The Influence of Wicked and Righteous
The kingdom of Israel is divided, primarily because of Rehoboam’s harsh
Jeroboam and Rehoboam lead their kingdoms into idolatry.
Jehoshaphat leads the kingdom of Judah to follow the Lord and His prophets.
A study of this lesson will encourage us to develop good leadership qualities
so we can influence others to live righteously.
Scripture references for study:
12–14; 2 Chronicles 17;
2 Chronicles 20
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 27 Handout (PDF)
The Kingdom of Israel Is Divided
"And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem
over all Israel was forty years. And Solomon slept with his fathers, and
was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned
in his stead." (1 Kings 11:42-43)
1 KINGS 12:3-4. Rehoboam called to lighten the
burden on the people.
WHAT CHANGES DID THE ISRAELITES WANT REHOBOAM TO MAKE FROM THE WAY HIS
The people were asking that taxes and compulsory service be eased. They were not asking for an elimination of
the taxes and compulsory service, only
that the burden be lightened.
1 KINGS 12:6-7. The counsel of the Israelite
elders to Rehoboam.
The reign of the Book of Mormon king, Benjamin, demonstrates a wonderful example
of one who lived by this counsel.
In reviewing his reign as king, Benjamin said that he had been kept and
preserved by the Lord "to serve you with all the
might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me"
(Mosiah 2:11). Benjamin went on to say, "And
even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you,
and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing
come upon you which was grievous to be borne--and of all these things which
I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day" (Mosiah
This good king led the Nephites to greater righteousness. The
words of the people: "And we are willing to enter
into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his
commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder
of our days" (Mosiah 5:5).
WHY ARE WE MORE LIKELY TO BE INFLUENCED POSITIVELY BY A LEADER WHO IS KIND
AND WHO SERVES US?
The world of work provides interesting examples of this principle. A few years ago
I had a manager who became so obsessed
with productivity and numbers that she forgot that the people doing the
work were essential to the success of the office. We were treated harshly, almost like
disobedient children. The result: productivity declined. Many good employees quit or transferred. Ultimately,
this manager lost her position.
Many years ago I worked as a District Executive for the Boy Scouts of
America. My immediate boss, the Assistant Scout Executive for the
council, was a wonderful leader and his example led me, and others, to
do our best. He was not caught up in his position as a leader. His was an attitude of service. If there was an event, such as a camporee or Scout show, he remained to help clean up, "until the last dog
is hung" as I often heard him say. He was always early for events
to make sure that everything was in order. One year, during our summer
Cub Scout day camps, we incurred a financial loss on the operation within
my district. Rather than reprimand or scold me for the situation,
we discussed what had happened and principles for sound management. I was honored by this man for my work and I worked diligently the following
summer to make up for the loss. He was a wonderful leader and inspired many Scouting volunteers over the years as well as influenced
the lives of thousands of young people..
HOW CAN WE APPLY THIS COUNSEL AT HOME? AT CHURCH? AT WORK?
As King Benjamin stated, "When ye are in the service
of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God"
1 KINGS 12:8-11. The counsel of the young
men to Rehoboam.
WHAT WAS THE RESULT OF REHOBOAM HEEDING THE COUNSEL OF THE YOUNG MEN?
Israel was divided (see
1 Kings 12:12-17).
The phrase, "Israel departed to their
tents" refers to the ten tribes separating themselves from Rehoboam's
"But as for the children of Israel which dwelt
in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them" (v17).
"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" (1 Kings 12:20).
WHO WAS THIS JEROBOAM THAT WAS MADE KING OVER THE TEN TRIBES?
He was the son of a widow of Zereda, and while still young was promoted
by Solomon to be chief superintendent of the bands of forced laborers.
The prophet Ahijah had prophesied to Jeroboam, "Take
thee ten pieces: for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I
will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes
to thee" (1 Kings 11:31).
He had formed conspiracies against Solomon, but fled to Egypt in
order to protect his life.
Upon Solomon's death, the ten tribes sent for him to be their king.
Jeroboam and Rehoboam Lead Their Kingdoms Into Idolatry
Through the prophet Ahijah, Jeroboam was told that if he would "hearken
unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is
right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments"
he would be given a "sure house" or
a secure kingdom (1 Kings 11:38).
HOW DID JEROBOAM TREAT THIS PROMISE FROM THE LORD?
The Lord had told Jeroboam how to secure his kingdom. Jeroboam failed
to trust in the promises from the Lord.
Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of
David: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at
Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord,
even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again
to Rehoboam king of Judah." (1 Kings 12:26-27)
So what did Jeroboam do because of his lack of faith? (see
1 Kings 12:28-33)
He made two calves of gold (v28).
He then led Israel into idolatry, "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" (v28).
He made priests of those not of the house of Levi (v31).
