Unity is a precious commodity. Israel struggled to keep it. Eventually, unity was lost, and Israel became a divided kingdom under its fourth king (third in the Davidic dynasty). King David’s grandson, Rehoboam split the nation in 930 B.C. through a miscalculated power play. Ten of the founding tribes made Jeroboam their king to the north with Samaria as their capital. The last two tribes remained faithful to Rehoboam and God in the south and Jerusalem as their capital. The evil northern kingdom from this point was called Israel. The faithful kingdom was known as Judah.
1 Kings 12:6-20
And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people? And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever. But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him: And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter? And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins. And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day. And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him; And 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. Wherefore 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.
So 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. But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.
So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day. 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.
How quickly is unity lost? David wrote in Psalm 133:1, that unity is “good” and “pleasant.” Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:3 that we are to “endeavor” to keep the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I’ve said it many times that unity among people is similar to a group of hibernating porcupines. They enjoy being close for warmth but when they get too close they stick each other with their quills.
Part of being saved is that we are placed into a family, called, “the Church.” We cannot grow as believers without the church, and we will not make it without other believers. Someone might say, “All I need is Jesus. I don’t need anyone else.” That may be right in regards to personal salvation, but the Bible says the Church is the “body of Christ” (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 4:12, 5:23; Col. 1:24). We need to remain unified despite our diversity and faults.