Rehoboam has had a lot of adjectives used to describe him and most of them are negative. This early case of affluenza (can’t believe I used that word) however is a clear case of genetics and learned behaviors. His legendary bad judgment is detailed in 1 Kings 12 and 2 Chronicles 10. He did listen to the man of God in 1 Kings 12:22 and so the word against Solomon in chapter 11 was accomplished. In 2 Chronicles 12: 12 – 14 the greatness of the Lord and His love for His people and the base problem of Rehoboam are shown. His heart was “not set” on seeking God but the Lord still saw some good in Judah, as shown by Rehoboam humbling himself. So the confusion created by Solomon is seen in his son – the Lord and other gods.
Kings – God Warned Them
Deuteronomy 17: 14-20 is God’s warning to the Israelites about kings and what they will do to their kingdoms. 1 Samuel 8 the warning is repeated and expanded as the people reject God’s rule and want to be like the world around them. Solomon did a good job in breaking most of the rules and Rehoboam just followed what his father modeled for him. If David did not break them he was stepping real close to the “line.” It is not recorded if any of the kings ever wrote their own copy of the law as it is written in Deuteronomy 17: 18.
“My little finger is thicker than my father’s wrist.” You wonder how many times Rehoboam rethought that statement? But that attitude took over forty years to develop and the apparent change started in Solomon’s rule. 1 Kings 4:20 and 9:22 paint a picture of valued countrymen living happily under the “early Solomon.” So you wonder what happened to get the complaint in 1 Kings 12:4 of a “heavy yoke” with “harsh labor.” The “rights” of the king warned about apparently had crept in and found a home in the family of Solomon. An example of worldly influence and affluenza (used it again) is seen in the gold shields of Solomon. The officer’s of Hadadezer of Damascus had gold shields that David took after conquering him (2 Samuel 8:7). We don’t know if David ever had his officers use them or had them made for his men. 1 Kings 10:16 details the practice carrying on under Solomon and the amount of gold used and where they were kept. It must have been a show when He went anywhere with his men sparking in the daylight with those expensive mirrors. Rehoboam also used them until Shishak of Egypt took them in 1 Kings 14:25. However not to stop the show he had bronze shields made in there place.
Genetics – Physical and Spiritual
“He acted wisely” (2 Chronicles 11:22) does herald the wisdom of Solomon that Rehoboam used when it came to his children and how he built up Judah. Rehoboam had the ability to be a good king and displayed it at times. Judah and Benjamin did thrive under his rule as shown by the increase in fighting men during his seventeen years as king; in 2 Chronicles 11:1 there were 180,000 men as compared to 400,000 when his son Abijah confronted Jeroboam in 13:3.
Spiritually God was still honoring David during Rehoboam’s life. Rehoboam did listen to Shemaiah and he apparently kept the burnt offerings and the Aaronic priesthood intact and working so as to honor God (2 Chronicles 13:10). Jeroboam’s treatment of the priests and Levites did exactly what he did not want to happen, Rehoboam was strengthened. In 11:17 it says this happened for three years but by the fifth year of Rehoboam’s reign he felt comfortable to go the way of Solomon and bring in all kinds of evil into Judah (1 Kings 14:22). God allowed Shishak king of Egypt (Sheshonk I, Shoshenq I, Susac, or Shishaq frequently found spellings) to conquer Judah and some of the literature suggest that he subdued Northern Israel and Jeroboam also (so much for fleeing to Egypt). 2 Chronicles 12 explains all of this and the leaders realized they were wrong and God was just in what happened.
Rehoboam seemed to be keeping the pattern of behavior that was started in Judges: prosper while honoring God, forget God and suffer, honor God again.