25).
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth" (Je.23:5).
"Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his" (Da.2:20).
"And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" (Da.4:35).
"Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase" (Da.4:37).
"And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will" (Da.5:21).
"And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (Da.7:14).