There are three ways to rule.
By faith. Rehoboam sought advice from the wise old men who had counseled his father, Solomon, while he had been king, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever” (1Kings 12:6-7).
By force. “But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him” (1Kings 12:8). Rehoboam preferred strength, and said to his people, “My little finger is thicker than my father’s thighs. And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions” (1Kings 12:10-11). Little wonder many rebelled and turned to Jeroboam.
By fear. Anointed by God, Jeroboam nevertheless was afraid that “if this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah” (1Kings 12:27). The Temple was in the south at Jerusalem, so Jeroboam made religion convenient to the north. Rather than travel to the Temple, he brought God to the people in the likeness of two golden calves, placed close to home in Bethel and Dan. Pleasing the people, he set up altars throughout the land and chose priests from any tribe, not God’s chosen tribe of Levi. By convenience and accommodation, faith was made weak.
There are three ways to rule, by force, by fear, or by faith. Only one unites. By faith, Israel would be one nation under God, but Rehoboam ruled by force and Jeroboam by fear, “and there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually” (1Kings 14:30).
God, may You always be first place in my life. May You be my first love, my full devotion. With all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, may my love never waver or cease. May I seek Your Word, Your ways, Your will.
Protect me from the weakness of fear, and guard me against finding strength in position or popularity or power. May I, instead, at all times seek Your pleasure.