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A Foolish King.

A Foolish King.

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Published by glennpease



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Published by: glennpease on Sep 16, 2013
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A FOOLISH KIG.REV. THOMAS SOMERVILLE, A.M.,I KIGS XII.Wic behold the IsraeHtes at an interesting period of theirnational history. A hereditary monarchy had been instituted,but not firmly fixed. There was still some danger of defec-tion, and that defection was hastened by the foolishness of theson of Solomon. "Strange!" says an old writer, "that thoughSolomon had a thousand wives, yet we read but of one sonthat he had to bear up his name, and that son was a fool."Thus, neither wisdom nor wit run in the blood. ot all thelearning of Athens could redeem the son of Cicero fromidiocy ; not all the power of Cromwell could establish thegovernment of Britain for his son ; not all the grace of Chesterfield could make a fine gentleman of his son ; norcould all the wisdom of Solomon save his son from folly.Although he had been the darling of a Court where the wiseand the learned gathered together, yet no sooner did hegrasp the reins of power than he signalized himself byimprudence, obstinacy, and cruelty. There seems to havebeen some premonition of this in the mind of the agedSolomon. As he looked back upon the progress of hiskingdom, and forward to its probable fate, he gave ventto his feelings in that doleful prophecy : " I hated all mylabour which I had taken under the sun, because I shouldleave it to the man which shall be after me, and vvho knowethWhether he shall be a wise man or a fool. Yet shall herule over my labour wherein I have laboured and shewedmyself wise und^r the sun."128 A FOOLISH KIG.
We see that the sovereignity of David's house was yetnew and unsettled. For, observe that, instead of all thepeople coming up to Jerusalem to congratulate their newking, Rehoboam goes down to Shechem to seek their confir-mation of his right.The country appears to have been in the condition of England previous to the orman Conquest. From thetime of Egbert, in 800, our monarchy was hereditary ; yet,on the succession of every new king, the Witenagemote, orgrand council of the nation, met to confirm the title by aformal election.The pretence of this assembly at Shechem was to makeRehoboam king, but the real purpose was to unmake him.There was already the lurking spirit of revolution. Both theplace and the spokesman manifest this. Shechem ! why, thevery place was associated with treachery. At Shechem wasJoseph sold by his brethren ; at Shechem did Gad rally hisfollowers against Abimelech ; at Shechem did Abimelechraise his treacherous standard against his brethren. It couldnot fail to put Israel in mind of rebellion ; the very soil wasstained by perfidiousness. The spokesman was Jeroboam, thevery man that had plotted conspiracy in the days of Solomonand had fled to Egypt. A fugitive from his country, he hadlong lurked in a foreign Court, and now he embraces theoccasion of Solomon's death to return. Crafty and unprin-cipled, he fires the smouldering spirit of revolution.It says little for their allegiance to the memory of Solomonthat they were so ready to receive him. It was bad to enter-tain a rebel ; it was worse to countenance him ; and worst of all to employ him. Many a people in those rough timeswould have presented his head to their new king, insteadof letting him go as their head.The speech is no better than the speech-maker. In one
A FOOLISH KIG. 1 29hand he holds a petition, and in the other a sword. All thetime he is making professions of servility he is seeking theoccasion of defiance. " Thy father made our yoke grievous."It had been the boast of the early part of Solomon's reignthat no Israelites — only foreigners — were employed in com-pulsory labour. But that had passed away, and Solomon,like other Oriental despots, had assumed the absolute rightto such services from his subjects as he needed from them,and had classified them, and appointed officers over themfor this purpose. This was a real grievance, but not theirgreatest. "Thy father made our yoke grievous." This isthe chief burden of their complaint. They complain, butobserve not one word in regard to Solomon's idolatry andrevolt from God. That which was really the greatest griev-ance is none to them. Oh, Israel, Israel, how hast thoufallen ? They are anxious about their own interest, butindifferent in regard to far higher interests. God or Moloch — it was all one whom they might worship, so that they couldlive at ease and pay no taxes.We turn now to the conduct of Rehoboam. His firstresolution becomes the son of Solomon. He asks time forconsideration. " Depart yet for three days, then come againto me." He who had shown so much wisdom in calling forleisure showed but little wisdom in the improvement of thatleisure. The aged friends of his father are first summonedto his council. "What counsel give ye me to return answerto this people ?" It seems as if something corresponding tothe modern idea of a responsible ministry had prevailed inthe days of Solomon, for these men are designated as theold men that had stood before Solomon his father while heyet lived. It had been their practice to give advice inregard to the affairs of the former kingdom during the formerreign, and they came most willingly to the assistance of the

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