Last week, we learned about Solomon, and I commented on what I perceived as is root sin … pride. This week, we meet his son, Rehoboam, and I believe we see a continuation of that pride. It must have been tough for him. Having a father like Solomon must have been a lot to live up to. His first reported action as king is to meet with representatives of the people, who ask for relief from the burdens placed on them by Solomon. The elders urged Rehoboam to agree to their wishes, to solidify his hold on the kingdom. Instead, Rehoboam listened to his childhood buddies, and went into the traditional macho male bravado. He wanted to prove that he was a better man than his father. In ‘The Story” the line is translated as “My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist.” The NRSV makes it more explicit in 1 Kings 12:10: “My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins” (emphasis added). We men do tend to get hung up on things like that. 😉
Anyway, the people reject Rehoboam, except for Judah, as God had told Solomon. It wasn’t long after that happened that Egypt attacked Judah, and took away the temple treasures, including the gold ceremonial shields used by the temple guards. So what was Rehoboam’s reaction? Did he repent of his sin and turn back to God?
Of course not!
Instead, he has bronze shields constructed to replace the gold shields. They’re kept under lock and key except when the king is going to the temple. What I see from that is that Rehoboam was more concerned with appearing that everything was going well, rather than actually doing something substantive to make things right. I believe he was so unwilling or unable to humble himself to the point of admitting his mistakes that he had to make sure he never saw the consequences of those mistakes..
Unfortunately, I think I’m probably as guilty of that sort of blindness as Rehoboam was. I’m terrible at admitting when I’m wrong. And if somebody else should point out one of my errors, I immediately get defensive. Even if, at some level, I know they’re right, I can’t seem to allow myself to be humble enough to admit it.
I suspect I’m not alone in that fault. Perhaps we can all learn something from Rehoboam and his stubborn hold of his pride.