1 Kings 12:7
And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.
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(7) If thou wilt be a servant.—Both the policies suggested show how corrupt and cynical the government of Israel had become. For the advice of the old counsellors has no largeness of policy or depth of wisdom. It is simply the characteristic advice of experienced and crafty politicians—who had seen the gradual development of despotic power, and had still remembrance of the comparative freedom of earlier days—understanding at once the dangerous vehemence of popular excitement, and the facility with which it may be satisfied by temporary concessions, and perhaps desiring to defeat that private ambition, which was making use for its own purposes of the natural sense of grievance. It is to give “good words,” and to be for the moment “a servant to the people,” with, perhaps, the intention of abolishing certain excessive grievances, but by no means of yielding up substantial power. Whether it was in itself more than superficially prudent, would depend on the seriousness of the grievances, and the social and political condition of the people.

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.The advice was not that the king should permanently resign the office of ruler, but that he should "for once" be ruled by his people. 5-8. he said … Depart yet for three days—It was prudent to take the people's demand into calm and deliberate consideration. Whether, had the advice of the sage and experienced counsellors been followed, any good result would have followed, it is impossible to say. It would at least have removed all pretext for the separation. [See on [312]2Ch 10:7.] But he preferred the counsel of his young companions (not in age, for they were all about forty-one, but inexperienced), who recommended prompt and decisive measures to quell the malcontents. If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, by complying with their desires, and condescending to them for a season, till the troubled humours be quieted, and the opportunity they now have, and that some of them seek, for sedition be gone, and thou be better stablished in thy throne. They use this expression, as foreseeing that some would dissuade him from this course, as servile or slavish, and below the majesty of a prince.

And answer them, for that is, answer them. Thy service, say they, is not hard; it is only a few good words, which it is as easy to give as bad ones.

And they spake unto him, saying,.... They gave their advice as follows:

if thou wilt be servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them; condescend to them, behave in an humble manner towards them, for this day however, and gratify and oblige them; though indeed a king is but a servant to his people, and his administration of government a doing service to them; hence Antigonus (f), a king, mild, humble, and gentle, perceiving his son to behave in a fierce and violent manner towards his subjects, said to him, my son, dost thou not know that our glorious kingdom is a servitude?

and answer them, and speak good words unto them; give them a soft answer, and speak kindly and gently to them, and make them fair promises, and give them reason to expect that their requests will be granted:

then they will be thy servants for ever; such conduct would so win upon them, and make such an impressions upon them, that they would for ever after entertain high opinion of him, and be strongly affected and attached to him, and readily serve him.

(f) Apud Aelian. Var. Hist. l. 2. c. 20.

And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a {b} servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.

(b) They showed him that there was no way to win the people's hearts but to grant them their just petition.

7. If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day] Here the words of 2 Chron. are ‘If thou be kind to this people and please them.’ What was meant was that for the time the king should give way and obey the popular voice. This short service would win for him their constant allegiance. The LXX. does not represent ‘and answer them’ in this verse.

Verse 7. - And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them [Keil questions the propriety and expediency of this advice. He says, "The king could not become the עֶבֶד of the people without prejudicing the authority entrusted to him by God." But they do not propose that he should become their servant, except for one clay, and then only in the sense of making reasonable concessions. What they mean is this: "If thou wilt brook for once to accede to their terms instead of dictating thine own," etc. The form of their answer was probably suggested by the temper of the king. They saw what was passing in his mind, viz., that he would fain play the autocrat, and that he resented it exceedingly that his subjects, just as he had begun to taste the sweets of royalty, should presume to parley with him; and they say in effect, "You think that they are reversing your relations, that they are making you, their sovereign, their servant. Be it so. It is but for one day. Then they will be your slaves forever"], and answer them [i.e., favourably; grant their request; cf. Psalm 22:22; Psalm 65:6], and speak good words to them, then will they be thy servants forever. ["Thy servants," in opposition to "a servant" above; "forever" in opposition to "this day."] 1 Kings 12:7These counsellors said (the singular וידבּר is used- because one of them spoke in the name of the whole), "If thou wilt be subservient to this people to-day (now), and servest them, and hearkenest to them, ... they will serve thee for ever."
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