Whether an emperor, king, or president, the actions and behavior of leaders are
placed on pedestals, visible for all the world to see. And, all to often, the
actions of leaders are reflected in the people they lead. This is especially
true in the Bible. For there is no other volume of work where both the strengths and
weaknesses, the accomplishments and failures, of history's most famous people are so
vividly and poignantly recorded. The Bible has withstood all efforts to destroy it and
continues to stand before us as a testament to the best and worst man has to offer.
The chronicles of the kings of Judah are a provocative example of this. Nowhere else in the
Bible have individuals been given so much opportunity by God to lead His people, to
shepherd them in a way that would lead them into a greater relationship with their
Creator. More often than not, however, those kings failed miserably in their
After the nation was divided into two parts - North (Samaria) and South (Judah) - following
the death of King Solomon, the northern kingdom was not blessed with a single
righteous king. Judah, on the other hand, was gifted with several. However, the
southern kingdom had its share of sinful kings who sought to do the will of non-existent
pagan gods rather than of the Most High (Daniel 4:34), who brought Israel into existence.
It is these southern kingdom monarchs following King Solomon on whom we will focus, as
their stories stand recorded before us. As God's universal Church, it is our
responsibility to learn all we can from the kings of Judah, to emulate their
spiritual victories and to eschew their moral failures.
Rehoboam succeeded his father Solomon. However, his decision to raise
taxes led to a split in the Israelite kingdom.
Rehoboam and Jeroboam divided Solomon's kingdom and fought each other throughout their
lives (I Kings 14:30). This was exactly the judgment that God promised to exact on
Solomon for his sins of idolatry (I Kings 11:11-13). Ten tribes, collectively referred
to as Israel or the northern kingdom, sided with Jeroboam in rebellion against Solomon's
successor Rehoboam, who ruled over the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, known as Judah
or the southern kingdom.
One cannot be struck with a sense of sadness when reading about the fall of Israel
leading up to the Babylonian captivity. Until the Lord built His Church, perhaps
no people on earth had been so blessed as the children of Israel to have
communion with the God who breathed the world into existence. The kings who were
given the privilege of leading that people had the chance to shepherd them in the
ways of the Sovereign of the Universe. Some succeeded gloriously; however, most failed
Today, Christians have a magnificent opportunity to live for the Lord and show
the world that there is just one God (the Lord), one Spirit (the Holy Spirit), and
one Saviour (Jesus Christ). May we be faithful in the work which He has given us to do.
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