I KINGS 12:8: “But he rejected the advice of the elders who had advised him and consulted with the young men who had grown up with him and attended him.” CSB
OBSERVATION: Who am I looking to for counsel and advice? The Book of Proverbs clearly instructs us -“Without guidance, a people will fall, but with many counselors there is deliverance.” (Proverbs 11:14 CSB). However, if the story of Rehoboam teaches us anything, it is the importance of choosing the right counselors.
Rehoboam had just been established as King in place of his father Solomon. The future was before him. Jeroboam, who had been prophesied to become king over 10 tribes of Israel, returned from Egypt where he had fled after Solomon tried to kill him, and approached Rehoboam with his demands.
- “Your father made our yoke harsh. You, therefore, lighten your father’s harsh service and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.” 1 Kings 12:4 CSB
Rehoboam asked for three days to consider this request and seek advice. First, he sought the advice of his father’s counselors. They advised him to follow the request of Jeroboam and solidify the kingdom. Then Rehoboam asked advice from his peers, the young men he had grown up with. They advised him to increase the burden upon the 10 tribes of Israel. Rehoboam listened to the young men and the kingdom was torn away from Rehoboam, except for the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
This story brings home an important point. We all need advice, we all need counsel. However, it is important to be discerning as to who we get this counsel from. There are two important prerequisites to good advice. The first is a godly character. The second is life experience. In a culture that seems to worship youth and inexperience, this story speaks volumes.
Now there is nothing wrong with youth. We are either young now, or we all were young once. Yet, when we are young we do have blind spots. These blind spots are our inexperience. It is a natural pitfall of youth to think that they know better than their seniors. If you want to meet someone who knows everything just talk to a 16 year old. I was one of those young men who thought they knew everything.
I will never forget the day I took my driving test. It was the day of my 16th birthday. The plan was to get my license and then drive my friend to Disneyland to celebrate. I couldn’t wait for the day to arrive. I was ready and I knew how to drive! We had just finished a family vacation. My Dad hurt his foot and I drove most of the way home from Michigan to California. I was ready! If anyone knew how to drive it was me.
I remember that my Dad said to be careful and follow what the instructor said. I blew that off. I knew how to drive! I fastened my seat belt and turned on the radio as the instructor sat beside me. I whizzed through the driving test with ease. My turns were smooth, my attitude assured, and Disneyland was almost just a drive away. And then it happened – he flunked me! I blew my driving test. And on my 16th birthday I had to have my parents drive me and my friend to Disneyland as we sat in the back seat.
I should have listened to my Dad!
The wise counselors that had served Solomon were seasoned leaders. They were also godly leaders. Yet, Rehoboam dismissed their advice because he found others who would simply rubber stamp what he really wanted to do. We can always find those who will tell us what we want to hear. However, what we really need are people who will speak the truth into our life – even when it hurts! We need the faithful wounds of a friend!
- “Better an open reprimand than concealed love. The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.” Proverbs 27:5-6 CSB
In life we all have blind spots. It doesn’t matter how young or old we are. It is true when we drive and it is true in life. We cannot see everything clearly. We need godly counsel in our lives. And we need to seek this counsel from those who will be honest, even if it means hurting our feelings. We also must seek this counsel from those who have walked through similar issues in their own life. If we wanted to build a block wall we wouldn’t ask an accountant what materials we should use. We would ask a brick layer! The same is true in our spiritual lives.
And here is one more important aspect to asking for and receiving, godly counsel. We need to pray over the counsel we receive. We need to seek the confirmation of the Lord through His Word and the inner witness of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Godly counsel will not be offended if we test it. Godly counsel welcomes and asks us to test it. Beware of any counsel that clothes itself in “Thus saith the Lord.” Godly counsel will always be open handed and will always join you in praying for God’s will to be revealed and confirmed in your life.
The next chapter in I Kings tells a story about a prophet who rebuked Jeroboam for the idols and high places he had set up. God told him not to eat any bread or drink any water until he fulfilled his mission and returned to his home. On his way home he met an old prophet that invited him to his home to eat and be refreshed. The prophet said he could not, noting God’s instructions to him. However, the old prophet said that he had received a word from an angel and that it was ok for him to accompany the old prophet to his home and eat.
The younger prophet took the word of the older prophet, went to his home and ate, and on his journey back to his home he was killed by a lion because he had disobeyed God’s command. This reminds us that we cannot simply take advice from someone simply because they are older and seem godly. The younger prophet forgot to test the word of the older prophet. He did not pray and seek the Lord. He blindly followed his advice – to his demise.
There is wonderful instruction in the book of Colossians that gives us some balance.
- “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:12-17 CSB
These verses remind us to look to the condition of our heart. We are called to walk in love and forgiveness, to abide in God’s word, and to live a life of thankfulness, giving glory to the Lord in everything we do. And as we do, as we admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (godly counsel and edification), the peace of Christ will rule our hearts. The word “rule” in the Greek literally means “umpire.” The presence of the Holy Spirit will guide us through the peace of God into His perfect will. It is through prayer, God’s word, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit that we will confirm the godly counsel that we receive in our lives.
Lord, we all need godly counsel in our lives. This morning I know that I have blind spots in my life. You have been gracious to surround me with wonderful godly counselors. Help me to seek their counsel, and to weigh their counsel as I wait upon You in prayer, as I ponder their counsel through Your word, and as I allow Your peace to be the umpire in my heart through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.
In Jesus Name!