Divided Kingdom

These small group studies take us through almost twenty of the key events in the Old Testament. Our Old Testament Survey contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Old Testament Survey Lesson 13 – Divided Kingdom

Outline

  1. The downfall of Solomon (chapter 11)

    1. The cause of his downfall (1-8)

      1. Broke God’s command about foreigners (1-2)

      2. Followed his wives’ gods (3-6)

      3. Built idols to false gods (7-8)

    2. The consequences of his sin (9-40)

      1. God’s wrath (9-10)

      2. The kingdom to be torn away (11-13)

      3. An enemy in Edom (14-23)

      4. A marauding band in Damascus (24-25)

      5. Jeroboam son of Nebat (26-40)

  2. The death of Solomon (41-43)

  3. The divided kingdom (chapter 12)

    1. The request from the people (1-4)

    2. The wise counsel of the elders (5-7)

    3. The foolish counsel of the young men (8-11)

    4. Rehoboam’s prideful reply (12-15)

    5. The revolt of the Northern tribes (16-24)

    6. The establishment of cult religion in the North (25-33)

Questions

When did God give the command not to associate with the foreigners around them?

Why did God give this command?

Does God want us to associate with the world and reach out to them or does He want us isolate ourselves so that they don’t influence us? Support your answer.

How can we balance the commands to be separate from the people and the commands to go into the world to witness?

If Solomon was so wise how could he have fallen into this snare?

What were some things that you think may have contributed to his falling into this temptation?

Is it possible to marry or closely associate with unbelievers and pagans without being affected?

Is it ok to marry just one unbeliever? What if you think you can change them?

How can you avoid the mistake that Solomon made?

What lessons can we learn from this?

What was God’s punishment?

Why was it so strict?

Why did he leave one tribe in Solomon’s descendents control?

What does the following phrase mean to you, “Then the Lord raised up an adversary to Solomon”?

Why do you think God raised up some enemies to Solomon (short-term and long-term consequences)?

What was Jeroboam’s position?

What do you notice that seems wrong about 11:32 (forced labor of Joseph)?

Israel had 12 tribes. How come Jeroboam got ten and Solomon one? What happened to the other tribe?

Did Jeroboam need to do anything in order to get the kingdom (he just needed to sit back and watch God work)?

What promise did God (through Abijah) make to Jeroboam?

Was the people’s request to Rehoboam reasonable?

What mistake did he make?

What verses can you think of that address this?

When we ask for counsel whom should we ask?

What was the result of Rehoboam’s response?

What principles can we learn from this, both about how to relate to others and about receiving counsel?

What was the problem with the representative Rehoboam sent to the Northern tribes?

Was Jeroaboam a good leader? Why or why not?

Discuss his instituting the false religion in the North.

Observations –

11:1-8 (The cause of Solomon’s downfall) –

God gave the command not to marry the foreign women or associate with them for a reason. He knew the weaknesses of people and he knew the influences that they would have on Israel. He didn’t make this command because of ethnicity, but because of spiritual depravity. The people had false and depraved religions. These would suck Israel into sin if Israel associated with them.

Solomon was very wise, perhaps the wisest person to ever live. He knew God’s commands. He knew God’s law. He must have known the consequences that marrying all of these foreign wives would bring. Yet he did it anyway. Wisdom in the head does not always translate to wisdom in action. Solomon, like most people, probably fell into this sin gradually. I doubt he planned on marrying a thousand women and building temples and monuments to false gods at the beginning of his reign. It happened one wife, one compromise, one situational decision at a time. One of the first was when he married Pharaoh’s daughter. He could have explained it away as a useful political alliance and necessary to secure Israel’s status, but it was a compromise. Perhaps he was prideful and thought that they wouldn’t affect him. After all, he was a powerful king. They should follow his belief. But husbands want to please their wives. Solomon wanted to please his wives as well and their influence was strong. Step by step, compromise by compromise, lust by lust, Solomon fell into a terrible state of sin. What was once a godly, and devoted king (see 1 Kings 8) became an evil, idol worshipper.

We can learn some principles from Solomon’s sin. Firstly, never ever consider yourself to be wiser than God. Of course we will not say this out loud or probably even think exactly like this. Do you think we are wiser than God? But when we knowingly disobey God’s commands and then give justification for it, we are declaring ourselves wiser than God. When we say that we recognize God’s command, but then don’t follow it because of our unique situation, our better idea, or our own solution we are declaring ourselves to be wiser than God.

