Nation and State - Part 4

Posted in: 2014
By Tom M. Ballinger
Jul 3, 2014 - 6:36:53 PM

Plainer Words since 1968
July 3, 2014
The elders of the Twelve Tribes were unyielding in their demand that Samuel find a king for them. They claimed they wanted Israel to be like other nations and  have a king rule over them. The Judges had been their rulers for four hundred-years. The Judges were the brightest and most qualified leaders the Ten Tribes produced. The elders were willing to swap freedom for a promise of security that a king, supposedly, could provide.
Samuel followed the direction of Yahweh, and he chose a king for the nation. Samuel anointed Saul as Israel’s king. At the very outset of the royal establishment, the troubles of Israel multiplied. The usual rash of wars with the Philistines continued. There arose internal conflicts between the various factions of the Tribes. As Saul tried to settle the issues of contention, some Tribesmen followed Saul; others revolted against his reign. More exactly, they resisted the establishment of the institutions that Samuel had warned them which would come with a king and his court.
But, as Samuel said, there was no way to regain your freedom once the State made its appearance. Shortly after his anointing of Saul, Samuel began looking for a new deliverer. He sought out David because Saul was never able to focus on the formation of his government. Saul came to the throne on the waves of revolution, and he fought his way to power. In spite of Saul’s constant warfare, social, and tribal problems, it was significant that Saul  reigned for 40 years,  
Political power, no matter who wields it, has a way to become, in itself, a shrine for public worship. In our times, Americans were quick to “throw the rascals out,” but it never occurs to us that the-making-of-a-scoundrel is inherent in the office. Or, that the power invested in the office tends to make a scoundrel out of an honest man. It was about the year 1120 B.C. that the Israelites begged Samuel for a king. The spirit of freedom didn’t depart from them upon Samuel granting them their wish. It should be emphasized that Saul, in his reign of 40 years, never secured the kingship on a solid foundation. The necessary bureaucratic apparatus was not ever put in place during Saul’s regime.   
Saul’s career as King was overwhelmed with battles, inter-tribal disputes, wars with the Philistines (in one war the Philistines won and took Israel’s Ark of the Covenant), and threats of revolution. He didn’t have the talent or the time to secure his kingdom upon a sure foundation. His big problem was his lack of trust in God. God removed His Spirit from Saul. His final downfall was his seeking God’s advice, and God refused to answer His disobedient servant. Saul sought answers from the witch of En-Dor.
It took time for the myth of the creation of Israel’s Kingship to take hold. The legendary stories that surrounded a king’s reign took time to become believable. Many of the tribesmen revolted against Saul’s rule. They revolted against the very institutions Samuel had warned them that would come with a king.
David, the second king, did a far better job of setting the myth in order, plus, he had 40 years in which to get the tribesmen in line with the new institution. A second generation had come to maturity during David’s reign. David’s exploits of royalty, to the sons of Israel, were new, real, and exciting while the freedom of their forefathers became stories of the distant past.
David had to contend with repeated revolts and, eventually, a war of succession. However, he put the framework in place to support the apparatus of a successful State. David put in place his supporting cast of “mighty men.” David’s “mighty men” would be comparable to what we’d call, today, the “privileged class,” and with a group of efficient “servants” whose functions correspond with those of latter-day bureaucrats. These “servants” would be comparable to America’s ruling elite who tend to the affairs of State.
We see in the development or gestation of the State of Israel in the Saul-David-Solomon scenario. At first, we saw Saul, a chief, as a “lone wolf, fighting his way to being Israel’s first King. Saul had no mighty cadre to supervise his army. Saul was the “chief, cook, and bottle-washer.”  
 David had the skill to establish a place for the apparatus for transforming the nation of Israel into a State. David found it to his advantage to delegate some power to, and share his prerogatives with, a supporting cast or oligarchy—military, ecclesiastical, and later on in his reign, he incorporated commercial or industrial groups. They were granted special privileges. They served as a mote to his castle.
