Dedication

OPENING PRAYER

Savior, I trust You. I wait for You. I will see Your Word come to pass.

 

Read: 1 KINGS 15:9-24

[9] In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa became king of Judah, [10] and he reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years. His grandmother’s name was Maakah daughter of Abishalom. [11] Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done. [12] He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made. [13] He even deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. [14] Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life. [15] He brought into the temple of the LORD the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated. [16] There was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel throughout their reigns. [17] Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of Judah. [18] Asa then took all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the LORD’s temple and of his own palace. He entrusted it to his officials and sent them to Ben-Hadad son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, the king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus. [19] “Let there be a treaty between me and you,” he said, “as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you a gift of silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so he will withdraw from me.” [20] Ben-Hadad agreed with King Asa and sent the commanders of his forces against the towns of Israel. He conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maakah and all Kinnereth in addition to Naphtali. [21] When Baasha heard this, he stopped building Ramah and withdrew to Tirzah. [22] Then King Asa issued an order to all Judah-no one was exempt-and they carried away from Ramah the stones and timber Baasha had been using there. With them King Asa built up Geba in Benjamin, and also Mizpah. [23] As for all the other events of Asa’s reign, all his achievements, all he did and the cities he built, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? In his old age, however, his feet became diseased. [24] Then Asa rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the city of his father David. And Jehoshaphat his son succeeded him as king.

 

 

Reflect: WHAT DID ASA'S DEVOTION LOOK LIKE?

After the division of the kingdom, Israel is plunged into idolatry through Jeroboam. Starting with Rehoboam, the southern kingdom likewise has a mostly negative pattern of kings who “do evil in the eyes of the Lord.”One exception is Asa, whose rule amounts to a reversal of Rehoboam’s reign. He is also set in contrast with his father, Abijah, in 1 Kings 15:1-8. Here as elsewhere, David is the measure of faithfulness (3-5), and Asa is compared favorably (11). He gets rid of the trappings of false religion and doesn’t let family ties stand in the way of reform (12,13). Although Asa is fully committed to the Lord, no claim to flawlessness is made, a lovely reminder that God works through less-than-perfect men and women. Asa builds up the temple treasury, but uses it to seek an alliance with neighboring Aram (15,18,19) when he should have trusted the Lord (see 2 Chron. 16:7-10). So, the positive report is qualified; his reforms are partial and will need to be concluded later by his son Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:46). But David’s lamp continues to burn, as God said it would (1 Kings 11:36; 15:4), anticipating the One who would obey him completely.

 

APPLY

Pray for strength for those who seek to remain faithful to God in difficult circumstances.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Jesus, I long to be found faithful. Strengthen my heart and help me lay aside all that keeps me from You.

 

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Rejection

OPENING PRAYER

Lord, thank You that You are ever for me and that I can always turn to You.

 

Read: 1 KINGS 12:21-33

[21] When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin-a hundred and eighty thousand able young men-to go to war against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon. [22]But this word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: [23] “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to all Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, [24] ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.'” So they obeyed the word of the LORD and went home again, as the LORD had ordered. [25] Then Jeroboam fortified Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. From there he went out and built up Peniel. [26] Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. [27] If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.” [28] After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” [29] One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. [30] And this thing became a sin; the people came to worship the one at Bethel and went as far as Dan to worship the other. [31] Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites. [32] He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made. And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made. [33] On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel. So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings. 

 

 

Reflect:WHO WAS FIRST IN JEROBOAM'S CONSIDERATIONS?

God had promised blessing to Jeroboam if he remained faithful (1 Kings 11:37,38). Alas, from the start, Jeroboam rejects the Lord’s ways. He fortifies Shechem (12:25), which would become the first capital of the northern kingdom, but he anticipates that the people will want to return south to Jerusalem to worship. So, he builds two sites in the north, even constructing golden calves (26-30)–replaying the rebellion of Exodus 32.Not only does he make idols to be worshipped as gods, but he also introduces non-Levitical priests (31), possibly instituting himself as a priest, offering sacrifices and reorganizing the calendar of religious feasts (32,33). The giveaway line in verse 26 says that he “thought to himself.” The result is that his actions divert worship from the Lord and his Temple in Jerusalem. Jeroboam builds on practices that would have been familiar to the people, but uses religion for his own ends. That remains a familiar temptation–in the church or at work or in the home–to use our faith to fit with personal goals, to acquiesce to dominant trends rather than to go against the crowd.

 

APPLY

Keep God’s Word before yourself–on the mirror, in the car, on the fridge. And keep it in your heart.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Father, You are the center and only when You are in Your rightful place do we know peace.

 

 

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Succession

OPENING PRAYER

Lord, I can rest securely in You because You are forever faithful.

 

Read: 1 KINGS 12:1-20

[1] Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone there to make him king. [2] When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. [3] So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: [4] “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.” [5] Rehoboam answered, “Go away for three days and then come back to me.” So the people went away. [6] 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. [7] 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.” [8] But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. [9] 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’?” [10] The young men who had grown up with him replied, “These people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. [11] 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.'” [12]Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” [13] The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, [14] 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.” [15] 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. [16] 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, Israel! Look after your own house, David!” So the Israelites went home. [17] But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them. [18]King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. [19] So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. [20] When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David.

