Political and spiritual rebellion: 1 Kings 12.21–31 (8 October 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.



Lord, open my ears to hear what you have to say to me; open my heart to love your word, and open my mind to understand your truth.


Daily reflection: 1 Kings 12

The judgement God promises because of Solomon's behaviour falls not on the king, but on his son Rehoboam. The loyalty of the northern tribes of Israel to the house of David had always been fragile. After they entered Canaan and in the time of the judges, the Hebrews were united by religion rather than government – they were a loose federation of tribes who fought against each other as well as alongside each other. Their unity under one monarch – Saul, David and lastly Solomon – wasn't to last long. Now, thanks to Rehoboam's incompetence, that was over. Having lived in the shadow of his father, he tries to prove himself a strong man; instead he brings disaster on the realm (verses 8–11).

Worse than the political breakdown, though, is the spiritual one: the new Israelite king, Jeroboam, afraid for his authority if Jerusalem remains the spiritual centre of gravity for his people, presents them with two golden calves to worship instead (verse 28), telling them that they were 'the gods who brought you out of Egypt'. Perhaps Aaron's treacherous act in Exodus 32.4 was still remembered.

It's Jeroboam's actions, rather than Rehoboam's, which might have more to teach us today. Prophets stand up to kings. Monarchs too are under God's law. When the state attacks or tries to control religion today, it's because it knows it isn't all-powerful and feels threatened. It tries to set up its own golden calves – nationalism, or ideology, perhaps. But as we'll see, God is never shut out for long.



God, teach me to be humble and wise; and let me always remember that it's you who has loved me and saved me, and no one else.

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