Text: 2 Chronicles 9-12 (Psalm 73)
Observe: Solomon enjoys international acclaim and possesses vast wisdom and wealth – a showcase for the Queen of Sheba’s visit (chapter 9), duly impressing his impressive visitor. But misuse of God’s gifts later in his life were his undoing, as power and idolatry usurps his faith in the Lord God, (1 Kings 11) though not mentioned in Chronicles.
His son Rehoboam, born into incredible wealth and privilege, is a chip off the old sceptre. Jeroboam comes from Egypt to plead for amnesty for Israel, after Solomon’s tyranny had become sad fact. Rehoboam calls the wise elders, who counsel gentle speech to win Israel’s loyalty. Ignoring them, he turns to his friends who advise harshness. Power gone to his head, he tells Jeroboam, … I will discipline you with scorpions. (10:11) Leaving behind Judah and Benjamin, Israel abandons the house of David. Barely crowned, Rehoboam has split God’s land into the Northern (Israel)Kingdom under Jeroboam, and Southern (Judah) Kingdom.
Perhaps to display power, Rehoboam sends Solomon’s slave master to them; they kill him. Fearful, Rehoboam flees to Jerusalem. Rebelling against Judah, Israel secedes completely. Jeroboam sets up idols and throws the priests out of the kingdom. Faithful to the Lord, they find refuge in Jerusalem. They strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they made Rehoboam… secure… (11:17). (Only three?)
Rehoboam battles to reunite the kingdoms, but the Lord prevents him from fighting Jeroboam. He sets up defenses throughout Judah and Benjamin. By chapter 12, after five years he abandons all pretense of serving the Lord. Egypt plunders Jerusalem, yet a moment of repentance stays the Lord’s hand: when he humbled himself. the wrath of the Lord turned from him… (12:12). God gives partial amnesty to Judah.
Interpret: As in all totalitarian states, power and oppressive opportunities abound as “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We see this in these three kings, losing the fear of God as they rule, becoming tyrants, idolaters, slavedrivers, unconcerned for the people or for God. At the end, the only absolute is God’s justice tempered by wisdom and mercy as they repent -- the point Chronicles wants to make about Rehoboam.
Apply: It’s good practice to make a timeline of our lives, seeing God as our life-companion. Chronicles (“a factual written account of important or historical events in the order of their occurrence”) provides a timeline in the Hebrew Bible, recalling errors, consequences, and occasional right actions of the kings. It reveals how frail human wills are when we stray from God’s will.
We might recollect our spiritual lives, the highs and lows, people who influenced us, times when the Lord carried us, when we ran from Him, or when He drew us back to Himself in His unfathomable love. We thank Him for what and who He placed on our timeline, reminders that His perfect will guides our lives.
Knowing our strengths and weaknesses, we resist the lie of self-sufficiency, as so many of the kings did not. We rely on His Spirit, acknowledging God is our sufficiency. Let’s lift our hearts to Him often to realign our hearts and minds with His.
Ask: Lord, am I using Your gifts to honour You, or just to impress others? Do I pray for and seek wise counsel when I need it, or rely on my own ideas? If someone rebukes me out of love and concern, do I humbly receive and change? Am I Your instrument of unity -- or of division?
Pray: Lord God, I pray for peace, order and good government, that You would bring our leaders to seek Your wise counsel, humbly repent and turn to You. Bind us together in Your perfect love. For this I pray, for them I pray, King Jesus.
Song: Ps. 73: Whom Have I in Heaven but You? Sons of Korah
Ps. 73: Hangad
Ps. 73: MP Jones
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.