Secondly, know that willful disobedience will destroy your relationship with God and it will bring consequences. Do not think that you can sin against God willfully and get away with it. Do not think that you can sin against God in one area of your life with no repentance and that it will not affect other areas of your life. It shows that you are unwilling to make Christ Lord of your life. And if you are unwilling to do this you have lost the battle already. I know of someone who asked counsel about her job. Her boss was requiring her to lie. If she refused to lie she would be fired. In the end, she decided to lie. After that point she never came to Bible study again. Her willful disobedience in one area affected her entire walk with Christ. I know of another (actually many, at least five that I know personally in the last few years) who came to study faithfully and professed Christ. However, he soon had an unbelieving girlfriend. He chose to sin in this area and he fell away from God entirely. We cannot take fire to our bosom and not be burned (Proverbs 6:27-28).

Thirdly, the world and especially girlfriends/boyfriends and wives/husbands have a strong influence. Many Christians believe that their walk with God is strong. They believe that even if they marry or go out with an unbeliever that they can remain faithful to God. They not only believe this, but also believe that they can turn the other one to Christ. However, it is almost never the case. Solomon was wiser than any of you. He had a solid walk with God and he was certainly strong, but these influences turned him. Do not be deceived. Do not think that you will be different. You cannot take fire to your bosom and not be burned. Also, Scripture warns against hanging out with foolish companions. These are peers who will have bad influences on us. Certainly unbelievers fall into this category. (Proverbs 13:20)

So how can we interpret the commands to stay apart from the world and the commands to go into the world (See Isaiah 52:11, Ezra 10:11, Mark 16:15, 2 Corinthians 5:20)? Separating from the world doesn’t mean to isolate ourselves. It means to separate from evil influences, alliances, relationships, habits, etc. It doesn’t tell us to have no contact with the world, but it means not to join them, not to be like them, not to allow them undue influence over us. It is like an ambassador. An ambassador lives in a foreign country. He communicates to the people there. He lives with them. Yet he is not part of them. He is going there to be a representative to them, not to immigrate. When we go in to the world it should be to share the gospel and witness, not become like them. Some may say if we become like them we can reach them better. But in this case, reaching them won’t mean anything because we won’t have anything different to reach them with!

Are there any other important principles?

9-40 (the consequences of his sin) –

God does get angry. His anger is righteous anger. He gave Solomon great wisdom. He gave Solomon treasures and long life. He exalted Solomon to a position of great honor. But Solomon broke God’s commands and turned away from following God, who gave him all of that. Solomon should have been grateful. He should have given God the glory. He should have continued to rely on God so that he would be a good king. But he didn’t. Instead he placed women over God’s commands, making them an idol, and subsequently making idols out of other gods. God doesn’t allow sin to go unpunished and He decided to take away most of the kingdom from Solomon. God doesn’t forget His promises. He promised to David the kingdom and didn’t go back on this promise. Again, God judges sin, but there is mercy there too.

Jesus said that to whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48). God gave much to Solomon and required much from Solomon. But Solomon did not use his opportunity well, instead squandering it for his own ends.

Let us remember the blessings God has blessed us with. Let us be grateful to Him for everything He has given us. Let us not be selfish, but give back to God from everything He has given us. Let us make use of all of our gifts, time, and resources to serve God. He has given us so much. He also requires a lot.

Solomon didn’t have to face only long-term consequences for his disobedience. God also raised up some short-term problems. This specific example of raising up an adversary against Israel is something that occurred numerous times throughout the Old Testament. When God’s people turned away from Him, He often stirred up a foreign nation against them. He wanted them to see a visible reminder that their sin had consequences and that they should follow Him. Whenever they got into this kind of trouble they could remember that it was their own sin that put them there and cry out to God for help.

God also began working to bring about the successor to the ten Northern tribes (Benjamin had become integrated into Judah), Jeroaboam. Jeroboam got to see first hand the discontent of the people as he was over the forced labor. Solomon tried to put him to death, but he escaped.

11:41-43 (Solomon’s death) –

Solomon died. He was given so much, but his legacy didn’t reflect that. Some believe that Solomon later repented and turned to God. It’s unknown. He did write Psalms and Proverbs, a possible indication that he was a believer and eventually repented. But one thing is sure; he wasted most of the talent that God had given to him. He could have had an amazing influence for Yawheh all over the globe (people came from far countries to his court), but instead he built idols. How will people remember you? Will you be the believer who always waited to serve God? The one who seemed to have a good heart, but didn’t put it into action? The one who had big plans for God, but never accomplished them? The one who professed to know God, but didn’t act like? The one who went to Bible study, but ignored God’s commands? Or you will be the good and faithful servant.

Chapter 12 (the divided kingdom)–

1-4 – Jeroboam came back and the people presented Rehoboam with a reasonable request. They asked him to lighten their load. Solomon had built a great nation, but he abused the people. It seems that he actually enslaved some people from Israel and forced them to labor.

