Rehoboam -- anyone heard of him? Anybody ever heard a sermon preached on the son of Solomon? I suspect not. But I'm thinking there are some youth groups out there that could use a lesson on the man. Let me summarize the story for you.
When King Solomon died, his son Rehoboam took over the throne of Israel. Right off the bat, a group of folks who'd been unhappy with Solomon's treatment of them -- led by one Jeroboam -- came and asked him if he'd cut them a bit more slack than his daddy had. Rehoboam asked his father's old advisors what he should say to the people, and they advised him to appease the folks. Be kind to them, and they'll always serve you, they said.
But Rehoboam apparently didn't like that answer. He went to his buddies he grew up with and asked them their opinion. And they said to tell the people, "You think my dad was harsh? You ain't seen nothin' yet!" Which is what Rehoboam did. Which drove Jeroboam and his cohorts to rebel against the king, dividing the nation of Israel into two nations . . . and the rest is very unfortunate history.
Now, let's stop a moment and consider how profoundly stupid this advice was and how profoundly stupid Rehoboam was to follow it. Just what was to be gained by being a domineering, overbearing jerk to his people? Why should this brand new king start his reign by trying to control his subjects with fear rather than by inspiring them with loyalty?
But this is a typical response of insecure young men. I see it even today in my daughter's friends. Gotta show them I'm the big man. Flex the muscles. Spit out the insult. Rev up the car engine at the stoplight.
Where do our boys get this idea of strength? Is it inbred -- a testosterone thing? Do they really have no models in their lives of genuine strength? My daughter blames the movies and video games they entertain themselves with. Not having raised any boys myself, I suspect all of the above are to blame, but I put the greatest blame on the lack of role models. Most of these boys that I know have no father at home . . . or a mostly absent father . . . or an abusive father/step-father/boyfriend in the house . . .
Men need to be strong, I think, to have respect for themselves. Unfortunately, many men have totally whacked-out images of what strength is. There's a fabulous word in the Bible whose definition has been warped in today's society: meek. These days, being meek means being soft and easily imposed on -- a doormat. Meekness is considered a deficiency in spirit.
But that's not the Biblical definition. When scripture talks about a person being meek, it means he is able to endure injury from another without having to fight back -- not because he can't fight back, but because he doesn't need to. Meekness is being big enough to not have to have your own way all the time. Meekness is choosing to submit to another's will -- not because you have no choice, but because you choose to do so. "Absolute power under perfect control" . . . one has to be incredibly strong to be truly meek.
And meekness is a fruit of the Spirit. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Somebody should have told that to Rehoboam and his profoundly stupid buddies.