Finding God in the Muck

Rev. Tim Graves preaches about the transition between King Solomon and the divided kingdom. Readings are 1 Kings 12:1-17, 25-29 and a quote from 1984 by George Orwell.

Who has acted and who has done this, calling upon generation after generation since the beginning? 

I, the Lord, was first, and I will be the last! Isaiah 41: 4 CEB

Who has called upon generation after generation since the beginning indeed!

Eve. Adam.

>made of earth & breath

Abraham. Sarah.

>laughter & learning to trust


>Shiphrah & Puah

Ruth & Naomi.

>love not biology

I, the Lord, was first, and I will be the last! Isaiah 41:4 CEB


The united kingdom has had a good run.

>Saul. David. Solomon

>120 or so years


>descended from Boaz & Ruth

>Jesus is descendant

Mythology of David

>adept at battle

>David danced in the streets

>personality keeps the twelve tribes together

But David

>raped another man’s wife & had him killed

>brutal in battle

Still…God used David for God’s purposes.

>maintaining united Israel

>strengthening united Israel


Mythology of Solomon


>built the temple

12 So the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him. There was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and the two of them made a treaty. 1 Kings 5:12 CEB

But Solomon

>came at expense of people

13King Solomon conscripted forced labor out of all Israel; the levy numbered thirty thousand men. 14 He sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month in shifts;

they would be a month in Lebanon and two months at home; Adoniram was in charge of the forced labor. 15 

Solomon also had seventy thousand laborers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the hill country, 16 

besides Solomon’s three thousand three hundred supervisors who were over the work, having charge of the people who did the work.  1 Kings 5:12-16 CEB

But Solomon

>married Pharoah’s daughter

>excess. ostentation.

Still God uses Solomon for God’s purposes

>God at center of Israel’s life


The united kingdom has had a good run.

>Saul. David. Solomon

>120 or so years

Twelve tribes

>note Jerusalem

>Judah is David’s tribe


>Solomon’s son

>becoming king

People ready to affirm

>a demand

“Your father made our workload very hard for us. If you will lessen the demands your father made of us and lighten the heavy workload he demanded from us, then we will serve you.” 1 Kings 12:4 CEB

Older advisors

>Solomon’s contemporaries



According to the traditions of the tribal league, the king was supposed to be the people’s “servant,” and this is what the veterans counseled him to pretend to be so that the people might become his “servants” permanently. 

One of those veterans wrote up what happened as a reproach, and his complaint is not so much that Rehoboam heeded the advice of the newcomers as that he scorned to follow the veterans’ ploy for one single day. 

Surely Rehoboam was a weak and fragile personality, disguising this for the moment with a show of harshness and bravado. — Simon Devries (Word Biblical Commentary OT)

Younger advisors

>Rehoboam’s contemporaries


 ‘My baby finger is thicker than my father’s entire waist! 1 Kings 12:10 CEB

Rehoboam replies

>avoids expletive

He said, “My father made your workload heavy, but I’ll make it even heavier! My father disciplined you with whips, but I’ll do it with scorpions!” 1 Kings 12:14b CEB


>My hero. Not.

>Man of the people. Not.

>Justice-seeker. Not.


>worked for Solomon

>conspiracy to seize power from Solomon

>fled to Egypt

“while still young [Jeroboam] was promoted by Solomon to be chief superintendent … of the bands of forced labourers. … 

he began to form conspiracies with the view of becoming king of the ten tribes; but these having been discovered, he fled to Egypt.” Easton’s Bible Dictionary 1897

Jeroboam sees opportunity

>now he’s back

>leads unhappy north in secession

Secession of northern tribes

>Rehoboam occupies Benjamites

>Rehoboam doesn’t attack

Jeroboam thought to himself, The kingdom is in danger of reverting to the house of David. 

If these people continue to sacrifice at the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem, they will again become loyal to their master Rehoboam, Judah’s king, 

and they will kill me so they can return to Judah’s King Rehoboam. 1 Kings 12:26-27 CEB

Golden calves at Dan & Bethel

>Moses becomes Aaron

>Not moving for convenience

God at center of Israel’s life


What is the quality of your intent? Thurgood Marshall



Where is God in all this muck?


>neither good guys

What is going on here?


The object of power is power. –George Orwell, 1984

We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. –George Orwell, 1984

Still, where is God in all this political muck?

>want perfect heroes.

>never get

Still God uses the imperfect

>People’s cries answered by Jeroboam

>Civil war averted by Rehoboam

When Rehoboam arrived at Jerusalem, he assembled the whole house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin—one hundred eighty thousand select warriors—to fight against the house of Israel and restore the kingdom for Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. 

But God’s word came to Shemaiah the man of God, “Tell Judah’s King Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, and all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and the rest of the people, 

 ‘This is what the LORD says: Don’t make war against your relatives the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, because this is my plan.’” When they heard the LORD’s words, they went back home, just as the LORD had said. 1Kings 21, 24 CEB

United kingdom was fragile

>moves us ever closer


God works through us.




That’s Good News

>trust in us to eventually get it

>Jesus showed us how

The people complained

>Rehoboam didn’t listen

“Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us, and we will serve you.” 1 Kings 12:4 NRSV

The Good News is that Jesus hears us:

“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  

Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves.  My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 CEB

Still God uses the imperfect

>People’s cries answered by Jeroboam

>Civil war averted by Rehoboam

>the large and small things we each do for others

Yep. That’s Good News

>trust in us to eventually get it

>Jesus to show us how

Good News. 


Tim is a runner, a hiker, a devoted husband, a father of two adult children, and their spouses, and a grandfather of four perfect children. A former early childhood educator, Tim is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He has served as pastor of both Disciples and United Church of Christ congregations. As we enter what we hope is the final phase of the pandemic, Tim is beginning a journey of rediscovering himself and discerning next steps. He writes from his home in Albany, Oregon and wherever the Spirit lures him.

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Posted in 1 Kings, 1 Kings 12, 1 Kings 12:1-17, 1 Kings x:25-29, Isaiah, Isaiah 41, Isaiah 41:4, Matthew, Matthew 11, Matthew 11:28-30, New Testament

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All materials by Tim Graves unless otherwise noted. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0

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