“Seize the accursed wretch!” rang through the great apartment.
The king’s countenance was flushed with anger, while he cried, “Who is this vile dog that dares insult the King of Judah? Let the abominable one be dragged into my presence and then receive his instant doom!”
A thorough search was made for the mysterious author of the confusion; guards and sentinels ran to and fro. Every corner of the enclosures was thoroughly examined, but all in vain. No trace could be found of the unwelcome herald. After a short interval, the agitation subsided and the company was again in the midst of wild revelry and merriment. The king endeavored to be merry; but the peculiar deep tone of that messenger of woe still sounded in his ears; and, with all his efforts, he could not forget it. In the midst of his depravity and wickedness, he still at times had some dread of that God whom he daily insulted. He sought to drown his unpleasant thoughts in mixed wines, but the King of Judah felt a presentiment of some awful calamity near at hand. With desperation he struggled against it, and joined in the boisterous laugh and merry song.
Higher and higher ran the excitement of the banquet-room. Loud peals of laughter broke from the merry throng. Musical instruments poured forth rich strains of melody. Jehoiakim was complimented on every hand, but the law of God was ridiculed.
Jehoiakim sat on a magnificent throne, gilded over with pure gold. A large number of war officers sat near him. A royal herald passed through the throng, crying, “Listen to the oration of Sherakim! Listen to the oration of Sherakim!” Soon silence was obtained, and Sherakim the Orator stood before the vast concourse, and began:
“Princes and Nobles of Judah! With merry hearts, we assemble from different parts of the kingdom to hail this festal day—the eleventh anniversary of the reign of our illustrious sovereign. Ye will not think it strange, nor consider it affectation, when I assure you that I tremble beneath the weight of honor conferred upon me at this time.
“The death of King Josiah, as ye well know, threw a partial gloom over Judah. Not because all of us considered his measures expedient and prudent, but because he was our king, and undoubtedly honest in his intentions, amid all his imperfections. Let the infirmities and mistakes of past monarchs be buried in their graves. We are not here to mourn over the past, but rather to rejoice in the present. We are here assembled to congratulate one another on the unprecedented happiness that flows to the nation from the reign of the truly illustrious sovereign that now adorns the throne of Judah. The faults and deficiencies of other-day kings are more than made up to the nation in the bright reign of the most excellent Jehoiakim. We do not expect that even the superior administration of our matchless monarch will suit the tastes and desires of weak-minded and superstitious men. The King of Judah, with all his superior powers, is not capable of satisfying the unreasonable demands of those deluded creatures who are yet too numerous in our midst. What good can result to anyone from spending half his time in yonder Temple, and there going through a long list of senseless ceremonies, with sad and melancholy looks?