And the king answered the people harshly. He rejected the advice of the elders
I. REHOBOAM'S FEEBLENESS OF CHARACTER. We should expect of one who succeeded to the throne in the prime of his life some clear notions of the policy he would pursue. Brought up in a court to which the rulers of other peoples came (1 Kings 10:24), over which the wisest king of that age ruled, he was rich in natural advantages. He could also have discovered for himself the condition of the people, their causes of complaint, etc. Had he given himself to such thought he would have been prepared for prompt and resolute action on his accession. Instead of this he seems helpless; turns now to these and now to those for counsel, and has not even enough wisdom to weigh the value of advice when it is given. "Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel," is a law of far-reaching application. Amongst the virtues we should inculcate in our children is that of sober self-reliance. It may be fostered in the home with safety and advantage. Trust a child with something which he is free to use or abuse, in order to test him, and develop in him this grace. Probably Rehoboam had been brought up in the harem, and so had the heart of a child, with the years of a man. All gifts must be exercised to increase their value. "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways," and an example of this lies before us.
II. REHOBOAM'S CONTEMPT OF EXPERIENCE. He consulted the old advisers of Solomon, it is true, but clearly for the look of the thing only. Directly after speaking with "the responsible ministers of the crown," he turned to the courtiers, who were far less able to advise in such a crisis. Job says, "With the ancients is wisdom; and in length of days understanding." This is not always true. A man may be old without being wise, he may go through many experiences without being experienced. Still, other things being equal, a long study of affairs gives knowledge and discretion. It would clearly be so, with men chosen by the wise Solomon. Besides, those who have already won their honours are more disinterested than those who are ambitiously seeking to win them; and those whose reputations are high are more careful to guard themselves against folly than those who have no reputation to lose. [Found on such principles the duties of submission to authority, of reverence to age, etc., which are the essentials of a happy home and of a peaceful society.]
III. REHOBOAM'S RESORT TO THE FOOLISH. The answer of the young men showed their folly. That such a spirit should exist is a proof that in the later years of Solomon the people about him had sadly deteriorated.
(1) These were the boon companions of Rehoboam, and knowing his haughty temper they flattered him to the top of his bent.
(2) They were courtiers brought up amid the luxuries of the splendid reign just ended, and knew little or nothing of the condition of the people. For these and other reasons they were of all others the most unfit to give counsel in this crisis. [Give examples from history of kings ruined by their favourites.] We should always suspect those who gratify our vanity, or seek to further our lower pleasures. Show the evils which arise, especially to weak characters, from foolish associates. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." "Forsake the foolish, and live." "Blessed is he that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful."
IV. REHOBOAM'S BOASTFULNESS OF HIS POWER. "My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins." A proverbial expression to denote that his power was greater than his father's. Such bragging is no sign of courage. At the first outbreak of rebellion, this boaster "made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem." A strong character expresses itself not in great words, but in great deeds. The boastful Peter fails, the silent John stands firm. The Pharisee is rejected, the publican justified. "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and he that exalteth himself shall be abased."
V. REHOBOAM'S ABUSE OF HIS AUTHORITY. "My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke," etc. This was not the speech of one who felt himself to be a shepherd of God's flock, but of one who assumed despotic authority. This was never permitted to a king of Israel, nor is it intended by God that any man should thus rule. It would be an evil to the ruler himself as well as to his people. Least of all is it to be tolerated in the Christian Church. The highest in ecclesiastical office are forbidden to be "lords over God's heritage," but are to be "examples to the flock." Christ said, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them... but ye shall not be so" (Luke 22:24-29).
VI. REHOBOAM'S NEGLECT OF PRAYER. How differently he began his reign from his father! Solomon went first to God; Rehoboam went hither and thither for counsel, but never turned to God at all. How often we act thus in our temporal perplexities, in our theological difficulties, etc. How sadly we forget the words, "If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God," etc. (James 1:5-8). Throw the lurid light of this story on Proverbs 1., and make personal application of the warning given there. - A.R.
My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins.
Homilist.These were the words of an infatuated fool — a fool led on to his own destruction by the "irony of destiny."
I. WISDOM IS NOT HEREDITARY. The question is often asked, as this kind of phenomenon comes under notice, how does it happen that great men seldom have great children? Does genius wear itself out? We incline to think that the gross neglect which geniuses manifest towards their children has much to do with it. Still, it cannot be denied that the descendants of many of our greatest men have been little better than "drivelling idiots."
II. CURSE OF EVIL COMPANY. We could not find a more painful instance than the one under consideration, either in profane or sacred history. It was fraught with terrible consequences.
1. It is a curse to the man himself. Do evil, unholy, foolish companions make a person happy? Does it not rather bring trouble, sorrow, regrets, and present inconvenience? It is expensive, humiliating, degrading.
2. It is a curse to the man's influence. Character is assimilated with those with whom we associate. And even if the evil influence does not produce evil results, the name of the evil clings to him who mixes with it.
3. It is a curse to his future. It will ultimately bring him ruin. No person was ever yet strong enough in his integrity to resist the united influence of boon cornpardons. Their influence sows a seed which will ultimately produce an abundant harvest.
III. STUPIDITY OF DESPOTISM. A despot uses his power for the mere sake of using it, and not to effect any good purpose, or to bring about any desirable end. There are many minor despots in the world — persons put into little offices, who love to manifest and to parade their brief authority.
