Grace or Greed
1 Kings 12:1-19
1 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.
6 Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?”
7 And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.”
8 But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him.
9 And he said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?”
10 And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us,’ thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s thighs.
11 And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’ ”
12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.”
13 And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him,
14 he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.”
15 So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfill his word, which the Lord spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
16 And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.” So Israel went to their tents.
17 But Rehoboam reigned over the people of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah.
18 Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was taskmaster over the forced labor, and all Israel stoned him to death with stones. And King Rehoboam hurried to mount his chariot to flee to Jerusalem.
19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.
Have you been to an amusement park lately? I confess that I have not. They are not my favorite places. But last time I was at one, the “new” kind of ride was one where you were placed inside of a story. The ride actually went nowhere, but you were strapped into a cart that shook and tipped so that as you watched the movie that surrounded you it felt like you were actually experiencing a dramatic ride through a volcano or down a snowy mountainside on a bobsled. You become a part of a story.
Since Adam and Eve, man has used story to bring about change. There is a reason our Bible is filled the stories of God’s people. Our imagination is captured; we place ourselves into the action where we are inspired to think about our own lives and the way we may have responded to that situation we just read about. The story of the ascension of Rehoboam to the throne of Solomon had that effect upon me. What would I have done if the most powerful and wealthy kingdom on the planet had been handed to me? Would I choose grace or greed? I am forced to shake my head at Rehoboam and wonder “what were you thinking?!?” Why would you take the advice of the young people you grew up with rather than the words of the older wiser people around you? Seems like a no-brainer. But – are we any different? In the moment, are we making choices that serve the community around us, or do we take the selfish option and serve ourselves? This is why God has provided us with so many stories of failure and success. As we put ourselves into those stories, we are given the chance to have them shape our thinking and form our character. As we ponder the decisions of Rehoboam, we can decide in advance(!) what we would do given a similar situation. Now, the chances that you are going to be handed a kingship are probably small. But the applications can go beyond world leadership. They can trickle down to everyday life. These stories can become cautionary for our own lives if only we will allow it to happen. This is yet another reason why Bible study is vital to the Christian life. When I think about Rehoboam, my mind is being shaped into the likeness of Christ. I know, it seems like a leap, but it really isn’t. That is the power of the God working through His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life to create in you someone who is more like Christ and less like a fleshly human. There are numerous benefits to this, but for now we will lean upon the fact that this lifestyle will lead you into far fewer problems and far greater peace. Just imagine if Rehoboam had acted with grace rather than greed. Just imagine if you acted with grace rather than greed.