Sabbath, February 16, 2019
Lesson 7 – Rise and Fall of the Kingdom of Israel
“‘Like all the nations.’ The Israelites did not realize that to be in this respect unlike other nations was a special privilege and blessing. God had separated the Israelites from every other people, to make them His own peculiar treasure. But they, disregarding this high honor, eagerly desired to imitate the example of the heathen! And still the longing to conform to worldly practices and customs exists among the professed people of God…. Becoming the friends of the world, they are the enemies of God. For the sake of earthly distinction they sacrifice the unspeakable honor to which God has called them, of showing forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 607.
Saul, the first king
1. Fulfilling the wishes of the people, who became Israel’s first king? Even though he had some victories against the nation’s enemies, how did his reign end?
1 Samuel 9:26, 27; 10:1; 15:26, 27 And they arose early: and it came to pass about the spring of the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Up, that I may send thee away. And Saul arose, and they went out both of them, he and Samuel, abroad. 27And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may show thee the word of God…. 10:1Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?… 15:26And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. 27And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.
“By command of God, Saul had been anointed as king over Israel. Because of his disobedience the Lord declared that the kingdom should be taken from him; and yet how tender and courteous and forbearing was the conduct of David toward him! In seeking the life of David, Saul came into the wilderness and, unattended, entered the very cave where David with his men of war lay hidden. ‘And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee,…I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee…. And he said unto his men, The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.’” –The Ministry of Healing, pp. 484, 485.
David and Solomon
2. Who succeeded Saul on the throne, and how was he considered by the Lord because of his spirit? How long did the second, best-known king of Israel reign?
1 Samuel 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee. 1 Kings 2:10, 11; 3:14 So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David. 11And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem…. 3:14And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
“So long as his will was controlled by the will of God, so long as he yielded to the discipline of His Spirit, God could crown his efforts with success. But when Saul chose to act independently of God, the Lord could no longer be his guide, and was forced to set him aside. Then He called to the throne ‘a man after His own heart’ (1 Samuel 13:14)–not one who was faultless in character, but who, instead of trusting to himself, would rely upon God, and be guided by His Spirit; who, when he sinned, would submit to reproof and correction.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 636.
“… It was when David was pure, and walking in the counsel of God, that God called him a man after His own heart. When David departed from God, and stained his virtuous character by his crimes, he was no longer a man after God’s own heart…. The terrible calamity that God permitted to come upon David, who, for his integrity, was once called a man after God’s own heart, is evidence to after generations that God would not justify any one in transgressing His commandments….” –Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 379.
3. What report is given of the first part of King Solomon’s reign? Since God, the true King, gave him his authority, on what throne did Solomon sit?
1 Kings 4:21, 24, 25 And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life…. 24For he had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah even to Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river: and he had peace on all sides round about him. 25And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.
1 Chronicles 17:14; 28:5; 29:23 But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore…. 28:5And of all my sons, (for the Lord hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel…. 29:23Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him.
“While Solomon exalted the law of heaven, God was with him, and wisdom was given him to rule over Israel with impartiality and mercy. At first, as wealth and worldly honor came to him, he remained humble, and great was the extent of his influence. ‘Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river [Euphrates] unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt.’ ‘He … had peace on all sides round about him. And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree,… all the days of Solomon.’ 1 Kings 4:21, 24, 25.” – Prophets and Kings, p. 51.
4. Did Solomon always maintain this blessed position? What did the Lord state about his kingdom?
1 Kings 11:4-6, 11-13 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father…. 11Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which
I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. 12Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. 13Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.
“But after a morning of great promise his life was darkened by apostasy. History records the melancholy fact that he who had been called Jedidiah–‘Beloved of the Lord’ (2 Samuel 12:25, margin)–he who had been honored by God with tokens of divine favor so remarkable that his wisdom and uprightness gained for him worldwide fame, he who had led others to ascribe honor to the God of Israel, turned from the worship of Jehovah to bow before the idols of the heathen…. “For a time God in His compassionate mercy overruled this terrible mistake; and the king, by a wise course, could have checked at least in a large measure the evil forces that his imprudence had set in operation. But Solomon had begun to lose sight of the Source of his power and glory.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 51-54.
“Though he afterward repented, his repentance did not prevent the fruition of the evil he had sown.” –Education, p. 49.
