This week we have a reading from 1 Kings 12:1-17, 25-29. Commentary at Working Preacher is here.
Last week, we had an idyllic glimpse of King David, a united kingdom, and a moment where David danced before the Lord, as the ark was brought back and God was centered in the life of Israel.
That moment is gone.
David’s son, King Solomon, was known for his wisdom. And things started out going pretty well for him. And then he started worshipping the idols of some of his wives. And he conscripted his own people, and pretty much everyone else he could find, to build a Temple for God, even though we call it “Solomon’s Temple”.
And so now we have a story of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. And of Solomon’s former advisor, Jeroboam. Jeroboam had supervised many of Solomon’s building projects. He knew the people were unhappy with the labor they were forced to do. And he figured his management skills qualified him to be king. Until Solomon found out and Jeroboam skedaddled to Egypt, hiding there until Solomon’s death. His name means “he pleads the people’s case”.
Rehoboam, which means, “he enlarges the people” starts out inheriting the throne of his father Solomon.
And quickly we see the problem.
He asks his father’s friends from the country club for advice, which they freely give.
And then he asks his frat brothers for their advice, which they freely give. Their advice is not just bad, it is crude. Biblical translators tame the story a bit for our delicate ears, hiding the insult.
Rehoboam passes on the insult to the people, choosing the crude and horrific advice of making life even harder on the people than even his father had done. Eventually, the people decide they’ve had enough of that nonsense and they dispose of Rehoboam, choosing Jeroboam as king instead. He will be different, but not really be any better, but that’s a story for another day.
Where’s the good news in this text for you?
For me, perhaps it is in the aspirational advice of the elders. They’ve never seen a servant king as they describe, yet they hold out hope for someone to turn away from the lure of power.
How do we lead our churches? With the ‘we’ve always done it this way before, so let’s keep on doing it that way, even though it isn’t really working out for us‘ model? Or can we find ways to let go of the power we feel we’ve earned, or that we’ve seen others have, or that our denominations used to hold?
Where is the Spirit leading you this week?
Will you be incorporating All Saints into worship this week?
Please share your ideas for liturgy, for Time with the Children, for sermon illustrations here.
Marci Glass is the pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church and lives with her husband and sons in Boise, Idaho. She is a graduate of Trinity University and Columbia Theological Seminary. She serves on the boards of the Clergy Advocacy Board of Planned Parenthood, Covenant Network of Presbyterians, and the Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church USA. Marci blogs at Glass Overflowing and is among the contributors to the RevGals book, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit (SkyLight Paths).
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