Good Advice / Bad Advice (1 Kings 12:8)

But he forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him.

1 Kings 12:8

There are three things that I find interesting about the beginning of Rehoboam’s reign.

First, I find it interesting that he asks the advice of the elders and promptly ignores it. It seems counter-intuitive to ask for someone’s input if your plan is to shine them on. Then again, maybe he had some ulterior motive in asking. Maybe he was like the people described in the NT who want their ears tickled; who want to hear what they want to hear and not what is true. However, I find that I sometimes do just this. I ask someone for advice, knowing full well that I will not like their advice, and shine that good counsel on. It does not happen often, but it does happen.

Second, I find it interesting that Rehoboam turns to guys he grew up with for advice. There are guys I grew up with whose advice I don’t need to ask because I know exactly what it will be. I mean, I grew up with these guys. I was present during the formation of their character. Maybe they’ve changed since then, but I’ve probably seen that too if we’ve continued on as friends. Rehoboam goes to people whose advice he already knows. I have to conclude that he wants his ears tickled by these guys. He knows they’re going to tell him to do what he already wants to do, he’s just looking for someone to back his play. I also catch myself doing this sometimes. I will have an idea of what I want to do and will sometimes seek out those people who I know will advise me to do what I’ve already decided to do.

Third, there is no record of Rehoboam seeking God’s counsel. He asks the old guys and the young guys; the guys he disagrees with and the guys who are his “Yes” men. He does not ask God. If he had gone to ask God’s input, how differently might the next few chapters read? And, again, I find that I will sometimes make decisions without consulting God. I mean, what I’m going to eat may not require divine input, but where I live and for whom I work and in which ministry I serve and quite a few other decisions absolutely do.

My application for this morning (and for life in general) is threefold:

  1. If I ask the elders for advice, I need to pay attention.
  2. I need not ask “Yes” men for advice, they will only confirm whatever course of action I plan to ask them about.
  3. I need to seek God in all decisions of importance (and any decision where I cannot decide whether or not it’s important). And I need to pay attention to His response.
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