Rehoboam, King of Judah

The Son of Solomon, King Rehoboam Took Counsel from Friends Rather than Trusted Advisors

Solomon's son, Rehoboam, was initially accepted by all of Israel. However, Jeroboam came with the congregation of Israel to meet with Rehoboam, requesting tax relief. Solomon had imposed burdensome taxes to pay for building projects and public works. At first, Rehoboam consulted with the men who had advised Solomon, and their advice was, “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” (1 Kings 12:7)

But Rehoboam rejected their counsel and consulted with younger men who had grown up with him. Their advice was to burden the people even more. When Jeroboam and Israel heard these things, they rebelled, and in the following days, stoned to death one of Rehoboam's tribute collectors. Rehoboam quickly returned to Jerusalem. Ten tribes of Israel chose Jeroboam to be their king, leaving only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin following Rehoboam. Rehoboam thought to initiate a civil war, but Shemaiah, the man of God, told Rehoboam, Judah and Benjamin, “Thus says the Lord: You shall not go up nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel. Let every man return to his house, for this thing is from Me.”

Rehoboam was 41 years old when he became king and he reigned 17 years in Jerusalem. All of the Levites and priests that Jeroboam had banished came to Jerusalem. Rehoboam became strong, and for three years walked in the right ways of David and Solomon. Rehoboam, like his father, loved many women. He had 18 wives and 60 concubines, 28 sons and 60 daughters. He loved Maachah more than the rest, who was mother to Abijah, (Abijam) who Rehoboam intended to be heir of the throne.

Wisely, Rehoboam strategically positioned his sons throughout all the cities of Judah and Benjamin. But as soon as the kingdom was established, he abandoned the law of the Lord. With the encouragement of his wife, Maachah, an Asherah worshipper, he built idolatrous altars and places for religious rites, ignoring God's commands against such things.

“And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, whom they provoked to jealousy with the sins they committed, above all that their fathers had done. For they also built themselves [idolatrous] high places, pillars, and Asherim [idolatrous symbols of the goddess Asherah] on every high hill and under every green tree. There were also sodomites (male cult prostitutes) in the land. They did all the abominations of the nations whom the Lord cast out before the Israelites.” (1 Kings 14:22-24 Amplified Bible)

After two years of idolatry and disregard for God, Shishak, the king of Egypt unleashed an assault against Judah. He came with 60,000 horsemen, 1,200 chariots and innumerable soldiers, assembled from Egypt and northern Africa. Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah, and speaking for God, said, “You have forsaken Me, and therefore I also have left you in the hand of Shishak.” Rehoboam and the leadership humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is righteous.”

When the Lord saw their genuine remorse, and that they acknowledged their sin, He told Shemaiah, “They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance. My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they will be his servants, that they may distinguish My service from the service of the kingdoms of the nations.” Shishak took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and treasures from the king's house. He also took away all the golden shields which Solomon had made. Shishak took away everything. In the end, Rehoboam had failed because he had not followed the Lord with all of his heart. He died and left the throne of Judah to his son, Abijam. (1 Kings 12:1-24; 1 Kings 14:21-31; 2 Chronicles 10-12)

Written by: Pete Miller