With Solomon’s death his son Rehoboam sat on the throne. One of the first tasks before him was to perpetuate the complexity of support that was given to his father. If he were a servant of the people, as the elders counseled him to be, then the people of Israel would be loyal to him. On the other hand, if he chose a different path, which he did, then there would be no loyalty (12:1-15). Failing to heed the counsel of the men who served his father (Solomon), the nation was split in two. The southern kingdom consisting of Judah and Benjamin, and the northern kingdom consisting of the remaining tribes (the Levites had no land allotment and, thus, were spread throughout the land of Israel). Jeroboam was now made king over the northern tribes – all by the Lord’s doing (12:16-24). Jeroboam was not a very strong man, even though the Lord reassured him. When he had begun to fear that the people’s loyalty would wane, to offset this he altered things pertaining to the Lord that was not his prerogative to change (12:25-33).
Application: How the Lord works in the affairs of man is, really, a remarkable thing (cf. Daniel 4:17), but that He does is illustrated in this chapter as declared by Him (12:24). Though the Lord created two nations from the one, it was the individual man’s choice as to how he would lead and operate this new nation. The one thing the new king did that was to his ultimate destruction was alter the Lord’s pattern of worship – and this was no small thing (as the next chapter illustrates). It goes to helping us understand that when the Lord declared something to be a certain way, unless He changes it, it will be that certain way!