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CRITICAL NOTES.] Here begins the fourth part of the book of Chronicles, extending from the division of the kingdom to the decree of Cyrus, authorising the return of the exiles and confining itself to the affairs of the kingdom of Judah. The present chapter includes the proposal of the people to Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 10:1-5); the counsel given to him (2 Chronicles 10:6-11); and the answer that provokes the revolt (2 Chronicles 10:12-19). This corresponds to 1 Kings 12:1-19 [Murphy].
2 Chronicles 10:1-5.—Proposal to the people. Shechem, a judicious step, meeting there not simply because central and convenient, but honouring the capital of Ephraimites and removing disaffection. King. assembled to receive Rehoboam as lawful king and join in usual acclamations (1 Samuel 10:24; 1 Kings 1:39) [cf. Speak. Com.] 2 Chronicles 10:2. Jer. an Ephraimite appointed by Solomon to civil administration of house of Joseph (1 Kings 11:28), of which Ephraim a branch. Cause of flight to Egypt given (1 Kings 11:29-40). He returned to be leader and spokesman of people. 2 Chronicles 10:4. Yoke, pomp and style of Solomon made taxation heavy. Vast building operations required forced labour, &c. Ease, grant relief, make concessions, most reasonable request.
2 Chronicles 10:6-11.—Counsel given to the king. Old men who served under Solomon and well able to advise. 2 Chronicles 10:7. Spake, yield to will of people, for once be servant, be ruled by them and attach to thyself servants for ever. 2 Chronicles 10:8 Forsook, refused good words, consulted younger advisers, who gave counsel more flattering and agreeable to king’s temper.
2 Chronicles 10:12-19.—Little finger. Proverbial for increasing rather than diminishing burdens. “Finger not in original; but may be safely implied. The meaning is, ‘You shall find my hand heavier on you than my father’s; as much heavier as if my little finger were thicker than his loins’ ” [Speak. Com.]. Whips, often with sharp bones or pieces of lead tied to end. Scorpions, i.e., scourges with sharp points (Latin scorpio), “iron thorns” inflicting exquisite pain. Harsh and foolish answer. 2 Chronicles 10:15. Cause, i.e., the turn of events was from the Lord, to fulfil his word (1 Kings 2:29-31). 2 Chronicles 10:16. What portion? Words of sedition by Sheba (2 Samuel 20:1), expressing deep-rooted aversion to royal house and resulting in open rebellion. 2 Chronicles 10:18. Adoram, identified by some with Ad. of 1 Kings 4:6; 1 Kings 5:14; and Adoram of 2 Samuel 20:24. “The three names mark three distinct persons, perhaps of same family, who were respectively contemporary with David, Solomon, and Rehoboam” [Speak. Com.]. Sent to alleviate burdens. Stoned, usual mode of mob vengeance. 2 Chronicles 10:18. King himself narrowly escaped the same fate. From that time Israel and Judah separated and distinguished one from another.
THE REPRESENTATIVE ASSEMBLY.—2 Chronicles 10:1-5
I. The place of meeting. “Shechem” wisely chosen by Rehoboam, to remove dissatisfaction; at the advice of judicious men, whose counsels he afterwards rejected. A place of great antiquity, noted for conventions (Joshua 24:1) and royalty (Judges 9:0).
II. The purpose in view. The future government of the nation.
1. To make Rehoboam king. King with officers of state around; tribes drawn up under their leaders ready to receive him. How proclaimed? Not with hearty shouts of “God save the king.” A pause and solemn silence. Jeroboam steps forward!
2. To represent the people. “Make our yoke lighter and we will serve thee.” This unexpected; surprised and annoyed Rehoboam; not what he came for, not what he liked! Not bold enough to deny, not grace enough to concede. Delay dangerous, may breed suspicion and intensify ill-feeling.
III. The conclusion arrived at. “Come again unto me after three days.” King did not commit himself to rash impromptu reply. Adjournment might seem wise, but demands just, prompt redress would have been better than prudent caution. “There is a gift whose recompense is double” (Sir. 20:10).
THE FOOLISH RULES AND THE REVOLTING TRIBES.—2 Chronicles 10:6-19
The four scenes may be treated separately or in one sketch.
I. The grievance stated. Real, not imaginary; outspoken and not kept back. “The grievous servitude of thy father and his heavy yoke that he put upon us.”