High places: altars that were built on hilltops. When the people
fell into idolatry, they desecrated these altars and used them for idol
He ordained a new feast day and made sacrifices unto the golden calves
"At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell
sick" (1 Kings 14:1).
Jeroboam knew that his false gods had no power and so he sent his wife
in disguise to the prophet Ahijah (1
Ahijah was blind by age, but the Lord told him that the wife of Jeroboam
would come to visit him "to ask a thing of thee
for her son" (1
Ahijah told Jeroboam's wife:
"I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam"
(1 Kings 14:10).
Their child would die (1 Kings 14:12).
"...the LORD shall raise him up a king over Israel,
who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam" (1 Kings 14:14).
1 KINGS 14:15-16. The Lord to smite Israel.
Groves: places of pagan worship where people sometimes engaged in immoral
Consider the curse that Jeroboam brought upon Israel because of his own
wickedness and for leading the people into false worship.
1 KINGS 14:21-24. The wickedness of Rehoboam
WHAT WAS THE EVENTUAL RESULT OF THE WICKEDNESS OF THESE KINGS AND THE KINGDOMS
OF ISRAEL AND JUDAH?
Many years later they were scattered or carried away captive. Israel
was taken captive by Assyria and Judah by the Babylonians.
HOW CAN ONE WICKED LEADER HAVE SUCH A PROFOUND EFFECT ON SO MANY PEOPLE?
We see the effect that a wicked king has on his people in the story
of King Noah in the book of Mosiah. Eventually, this group of Nephites were taken
into bondage to serve the Lamanites. A leader sets an example. Noah led his people to sin. Benjamin led his people to a commitment
of righteousness. Leaders make a difference.
We hear discussion in the media today that it doesn't matter what kind
of personal life a leader lives, so long as he gets the job done. Yet we see in these scriptural examples that it does matter, for a wicked
leader can bring the people to much anguish. It is clear that we
need to seek leaders that have faith in the Lord and are willing to abide
by his commandments.
These principles are especially true for those of us that live in the United
States. The Constitution was established by the Lord "by
the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose"
(D&C 101:80). James Madison said that the Constitution can work only when we abide by righteous principles. Our leaders set the agenda
and set the example.
George Washington: "Of all the dispositions
and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are
indispensable supports.... Reason and experience both forbid us to expect
that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
(Washington's Farewell Address.)
David Lawrence, one time editor of the U.S. News & World Report, said that, "The
destiny of the world is in the hands of those statesmen who can interpret
faithfully the commands of the Almighty." (quoted by Ezra Taft
Benson, CR, April 1963)
The wickedness of leaders does not give us an excuse for unrighteous behavior.
"And now remember, remember, my brethren, that
whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity,
doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act
for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he
hath made you free" (Helaman 14:30).
Jehoshaphat Leads The Kingdom Of Judah To Follow The
Three generations after Rehoboam, his great-grandson Jehoshaphat reigned
over the kingdom of Judah.
Jehoshaphat set a new agenda for Israel by his own devotion to the Lord. He "took away the high places and groves out of
Jehoshaphat led the people back to the Lord through his personal example
and by removing the places of false worship.
AS LEADERS IN OUR HOMES, WHAT MIGHT WE REMOVE FROM OUR HOMES AND OUR PERSONAL
LIVES SO WE CAN WORSHIP GOD WITH GREATER DEVOTION?
Jehoshaphat sent Levites throughout the kingdom, "And
they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the LORD with them,
and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people"
(2 Chronicles 17:9).
Jehoshaphat continued his crusade for righteousness by having the people
taught from the scriptures. Receiving the word of God does have an
impact on people. Recall that Alma gave up the judgment seat to
Nephihah in order "that he might preach the word
of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that
he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and
all the contentions which were among his people" (Alma 4:19).
While I was on my mission, I had the privilege of working with an older
missionary couple from Utah. They shared with me the experience of their first
assignment after having arrived on their mission. They had been called to serve
in a small dependent branch. Attendance at the time they arrived might have
reached a total of twenty people. The vast majority
of members in that branch were inactive. This couple, like Alma,
went out among the people and began to teach the scriptures. They
encouraged each member to read the Book of Mormon. They made several
return visits, each time discussing the content of their
reading and leaving questions for their continued study. Within
a few months, attendance had quadrupled and tithing receipts exceeded that
of the branch on which they were dependent. The word of God has an
impact, as Jehoshaphat, Alma, and this missionary couple all knew.
In a previous question, we asked what we might remove from our homes so
that we can worship with greater devotion. In like manner, the scriptures
and their teachings need to replace these negative influences, for there
we find the truth that leads our families to righteousness.
President Ezra Taft Benson: "Often we spend
great effort in trying to increase the activity levels in our stakes. We
work diligently to raise the percentages of those attending sacrament meetings.
We labor to get a higher percentage of our young men on missions. We strive
to improve the numbers of those marrying in the temple. All of these are
commendable efforts and important to the growth of the kingdom. But when
individual members and families immerse themselves in the scriptures regularly
and consistently, these other areas of activity will automatically come.
