Psalm 55 provides a striking picture of a friend turning his back on another, the worst kind of betrayal and reveals how we can respond to our friend-enemy: we turn to the Lord. Here are some key verses to remember:
If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me, I could hide.
But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God,
as we walked about among the worshipers. Psalm 55:12-14
How do we respond?
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous be shaken.
But as for me, I trust in you. Psalm 55:22,23b
I thought about those who have had past experiences with a partner in church leadership as I read this morning—in contrast to 1 Kings 12 as the kingdom split begins. My heart breaks for those who have been betrayed by friends, the deepest kind of hurt on earth. It’s no wonder that Peter draws on this psalm in his advice, well, his mandate for elders in 1 Peter 5:1-6.
May the challenges of the past give you strength for the present and for the future.
Chapter 12 begins to describe the breakup of Israel and provides important background for understanding the rest of the Old Testament. Solomon’s son Rehoboam is an idiot, but Jeroboam is even worse! There’s a possibility we could recover from leadership of Rehoboam, but Jeroboam, well, that’s just a bridge too far.
Israel decides to make Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, their king. Jeroboam heard about this and decided the time was right to return from Egypt and unite the kingdom. It seemed like a good idea. Now that Solomon is dead, the forced labor will cease and the burdens of providing for the vast palace and lavish living are over, right? Nope. Rehoboam consults with two groups of advisors and decides to ignore wise counsel:
Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” 1 Kings 12:13-14
Strong words from a king that just took the throne. He really didn’t know what he was saying, but endorsing Jeroboam wasn’t a good idea either. It seems like a lose-lose proposition.
Jeroboam and most of Israel (all but the tribe of Judah, then Benjamin) take off! Rehoboam mounts and army from Judah and Benjamin and prepares to attack Jeroboam, but God spoke to Shemaiah, a man of God.
This is what the Lord says: “Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.” 1 Kings 12:24
Rehoboam, along with Judah and Benjamin return home.
Meanwhile, Jeroboam has a great idea. Since Jerusalem is off limits now, and we can’t go to the temple, let’s build our own! Jeroboam invents his own religion complete with two golden calves conveniently located for the people to worship. He creates new festivals to replace those the Lord put in place and get this: the people went along with his plans.
Wow! Where did all of this come from? The wisest man ever to walk the earth: Solomon. It seemed they were intent on worshipping the Lord, but even in all of this, they lost their way.
Here is the warning for us in our modern day, in our desire to build the church: don’t be an idiot. It’s the bride of Christ and he will build his church the way it needs to be built. Lord, I pray that we critically evaluate the words in this chapter, the beginning of the end, and learn how this applies to us today, to YOUR church. Help us to go out and make disciples of all nations, all people, and to stop building things for ourselves.