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 your 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 is going to make him king. However, 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 our 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 an estimated 150 bushels of flour and 300 bushels of meal which would have fed more than 20,000 people. For meat, they were required to supply 10 fatted oxen and another 20 from the pastures, 100 sheep, plus deer, gazelles, roebuck, and fatted fowl. So this could be the “heavy yoke” the people were complaining about – or at 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 days. Rehoboam then consulted 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 too highly of the elder’s advice. So, he chooses to reject it and instead turns to the “young men who had grown up with him” and asked for their advice. These were most likely 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!” So who’s advice does Rehoboam listen to? We find in verse 13 that he 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 – and he chose to listen to the bad advice.
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 Simeon, Levi, and some of the northern people followed Rehoboam. His decision split the nation and as a result we see the beginning of recurrent boarder 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 decisions we make each day have an affect on the people around us – our spouse, children, friends, family, staff, co-workers. So we need to be sure our decisions have been bathed in prayer and that when we need advice we both listen and consider what is said. Does the advice align with God’s Word? Does the person offering advice have experience in the area they they are advising us? 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 Godly people 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 also use others as a stumbling block to keep us off the path God has for us. He can use our Christian friends and family to give us well-intended advice, but it can 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 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. Once 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 but 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 the decision you are trying to make, 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 your well defined decision.
Once you have defined the decision you need to make, seek the wisdom of God’s Word. This should be your first place to go for every decision you need to make – not friends, family – or even your pastor. They generally have good intentions, but if their advice doesn’t match God’s will for your life, then it is still wrong advice. Seeking God’s will isn’t always easy. It required much Bible study, prayer, seeking the council of Godly and trusted people. So, start with seeing what the Bible has to say. 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 and you can politely discard it.
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 tell us, “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.
Now that 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 your choices go against what He has shown you? If so, discard those. Now from the choices that are left, look at the ones that align with what you’ve read in God’s Word and what the Holy Spirit has been leading you toward 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 possible already walked 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 you have that you have not yet considered and that could narrow your choices down more. At the end of the day, there may or may not be only one right choice. 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 your 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.
As of May 5, there have been 70,588 deaths in the U.S. and 256,485 have died world-wide. For the most current data regarding the virus, visit the John Hopkins University website.
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Don’t forget to learn this week’s memory verse:
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This week’s memory verse:
1 John 3:4
“Everyone who practices sin
also practices lawlessness;
and sin is lawlessness”
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