1 Ki 12-13; Acts 2 Psalm 102
So, for come time now we have stepped out of the Old Testament narrative, but as I have already commented in January, on the Acts texts. So we turn our attention back to the story of the people of God as recounted in the Old Testament. And we discover Schism – the sign of death and decay – rooted unexpectedly in the story of Solomon.
So enraptured are we by the idea of ‘the wisdom of Solomon’ that we fail to see how his rule is under constant critique in the text. As his son Rehoboam succeeds him, we pick up echoes of this in the fateful dialogue with his counsellors, young and old. The old advise him to ‘lighten the yoke put on us’. Immediately the reader sensitive to the text and of course to the gospel of Matthew which we have just read, will be thinking ‘here is a critique of Solomon’, for his yoke was not ‘easy’.
The true wise ones, the elders who have seen the heavy yoke of Solomon speak well and advise him to ease the yoke, but as always those in power are filled with fear. Rehoboam is devoid of trust – he would rather listen to the advise of his young friends, who themselves must have felt threatened by the challenge of sovereignty.
So now the yoke rather than being eased from that of whips, to a just and gentle rule [‘Wise Solomon ruled God’s people with whips], it will be increased to the sting of the scorpion.
And thus Israel, the Northern Kingdom secedes.