Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. 2 And as soon as Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. 3 And they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, 4 “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” 5 He said to them, “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away. (1 Kings 12:1-5) [ESV])
What an opportunity Rehoboam had to gain support of people to be on his side and serve him with joy! His father Solomon had made the lives of those who lived in Israel hard and difficult. Here was an opportunity for his son to usher in a new era of freedom and peace.
He consulted the older men of the kingdom asking them what he should do and they gave him sound advice. However, he listened to the young men without experience. And their advice was to reply to the people that his little finger was going to be heavier than his father’s thigh. And it split the kingdom!
Now I’m sure this was all in God’s plan. He is the God who’s designs and plans are carried out among the nations. He sets up and removes kings and kingdoms. But what folly. Here the king had an opportunity to win over the people and instead he alienates his kingdom.
Okay how do we apply this to our lives today? As I read this I thought of my children as they were growing up. Some families have strict rules and rituals (I call them) and the family and the children our miserable. Other families are out of control. I thought of two things, first I grew up in a home where we didn’t have a lot of fun. My dad died when I was young (9) and it was a struggle from then on. But there was love in our home. Second, I wanted our children to grow up loving Jesus. So those were our two guidelines, let’s have fun and let’s love Jesus. That worked well for us. When you have an opportunity to make your family or your coworkers lives better or worse, more fun or more tedious what do you choose? I suggest you choose having fun and loving Jesus.