Great Is Thy Faithfulness continues this week by looking at the story of King David’s grandson, Rehoboam, and the division of the Kingdom of Israel. But before we talk about the actual split, we need to look at how Israel got to this point. They said they wanted a king like the nations around them, but God warned them what would happen if they chose an earthly king over him (1 Sam. 8). God knew all along the Israelites would choose this path, and even gave them guidelines on what a king should do before they ever entered the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 17). God’s way was better, but God gave Israel what they asked for.
Saul was the first king, and that went ok for a time. Eventually Saul had to be replaced because of his wickedness by King David (that was last week’s sermon). After David’s death, his son Solomon was chosen as king. Most of us know that Solomon was the wisest because he asked God for wisdom (1 Kings 3). Solomon ruled in this wisdom for a while, and did well as king. But pretty soon that all changed!
Deuteronomy 17 gives us 8 qualifications for an earthly king. Some of them are as follows:
- He must not acquire great numbers of horses, especially from Egypt (v.16)
- He must not take many wives or his heart will be led astray (v.17)
- He must not accumulate large amounts of gold and silver (v. 17)
- He is to be a Bible nerd and study it constantly to learn how to follow God (vv. 18-19)
David certainly failed at several of these points (and others not mentioned here), but Solomon is portrayed as the antithesis of Deuteronomy 17!
- He acquired great numbers of horses, especially from Egypt (1 Kg. 10:28-29)
- He took many wives and his heart was led astray (1 Kg. 11:1-6)
- He must not accumulate large amounts of gold and silver (1 Kg. 10:2, 14-22, 27)
- He ignored God even though God appeared to him twice! (1 Kg. 11:9)
The story of Solomon shows us that even the wisest, richest, most powerful and well respected king won’t follow God! And when Solomon’s son Rehoboam goes to be crowned as king, he decides to double down on Solomon’s evil practices (1 Kg. 12:14), the kingdom was divided. The earthly kingdom had failed. If only the people had trusted God, and not trusted in an earthly kingdom.
The northern kingdom has 20 kings that follow the split. According to the record of the Kings, none of them were faithful to God. In the southern kingdom, only 8 out of 20 were good kings, but even they ultimately failed the faithfulness test.
Israel needed a better king. They needed God as their King once again. And God promised just that through his prophets (Isa. 9:6-7). Unfortunately when King Jesus came to them, they once again chose an earthly king over him (John 19:15).
We too have a choice to make. Will we choose our earthly kingdom, or King Jesus?