There’s a generation gap between the two sets of counselors that Rehoboam consults when the people ask for relief from taxes and conscripted labor (1 Chronicles 10). The first group is classified as “elders,” and the second as “young men.” The elders encourage kindness, the young men are, as young men are, harsh. Rehoboam foolishly follows the advice of the latter, and splits the kingdom.

The generation gap is not the only difference between the two groups. The elders are described as men “who served Solomon,” and the young men as men who “served Rehoboam.” No doubt the elders learned a thing or two about handling Israel by being near Solomon, but the Chronicler puts it differently: It’s not that they gained wisdom from Solomon, but that they gained wisdom by serving Solomon. Serving a wise king, they became wise. They became like the king they served.

No doubt this is partly a matter of conforming the message to the hearer. Even an obsequious adviser who serves Solomon will learn, in spite of himself, to say wise things, if only to stay in the king’s good graces. And obsequious advisers will learn to be stupid by advising a stupid king.

But there’s something else going on here too, something as liturgical as political. Psalms 115 and 135 both say that those who worship idols become like them - blind, deaf, dumb, paralyzed. We become like the God/god we worship. Chronicles tells us that the same dynamic occurs in the liturgy of politics, whether in the church or the state: We become like the rulers who rule us.