“And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD turned from him, that he would not destroy him altogether: and also in Judah things went well.
So king Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem, and reigned: for Rehoboam was one and forty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there.2 Chronicles 12:12-13a
I laugh at how the Lord says, ‘I almost destroyed you altogether, but, since I didn’t, generally things are well.’ Often we mistake mercy for approval. Such was Rehoboam’s entire career.
“And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah an Ammonitess.
And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done.”1 Kings 14:21-22
The parallel account of the Kings gives a blunt summary. Just because things went well, didn’t mean they were good. Oh that Americans would read the Old Testament!
How did the kingdom degenerate so quickly?
David was God’s choice of all men to be the shepherd of his people. He loved him so much that He covenanted with David concerning his sons and the kingdom, calling Zion, “the throne of David.” David never got over the lovingkindness of the Lord.
Solomon was a man after his father’s heart. For David’s sake, God offered to give him ANYTHING he wanted. Solomon asked wisdom and authored three of the richest books of the whole Bible, He built the Temple, and established the nation of Israel so well financially that the sheiks of Dubai would have to sell newspapers at a flea market in Jerusalem. (Oil-driven wealth is unsteady at best- Solomon said so! Proverbs 21:17)
Solomon had a son. A son blessed with the covenant and testimony of his grandfather and the wisdom and wealth of his father. Yet he was a fool, and lost it all. What happened?
The particulars of these three generations are examined in Crisis of the Christian Home, a 5-part Bible study podcast on parenting. One thing rises above the rest and that is the subject today: Rehoboam wasn’t willing to stop what he had been doing.
Over the Hill
After the age of 40, people call you, ‘over the hill’. There is good reason for that. You’re halfway to a living to a strong old age according to the Psalms. You’re also in the stage of life where it’s easier to coast downhill than to stop.
You’ve heard it said, “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.” Yes, but why? Is it because the old dog can’t learn? Or perhaps it’s because the old dog would have to UN-learn things that have become a default habit?
Rehoboam was already 41 years old when he took charge of the kingdom. He was used to his father’s schedule, expectations, and drive. It came easily for him because he had lived that way so long. When he finally became ‘the man’ he had a choice to make: earn the respect of the people by stopping the machinery, or continue like he’d always done and hope to hang on to the reins.
After watching ten tribes abandon him, you can probably figure out what he did, or rather, didn’t do. (1 Kings 12)
He couldn’t stop.
He was afraid he’d lose all that he had worked for those 40 years. Like his youth was an uphill trudge, and he had pushed so hard to make it; he figured he earned a downhill coast. It was more work to stop than to let ‘er ride. It felt safer to roll with the good things than to halt them for something better.
How many times have you discovered a new, profitable opportunity, only to dismiss it reactively because of all the other ‘good things’ you are already doing?
I would give to missions, but I’m already giving to church, so…
I would go to the altar, but I always just pray from my seat, so…
I would give God my mornings, but I always think about work when I wake up, so…
There’s always a good reason to just keep things going the way they were. It’s easier after all. What you’re doing is probably good.
What I think scares us as we get older the most? I believe that it is not meeting new people, or trying a new restaurant, or buying a new car. It’s letting the old ones go, saying goodbye, forsaking the regular watering hole, turning in the keys. Not the new, but the old.
Does your life have you on a downhill slide? Is your schedule pushing you over the hill? Maybe it’s time to tap the brakes and check your heart for God’s calling.