1 Kings 12 = The Kingdom Divided
Bible Background: After King Solomon dies, his son Rehoboam takes charge. He acts badly, ruling with an iron fist. God had said he would “tear the kingdom” from Solomon’s son, and now the kingdom is torn in two. Israel (Northern Kingdom) secedes from Judah (Southern Kingdom). Jeroboam rules Israel, and sets up alternate worship sites. God’s people suffer. No doubt, God is grieved.
Digging Deeper: 1. A question a king, a president, or any of us has to decide is “Whose voice will you choose to listen to?” Rehoboam has a chance to listen to wise, old advisors who promote positive change, or young advisors who push him to be ‘tough’. His choice has consequences. So do ours. What “voices” do we listen to? The loudest, most urgent ones? The quieter, less obvious ones? The voice of fear? Or reason? Of expediency? Or self-interest? Of courage? Or understanding?
2. “Servanthood” is a big theme in the Bible. Obviously, these kings were not great servants of God’s people. How does Jesus turn the concept of servanthood upside down? (Mark 10:42f) In what ways are you willing to be a servant? In what ways do you prefer to be ‘in charge?’
3. Both kings in today’s story are trapped by fear. Fear of losing power. Fear of looking weak. Dealing faithfully with fears (some of which are real, and some of which are overblown), is one of the tasks of a mature Christian faith. What fears have you been giving too much attention to? What could you do to help yourself or others deal with those fears? What fears do we need to turn over to God in prayer? Is there a way that our faith in Christ and our reliance on scripture can ‘innoculate’ us to fear? Who do you admire for being basically ‘unafraid?’
4. “Whose voice will you choose to listen to?” matters in our life together as well. In the church, whose ‘voices’ carry the day? Which voices help us grow in service and in witness? In our nation, which voices help us be the nation we aspire to be? Which voices stifle that? What are the pros and cons of having a ‘strong’ leader as President? What are the pros and cons if having a ‘servant leader’, someone in touch with Jesus’ views on true greatness?
Next week’s reading is 1 Kings 18, the story of Elijah the prophet.