From the Parish Priest

Letter for June

 

 

Here we go again……

King Solomon had lots of wives (he wasn’t that wise after all) so when he came to die there was no clear successor to the throne. In the end it came down to two contenders. Jeroboam positioned himself as the outsider; he had been in exile in Egypt and arrived on the scene just at the appropriate moment. By contrast Rehoboam thought himself the favourite; he had grown up in his father’s house and was one of the elite.

But instead of a straightforward coronation, Rehoboam was faced with demands: what were his policies? How would he use his power? What was in his manifesto?

Somewhat taken aback by this populist response, Rehoboam asked for three days to consider his response, and this was duly granted. His father’s old advisers gave their opinion: promise them anything they want; offer lenient policies, and then when you have become king you can rule just as you wish; you need to gain power at all costs.

But Rehoboam had grown up in royal circles and had surrounded himself with likeminded young buffs. When he sought their advice, it was very different. They argued that, if he gave into their demands now, he would be seen as week and the demands would continue to grow. The people needed to know who is boss right from the start.

Rehoboam listened to the advice of his young friends.

Once the three days were up, a big campaign meeting was held. Rehoboam told the people that, if they thought his father had been strict, it would be as nothing compared with the fierceness of his reign. He would turn his father’s whip into a horsewhip!

The vote, which followed, was not quite unanimous, but ten of the twelve tribes voted for Jeroboam and took control back to themselves in forming a breakaway kingdom. Rehoboam tried to assert his authority, but failed. He was left with a tiny rump state centred around Jerusalem.

 

You can read the story in 1 Kings Chapter 12 in the Bible.  You may, even, see some parallels to events happening in our own day, but I could not possibly comment.

What I do think is important, though, is that everyone votes. However difficult the decision may be, even those confused and disenchanted with the whole political process, we need to exercise our hard fought right to have a say in who’s in charge and how we are governed. The fight for the right to vote has been long and hard, most dramatically of course in terms of women’s rights. But everyone of us has a responsibility to use the ballot paper to express our view.

Think hard, pray hard and vote.


Peter Wolfenden

 

 

 

 

 

 


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