 

Reflect: WHAT IS EVIDENT IN REHOBOAM?

After Solomon dies, his son Rehoboam succeeds him as king (1). Hoping for relief from forced labor, the people appeal to him (4). The language of “heavy yoke” and “harsh labor” reminds us of passages in Exodus (1:14; 2:23; 5:9; 6:6,9)–an indictment that Solomon’s rule has effectively returned the people to slavery. Yet, rather than trust the counsel of the elders who had served Solomon, Rehoboam identifies with the young men, possible newcomers, and imposes greater burdens on the people (8-15). Verse 16 sounds strange but represents a rejection of Rehoboam’s reign and results in the Israelites returning home. Rehoboam’s diplomatic efforts fail, and he is forced to escape to Jerusalem (18). The end of the passage sees Jeroboam declared king over the northern tribes of Israel with only Judah remaining loyal to Rehoboam in the south (20). The elders’ advice to Rehoboam (7) reflects a principle about servant leadership which carries across the generations, where power and authority are to serve the best interests of people. This was God’s original design for the monarch (Deut. 17:20), and is seen supremely in Jesus, the servant-king (Mark 10:45).

 

APPLY

Talk a walk with the Lord today. Ask him to speak to you about how he desires to use you.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

King of All Creation, thank You that You bow down in order to lift us up.

 

 

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Division

OPENING PRAYER

God of All, praise to You who made the heaven and the earth and all that is in them!

 

Read: 1 KINGS 11:26-43

[26] Also, Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against the king. He was one of Solomon’s officials, an Ephraimite from Zeredah, and his mother was a widow named Zeruah. [27] Here is the account of how he rebelled against the king: Solomon had built the terraces and had filled in the gap in the wall of the city of David his father. [28] Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the tribes of Joseph. [29] About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country, [30] and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. [31] Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give you ten tribes. [32] But for the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, he will have one tribe. [33] I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molek the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in obedience to me, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my decrees and laws as David, Solomon’s father, did. [34] “‘But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon’s hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose and who obeyed my commands and decrees. [35] I will take the kingdom from his son’s hands and give you ten tribes. [36] I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name.[37] However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel.[38] If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. [39] I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever.'”[40] Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt, to Shishak the king, and stayed there until Solomon’s death. [41] As for the other events of Solomon’s reign-all he did and the wisdom he displayed-are they not written in the book of the annals of Solomon? [42] Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. [43] Then he rested with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David his father. And Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king.

 

Reflect: HOW DOES A DIVIDED HEART LEAD TO A DIVIDED KINGDOM?

Verses 24 and 25 describe various internal divisions and adversaries within Solomon’s kingdom. As it turns out, the most significant rival–Jeroboam–is right under Solomon’s nose (26). Described as a “man of standing” (28), Jeroboam encounters Ahijah whose prophetic action (reminiscent of 1 Sam. 15:27,28) graphically foretells a division in the kingdom: God will tear away ten tribes from Solomon and give them to Jeroboam (31).Notice the emphasis on “I” in verses 31 to 36. What comes about will have nothing to do with Jeroboam’s own competence, and everything to do with the Lord’s plan. He, not leaders of nations, governs history–a fact which shapes our prayers and our direction of trust. Crucially, though, the promise made to Jeroboam is conditional (38,39). We shall see in a subsequent reading how his story ends. As in yesterday’s passage (1 Kings 11:4,6,12,13), the emphasis on David is significant. In a demonstration of grace in judgment, God promises that a lamp will always burn in Jerusalem, implying continual succession.

 

APPLY

Thank God that he works out his purposes for good in spite of our own weaknesses and failings, and those of others too.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Jesus, without Your touch I have nothing good to bring. Move through me.

 

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Deterioration

OPENING PRAYER

Father, may Your light shine in my heart that my motives would be pure and I may follow You in truth.

 

Read:1 KINGS 11:1-13

[1] King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter-Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. [2] They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. [3] He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. [4] As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. [5] He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. [6] So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done. [7] On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. [8] He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods. [9] The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. [10]Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command. [11] So the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. [12]Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. [13] Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.” 

 

Reflect: WHAT DO YOU SEE ABOUT SOLOMON'S PRIORITIES?

Having begun so well, Solomon’s reign ends in decline. The previous ten chapters are largely positive about him, but it’s also possible to detect some criticisms, especially when read against the warnings in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 about the accumulation of accoutrements that go with kingship. Large harems were part of the trappings of power, often the result of political alliances with other nations (1). Still, the Lord had forbidden such intermarriage (2), the reason for which becomes clear in verse 4. It would result in divided loyalties.Responsibility is placed squarely on Solomon’s shoulders (9,10). Look for repeated use of the words “turn” (2,4,9), “follow” (5,6,10) and “heart” (three times in vs. 4,9). The “heart” dimension is crucial. Then, as now, biblical faith primarily involves not a set of doctrines we believe but a Lord we love. The Lord’s judgment is tempered with mercy because of his covenant with David (12,13). Solomon’s failure, though great, will not result in the annulment of God’s promise. Here’s a story that causes us to examine our priorities, reminding us that only the true God is to receive total trust and worship.

 

APPLY

Examine areas where complacency may set in and ask God to renew your heart.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord of Glory, I want to run the race without giving in or turning back. Help me to run well to the end.

 

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