In 1 Kings 12, we read that after Jeroboam joins the people, they ask King Rehoboam to “lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” (vs 4) Notice that they don’t ask that he end it altogether, just that he lessen the load. If he does, they will be happy to renew the covenant of service with him.
Coty Pinckney comments:
Solomon’s advisors suggest that Rehoboam agree to this, but his personal advisors tell him this is his chance to assert his authority, and that he should be strict.
Rehoboam replies to the people, 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.”
He clearly had never read How to Win Friends and Influence People. More importantly, Rehoboam paid no attention to God’s law. His leadership should have been based on his relationship to God, on his character, and on love for the people; instead he tried to impress the people with his power and brutality.
So the king did not listen to the people; for it was a turn of events from the LORD, that He might establish His word, which the LORD spoke through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat. (1 Kings 11:15 NASB)
Note that God was behind this action of Rehoboam, “that he might establish His word.” Think about this:
- Did Rehoboam choose to answer this way? Yes!
- Was Rehoboam responsible for the way he answered? Yes!
- Was God behind the scenes ensuring that His word came about as planned? Yes!
God ordained the outcome. And Rehoboam was responsible for the outcome. Throughout the Bible, we see God’s sovereignty and man’s accountability. There is mystery here – but we must always recognize both truths. God is in control. We are accountable before Him.