Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 12

The advice of Rehoboam’s friends

1 Kings 12:8-11

The way that a master controls his slaves is, typically, by acts of cruelty. He wants the slaves to be too afraid not to obey him. If a slave is unwilling to work, then the cruelty against that slave increases.

Israel’s people were not slaves. However, they had complained about the work that they had to do on behalf of their king. They had urged Rehoboam to make that work easier.

The men who had authority in Solomon’s government had advised Rehoboam to agree to the people’s demands. Then the people would accept Rehoboam as their king and he would gain authority over them.

However, Rehoboam’s friends, who had authority in Rehoboam’s government, disagreed. They told him to deal with the people cruelly, as if the people were his slaves. Those friends thought that Rehoboam could make the people afraid by his strong words.

Rehoboam’s friends even told Rehoboam what he should say to the people. Rehoboam should say that he considered his father, Solomon, to be a weak king. They would now discover what it meant for their country to have a strong king. If they formerly considered their work to be hard, it would now become much harder.

If they still refused to obey, Rehoboam would not hesitate to punish them severely. Perhaps Solomon’s men used a whip to punish an unwilling worker. Rehoboam reminded them that there was much worse pain than from a small whip. He compared his punishments to the sting of a scorpion, a small animal that causes very terrible pain.

Next part: Rehoboam's reply to the people's demands (1 Kings 12:12-15)


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