in the Christian Library
1 Kings 11-14
1. The Scripture often warns about hypocrisy (Job 8:13-15; 15:31-34; Ps 5:9; 50:16,17; 55:12-23; Is 9:17; 29:13; 48:1-2; 58:2-5; Mt 15:7-9; 1 Jn 1:6; 2:4, 19; Jude 12; etc). The word has its roots in the Greek theatrical scene where one would “play” different persons in a play. All the audience saw was the mask; the pretense. This term came to refer to those who were “playing” a part in daily life. However their intention was not to amuse but to deceive, to gain popular acceptance by playing a part when in reality they were insincere. Such play-acting brings tragic consequences in earthly life and eternal consequences after this life. The condemnation is summed up by recognizing the hypocrite as untruthful and self-centered.
The problem of hypocrisy has long plagued mankind. It began with Adam and Eve continued with Cain and survives very well in our modern day. The fourth King of Israel illustrates this tragedy all too well.
Rehoboam became King of Israel upon the death of his father Solomon. With Rehoboam’s reign the second period of the Israeli monarch begins – the Divided Kingdom. There is some discussion about Rehoboam’s age at the time he became King. 1 Ki 14:21; 2 Chron 12:13 indicate that he was 41 years old. But there is good evidence to suggest that he was 21 years old and the older number is an error of transcription easily made because of the practice of using Hebrew letters of the alphabet as numerals. Here are five reasons supporting the earlier age (cf Pulpit Commentary, 1 Kings, 249):
a. He is described in 2 Chron 13:7 as being “young and tender-hearted.”
b. The LXX margin reference in 1 Ki 12:24 says that Rehoboam was 16 years old.
c. There is not enough time for Rehoboam to have been 41 at the time of his ascension as King. Rehoboam would have had to have been one year old at the time of David’s death, but Solomon was described as being “young and tender” at that time.
d. Rehoboam’s counselors, the young men, are said to have “grown up with him.” They were of the same age as Rehoboam. The LXX calls those in this group “lads.” (Cf 12:8).
e. It is highly unlikely that David would have allowed Solomon to marry an Ammonitess. But he would have had to agree to this if Rehoboam was born within David’s lifetime.
2. Notice four events in Rehoboam’s reign that reveal his hypocrisy. He had seen Solomon’s later years. Solomon had lived a dual standard: confessing the one God, yet tolerating the influential presence of many foreign gods! Outwardly it appeared the King was devoted to God, but it was only a mask being worn. The son’s subsequent life illustrates how critical sincerity is in training children. As he accepted the throne, Rehoboam’s two-sided character becomes visible. These four incidents reveal Rehoboam as a King who appeared to be something that he was not. He was a King playing a rehearsed role, wearing a pretend mask, for the public eye but behind the scenes he nurtured a life of self-indulgence.
a. The request at the beginning (12:1-20).
Rehoboam never intended to change the policies of Solomon. But he went through the motions of pretending he was. The King’s resolve is seen in the following:
1) The “elders” pled for Rehoboam to become a servant to the people (12:7). The “elders” were not necessarily “old men” but the term refers to those judged capable of governing and offering counsel (similar to our “aldermen” who are to represent those capable to deciding issues for the public.). They were the recognized assistants of Solomon. Rehoboam “forsook” this counsel.
2) Rehoboam then gathered together those of his own peer group. Notice the change in pronouns used for this group (v. 9) compared with the elders (v. 6). The choice had already been made. All Rehoboam needed was support for his choice.
3) All appeared that Rehoboam was trying to gain a reasoned judgment but it was all pretense! Rehoboam consulted with everyone EXCEPT God! The reason is obvious – the King’s mind was made up, he was following Self! This pretense led to the next event.
b. The civil war with Israel (2 Chron 11).
c. The idolatry of Jerusalem (1 Ki 14:21-24).
d. The pillage by Shishak (2 Chron 12:1-12).
3. What were the “elements” of Rehoboam’s hypocrisy? How are these seen in our modern day as hypocrisy brings tragedy?
a. He was willing to listen to every one EXCEPT God!
b. He succeeded by keeping his hypocrisy hid from the public!
c. He cared not for the established wisdom but chose new wisdom!
d. He worked from emotions and appearances not from facts!
e. He rested in his “perspectives” instead of God’s Truth!
f. He willingly split and splintered God’s people and offered unity to the god of SELF! The “United Kingdom” ceased to exist because Rehoboam was more concerned about himself than about God! How tragic is this attitude today as hypocrites split and splinter God’s Kingdom because they are more devoted to selfish indulgences than to God’s divine Truths! These modern-day “Rehoboams” continue the legacy of their phoney forefather and create open and irreparable breaches in the Lord’s people (cf 1 Co 3:1-17).
4. The greatest tragedy of Rehoboam’s reign is that it can be summarized by the word “folly.” What a remarkable contrast is found between Solomon who at 20 years is known as the wisest man of all times and Rehoboam who at 21 years is known as the greatest fool of all times. What traits united to make Rehoboam such a great “Fool”?
a. His feebleness of character – instead of wholehearted devotion to God, he was consumed with Self!
b. His contempt for experience – instead of seizing the rich wisdom offered by the Elders, he despised the counsel because it was unpleasant.
c. His resort to the foolish – instead of recognizing the counsel of the younger as unwise, he accepted it because it agreed with him.
d. His trust in personal power – instead of recognizing his insecurity and weakness, he thought he, and his immature counselors, were invincible.
5. What are specific lessons we learn from Rehoboam?
Copyright 1999 by John
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