Earlier we asserted that Solomon enslaved his own people, contrary to the law (Leviticus 25:42), but not contrary to God’s own prediction (1 Samuel 8:17). 2 Chronicles 2:1 would seem to indicate this, but there is also 2 Chronicles 2:17 which seems to indicate that these were not Israelites, but alien people living in Israel. And yet, 2 Chronicles 10 indicates that at least the people of Israel felt they had been oppressed and enslaved by their king.
Jeroboam, a man of standing among the northern tribes of Israel, opposed Solomon’s oppression – and Solomon went after him, forcing Jeroboam to flee to Egypt. How many times have we seen Israel flee to Egypt in times of distress? When Solomon died, Jeroboam returned to plead Israel’s case before the new king.
Rehoboam must have been somewhat taken aback by the temerity of his own people. He went to Shechem to be crowned king. They met him to negotiate the terms of his monarchy.
It’s difficult to know the background of others, but its best to get to know folks, walk in their shoes, before dictating terms of agreement. What you feel is appropriate and right may not seem so appropriate when you get to know the suffering and indignities others have endured. It’s easy to condemn Somalian piracy until you learn that what prompted it was illegal over-fishing the waters of their coasts by foreign vessels, and the dumping of toxic waste there, which drove the Somalis into poverty and, with little outside aid forth-coming, they took matters into their own hands. This is not to say the Somalis were justified, only that when you look at the other side, you can see (but perhaps not agree with) why they’ve taken such action. There is never an excuse to do a wrong thing, but sometimes, there’s an understandable reason. There was no excuse for dividing Israel as Jeroboam did, but there was an understandable reason when you look at it from Israel’s perspective – and from God’s, which involved another reason altogether.