Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kings, Servants and the Yokes that Bind Them Together

In 1 Kings 12 we read about Rehoboam, who became king after his father Solomon died. When he ascended to the throne, the people came to him with a request.
“Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” (1 Kings 12:4)
Rehoboam realized that his fledgling kingship stood in the balance and knew that this was a moment that  would truly define his reign. He told them that he would answer their request in three days, and then wisely sought out the advice of the older men who had advised his father.
And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.” (1 Kings 12:7)
Instead of acting on this advice though, Rehoboam also sought out the counsel of another group, and they advised him quite differently.
And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us,’ thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father's thighs. And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”(1 Kings 12:10-11)
Rehoboam unwisely heeded this advice and as a result, the people rebelled and his kingdom was divided.
I suppose that a whole series of sermons could be preached from this passage and there are many applications that we could take from it.

This morning though, as I read about Rehoboam, the descendent of David and Solomon, I could not help but think of another King who like him, was also a descendent of David and Solomon. One who understood what it meant to have and exercise power. One who knew what it meant to be served by others. Even so, this King instructed his followers,
It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)
And to all those who longed for relief from the heavy yoke under which they were bound, he proclaimed,
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
May we always remember that he who had ALL power chose to become a servant, even to the point of dying on our behalf. And this he did in order that we might be freed from the burdensome yoke of sin and death. In response, may we be bound to him by his easy yoke, may we serve one another in his name, and may we be his servants forever!

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