The Book of 1 Kings flows fast, and as you can see, we get only a glimpse of each king, their reigns and what happened during their times as rulers. I think when we finish this book, we will have a sense of a whirlwind having gone through the Promised Land. This chapter covers at least 22 years, as that was how long King Jeroboam ruled. Rehoboam ruled 17 years. Two things that stood out to me in this chapter was the Temple and Rehoboam’s mother. First, the Temple and the palace were both robbed – ransacked, as the text in my Bible puts it. Even the king’s guardsmen couldn’t protect it. Remember a few chapters back when I mentioned the gold chains Solomon had put into place to protect the Ark? I was sort of poking fun at the gesture because God doesn’t need to be protected. I also ridiculed Solomon a bit for building such grand structures. It’s like they were just waiting to tempt outsiders, and we see here that they did in fact do that very thing. The Temple and palace were so laiden with material things that Israel’s enemies would never stay away. I have a feeling, however, that if Israel would have followed God’s instructions, the Temple and palace still would be standing today in all its glory. No amount of gold or riches, however, could ever make up for abandoning God, and God makes that very clear in Chapter 14. God doesn’t want our gold, or bronze or jewels. He wants us!
Second, I noticed this chapter mentions Rehoboam’s mother, Naamah, two times – at the beginning of the section about Rehoboam and at the end. More importantly than her name, however, is the fact that she is an Ammonite woman, meaning King Solomon married outside God’s chosen people. Therefore, his son, who became king, was not fully an Israelite. At that time, God had warned Israel about marrying foreigners, and we see now why he did this. We’ve talked in the past about how easily it is to intermingle with foreigners and accept their ways. It’s obvious from these chapters that Rehoboam accepted the ways of his mother and her people, rather than standing firm on his father’s beliefs of putting God before all things. In Thailand, it’s easy to see the beauty associated with Buddhist beliefs, and I know many friendly people who practice Buddhism. It would be extremely easy for me to move in those circles and surround myself with Buddhist culture and customs, particularly if I were to marry into a family who practiced Buddhism. I believe this is the position in which Rehoboam probably found himself. We can have empathy for him when we understand his lineage and his position, but we also can learn from his behavior and conclude how dangerous it is to take part in practices that don’t give God the glory he so well deserves.
Writing prompt: other practices
What are some ways in modern days that we abandon God for worldly treasures and/or religious practices from other cultures? Write about something you’ve experienced and how easily we could slip into wrong beliefs.