7 June 2016

1 Kings 11:29-32

“See, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon …” (v. 31)

Psalm: Psalm 98


This reading is about rebellions by two men. Solomon continues to 'do his own thing' and rebel against God. Jeroboam, an Ephraimite who had clearly impressed Solomon and been promoted to be in charge of a considerable labour force, now rebels against the king. This is probably a result of crippling taxation and forced labour policies in the north of the kingdom. Jeroboam attempted a 'coup' which failed and resulted (1 Kings 11:40) in Jeroboam fleeing to Egypt, staying there until Solomon's death.

What seems to have prompted Jeroboam's rebellion is his talk with Ahijah the prophet and this colourful story of tearing his new garment into pieces. The prophet demonstrates in this way that the kingdom will be divided, namely Judah on its own remaining around Jerusalem, with the northern tribes becoming Israel. This must surely have seemed a confirmation to Jeroboam that the division of the kingdom was coming soon. However, his decision to rebel at this point may have been a little premature!

Possibly some of us will have lived and worked in countries where a coup or revolution has happened; it usually results in a period of temporary chaos, before things settle down. Probably all of us have had rebellious thoughts, and even taken action, when things have been perceived as 'not right' - in the family, in school or college, in the workplace - in our dealings with authority figures. At the root of such a rebellion is often the feeling of being unjustly treated. Sometimes these feelings of injustice are not for ourselves, but can be the hurt we feel on behalf of others. In such moments, as Christians, it would be advisable to consult with others to make sure that our actions are based on seeking the common good, and not just a self-centred knee-jerk reaction.

Reconciling was what Jesus was all about. His way of dealing with the injustices of his own day was based on enabling people to see each other and themselves as God's children, to seek common justice, and ultimately to demonstrate mercy.

To Ponder

  • Are you are aware of any injustices affecting those around you? How might you get involved 'for the common good'?
  • Justice and mercy might sometimes seem incompatible. Can you think of an example where justice was/is essential alongside the Christian understanding of mercy? What is it?

Bible notes author

Michael King

Michael King is a Methodist local preacher. From 2000-2011, he was leader of the Methodist Church's World Church Relationships team, and was the vice-president of the Methodist Conference in 2012/2013.