Doubling Down

Israelites with bricks

As I continue this year’s trek through all 66, I ran into the incident where, when asked by Moses to allow the Israelites to go worship in the desert for three days, the Pharaoh wasn’t so inclined. Not only did he say no, he decided to double down:

6 The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, 7 “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God (Exodus 8:6-8, English Standard Version).

That incident reminded me of when, after his father Solomon died, Rehoboam was approached by “all Israel,” asking him to reduce the burdens Solomon had put on them. King Rehoboam told them to come back in three days for an answer. Although the new monarch was wise enough to ask for counsel, that’s about as far as his wisdom went as three days later…

13 And the king answered them harshly; and forsaking the counsel of the old men,
14 King Rehoboam spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions” (2 Chronicles 10:13-14).

In both cases we have people implicitly questioning a ruler’s power, and in both cases the ruler doubled downed on proving who was in charge.

The first lost his army at the bottom of a sea (Exodus 14:28) and the second saw his kingdom shrink from twelve tribes to two (2 Chronicles 10:16-11:4). Maybe doubling down wasn’t such a great approach? Something we ought to consider when someone dare question our authority, eh? 🙂

Oh, and we all know Who really was in charge…


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