IV. THE OVERRULING POWER OF GOD. He maketh even the wrath and the folly of man to praise Him. Had Rehoboam acted wisely, we do not know whether the Judgment might not have been still further postponed; but as it was, this act precipitated God's wrath and effected His purposes.
II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THIS DEMAND ON THE PART OF THE PEOPLE WAS MET BY THE KING.
III. THE FINAL REPLY OF REHOBOAM TO THE DEMAND OF HIS PEOPLE. It was nothing else, we cannot but say, than downright infatuation.
IV. THE CAUSE WAS FROM THE LORD. And this is one among many proofs of God's absolute predestination, and of the perfect freedom of human actions. The division of the kingdom from Rehoboam was absolutely certain; it was determined by God; it was positively predicted by a prophet of God.
V. THOSE POINTS IN THE CHARACTER AND HISTORY OF REHOBOAM, WHICH MAY BE CALCULATED TO CONVEY SUITABLE INSTRUCTION. And let me remark:
1. Talent and piety are not inherited by birth. No part of Solomons far-famed wisdom descended to his son. He was even more than usually deficient in common prudence, and in the capacity for government. A father may convey to his heirs the riches he has accumulated; but there is a nobler wealth, which cannot be bequeathed, and which cannot be transferred. Knowledge, mental opulence, talent — these are the result of individual application, of laborious industry, and of perseverance. Without these, no fancied gifts of nature can avail; and with these there is scarcely any extent of acquisition, which it is not possible to secure. But it is yet far more important to notice, that true piety does not descend by birth: Religion is a personal and individual thing; it is not transferred like property, it does not descend like any civil privilege. Religion is an individual matter; it is a change wrought upon the individual's mind; it is a living principle and energy within the individual heart and the individual nature. Talent and piety are not inherited by birth.
2. The king's rejection of wise counsel. The aged are not always wise, and they are often too cold and too calculating to be safe guides; and sometimes also their manner is unfortunate and repulsing; they are unamiable, they are irmpatient of the habits and feelings of youth, and they pronounce too magisterially to be very easily borne. But these are exceptions, and beyond all doubt, a multitude of years should teach wisdom. It was one of the laws of ancient Sparta (a heathen State), that whenever an old man appeared, the young in the assembly should rise up in token of their reverence. Reverence for age lies at the foundation of a sound moral character; it is not only becoming, it is not only beautiful, but it is essential; and where it is wanting in measure, it shows there is something utterly wrong, utterly unsound, in the moral constitution.
3. His arbitrary disposition. Instead of soothing, and gradually quenching the spirit of revolt, Rehoboam sought to cut down the clamours of his subjects, by arbitrary measures. The saying of the wise man cannot be too often repeated, "A soft answer turneth away wrath."
4. Rehoboam's imprudent choice of his associates. We cannot question that the ruin of this prince is to be ascribed to those whom he selected as his companions. Had it not been for the young men who grew up along with him, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah bad been undivided, and he had retained the crown. And, in connection with this, "Evil communications corrupt good manners." There is nothing, so far as personal piety is concerned, so far as the salvation of the soul is concerned, of so much importance as the choice of your associates.
(J. Young, M. A.)
Macaulay's England.But there was at the court a small knot of Roman Catholics whose hearts had been ulcerated by old injuries, whose heads had been turned by recent elevation, who were impatient to climb to the highest honours of the State, and who, having little to lose, were not troubled by thoughts of the day of reckoning. These men called with one voice for war on the constitution of the Church and the State. They told their master that he owed it to his religion and to the dignity of his crown to stand firm against the outcry of heretical demagogues, and to let the Parliament see from the first that he would be master in spite of opposition, and that the only effect of opposition would be to make him a hard master.
PeopleAdoniram, Adoram, Ahijah, Benjamin, Dan, David, Israelites, Jeroboam, Jesse, Levi, Levites, Nebat, Penuel, Rehoboam, Shemaiah, Solomon
PlacesBethel, Dan, Egypt, Jerusalem, Penuel, Shechem
TopicsAdvice, Answereth, Attention, Counsel, Counselled, Elders, Forsaketh, Forsaking, Forsook, Giving, Harshly, Men's, Rejecting, Rough, Roughly, Sharply, Suggestion
Outline1. The Israelites, assembled at Shechem to crown Rehoboam,
4. by Jeroboam make a suit of relaxation unto him
6. Rehoboam, refusing the old men's counsel, answers them roughly
16. Ten tribes revolting, kill Adoram, and make Rehoboam flee
21. Rehoboam, raising an army, is forbidden by Shemaiah
25. Jeroboam strengthens himself by cities
26. and by idolatry of the two calves
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Kings 12:1-15
8410 decision-making, examples
LibraryHow to Split a Kingdom
And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king. 2. And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard of it (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt); 3. That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying, 4. Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
"This Thing is from Me"
The Hebrews and the Philistines --Damascus
How God Works in the Hearts of Men.
Use to be Made of the Doctrine of Providence.
The Upbringing of Jewish Children
The Instrumentality of the Wicked Employed by God, While He Continues Free from Every Taint.
The Twelve Minor Prophets.
Of Civil Government.
Travelling in Palestine --Roads, Inns, Hospitality, Custom-House Officers, Taxation, Publicans
The Figurative Language of Scripture.
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