Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Folly Following Wisdom: Bible Comment on II Chronicles 10 with poem by James Clarence Mangan, Gone in the Wind

Daily Readings
Psalm 121, I Kings 12, II Chronicles 10, Jeremiah 11

Daily Text: II Chronicles 10

Folly following Wisdom
There was already a problem when Rehoboam went north to Shechem, for Shechem has not figured as a capital city previously; Jerusalem is the natural place to gather. However, there must have been widespread caution about massing in Jerusalem. Consequently, Rehoboam is forced to go to Shechem and without an army, for that would have nullified his coronation before it occurred. The people, represented by Jereboam, still are willing to crown him and to serve Rehoboam if he will treat them more justly, more mercifully than did his father, Solomon.

Interestingly, this is the first time we have heard of Solomon’s ill-treatment of the people in Chronicles. In chapter 9 the Chronicler tells us through the Queen of Sheba that everyone is happy! In chapter 8 the Chronicler tells us that no Israelite is engaged in forced labor. Not entirely so, obviously, for the people’s complaints are explicit.

Rehoboam, in II Chronicles 10, is represented as ‘not being his father’s son.’ That is, where the young Solomon is lauded as wise, Rehoboam is pictured as callow and foolish. How could this be? How could such folly follow wisdom; could such folly be possessed by the son of the wisest man on earth? The Chronicler says that it is the LORD’s doing [10:15]. Rehoboam receives good counsel, but chooses bad counsel. Rehoboam and his folly is the triggering incident, but the LORD is the cause. Solomon’s unfaithfulness, when it came to serving the false gods of his foreign wive’s, has caught up with his offspring. So naïve is Rehoboam that he believes that as King he will have the unlimited power of David and Solomon; so naïve that even after the people reject him he sends his overseer of forced labor without a sufficient military escort to impress citizens. Here is blind belief in the divine right of kings. When his overseer is stoned, Rehoboam ‘wakes up’, flees for his life and goes to Jerusalem to raise the necessary army. Finally, he is acting sensibly.

Gone in the Wind
James Clarence Mangan

Solomon! where is thy throne? It is gone in the wind.
Babylon! where is thy might? It is gone in the wind.
Like the swift shadows of Noon, like the dreams of the Blind,
Vanish the glories and pomps of the earth in the wind.

Man! canst thou build upon aught in the pride of thy mind?
Wisdom will teach thee that nothing can tarry behind;
Though there be thousand bright actions embalmed and enshrined,
Myriads and millions of brighter are sown in the wind.

Solomon! where is thy throne? It is gone in the wind.
Babylon! where is thy might? It is gone in the wind.
All that the genius of Man hath achieved and designed
Waits for its hour to be dealt with as dust by the wind.

Pity thou, reader! the madness of poor Humankind,
Raving of Knowledge,--and Satan so busy to blind!
Raving of Glory,--like me,--for the garlands I bind
(Garlands of song) are but gathered, and—strewn in the wind!

Collect for the Day
Be present, merciful God, and protect us in times of danger, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

[476:882:121 Psalm prayer]


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