5-15 – Rehoboam did a wise thing in that he asked counsel. Proverbs 11:14, 12:15, and 13:20 all speak to this. But Rehoboam made some serious mistakes. He rejected the elders wise counsel. Then he went to his friends, young men, with which he grew up, and asked their opinion. They gave bad counsel and he listened to it.

There are several lessons to learn here. Of course we should ask counsel. But that isn’t enough. We need to ask counsel from wise, godly people who will give good advice. It is quite easy for me to go out and find counsel that I want to here. I can often guess what people will say and ask the ones who I know will agree with me. That is not getting good counsel. The source of the counsel is extremely important. If it is from worldly people it is worse than worthless. If is from immature believers it is not that valuable. So we need to take care who we ask counsel from. Also, we need to listen! We may ask counsel hoping to hear agreement to our ideas, but then ignore it if it doesn’t support what we want to do. I know of a lot of people that come to us or others and ask counsel. We give it, but it seems like they don’t pay any attention. If you aren’t willing to listen to counsel you might as well not bother getting it. The principles for asking for counsel include asking godly people, asking many, and asking with an open heart. We don’t always have to follow each person’s suggestions. Sometimes other counsel may disagree. Or sometimes we might be convinced that God’s way is not what they said. But whatever the case, we must go in with an open heart, be willing to listen, and really evaluate it to try to discern God’s will.

One can see quite easily the pride of the young men. They were arrogant. Rehoboam was proud, probably also of his power. He thought he could conquer anything. But he was harsh and foolish, and lost most of the kingdom. Of course God was in control of this. But Rehoboam must be held responsible for his own actions. If Rehoboam had done right God would have brought about the prophecy through another way.

This caused a permanent split between the Northern and Southern tribes and is a big shift in Israel’s history. These tribes all came from Jacob. They were one nation, one people. But sin and jealousy divided them. Once divided they also became weaker. They would never be united again. The Northern Kingdom would never really be faithful to God again. Both kingdoms would eventually be conquered and exiled, the Northern Kingdom never to return again. Rehoboam furthered his mistake by sending the head of forced labor as a representative. That wasn’t a very good choice to try to make peace.

Jeroboam may be considered smart politically by trying to keep Israel from going back to Jerusalem by establishing centers of false worship in the North, but it was sinful and he looked to his own intelligence instead of trusting God. Jeroboam is referred to tens of times in the Old Testament, normally for leading Israel away from God and into false worship. His actions had a long result, both in the North and South, and plagued Israel for more than two hundred years until it was conquered by Assyria. Many other kings followed his example in this sinful religion and it was a snare to the people.

One can see it is very important to have good leaders. It is very important for those leaders to follow God and obey His commands. Solomon, Rehoboam, and Jeroboam did not do that. They and Israel suffered for it.

Cross-references

Deuteronomy 7:2-6 – The command to destroy the evil nations so that they wouldn’t fall into the snare of idol worship.

Exodus 34:12-16 – The command not to make a covenant or marry the pagans around them.

2 Corinthians 6:14-17 – The well-known command not to be unequally yoked, related a command in the Old Testament.

Proverbs 6:27-28 – Can a man take fire to his bosom and his clothes not be burned?

Proverbs 13:20 – The companion of fools will suffer harm.

Isaiah 52:11, Ezra 10:11 – Commands to come out and be separate from the people.

Mark 16:15, 2 Corinthians 5:20 – Go into the world to preach and be an ambassador in the world.

Luke 12:48 – To whom much is given much is required.

1 Kings 6:12, 1 Kings 9:6-7 – God promises to establish the kingdom if Solomon follows God or tear it away if he doesn’t.

Proverbs 12:15 – The wise listen to counsel.

Proverbs 11:14 – In the abundance of counselors there is victory. See also Proverbs 13:20.

Main Points –

  1. Never willfully sin – Do not willfully sin either because you have some justification or because you think it won’t affect other areas of your life. It destroyed Solomon. It will destroy you.

  2. Do not let the world influence you – Do not be a companion of fools. Don’t think that you can hang out closely with unbelievers without being effected or that you can win them over in this way. Whether they are a girlfriend, a wife, a friend, or a colleague their influence will have a negative and perhaps disastrous effect on you. Witness to them, but don’t be a close companion with them.

  3. Make the most of what God has given you – To whom much is given much is required. Be grateful for what God has given to you. Serve Him with it. Make the most of the opportunity. Don’t be the person who wastes their life and has nothing to show for it. Use it for God!

Old Testament Survey #14 – Elisha

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