Rehoboam and the division
5. Did Rehoboam possess the same wisdom as his grandfather David or his father Solomon? What terrible division came about as the consequence of his unwise, reckless attitude?
1 Kings 11:43; 12:3, 4, 12-16, 19 And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead…. 12:3And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying, 4Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee…. 12So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day. 13And
the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him; 14And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. 15Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the Lord, that he might perform his saying, which the Lord spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat. 16So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? Neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents…. 19So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.
“The Lord did not allow Rehoboam to carry out the policy he had outlined. Among the tribes were many thousands who had become thoroughly aroused over the oppressive measures of Solomon’s reign, and these now felt that they could not do otherwise than rebel against the house of David…. “The breach created by the rash speech of Rehoboam proved irreparable. Thenceforth the twelve tribes of Israel were divided, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin composing the lower or southern kingdom of Judah, under the rulership of Rehoboam….” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 90, 91.
The northern kingdom
6. In opposition to Rehoboam, who was left with only the tribe of Judah and part of Benjamin, who took the leadership of the other ten tribes? Acting in a very human manner, what did the king introduce in the northern kingdom?
1 Kings 12:20, 28-30 And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only…. 28Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 29And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. 30And this thing became a sin: for the people
went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
“… The ten northern tribes formed and maintained a separate government, known as the kingdom of Israel, with Jeroboam as their ruler.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 91.
“Placed on the throne by the ten tribes who had rebelled against the house of David, Jeroboam was in a position to do much toward bringing about a spiritual reformation in his kingdom. Had he used his influence in strengthening the confidence of the people in the God of heaven as their Supreme Ruler, he might have encouraged multitudes to seek after righteousness. Under the rulership of Solomon, he had revealed discretion, aptitude, and sound judgment; and the knowledge of spiritual things that he had gained during years of faithful service he could have used to bring untold blessings to those who had chosen him as their leader. But instead of advancing in the way of righteousness, he failed to make God his trust.” –Review and Herald, July 17, 1913.
7. What was the spiritual condition of the northern kingdom–Israel–at the time of King Ahab? How did the Lord bring about a reformation through the prophet Elijah?
1 Kings 18:18-21 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim. 19Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. 20So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. 21And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions?
If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
“The people forgot that the hills and valleys, the streams and fountains, were in the hand of the living God, that He controlled the sun, the clouds of heaven, and all the powers of nature.
“Through faithful messengers the Lord sent repeated warnings to the apostate king and the people, but in vain were these words of reproof. In vain did the inspired messengers assert Jehovah’s right to be the only God in Israel; in vain did they exalt the laws that He had entrusted to them. Captivated by the gorgeous display and the fascinating rites of idol worship, the people followed the example of the king and his court, and gave themselves up to the intoxicating, degrading pleasures of a sensual worship. In their blind folly they chose to reject God and His worship. The light so graciously given them had become darkness. The fine gold had become dim. Alas, how had the glory of Israel departed! Never before had the chosen people of God fallen so low in apostasy.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 115, 116.
End of the kingdom of Israel
8. How did the history and existence of the northern kingdom develop and conclude? Who was its last king, and how did he act?
2 Kings 17:1-7, 18 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years. 2And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. 3Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents. 4And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. 5Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. 6In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. 7For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,… 18Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.
“The prophet [Isaiah] was to witness the invasion of Judah by the combined armies of northern Israel and of Syria; he was to behold the Assyrian hosts encamped before the chief cities of the kingdom. During his lifetime, Samaria was to fall, and the ten tribes of Israel were to be scattered among the nations…. “The destruction that befell the northern kingdom was a direct judgment from Heaven. The Assyrians were merely the instruments that God used to carry out His purpose….
“In the terrible judgments brought upon the ten tribes the Lord had a wise and merciful purpose. That which He could no longer do through them in the land of their fathers He would seek to accomplish by scattering them among the heathen.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 305, 291, 292.
For additional study
“The prophet says, ‘Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me,…” –Peter’s Counsel to Parents, p. 46.
“Many have borne so few burdens, their hearts have known so little real anguish, they have felt so little perplexity and distress in behalf of others, that they cannot understand the work of the true burden bearer…. The child may wonder at his father’s fears and perplexities. These appear needless to him. But when years of experience shall have been added to his life, when he himself comes to bear its burdens, he will look back upon his father’s life and understand that which was once so incomprehensible. Bitter experience has given him knowledge….” –The Ministry of Healing, pp. 483, 484