By Matt Capps
I grew up in a neighborhood with a large group of guys. We were all around the same age, and we spent a lot of time together up through middle school. I distinctly remember a petty rift in our group that divided us for several weeks one summer. We all learned that we could do less apart than we could together. The division in our group quickly diminished the rich bond we all enjoyed when we were together.
The rings of division tend to spread wide, affecting anyone near. The experience of that brief rift in relationship during my childhood pales in comparison to the implications of the division we read about in today’s passage from 1 Kings. The larger the division, the larger the impact. Imagine how many people are affected when an entire kingdom is divided?
After the death of David’s son Solomon, the King of Israel, we read of the tragic story of the kingdom being torn apart, two kingdoms emerging from one. Under the rule of Jeroboam, ten northern tribes split and secede from the other two, maintaining the name Israel. The two remaining tribes became known as the southern kingdom, Judah, under the rule of Rehoboam. In a few short chapters of 1 Kings, we learn how both kingdoms headed for disaster. Judah’s heavy-handed Rehoboam no longer desired to serve the people, and Israel’s Jeroboam led the people backward into spiritual idolatry with the worship of golden calves.
Perhaps you’ve heard the old adage, “As the king goes, so goes the nation.” So it was with Rehoboam when he “abandoned the law of the Lord—he and all Israel with him” (2 Chronicles 12:1). In fact, both Solomon and Rehoboam forfeited the promises given to David by their disobedience. Imagine the people of Israel, now divided into two kingdoms, confused and wondering: Where is God? Will He still keep the promises He made to David? What will come of us now? Their answer was just over the horizon.
In the case of our neighborhood’s summer rift, it was the “leaders” of each group that called a truce. Only then were we able to mend the division and come back together. As we reflect on the narrative of Israel, the question is, “Who will lead the divided nation back together?”
In 1 Kings, we read that “no one followed the house of David except the tribe of Judah alone” (1 Kings 12:30). And it is from the tribe of Judah that the true King would emerge, the one who would mend all divisions. The Gospel accounts make clear that only Jesus—not David, not Solomon, not Rehoboam, Jeroboam, or any other earthly king—is both the true son of David and the Son of God, the one whose perfect rule and kingdom will never end (Luke 1:32–33).
Even better, Jesus Christ is not only King over all of Israel—He is King over all creation, over the entire cosmos. In Him, the hopes and longings of all God’s people find their fulfillment. Other kings tore Israel apart, but Jesus came to eternally unify God’s people through the bond of His sacrifice. That is a bond that can never be broken.
Written by Matt Capps