1. A reasonable demand. Couched in a spirit of fairness and loyalty. Reason and justice will ever triumph. Violence and storms spend themselves for nothing, (a.) Heavy taxes. Splendour of Solomon’s court, the magnitude of his undertakings, such that neither tribute of dependent states, presents of foreign princes, nor profits of commercial enterprises could support. He was obliged to levy taxes for necessary revenue. (b.) Forced service. This chief ground of complaint (cf. 1 Kings 4:6; 1 Kings 5:13-14; 1 Kings 11:28). Each tribe called upon to render without payment. “Forced labour has been among the causes leading to insurrection in many ages and countries. It alienated the people of Rome from the last Tarquin (Liv. 1:56); it helped to bring about the French revolution, and it was for many years one of the principal grievances of the Russian serfs” [Speak. Com.]. (c.) Long endured. “Put upon us by thy father.” Complaint of past reign. Solomon wise, but oppressive in government. “No man can always be wise,” says Pliny. We are more apt to copy the defects of our ancestors than imitate their virtues; to remember the evil of their lives, not their benefits.
2. A national demand. It was the voice of “all Israel.” The people unanimous; not a few merely turbulent and dissatisfied. Thus was prophecy fulfilled. “This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you; he will take your sons, &c.” (1 Samuel 8:11-18).
II. The consultation held. If impolitic to delay, it was prudent to seek advice.
1. With aged counsellors. Wise, experienced, and suitable. “How do ye advise?” “With the ancient is wisdom, and in length of days understanding.” Be kind, concede, speak good words, and they will be thy servants for ever. Advice—(a), just; (b), timely; (c), far-seeing; and (d), wise. Happy the ruler with such statesmen! No sentimentalists, but true patriots and philosophers! Kindness wins and overcomes. “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
2. With young counsellors. Conceited, proud, and inexperienced. They recommend oppression and defiance. Yield nothing, put more on, afflict with scorpions. This considered spirited and kingly! but (a), unreasonable; (b), foolish; (c), cruel; and (d), destructive. “Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.”
III. The decision given. “The king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave” (2 Chronicles 10:13). This—
1. Unexpected. Demands reasonable; ease and make yoke “lighter.” Delay gave time to think, and this course resolved upon!
2. Foolish. Rough words unbecoming; display weakness, ignorance, and pride. A grain of wisdom would have taught that such conduct would widen the breach between him and his people.
3. Presumptuous. Kings made to serve, not to tyrannise; should rule for the good of the people and not for selfish purposes. The way to govern is to serve. Those kings safest who stoop lowest. “I would rather be king of the French than king of France,” said Louis XIV., i.e., rule in the hearts of the people than over the territories of the kingdom. “Whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister; and whosoever of you will be chiefest, shall be servant of all.”
4. Mischievous. This tone like that of the nobility of France before the great revolution, calculated to irritate (cf. the Ephraimites, Judges 12:1-4; men of Israel and Judah, 2 Samuel 19:41-43; and the harsh words of Eliphaz, Job 22:5), to add fuel to the fire. Mischievous in themselves and in results. “How many thousand souls are hurt every day by the words of others!” [Baxter]. How sad the result here! “The beginning of the words of the mouth is foolishness: and the end of talk is mischievous” (Sir. 11:13).
IV. The results which followed (2 Chronicles 10:16). Whatever ground for resisting before, they now receive provocation, which accounts for strong words and firm resolve.
1. Revolt. Threatened, insulted, they raised a shout expressive and well understood. “To your tents, O Israel!”
2. Resistance. Hadoram sent, the man who was” over the levy” (Rev. Vers.) of forced labourers, whose presence would rouse Israel to anger, exasperate, and outrage. A foolish and imprudent act. “Israel stoned him with stones, that he died.”
3. Final separation (2 Chronicles 10:19). God prevented the king from filling the land with blood. “It was with one exception (Hadoram) a bloodless revolt” [Stanley]. The attempt to recover lost tribes forbidden. The determination of king, the loyalty and number of Judah and Benjamin of no avail. The thing was done and could not be altered. The army disbanded and submitted to the God of battles. “For the cause was of God, that the Lord might perform his word.” Even if right appear on our side, better sit still than fight in disobedience to God. When God’s will is known ever submit, whatever loss may be involved.
THE MYSTERY OF DIVINE WORKING.—2 Chronicles 10:15
The cause, the Hebrew circuit, or turning about, was of God; for here was a “wheel within a wheel, as Ezekiel 1:0.” [Trapp]. The original idea of the disruption was that it was a divine dispensation. “The thing was from the Lord.” “It was as much a part of the divine economy of the national destinies, as the erection of the monarchy itself, or as the substitution of the House of David for the House of Saul” [Stanley].