Testimonies will increase. Commitment will be strengthened. Families will
be fortified. Personal revelation will flow." (Teachings of
Ezra Taft Benson, p44)
During the reign of Jehoshaphat, Israel faced a difficult situation when
several nations declared war against them. Jehoshaphat and Israel
2 CHRONICLES 20:3-13. Israel's plea for
WHAT DID JEHOSHAPHAT DO?
He proclaimed a fast throughout the land (v3).
He went up to the temple to ask the Lord for help (v5-12).
All Judah stood before the Lord (v13).
Jehoshaphat and Judah exercised faith in the Lord.
HOW DID THE LORD RESPOND?
The Lord gave his answer through the prophet Jahaziel, "O
Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against
them: for the LORD will be with you" (2 Chronicles 20:17).
2 CHRONICLES 20:20. Believe in the Lord
and his prophets.
As Latter-day Saints, we are like ancient Judah, in that we are surrounded
by influences designed to bring us down.
HOW DOES JEHOSHAPHAT'S COUNSEL APPLY TO US TODAY?
Jehoshaphat counseled the people to believe in the Lord and his prophets. As we believe in the Lord's modern day prophets
and heed their counsel we will be strengthened by the Lord.
2 CHRONICLES 20:21-24. Interesting tactics.
The Lord fulfilled his promise to Judah and they were spared the battle.
We too will be strengthened and blessed as we give heed to the counsel
of the Lord's servants.
A wonderful, modern day example of this principle is illustrated by the changes
that occurred in former East Germany because of the faithfulness and obedience
of the Saints in that country. Who fought the battle? The Lord. These wonderful German people were blessed for their obedience
nation of Judah at the time of Jehoshaphat. Consider their story as told by Dean
and Tom Hughes:
At the end of World War II, Germany was occupied by the
victorious armies. In eastern Germany, the Soviet Union established a communist
government. Many citizens began to flee to western Germany. Fences had to be
built to hold the people in, and finally, in 1961, an ugly cement-and-block wall
was built through the center of Berlin. On the western side of the wall people
retained their freedoms, but in the German Democratic Republic, usually known as
East Germany, the government stopped free elections and controlled access to
In West Germany people recovered from the war, and in time the
nation prospered. But in the east, the citizens got by with very little, and
life was often dull and difficult. Along the walls and fences of East Germany
was a barren strip of land, a "dead zone." Guards with guns and attack dogs
watched these areas day and night to keep people from escaping. These dead
zones, extending not only through Germany but along the borders of other
communist countries, came to be known as the "iron curtain."
The communist government in East Germany was opposed to religion, but
officials did not stop people from worshipping. The Latter-day Saints there,
though not great in number, managed not only to survive but also to strengthen
Gradually, the East German government gained favorable impressions of their
LDS citizens. Mormons were industrious people with good families. They also
believed in "obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law." (Article of Faith12.)
Because of this, the government gradually opened more opportunities to them.
In 1968, Elder Thomas S. Monson was allowed to visit and speak to members of
the Church in East Germany. He felt inspired to tell them that if they kept
God's commandments, the day would come when "every blessing any member of the
Church enjoys in any other country" would be theirs. After that, he prayed and
worked hard to negotiate with government leaders to make that prophecy come
true. Approval came to build churches, but the Saints had no temple. They didn't
have all the blessings other members enjoyed. When President Monson tried
to obtain permission for the members to travel to Switzerland, a government
official asked why the Church didn't build a temple in East Germany.
It was a stunning moment—and one no one could have expected. At least no one
but President Monson. He had promised the Saints, and now he was seeing the Lord
soften the hearts of communist officials. Details were worked out, and a temple was
built in Freiberg. And then, in similar negotiations, President Monson asked for
permission to establish a mission. Once again a door was opened that had seemed
closed forever. (We'll Bring the World
His Truth, p85)
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
One discovers through a study of the stories of Jeroboam,
Rehoboam, and Jehoshaphat, that there are distinct qualities in a good leader. A
good leader gives service, trusts and obeys the Lord, has faith in God, teaches
from the scriptures, and follows the prophets. Jeroboam and Rehoboam forgot
these important principles and led their people to wickedness. Jehoshaphat had
faith in the Lord and led the people in righteousness. As a consequence, the
Lord blessed Judah and saved the nation from their enemies. As we serve in our
callings, we should strive to invoke these principles in our lives. Like
Jehoshaphat, we too, can be influential in bringing blessings into the lives of
those we serve.
Record your thoughts on the impact of righteous and wicked
leaders. What can you do in your life and within your home to give greater
devotion to God?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Conference Reports (CR).
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.
We'll Bring the World His Truth: Missionary
Adventures from Around the World by Dean and Tom Hughes.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
02 April 2018