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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[3 Kings 12. 2 Paralip. 10]

AFTER the death of Solomon all the people of Israel came to Roboam, his son, and said: “Thy father laid a grievous yoke upon us, do thou take off a little of his most heavy yoke, and we will serve thee.” Roboam told them to come back on the third day, and he would give them his answer. He then took counsel with the ancients of the people who had stood before Solomon, his father, as to what course he should pursue. The ancients advised the king, saying: “If thou wilt yield to this people and speak gentle words to them, they will be thy servants always.” Roboam, not satisfied with this advice of the old men, betook himself to the young men who were his own companions, and asked what they would counsel him to do. The young men who had been brought up with him said: “Thus shalt thou speak to this people: My father put a heavy yoke upon you, but I will add to your yoke; my father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions.” When the people had returned on the third day for an answer, Roboam spoke to them as the young men had advised. Then, seeing that they had nothing to expect from their new king, ten of the tribes threw off his authority and chose for their king Jeroboam, who had been a servant of Solomon. Only the two tribes of Juda and Benjamin remained with Roboam. From that day forth the people of Israel were divided into two kingdoms, that of Juda and that of Israel.

Jerusalem continued to be the capital of Juda, while Samaria became the capital of Israel. But the effects of the separation went still further; for Jeroboam, king of Israel, thought within himself, that if the people continued to go up to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice to the Lord in His Temple, their hearts would turn again to Roboam, and the kingdom of Israel would surely return to the house of David.

To avoid this danger he made two golden calves, which he placed at the two extremities of his kingdom, one at Dan and the other at Bethel, and told the people that they should not go up to Jerusalem to worship, for that these were the gods which had brought them out of Egypt. In this way he led the people into idolatry, for they repaired to the places pointed out to them by their king, and worshipped the golden calves.

On the other hand Roboam, king of Juda, who had seen with grief the defection of the ten tribes, was all his life making war on Jeroboam. This state of continued warfare was kept up by their successors on both sides, and more than once the aid of foreign nations was called in by one or the other. In this way did these wicked kings cause much sin and misery among their people.

Even the kings of Juda soon fell into idolatry, and the people, following their example, forgot the worship of the true God and gave themselves up to all manner of wickedness. Thus it went on till destruction overtook both kingdoms.

The Faithfulness of God. See how the punishment threatened in chapter LX was now brought to pass! Roboam’s arrogance led to the accomplishment of God’s designs, by alienating the ten tribes. It was not that God willed the sin, but that He permitted it, in order that Solomon’s faithlessness should be punished as He had said.

Arrogance and flattery. Roboam’s conduct towards his subjects was very unwise; for it was his harsh answer to their appeal which drove them into rebellion. How could Roboam, the son of the wise Solomon, commit such a folly? He spoke and acted thus foolishly, firstly, because he was blinded by pride; secondly, because he would not take the advice of the wise, but followed instead that of his young companions, who took care to flatter his pride. You can see by this how passion makes a man blind, and how disastrous it is to listen to the voice of unscrupulous flatterers. “He that walketh with the wise, shall be wise: a friend of fools shall become like them” (Prov. 13:20).

Gentleness. If Roboam had returned a kind, friendly answer to the people, he would have conciliated them, and all the twelve tribes would have acknowledged him as their king. “A mild answer breaketh wrath: but a harsh word stirreth up fury” (Prov. 15:1). “Blessed are the meek.”

Schism. The ten tribes sinned by rebelling against the throne of David, and their sin was all the greater, because their defection from the house of David implied a defection from the future Messias and a renunciation of the promises of God.

Partaking in the guilt of others. His young advisers shared in the guilt of Roboam’s sin and in its evil consequences, by urging him to a hard and cruel course of action. Jeroboam committed a terrible sin when he incited the people to idolatry and induced them to apostatize from the true God. God punished him by the overthrow of his whole family. Jeroboam’s son, Nadab, only reigned two years. Then a rebellion against him broke out, and the whole house of Jeroboam was destroyed.

APPLICATION. Are you fond of being with giddy companions? Do you follow their advice in preference to the injunctions and exhortations of older and more prudent persons? Do you listen to the voice of your passions rather than to that of your conscience? Roboam lost the larger part of his kingdom, because he listened to the unprincipled advice of flatterers. So, if you like the company of those who are unprincipled, you will lose both faith and innocence, which are more valuable than a whole kingdom. Therefore avoid bad companions.








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