I. Events of history controlled and directed to accomplish divine purposes. God’s will supreme and ultimate. “The turn of events” not aimless and independent. The current directed, turned, according to God’s pleasure and word.
II. In the accomplishment of divine purposes men act as free agents. Neither the folly of the king, nor rebellion of people pre-ordained. Events from natural order. Men not fated, but free to act; are under moral, not physical government. “But as for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”
III. Men thus acting as free agents are responsible for their actions. We are not subjects of accidents, bereft of power to do good or evil, but morally responsible for our actions. The hands of the Jews were wicked in crucifying Christ, though he was delivered up to them “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). Those who rebel against God and lose heaven will have to blame themselves for wilfulness and folly.
TWO METHODS OF TREATING MEN.—2 Chronicles 10:6-11
I. The conciliatory. II. The unconciliatory. Social positions are graduated. Yet no elevation of social rank gives one man the right to tyrannise over another. Pass in rapid review a few of the cases in which the two methods of treating men come into constant operation. The maintenance of a conciliatory policy is quite consistent with a headship.
2. Justice. What is the cure for all false relations among men? The gospel of reconciliation [Beecher].
GOVERNMENTS AND SUBJECTS
From the whole narrative learn—
I. That governments create dissatisfaction among their subjects by injustice. Order, contentment, and affection essential to prosperity in government. Severe laws, over-taxation, curtailment of liberties, and coercive measures create uneasiness and opposition. “The government of a prudent man is well ordered” (Sir. 10:1).
II. That it is right for subjects to agitate for the removal of injustice. Within right to get redress in just and legal methods. History abounds, in critical and stirring times, in witnesses against oppression and tyranny. Wrong to submit to despotisms. “I know how to add sovereign to the king’s person, but not to his power,” said Pym.
III. That it is wise for rulers to listen to the complaints of injustice. Concessions more becoming than extravagant assertions of “divine right.” Mild and merciful procedure quickens the spirit of freedom; destroys jealousy towards a ruler’s actions and character, and the best safeguard of thrones and constitutions. “When a king speaks ‘good words,’ they seem to be better than if spoken by other lips; when a king is kind, he seems to add to his kindness by his very kingliness; the stoop of his condescension redoubles the value of his benefaction. If when the people returned after three days Rehoboam had spoken so, the welkin would have rung with the resonant cheers of a delighted, thankful, because emancipated, people” [Dr. Parker].
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2 Chronicles 10:1-12. Rehoboam the headstrong. Only son of Solomon, but did not profit by his father’s Wisdom
1. His training. Not like that of his father. (a) His mother an idolatress (2 Chronicles 12:13), not the wise, good mother which Solomon seems to have had (Proverbs 4:3). Hence the mother’s influence over the young prince. (b) He had not the good example which Solomon had in David. Solomon’s later years degenerate, what wonder if his son was far behind!
2. His accession. Without difficulty (cf. 1 Kings 11:43) at the death of his father, when about 41 years old. (a) By promise of perpetual sovereignty to David’s posterity; (b) By public assembly of representatives. “Met not to exercise right of election (1 Samuel 10:19-21); for after God’s promise, their duty was submission to the authority of rightful heir; but their object was to renew the conditions to which their constitutional kings were subject (1 Samuel 10:25), and to the omission of rehearsing which, under the peculiar circumstances in which Solomon was made king, they were disposed to ascribe the absolutism of his government” [Jamieson].
3. His trouble. Kings not without. “Uneasy is the head that wears the crown.” (a) A corrupt empire; (b) A dissatisfied people; (c) A dark future.
4. His folly. Wisdom not inherited as wealth. Some infatuated, nothing can teach them. Men have no right to tyrannise in social, political, or religious affairs. The rough answer was a fearful mistake. “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
2 Chronicles 10:2-3; 2 Chronicles 10:12-15. Jeroboam the first king of Israel.
1. His early life. Jeroboam (whose people is many) “son of Nebat,” an Ephrathite, i.e., belonging to territory of Ephraim; of Zereda (2 Chronicles 4:17; cf. Judges 5:22), a town near Scythopolis. Mother Zeruah, a widow, reduced by the execution of her husband at beginning of Solomon’s reign, if Jeroboam be identical with Shemei (cf. 2 Samuel 16:5; cf. 1 Kings 2:46).
