Advice can be a wonderful thing – or it can lead to a disaster! Can you think of a time that someone older and wiser offered you some advice and you rejected it over the counsel of your friends? King Rehoboam did the same thing. He started off well in seeking the counsel of the elders who had been part of his father’s, Solomon, advisors, but he didn’t like their advice. So he went to his friends and sought their counsel. Let’s find out what happened as a result.
At the end of Chapter 11, Solomon has died. With the opening of Chapter 12, Rehoboam is at Schechem and Israel I going to make him king, but the traditional elders needed to be satisfied first before they would crown him. So the whole assembly of Israel gathered and they said to Rehoboam: “Your father made out yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke, which he put on us, and we will serve you.” In this conversation, the Bible does not record exactly what “yoke” was so heavy for the people. However, if we go back to chapter 4, we find that Solomon had appointed 12 governors who were responsible for providing food for the royal household for one month out of the year. The regions these governors oversaw were not of equal size or wealth and therefore created an unfair burden to them. A large quantity of food was required for each area regardless of their size or ability. In Chapter 4, verse 22, we find the extreme requirements, just for one day. It included and estimated 150 bushels of flour and 300 bushels of meal which would have fed more than 20,000 people. For meet, they were required to supply 10 fatted oxen and another 20 from the pastures, 100 sheep, plus deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fatted fowl. So this could be the “heavy yoke” the people were complaining about – or least part of it.
Rehoboam, growing up in Solomon’s household, was more than likely used to the lavish lifestyle that Solomon had so he needed some time to think about their request. He told them to come back in three day. Rehoboam then consults with the elders. Their advice was: “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, then they will be your servants forever.” I can almost see Rehoboam’s face – can you? In his mind he’s thinking, “me? Their servants? But I will be king! I think not!” Now the Bible doesn’t say this is his reaction, but he doesn’t think to highly of the elder’s advice. So, he chooses to reject it and instead turns to the “young men who had grown up wit him” and asked for their advice. These would have been his friends. They probably also lived lavish lifestyles if they grew up close enough to be the prince’s friends. They probably didn’t want their easy life to end. Their advice to Rehoboam was to tell the people: “My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! And now whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!” We find in verse13 that Rehoboam favored the advice of his friends over the elders. As king of the nation, his decision would have an affect on every single person in the nation.
What was the result of Rehoboam’s decision? Verse 20 tells us that when Israel heard that Jeroboam had come back, they sent for him and made him king over Israel and that only the tribe of Judah, along with remnants of the tribes of Simoen, Levi and some of the northern people followed Rehoboam. Because of his decision, we find the beginning of recurrent border warfare between Israel and Judah. Just a few verses later in verse 28 we find that Jeroboam also seeks advice and the result of listening to that advice is that he makes two golden calves and claims: “Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!” He also made shrines on the high places and made priests from every class of people who were not the sons of Levi. Verse 30 tells us, “Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan.”
We may not rule an entire nation, but the decision that we make have and affect on the people around us, so we need to be sure of the decisions we make. It is important that we both listen and consider the advice that we are given by others. Proverbs 3:5-6 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” While we can seek the advice of other Christians who may have walked a similar path we are facing, ultimately we should turn to God when we need direction in our lives. Sometimes, God uses others to point us in the right direction. But Satan can do the same thing. He can use even our Christian friends and family to give us well-intended advice, but it still be wrong advice when measured up against God’s will for our lives. In Acts 21, Paul has to make a decision. The elders of the church urged him not to go to Jerusalem where bonds and affliction awaited him. However, the bonds and afflictions which awaited Paul at Jerusalem, along with his subsequent appeal to Caesar, were God’s means of proclaiming the gospel to “Gentiles and kings,” just as God had had said in Acts 9:15. So when we are considering the advice of others, how should we know when to accept the advice and when to reject it?
