Israel Rebels Against Rehoboam
Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all the Israelites had gone there to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”
Rehoboam answered, “Go away for three days and then come back to me.” So the people went away.
Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.
They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”
But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?”
The young men who had grown up with him replied, “Tell these people who have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter’–tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions. ‘”
Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the Lord, to fulfill the word the Lord had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite.
When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:
“What share do we have in David,
what part in Jesse’s son?
To your tents, O Israel!
Look after your own house, O David!”
So the Israelites went home.
Here we have a great moment of the King, the authority and those who should be submissive to him and to his position. Rehoboam was wise to seek counsel. However the counsel he chose was a failed counsel. Though we see it clearly here and everywhere, this methodology of leadership always fails.
To be perfectly clear, Rehoboam was the king and these people were supposed to be submissive to him. They were very aware that the right thing to do would be to submit and serve the king. He was their authority. The right thing is always to submit to our authority. This is always right. But when King Rehoboam attempted to force them to do the right thing, we see rebellion born into the people.
One of the most difficult things of leadership is learning to deal with people who do not give the respect and submission deserved by the position. What does a boss do when employees refuse to follow instruction? What does a coach do when an athlete refuses to follow the game place? What does a Mom do when a child refuses to obey? Even today, we see men who have been raised in church and they realize the Scripture teaches that their wives should be submissive to them, but how they respond when their wives are not submissive?
Rehoboam would attempt to force them to do what was right. The problem with this is that it was not done in love. The people did not walk away from this first encounter thinking the king loved them. Instead, they were convinced that he did not. Rehoboam would lose his kingdom just as fathers lose their sons and mothers lose their daughters because they wield their authority with more force than love. This is not to say that the authority should not still require submission, but as they require submission, the hand out the consequences of rebellion with love. They pass out duties and expectations with love. To love those who are in submission to us, leaders must lead with the needs of those who serve them first and foremost. This is why the Scripture says, ‘wives be submissive,’ but it also says, ‘Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.’ A father who carries his authority with love seeking to do the very best for his children will have very loyal children. A father who attempts to force his children to obey with harshness and excessive punishments will watch as their children walk out of their life. A boss who maintains authority but clearly loves and cares for those who work for him will have loyal employees. A boss who is harsh, mean, and controlling will never be a leader.
Is this not who the Lord is to us. He is our Master. He is our God. Yet, He loves us and when we disobey, there are consequences, but these are handed out with great love. His authority is not used for his own purpose and his own glory. All of His authority, He uses to direct us to greater places of blessing. He is a leader who serves those following Him. It is this that draws us to Him. Our King who loves us more than He loves Himself. Our King who would give up everything for our good. Whatever authority the Lord has bestowed upon you, use it wisely and those who have a submissive position to you will follow you all of your days.