1 Kings 12:13
And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him;
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1 Kings 12:13-15. The king answered the people roughly — He affected to be haughty and imperious, and fancied he could carry all before him with a high hand, and therefore would rather run the risk of losing them, than deny himself so far as to give them good words. Thus many ruin themselves by consulting their humour more than their interest. For the cause was from the Lord — Who, having determined, in punishment of Solomon’s idolatries and criminal pleasures, to take the greater part of the kingdom away from his son, did not restrain Rehoboam from following the dictates of his own imperious temper, and ambitious views; but gave him up to the foolish and fatal mistake of answering the people according to the advice of his young and hot-headed counsellors, whereby their affections were alienated from him, and he lost more than half of his empire. Thus God, in his adorable providence, serves his own wise and righteous purposes, by the imprudences and iniquities of men, and snares sinners in the work of their own hands. They that lose the kingdom of heaven, throw it away as Rehoboam did his, by their own wilfulness and folly. Reader, take care that this be not thy case.

12:1-15 The tribes complained not to Rehoboam of his father's idolatry, and revolt from God. That which was the greatest grievance, was none to them; so careless were they in matters of religion, if they might live at case, and pay no taxes. Factious spirits will never want something to complain of. And when we see the Scripture account of Solomon's reign; the peace, wealth, and prosperity Israel then enjoyed; we cannot doubt but that their charges were false, or far beyond the truth. Rehoboam answered the people according to the counsel of the young men. Never was man more blinded by pride, and desire of arbitrary power, than which nothing is more fatal. God's counsels were hereby fulfilled. He left Rehoboam to his own folly, and hid from his eyes the things which belonged to his peace, that the kingdom might be rent from him. God serves his own wise and righteous purposes by the imprudences and sins of men. Those that lose the kingdom of heaven, throw it away, as Rehoboam, by wilfulness and folly.Scorpions - By this word some understand whips having leaden balls at the ends of their lashes with hooks projecting from them; others the thorny stem of the eggplant, or "the scorpion plant." But it seems best to regard the expression as a figure of speech. 11. whips … scorpions—The latter [instruments], as contrasted with the former, are supposed to mean thongs thickly set with sharp iron points, used in the castigation of slaves. No text from Poole on this verse.

And the king answered the people roughly,.... In a blustering manner, gave them hard words and severe menaces, being worked up to such a spirit by his young counsellors:

and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him: to give them good words and kind promises.

And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him;
Verse 13. - And the king answered the people [the omission of Jeroboam's name, though perhaps it cannot he pressed in argument, is noticeable] roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him. 1 Kings 12:13But Rehoboam forsook this advice, and asked the younger ministers who had grown up with him. They advised him to overawe the people by harsh threats. "My little finger is stronger than my father's loins." קטי, from קטן, littleness, i.e., the little finger (for the form, see Ewald, 255, b.), - a figurative expression in the sense of, I possess much greater might than my father. "And now, my father laid a heavy yoke upon you, and I will still further add to your yoke (lay still more upon you): my father chastised you with whips, I will chastise you with scorpions." עקרבּים, scorpiones, are whips with barbed points like the point of a scorpion's sting.

(Note: The Rabbins give this explanation: virgae spinis instructae. Isidor. HisPal. Origg. v. c. 27, explains it in a similar manner: virga si est nodosa vel aculeata, scorpio vocatur. The Targ. and Syr., on the other hand, מרגגין, Syr. mārganā', i.e., the Greek μάραγνα, a whip. See the various explanations in Bochart, Hieroz. iii. p. 554f. ed. Ros.)

This advice was not only imprudent, "considering all the circumstances" (Seb. Schmidt), but it was unwise in itself, and could only accelerate the secession of the discontented. It was the language of a tyrant, and not of a ruler whom God had placed over His people. This is shown in 1 Kings 12:13, 1 Kings 12:14 : "The king answered the people harshly, and forsook the counsel of the old men," i.e., the counsellors who were rich in experience, and spoke according to the counsels of the young men, who flattered his ambition. It is very doubtful, indeed, whether the advice of the old men would have been followed by so favourable a result; it might probably have been so for the moment, but not for a permanency. For the king could not become the עגלים of the people, serve the people, without prejudicing the authority entrusted to him by God; though there is no doubt that if he had consented to such condescension, he would have deprived the discontented tribes of all pretext for rebellion, and not have shared in the sin of their secession.

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