David surrounded his citadel with a class of well-paid “servants,” skilled in taking care of the State’s business so that it could function with the least amount of friction. Each individual operated under the inner compulsion to get the most out of life with the least expenditure of labor. For the most part, none of the “servants” had a great love for the State or its history. They differ from other human beings, only in that they have chosen (because they believe it to be easier) the political means of satisfying their “wants,” rather than, by the “sweat-of-the-brow.”  This means—being part of the State Apparatus is considered far better than being a part of the labor force.
David’s son, Solomon, was David’s heir to the Throne. Solomon demonstrated his worldly wisdom in his capacity of consolidating State power. David had laid the foundation for Statehood.  Solomon saw to it that his captains and his princes and his priests and servants, which is to say, the privileged classes, “lacked nothing.”
Solomon paid-off foreign opposition. Domestic opposition were (called) traitors and suffered the consequences. He made every effort to avoid wars with neighboring countries because they were costly to wage. He knew the cost of small wars would prevent him from focusing on internal improvements that would enhance the stature of the State of Israel. He, also, resorted to diplomatic bribery to bring under control troublesome petty tyrants that bordered on the perimeter of his domain. The Temple that David wanted to build was left for Solomon to do. The magnificent Temple Complex Solomon built added enormous prestige to his Government. It turned out to be a stroke of genius because it lent the State an aura of omnipotence. The walled-cities and the navy which he built did the same thing.
Solomon instituted a massive Public Works program. These works were financed by loans from Hiram, the King of Tyre. David, during his forty year-reign, had cultivated the friendship and admiration of Hiram. Solomon was quick to take advantage of Hiram’s friendship with Israel. These programs brought Solomon a great deal of acclaim, as it did his State—Israel.
Israel was looked upon by the people, as well as other nations, as a State with the character of a “doer” of great social things. This was instrumental in maintaining power over the Israelites.
It is interesting to note that Hiram was contracted do most of the Public Works projects. Hiram used his “slaves” to do the work Solomon contracted for.
Bible students do not learn of the heavy taxation Solomon exacted from his people until after his death. We learn of the taxes they were “saddled” with at the Coronation of his son—Rehoboam.
Solomon reigned over Israel for forty years. He died and was buried in the City of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead (1 Kings 10:1-2, Chron. 30-31).
Rehoboam met with all of  Israel as they came to make him their king. A fugitive from the Ten Tribes, Jeroboam, came to the coronation from Egypt. Jeroboam and Isarel’s elders met with Rehoboam and said to him, “Thy father [Solomon] made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee” (1 Kings 12:4).
The “yoke” was the grievous taxes. Their yoke under Solomon wasn’t easy. It was by heavy taxation that the State of Israel attained the zenith of its glory. Any State’s opulence, as did Israel, reflected the poverty of the people. Great monuments reflect the opulence of a State. The Capitol Building and the Halls of Congress, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the National Mall, and many other magnificent structures reflect America’s wealth. The only wealth the State has is what it appropriates from its citizens. This was the case of Solomon’s Israel.
Solomon didn’t teach his son, Rehoboam, the finesse a king must use with his ruling class. He rejected the advice of the older men, who counseled him to “speak good words to them, then they (the people of Israel) will be your servants forever” (1 Kings 12:7). Rehoboam rejected sound advice and flaunted his power “in-their-face:”
“And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him; And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions” (1 Kings 12:13-14).
Shortly after that - B. C. 975;  “King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labor, but the Israelites stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day” (2 Chron. 10:18-19) NIV.
The Kingdom was spilt. Jeroboam became king of the Ten Northern Tribes of Israel, and Rehoboam was King over Judah and Benjamin, the two Southern Tribes. Thus, the two kingdoms were: The Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel.
The stoning of Adoniram points out the fact that a State never achieves complete ascendancy over society. The State is always plagued with critics and rebels. There were twenty kings after Solomon (Kingdom of Judah), and all of them were beset with prophets who called upon the people to return to the first principles. They never did.
“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).
Copyright© 2014 by Thomas L. Ballinger
Tom Ballinger
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