From 2 Chronicles 9-12
After Solomons death, his son Rehoboam was approached by the representative of the people of Israel. They felt burdened the harsh labour imposed on them and asked that it be lightened. Rehoboam considers the advice of old wise men and his younger peers. He rejects the advice of the old men and gives them the harsh response of his younger peers with disastrous results! In the gospel Jesus calls all those who heavily burdened to come to him. Come to the LORD Jesus.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Solomon, David’s son has died. Solomon’s son Rehoboam is king. Solomon used his own people to build his house and the temple. There remains the opportunity to use all this workforce for the King’s own gain. The people however want to be reassured they will be treated nicely.
The LORD has raised up a man named Jeroboam to lead the Israelites in the King’s workforce. I like to think of him as a union leader. Previously, the LORD promised Jeroboam he would break of Israel from Judah and make him king over them. Jeroboam had to flee to Egypt because he opposed Solomon’s rule.
Jeroboam is about to come back now Solomon is dead.
10 Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. 2 And as soon as Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt.
3 And they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all Israel came and said to Rehoboam, 4 “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” 5 He said to them, “Come to me again in three days.” So the people went away. (2 Chr 10:1–6)
Rehoboam calls Jeroboam in. Jeroboam quickly assumes leadership of the workforce when he returns. When he comes before Jeroboam, he presented his case before him.
There is opportunity for peace.
6 Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” 7 And they said to him, “If you will be good to this people and please them and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” (2 Chr 10:6-7)
Rehoboam has two groups of people to advise him. The old men, who we can assume are experienced and wise. And Rehoboam’s younger friends. Inexperienced, but his peers.
The older men suggest he treat the people kindly. Perhaps they have heard what it was like when Judah and Israel were divided during David and Saul’s time. Their wisdom shows.
8 But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him.
9 And he said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?”
10 And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to the people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us’; thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s thighs. 11 And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’ ” (2 Chr 10:8-11)
‘Light yoke’, ‘heavy yoke’. The expressions use farming imagery. A yoke was a wooden brace fitted to a beast of burden used to control them and get them to do work.
I suspect the young advisors think the people would tolerate having even heavier burdens imposed on them. The young advisors probably haven’t done any hard labor themselves.
They suggest a harsh course of action.
12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” 13 And the king answered them harshly; and forsaking the counsel of the old men, 14 King Rehoboam spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by God that the LORD might fulfill his word, which he spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat. (2 Chr 10:12-15)
‘The king answered them harshly’, ‘I will discipline you with scorpions’. The author puts the blame on Rehoboam. I’m sure this did not please the people or comfort them.
How would you feel if he spoke to you this way?
Strangely, this harsh answer was predicted by the LORD. Israel would divide from Judah.
16 And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What portion have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. Each of you to your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.” So all Israel went to their tents.
17 But Rehoboam reigned over the people of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah. 18 Then King Rehoboam sent Hadoram, who was taskmaster over the forced labor, and the people of Israel stoned him to death with stones. And King Rehoboam quickly mounted his chariot to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. (2 Chr 10:16–19)
‘We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse’. They want nothing to do with Judah. They leave the king angry and flabbergasted. ‘All of Israel went to their tents’.
Rehoboam tries to exert his control over the people of Israel, but they rebel against him and kill their taskmaster and almost kill him. Rehoboam flees as quickly as he can.
Israel and Judah will be separate for a long long time.
The incident has divided the kingdoms. Mostly they live apart. On rare occasions they join sides against a common foe. All for the harsh response of the king.
Israel and Judah needed another king, like David would would bring them together under one rule. A new king who would treat his people kindly and give them an easy way of serving him (light yoke).
In the gospel, Jesus once said;
25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt 11.25-30)
Who would you prefer to be your king? Jesus or Rehoboam?
Feeling burdened? Come to Jesus, read the gospels, go to church and he will give you rest.
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