1 Kings 11-12
A Divided Kingdom – I Kings 11-12
There are some great nuggets in this story for our kids and us to consider! In this passage, we can point kids to at least 3 real life examples of what it means to pursue God’s path of wisdom. First, in Solomon’s life, kids can see how friends (or others close to us) can affect sin’s progression in our lives. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, made extremely foolish decisions when he chose whom to marry; he followed the cultural norm for leaders at that time - choosing princesses from other kingdoms (princesses who did NOT serve the One, True God) as his wives to guarantee political peace. How ironic that through these very wives his kingdom was ultimately destroyed! But the destruction came, not through political wars, but through spiritual and moral battles. Solomon, instead of influencing his wives to serve the One, True, Living Jehovah, allowed them to influence him to serve their false gods. It’s hard to believe that he succumbed when we consider all God had done to bless Solomon, but Solomon stands as an example of what can happen to each of us. If we surround ourselves with friends who pull us away from God, before long we will look just like them. God knows our tendencies; He knows our hearts. That’s one of the reasons He exhorts us in Hebrews 10:24 and 25 to, “let us consider how we can stir up one another to love. Let us help one another to do good work. And let us not give up meeting together. Some are in the habit of doing this. Instead, let us encourage one another with words of hope” (NIrV).
When we gather together as a church each week, that is what we are doing. We are re-fueling our spiritual tanks; we are recalibrating our thinking; we are pointing each other to Jesus and to God’s Word, so we can each more faithfully battle the spiritual forces of evil we are bound to face in the week ahead. The Christian life is a war; we need help from each other so that we can battle well.
The second real life example found in this passage is what happens when we foolishly follow bad advice. Rehoboam was given some excellent advice from the elders, which was shaped by grace, but instead, he foolishly followed his young friends’ advice, which was steeped in harshness and arrogance. When he announced his decision, he lost almost the whole kingdom. His decision was no surprise to God; in fact, God had ordained it because a divided kingdom was the consequence He gave Solomon for his unfaithfulness.
The last example is Jeroboam. He could have experienced rich blessings and promises that were as enduring as what God had promised David, but Jeroboam missed out on God’s blessings when he encouraged his people to forsake God and worship idols. In all 3 cases, the root problem was that neither Solomon, Rehoboam, nor Jeroboam’s hearts were fully inclined or committed to God. If they had served God wholeheartedly as David had done, they would have listened more closely to God; they would have repented of their sins; they would have trusted God’s ways and obeyed Him, and ultimately, they would have experienced more blessings from God. When our hearts are fully intent on loving and obeying God, He directs our steps; He promises to give us wisdom when we ask for it (James 1:5); He cares for us and protects us. The questions each one of us must answer are, “Do I trust God? Do I love Him completely? Am I willing to prove my trust and love by obeying Him completely? When I mess up, do I repent quickly?” Oh, may God give our kids (and us!) hearts that are fully inclined towards Him!!
Game – Would You Rather? –
Read a series of questions, each starting with Would you rather ... Ask the kids to move to one side of the room or the other based on their preferences in each statement.
Example statements: Would you rather …
· have no eyebrows or no fingernails?
· only ever eat your favorite food (but nothing else) or never eat it again (but all other foods are allowed)?
· have a pet dog or a pet cat?
· have harder work to do or have easier work to do?
· cheer for Clemson or Carolina?
· be the youngest in your family or the oldest?
· feel itchy every day or get tickled every day?
· have your head covered with eyes or with noses?
Discuss questions. (Optional: kids can color while you discuss if you want to keep their hands busy while you talk). Some of those questions required you to make hard decisions. I hope you won’t ever have to actually make most of those decisions! Today’s Bible story included some real people who had hard decisions to make, and they mostly made BAD decisions.
· What bad decisions did they make? Solomon – married foreign wives, who didn’t love God; then, he started worshiping their false gods; Rehoboam – listened to his friends’ advice instead of the elders & answered the people with harshness and arrogance; Jeroboam – encouraged the people to worship false gods because he was afraid that if they went to the temple in Jerusalem, they would go back to their old kings, and he would lose his position as king.
· What should they have done (and what should we do) when they realized they had made a bad decision? REPENT – turn around; tell God, “I’m sorry.” Be willing to change.
· What advice do you have to help kids not make bad decisions? Ask for advice from people you love and people who love Jesus; read the Bible; do what it says; know God; listen to His Holy Spirit
· We talk a lot about listening to the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? The Bible tells us that anyone who has trusted Jesus to save them from their sins and who has given their life to Jesus has the gift of the Holy Spirit. That means that the Holy Spirit lives within them. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit does several things: He reminds us of what Jesus/ God’s Word says (John 14:26); He teaches us (John 14:26); He convicts us when we sin (John 16:8); He helps us know what to say (Luke 12:12); He makes us certain that we belong to Jesus (Rom. 8:16). Often the Holy Spirit is described as a very strong feeling in your heart.
· Tell kids about a time the Holy Spirit spoke to you – either convicted you of a sin; reminded you of something Jesus or God’s Word said; taught you something; helped you know what to say; reminded you that you belonged to Jesus.
· Remind kids that they can make the best decision of their lives if they want to totally belong to Jesus. Questions to review: are you a sinner? Who is the only person who can cleanse you from your sin? Only Jesus. Can you ever work hard enough to be acceptable to God? NO! That’s why we desperately need Jesus to save us. ONLY He can save us. Do you want to give your whole life to Jesus? Then, tell Him by praying. (I prefer to let kids talk to Jesus on their own – not repeat my words). If a child accepts Jesus’ gift of salvation, remind him/her that now s/he has the Holy Spirit living inside him/her, that the angels are rejoicing over his/her decision, and that now and forever s/he is a child of God.
What did you like about this story? What didn’t you like?
What did you learn about God/Jesus?
· God has a plan that is good.
· God is not surprised when people make bad decisions. He already knew about it.
· God gives consequences for bad decisions.
· God gives blessings for good decisions.
· God wants His people to be completely committed to Him.
· God loves us still – even when we make bad decisions.
What did you learn about people?
· People sometimes give bad advice.
· People sometimes listen to bad advice.
· People are often influenced by their friends and family members.
· When people are only half-heartedly committed to God, they open themselves to heartache and destruction.
What did you learn about yourself?
· I want to be wholeheartedly committed to God.
· I want to learn to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and obey Him.