Archives Series: Rehoboam
Scripture Reference: I Kings 12:1-14
Big Idea: One moment of pride can wreck everything
- Why has God blessed you?
- To whom are you listening and what advice are you giving?
By Scott Sutton
The first book of the Bible I fell in love with was the book of Ecclesiastes. I was an atheist at the time…on my way to finding truth and hope in Christ, but not there yet. At first, it was the novelty of reading the passage that inspired The Byrds’ classic (to everything, turn, turn, turn there is a season, turn, turn, turn…if that song is stuck in your head for the rest of the day, let me just say with all sincerity, “Sorry, not sorry.”) But as I read the other chapters and verses of Ecclesiastes, I felt I was reading something that could have flowed from the pens of Camus or Sartre or any of my other existentialist heroes. And, yet, this book predated them by over 3,000 years…and it was in the Bible of all places. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes was written by Rehoboam’s father, Solomon, who had riches and power and influence that surpassed any other ruler of his day. Solomon, who had an insatiable appetite for treasures and sex. Solomon, who was sought out by kings and queens from afar for his wisdom and fame. And somewhere along the way, maybe toward the end as he watched it all begin to crumble, he sat down to reflect and opened with the phrase, “‘Meaningless! Meaningless! … Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” He had me hooked. And over the next twelve chapters he enumerates the accomplishments of his life – the toils, pleasures, riches, knowledge, power – quickly acknowledging that, in the end, they are all folly, a chasing after the wind.
So…how does that relate to our teaching for this week?
As Charlie read the story of Rehoboam in his moment of prideful defiance toward the people of Israel, I couldn’t help but hear the echo of Solomon’s words. Meaningless. In that moment, it felt good to Rehoboam to clutch his fist and grab hold of the thing that was so tempting to him at that time…only to find himself empty-handed at the end of his life and reign as the nation was torn in two and its treasures had been plundered by foreign nations.
I would judge him more harshly…if I couldn’t relate to him so well. My life is full of meaningless temptations. Some of them I pursue. The money I spend. The affections and affirmations I seek. The words and actions that I hope never come back to haunt me. A car nearly ran me off the road a couple of weeks ago and I fantasized for the rest of the drive home about how vindicating it would feel to return the favor. That felt meaningful to me at the time. But even an hour later it was abundantly clear how meaningless the whole event truly was, how meaningless vengeance would have been, and how (as Charlie put it) one moment of pride could have wrecked everything.
So my challenge is this: In these moments where I am tempted to find meaning in meaningless things, to step back and ask myself why I’m not finding satisfaction in Christ alone, why I’m craving this specific thing and what I am hoping it fulfills within me, and how I will look back on this moment when I am frail and on my deathbed. Will it have mattered? Or will it have been a chasing after the wind?
Where are you searching for meaning where only God can provide meaning? How can you shift your focus from the thing to the Maker of all things?
Questions to Ponder
Why do you think Rehoboam made the decision he did?
What could have prevented him?
How do you see pride affecting the world?
How does your pride affect you?
What can you do to surround yourself with the right counselors?