These chapters record what could be called "the beginning of the end," for the glory of the nation of Israel begins to fade just after the death of Solomon. The Book of I Kings covers approximately 125 years of history, 40 years of Solomon's reign and about 85 years for the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah. Only five kings reigned in Judah during that period, while there were eight kings that reigned in Israel, all of them wicked.
Chapters 12:1--14:20 record the divisions of the kingdom. Solomon's vast program of building and expansion had brought fame and glory to the nation, but the taxes were heavy upon the people. In his later years, Solomon's values had changed and he was more interested in material wealth than spiritual blessing (see Ecclesiastes 1:12--2:26).
We also read of Rehoboam's folly in chapter 12. He sought the wisdom of both the older leaders and the younger men--then decided to follow the advice of the younger men! In the latter part of the chapter and continuing in chapter 13, Jeroboam became king over the ten tribes. He failed to live up to his opportunities, for he led the ten tribes into idolatry.
Because of the sins of Solomon's son, Rehoboam, and later those of Jeroboam, God again judged Israel (chapter 14:1-20). God is always faithful in judging sin, no matter who the guilty party is.
"Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34). When godly kings were ruling Israel, God blessed His people. When ungodly men reigned, God sent judgment and defeat. How tragic it is to see this great nation, called by the Lord, now declining in spiritual things and turning away from the truth.
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