Although my mom spent time driving with me when I had my learner’s permit, Dad basically taught me how to drive. I was petrified behind the wheel, and not just with him. Dad had high standards for me (and my brother, who took to driving easily). On the road, Dad made clear, you were responsible for your own safety as much as your fellow drivers.
I feared that I would run something over or get in an accident. Dad wasn’t hearing it. So while I was driving, he pointed out things I was doing wrong and what things I should also think about. Even when I was riding shotgun, he constantly pointed out his driving strategy (like riding in the fast lane of the freeway, that way cars would only come at you from one side, for example). Remember: always pay attention to your surroundings. When cars in front of your slow, you slow, etc. He was also good (to my then-annoyance) at knocking my arms when I clutched the steering wheel too tightly—loosen up, he’d say. Too tight and you jerk the car around.
His lessons encouraged me to be an alert driver, and so, every once in a while, while I’m driving on the highway, especially if traffic is heavy, I notice some jerk who tailgates. I’ll watch this jerk compel other drivers to merge to a different lane so he (it’s usually a guy) can get wherever he is going a minute faster. This is the type of driver who exceeds the speed limit by at least 15 or 20 miles an hour, even if weather conditions are unfavorable (like rain). This is the driver who sometimes (though you wish it would happen more often) gets pulled over, and when you see the cop at his rolled-down window, it makes you feel a little warm inside.
1 Kings is populated by people who also do an excellent job ignoring signs—even when they are right in front of their faces. You’d think that with all of their history, people would know a sign when they saw one. You’d also think that they wouldn’t ignore the third one in a row. But in 1 Kings, they do.
After Solomon dies, his son Rehoboam succeeds him. Soon after, the Israelis—led by a recently returned Jeroboam—ask for a lightened burden (12:4). Asking for three days to reach a decision, Rehoboam consults an old man for advice. Be kind, the man says (12:7). Age is usually a good sign of sound advice, but where’s the fun in what this old guy had to say? So Rehoboam asks a young friend for his opinion. This friend suggests being a jerk to these people (you know, HIS people). Since this sounds like a better idea, this is what the king does. Then Israel rebels (12:18).
The bad decisions continue.
Fearing Rehoboam’s power in Judah, Jeroboam, in charge in Israel, creates some gods for people to worship: gold calf idols. He also gives them a house of worship (12:28). You’d think he would figure out what a bad idea this decision was when a man of God prophesies bad things to come and then, in a struggle with the man, the altar splits AND the hand he used to reach out to the man shriveled up (13:4). Given how odd an occurrence this would have been, you’d think he’d rethink this whole dreaming up new gods for his people to follow. Nope. You can figure out who gets angry next.
This book of Kings (as well as the next one) shows how time after time, people fall over themselves to ignore God’s rule about which god to follow and erect temples and continue to pray to other idols/gods. You’d think they’d have picked up on some of the signs that should have dissuaded them from these bad decisions. But, not everyone makes good decisions. The real shame is what happens when these individual decisions infect those around them.