First, you need to clearly define the decision you are trying to make. One defined, it will be the compass that guides the rest of the decision making process. Write the exact decision down to refer back to as needed. Proverbs 18:13 tells us that if we give an answer before hearing, then nothing by folly and shame await us. You can’t gain an answer to your decision if you are not clear on what the decision actually is. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” If you have not clearly defined your decision, then when others speak up to offer their advice, you’ll have no solid ground to stand on and no real way to sort all the advice, which will just leave you more confused than ever. By clearly defining the decision, you’ll be better able to politely refuse advice that doesn’t answer the defined decision.
Once you have a clear and defined decision, your next step is to seek the wisdom of God’s Word. This should be your first stop in seeking advice – not your friends and family. Remember, they generally have good intentions, but if their advice doesn’t match God’s will for you life, then it is still wrong advice. Seeking God’s will isn’t always easy. It requires much Bible study, prayer, seeking the council of Godly people (such as your pastor). So, start with seeing what the Bible has to say about your decision. God’s will for you will never go against what the Bible teaches. So when others offer you advice, if it doesn’t line up with God’s Word, then you can be sure that advice is wrong advice.
As you are seeking wisdom from God’s Word, take time to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to know God’s will. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” So make sure you are including time alone with God praying over the decision you must make.
One you are armed with Bible study and prayer, lay out all the choices you have in the decision you are making. From what the Holy Spirit has shown you, do any of the choices go against God’s Word? If so, scratch them off. For what’s left begin to look for the ones that align with what you have read in God’s Word and what the Holy Spirit has been leading you as you pray. If there is still not one clear decision, then it’s time to seek some Godly wisdom and counsel. Seek out people who demonstrate a close relationship with God and understand the importance of being in God’s will. Also seek out people who are older than you and could have possibly already waked the path you are on now. Someone who has yet to experience what you are going through will have less knowledge about the situation you are facing. Once God leads you to a person to seek advice from, tell them precisely what decision you need to make and the choices you have identified. They may help you see some things about the choices that you have not yet considered that could narrow your choices down more. At the end of the day, there may or may not be only one right choice. I believe that sometimes God gives us choices and either one of them could be acceptable to Him and both would lead to fulfilling God’s purpose for your life. When that seems to be the case, you simply just have to make a choice and then trust God with it.
When considering the advice of others, never do so without first taking time to study you Bible and pray about God’s will. Even when listening to the advice of others, make sure you hold their advice up to the scrutiny of God’s Word and be sure that it does not go against any part of His teachings. Similarly, if someone is asking you for your advice, be slow to give it. Ask them for a few days to think on it and then follow the same steps of studying God’s Word and praying, asking the Holy Spirit to show you the very best advice that He would want you to share with the person who has asked for it. You can only avoid disastrous advice if you are earnestly seeking God’s plan and purpose for you. Ask Him to show you the advice you should reject and the advice you should accept.
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Julia is CEO of Wellspring Christian Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people and couples develop a passionate relationship with God. A public speaker, conference trainer, event planner, and blog writer, Julia is a two-time graduate from Grand Canyon University with a bachelor in Psychology and a masters in Professional Counseling. Saved as a child and raised in church and in a Christian home and private Christian School as a Pastor’s kid, Julia has taught Sunday school, led music, played the piano, served as Children’s Director, and engaged her gifts in many other areas of church life. Previously employed with the Florida Baptist Convention, Julia organized events and led conferences for church ministry assistants.
Julia enjoys sharing her journey as a growing Christian with others looking for a deeper connection with God. Through Bible study and her own life experiences, God has given Julia a passion to help couples understand God’s design for marriage while they learn to place God first in their marriage, cultivate meaningful relationships, build intimacy, and address the tougher issues that come in every marriage so that they can experience a marriage that honors and glorifies God. Julia also loves mentoring, teaching, and working with women to help them learn to live as Godly women.
With her history and experience growing up in both small and large churches, Julia enjoys bringing top level quality events to churches of all sizes. Her father largely pastored small churches and therefore she understands that these vital parts of the believing community need to be good stewards of the resources God provides them with. This knowledge inspires her passion for being available with a fresh perspective for those who want to provide their congregations with meaningful spiritual growth opportunities.