Solomon made some mistakes, but you can read his thoughts later in Ecclesiastes, and in the Song of Solomon. In this chronicle his death marks a change in government and in the tone of life in Israel. His sons are not exactly like his forbearers.
And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for to Shechem were all Israel come to make him king. And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was in Egypt, whither he fled from the presence of Solomon the king, heard it, that Jeroboam returned out of Egypt. And they sent and called him. So Jeroboam and all Israel came and spake to Rehoboam, saying, Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore ease thou somewhat the grievous servitude of thy father, and his heavy yoke that he put upon us, and we will serve thee. And he said unto them, Come again unto me after three days. And the people departed. 2 Chronicles 10:1-5
One son, Jeroboam, had a little rebellion in him, and he brought that along when he returned to challenge his brother Rehoboam’s plans. He asks to relieve “somewhat” the tax burden imposed by Solomon. God had warned Israel that a king would tax them, and now they know about that burden. Rehoboam leaves the people without an answer for now, but perhaps they thought he might want to pray about the answer.
And king Rehoboam took counsel with the old men that had stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, saying, What counsel give ye me to return answer to this people? And they spake unto him, saying, If thou be kind to this people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be thy servants for ever. But he forsook the counsel which the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men that were brought up with him, that stood before him. And he said unto them, What advice give ye that we may return answer to this people, which have spoken to me, saying, Ease somewhat the yoke that thy father did put upon us? And the young men that were brought up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou answer the people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it somewhat lighter for us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins. For whereas my father put a heavy yoke upon you, I will put more to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. 2 Chronicles 10:6-9
Rehoboam has counsel from men, wise and not so wise. He has not sought balance in his direction through prayer or reading the scriptures. We have a trinity to fellowship with for a balanced understanding. We pray to the Father, read the word (the son) and fellowship with godly people who share from the Holy Spirit. A tripod is steady on uneven ground, and a three strand rope is strong in heavy loads.
So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, as the king bade, saying, Come again to me on the third day. And the king answered them roughly; and king Rehoboam forsook the counsel of the old men, And answered them after the advice of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add thereto: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. So the king hearkened not unto the people: for the cause was of God, that the LORD might perform his word, which he spake by the hand of Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat. 2 Chronicles 10:12-15
This sounds like the Egyptian school of rule; a pyramid of heavy command that increases the burdens of life on people. Jesus lived as a vine, supporting branches so they could bear fruit. The good tree of life has roots buried in the past that still nurture the flower of faith in the highest branches. The heavy hand is not welcomed in most societies, and Israel is not pleased.
And when all Israel saw that the king would not hearken unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? and we have none inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to your tents, O Israel: and now, David, see to thine own house. So all Israel went to their tents. But as for the children of Israel that dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. Then king Rehoboam sent Hadoram that was over the tribute; and the children of Israel stoned him with stones, hat he died. But king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem. And Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day. 2 Chronicles 10:16-19
Now we see the kingdom divided as Judah and Jerusalem are abandoned by Israel composed of most of the northern tribes. This divide will last through to their captivities, often becoming a civil war. One son’s foolishness alone did not bring all this on though. The sins of the fathers, David and Solomon all led to this divide. God knew this was coming, and he made provision to use it and to deliver us from it.
Israel is divided from the Lion of Judah today, as they do not accept Yeshua as Messiah. Interestingly Jews are trying to reclaim Jesus as a prophet of Judaism, but not as the son of God. http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/05/jews-reclaim-jesus-as-one-of-their-own/
We have lost the glory of Solomon’s Temple and the Law, but a greater glory is provided now. When Moses was caused to glow from God’s power Israel wore veils to protect them from the brightness and power of his truth. If they saw that the Law would only condemn them to death it would break their spirit.
For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:11-17
In their teaching the Disciples of Christ were plain spoken and blunt. What was lost in the law was glorious but deadly. The grace of Yeshua is greater in that it fulfilled the law without our human failure and its death penalty. I am happy to report that in Messianic fellowships around the world Jews are discovering that their Messiah is Yeshua, and that he is God. The veil of blindness is being removed and it reveals liberty. One day all of Israel will see without the protection.
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. Zechariah 12:10