In this lesson, we are going to learn about the next major phase of Israelite history - the divided kingdom.
Journeying through the Old Testament, we have been through several major periods in the life of the Israelites:
There were 3 major people involved in splitting up the kingdom of Israel: Solomon, Rehoboam, and Jereboam. First, the names Rehoboam (pronounced Ree-uh-boh-am) and Jereboam (pronounced Jair-uh-boh-am) sound a lot alike, and are pretty funny names. Don't let the opportunity pass by to engage the children with how funny their names are...
Solomon was David's son and was king. If you remember from the last lesson, Solomon built the temple of the Lord and was very wise. But just because he knew right from wrong doesn't mean he always followed it. Solomon ended up with hundreds upon hundreds of wives and many of them were not from Israel. He ended up worshiping the gods of his wives and turned away from the Lord. God then judged Solomon and told him that he would take the kingdom away from him, but because of David's faithfulness, he would leave part of the kingdom intact (with Jerusalem) to fulfill the promise he made David. (see 1 Kings 11:1-13) This is the essence of why the kingdom was divided. Next we are going to learn about how it actually happened...
Rehoboam was Solomon's son and the next in line to be King. Remember the warning Samuel gave the Israelites when they first asked for a king? Before Saul was appointed? (see 1 Samuel 8:11-18), Well, Solomon made that come true. He was very harsh with the Israelites. And when Rehoboam was preparing to take over the kingdom, the people asked for him to lighten up a bit and not follow Solomon's lead.
Rehoboam asked two groups of advisers what to do. First, he asked the elders who had served with Solomon. They urged him to lighten up and give the people what they wanted so they would continue to serve him. Then he asked some younger folks, a crew of people he had grown up with. You can see them sniveling around Rehoboam and telling him to be even more heavy handed with them. They were drunk with power. (See 1 Kings 12)
So Rehoboam answered the people: "He said, 'My father put a heavy load on your shoulders. But I'll make it even heavier. My father beat you with whips. But I'll beat you with bigger whips.'" (1 Kings 12:14). This is what planted the seeds of division in the people of Israel.
Jereboam was an important man in Solomon's kingdom. He was a skillful worker and was put in charge of all the workers of Northern Israel. A prophet named Ahijah (bless you!) told him, though, that God was ripping the kingdom from Solomon's hand and that he would be king of 10 of the tribes of Israel. Here's how that prophecy came true...
In 1 Kings 12:20, we see that the people became so fed up with Reheboam that they asked Jereboam to be their king: "All of the people of Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned. They sent for him. They wanted him to meet with the whole community. Then they made him king over the entire nation of Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained true to David's royal family." So thus, the kingdom had been split with Rehoboam over the tribe of Judah and Benjamin (see 1 Kings 12:23) in a kingdom called "Judah" and Jereboam over the rest of the tribes in a kingdom called "Israel".
Jereboam was afraid that his tribes would have to go to Jerusalem to worship (since the new temple was there), and that they would sympathize with Judah while they were there. So, he created golden calves for them to worship near home (sound familiar?).
(aka "Southern Kingdom)
(aka "Northern Kingdom")
|King: Rehoboam (Solomon's son)||King: Jereboam|
How do your parents discipline you when you do something wrong?
Today, we are going to learn about how Solomon (remember the guy who built the temple?) turned away from God and how God punished him as a result.
Consider using the "Divided Class" reinforcement activity before you teach the lesson.
Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.
For older children, read story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or tell the story yourself.
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud 1 Kings 11:4-6; 11:28-32; 12:3-16; 12:26-30
First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?