They replied, "If you will be a servant to these people and serve them this day, and if you will respond by speaking kind words to them, they will be your servants forever."
I. LIMITED MONARCHY IS BEST FOR THE PEOPLE.
1. Because it recognises their rights.
(1) The people do not exist for the king. They may be governed as republic without a king.
(2) But the king exists for the people. Where no people are there can be no king.
(3) For a king, therefore, to use the people simply for his own aggrandisement and ignore their rights is preposterous (Jeremiah 2:14).
2. respects their happiness.
(1) Since the people collectively are of more importance than an individual monarch, the haughty bearing of a monarch is out of place. So the sages counselled Rehoboam to "serve" the people and "speak good words to them."
(2) The interests of a good king will be bound up with the happiness of his subjects, and he cannot reasonably object to a constitution that will recognise this community of interests.
II. IT IS BEST ALSO FOR THE PRINCE.
1. It encourages his virtues.
(1) It does this by limiting his extravagance. Solomon would have been far happier had his people been saved the charge of building palaces for, and sustaining in state, seven hundred princesses and three hundred concubines.
(2) For what would be necessary to sustain his rank a constitutional king might trust the good sense of his people. At Shechem they did not seek exemption from taxation, but relief from its excesses. They knew that it would not be to the credit of a great people to pauperise their prince.
2. It gives stability to his throne.
(1) "They will be thy servants forever." Such was the manner in which this was expressed by the sages. It will be their interest to be so. Gratitude also will bind them. The loyalty of love is stronger and more enduring than that of fear. This is the loyalty which the gospel claims, and the constancy of the subjects of the kingdom of Christ is witnessed in's million martyrdoms.
(2) Who rules over a loving people may be tranquil. He need not fear the poniard of the assassin. (This is the paradise of tyrants!) He will have the joy of ruling over a happy nation. The typical constitutional monarch is the father of his people.
III. ADVOCATES OF TYRANNY SCORN TO REASON.
1. The young counsellors give no reasons.
(1) This method they leave to the ancients. For reasons they substitute smart speech. "Thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins." Pertness too often has displaced reason.
(2) Why should reasons be given by one who claims a Divine right to act as he pleases?
2. But may there not be a benevolant autocracy?
(1) Certainly. And if this can be guaranteed, together with competent wisdom, then there is no better government. For is not this the very idea of the government of God?
(2) But who can guarantee this in human kingdoms? The people certainly are as likely to know what is for their welfare as the majority of their kings.
(3) What if the autocrat should prove a fool? What if he should prove a devil? Would not a kingdom in this case be a hell upon earth?
(4) Rehoboam seems to have combined the satanic and the foolish. Lost the greater part of his kingdom; reigned over the remnant wickedly. Christians should pray for their rulers. They should bless God for their liberties. - M.
If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day... then they will be thy servants for ever.
I. THE FOLLY OF REHOBOAM. In the ancient, town of Shechem, a town that recalls to the Israelite memories of patriarchal limes, a king is about to be crowned. Solomon the Great has gone the way of all his fathers, and by right of succession the crown falls to Rehoboam his son. All Israel assembled at Shechem to make him king. For ages that old city had retained traces of its ancient dignity, just as Rheims, the old capital of France, continued to be the scene of coronations long after it had ceased to be the national capital. There was a time when Amsterdam was threatened to be deprived of its right of Royal Coronation, but since the severance of Belgium and Holland, the New Church here holds that honour undisputed. Shechem was full of representatives from all parts of the country. The king came down in royal state from Jerusalem. No opposition was offered to Rehoboam's succession. He was the only son of Solomon, and the people were prepared. to receive him as such. They had, however, many grievances which they wished to have redressed. Solomon had not been everything that a king should be.
II. THE PREROGATIVE OF SERVICE. A wise king would have at once acceded to such a request. But Rehoboam, although the son of a wise father, had not the common sense to do so. Wisdom is not inherited. "Who knoweth whether his son will be a wise man or a fool?" He was the king. The people had no rights but what he chose to give them. They were his servants, not he their servant. His will was their law. He knew nothing and would hear nothing of the rights of the individual. According to the mind of Jesus, he is the greatest who renders the greatest service to others. "They assert that the strength of a monarch's throne is service for and sympathy with his people." A throne built on such a foundation will last unshaken for ever. Oh, happy king to have such counsellors! Oh, foolish man to turn aside from them! The consequence of this incredibly foolish reply was such as might have been expected. "The work of two generations was undone in a moment." Under the leadership of Jeroboam, who promised them the reforms they wanted, the Ten Tribes revolted.
III. SELFISH AUTOCRACY. It is the old story of the consequence of selfish and inconsiderate autocracy. It is a lesson which makes but slow progress in the minds of men. The old heathen idea of forcible dominion is still largely the governing one of politics — that to be great is to receive much service, not to render it. Politics has too often been a game of ambition rather than a sphere of service.
(W. Thomson, M. A. , B. D.)
Christian Commonwealth.The honour of service is emphasised by Solomon in the title he gives to his father. He speaks of him by a more honourable name than that of king — "Thy servant David." Solomon recognised that he owed his exalted .position entirely to God. The most universal function in nature is that of service. Nothing in creation is serving itself, but every element is intended to serve some other. The flowers bloom in beauty, but soon serve us by transformation into seed. The winds purify the earth. The clouds carry moisture across all regions. The sun is regal in majestic splendour, but this monarch of the planets is, in reality, far more their servant, as their light and heat bearer. Above all, the idea of service is ennobled by Jesus, who as minister to His disciples was "servant of all." So are we to seek to serve God and man.
PeopleAdoniram, Adoram, Ahijah, Benjamin, Dan, David, Israelites, Jeroboam, Jesse, Levi, Levites, Nebat, Penuel, Rehoboam, Shemaiah, Solomon
PlacesBethel, Dan, Egypt, Jerusalem, Penuel, Shechem
TopicsAlways, Caring, Favorable, Forever, Gentle, Giving, Grant, Hast, Petition, Saying, Servant, Servants, Serve, Served, Spake, Speak, Spoke, Spoken, To-day, Wilt
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
5727 old age, attitudes
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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