Today's devotion from 1 Kings 12.
Solomon's reign began with so much promise. True there were issues with his usurpers and a few pieces of unfinished business, but the kingdom was at peace in general. Not so for Rehoboam. He apparently did not have to worry about brothers trying to steal the throne, but that didn't mean that all is well.
Remember those massive building campaigns Solomon accomplished through forced labor and shrewd negotiation? Yeah, those are an issue. Solomon had sured up his control over the kingdom, but Rehoboam has to face a people who have had enough. While he received sound advice, the new monarch rejected it in favor of bold and brash council. That was truly a mistake.
Yet, it wasn't really his mistake. The Scriptures state that this choice was made for him by God so that His previous words would be fulfilled. God hardened his heart to sense and wisdom. Isn't that interesting? God gave Solomon wisdom, but withheld it from his son.
In the end, the kingdom is divided between Rehoboam and Jeroboam, newly returned from exile in Egypt. This is an irreconcilable division that will persist into the future. Where did it come from? Ultimately, it was not the Moabites, Canaanites, Philistines, or Edomites that defeated the kingdom of Israel. It was idolatry. Solomon's heart was turned, and he built pagan shrines for worship. Jeroboam does the same. Both were decisions made to appease others and preserve their power: Solomon's for his wives and Jeroboam's for his constituents.
These were practical and pragmatic decisions, yet they were wrong. Solomon's cost his family the throne. Jeroboam's will continue to have profound implications in Israel throughout the Old Testament era. The two peoples were once united, but now they will war and scheme against one another. Again, this provides evidence for a truth that you and I already know. The goal of God is not a united, strong, healthy, and/or wealthy government with strongly established borders. The people of Israel were chosen for another task that is eternal in nature, not political.
We must never forget that this world is not our home. When we judge God's faithfulness according to our plans, or who wins the campaign, or how much money we have, we've already missed the point. This chapter reveals that God is willing to use imperfect and flawed people who will do the wrong things, hurt others, and generally fail at what we would consider important or good, because He is working on a different scale toward an eternal goal. No one, even the unfaithful, is outside of God's purpose and plan.