2. His natural ability. “A mighty man of valour” (1 Kings 11:27); mighty in power as Nimrod (Genesis 10:8); in wealth, as Boaz, Kish, and other Israelites (Ruth 2:1; 1 Samuel 9:1; 2 Kings 15:20). But clever, of strong natural capacity; active and enterprising (Sept. a man of works).
3. His rapid promotion. Solomon discerning his talents, “seeing the young man that he was industrious, that he did the king’s business (Daniel 8:27), made him ruler; set him over all the charge, the burden;” superintendent of taxes and public works (1 Kings 11:27-28). “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule” (Proverbs 12:24; Proverbs 22:29).
4. His prophetic designation. By prophet Ahijah in symbolic action (1 Kings 11:29-39). From which time he became a marked man by Solomon.
5. His seditious conduct. Ambitious, impatient for the death of Solomon, he was led to plot and conspire, and in consequence driven to Egypt. Chosen of God, yet could not wait for Providence. Incurred penalty of death by rebellion.
6. His accession to the throne. Chosen at length by people and permitted to become first king of Israel.
2 Chronicles 10:7. Be kind. The power of kindness in winning affection and service. Lenity and moderation in a prince is very prevalent with the people, as to win their affections at first, so to hold them in obedience ever after. The advice of an ancient French counsellor to his sovereign at his departure from court was good. Being wished to lay down some general rules for government, he took a paper, and wrote on the top of it “moderation,” in the middle of the leaf “moderation,” and at the bottom “moderation” [Trapp].
2 Chronicles 10:6-11. I. The national council.
1. Assembled and consulted by the king;
2. Composed of old and young, wise and foolish men. II. The resolution adopted.
1. From whom it came;
2. What its nature;
3. What its results. Forsook old men, whom he consulted for fashion’s sake, as Xerxes did when he invaded Greece. Resolved beforehand to stand upon his pantoufles and not at all to stoop to the people. He had those about him, doubtless, that would tell him, as some Court parasites did our King John, when he had yielded to the requests of his barons for the subjects’ liberty, that now he was “a king without a kingdom, a lord without a dominion, and a subject to his subjects” [Trapp]. Consulted young men. So did our king Richard II., to his utter ruin. So Xerxes despised the grave counsel of his uncle Artabanus, and was led wholly by young Mardonius to the loss of all. The like is reported of Dionysius, king of Sicily; Crœsus, king of Lydia; Nero, emperor of Rome; James that reigned in Scotland in Edward IV.’s time; and Lantrer, of whom it is reported that he lost the kingdom of Naples from the French king, his master, and all that he had in Italy, because he would not ask nor follow the advice of those who were wiser than himself [Ibid.].
2 Chronicles 10:12-15. The adjourned meeting.
1. The decision given. Haughty and imperious.
2. The effect produced. (a) On the aged counsellors; (b) On deputies; (c) On the nation [adapted from Bib. Mus.].
2 Chronicles 10:16. To your tents, O Israel. “It was a national watchword, and not the war-cry of a single tribe which led the revolt” [Stanley].
1. Its antiquity. Raised in time of David, now with fatal effect (2 Samuel 20:1).
2. Its ingratitude. What have we to do with David?
3. Its selfishness. Cut themselves off from their brethren and their sovereign. To your tents, let us have a king of our own!
2 Chronicles 10:16-19. The great secession.
1. Its strange beginning.
2. Its remarkable progress.
3. Its fatal consequences. Two kingdoms; rival worship. Weakness, jealousy, and political decline of Jewish nation. Terrible is progress of strife. One angry word, one look of revenge, one act of resentment, will kindle a fire which may set a neighbourhood or a nation into flame. A drop of revenge soon becomes a river, and the river a torrent, which sweeps everything before it. “The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water. Therefore leave off contention before it be meddled with.”
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 10
2 Chronicles 10:6-10. Counsel. Judge Buller, when in the company of a young gentleman of sixteen, cautioned him against being led astray by the example or persuasion of others, and said: “If I had listened to the advice of some of those who called themselves my friends when I was young, instead of being a judge of the King’s Bench, I should have died long ago a prisoner at the King’s Bench.”
2 Chronicles 10:12-15. Answered. Who knows what he is till he is tried, and until he meets his own trial? for every one is not discovered in the same way; he may be firm in one peril and fail in another [Jay]. His friends were summoned on a point so nice, to pass their judgment and to give advice; but fixed before, and well resolved was he, as those who ask advice are wont to be [Pope].
2 Chronicles 10:16-19. When any one person or body of men seize into their hands the power in the last resort, there is properly no longer a government, but what Aristotle and his followers call the abuse and corruption of one [Swift].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 10". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11