The prophet Ahijah delivered the Lord’s message to Jeroboam whom Solomon had “put… in charge of the labor force from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh” (I Kings 11:28b): “I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and I will give ten of the tribes to you!” (I Kings 11:31b).
How did this take place? Solomon had died and his son “Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of this, he returned from Egypt, for he had fled to Egypt to escape from King Solomon. The leaders of Israel summoned him, and Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. ‘Your father was a hard master,’ they said. ‘Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.’
Rehoboam replied, ‘Give me three days to think this over. Then come back for my answer.’ So the people went away” (I Kings 12:1-5).
Rehoboam was smart enough not to give an immediate reply. So what did he do? “King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counseled his father, Solomon. ‘What is your advice?’ he asked. ‘How should I answer these people?’
The older counselors replied, ‘If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects’” (I Kings 12:6-7).
Rehoboam was also smart enough to consult “the older counselors,” mature men who had been dealing with such matters for many years. Their advice: “be a servant.” Cut the folks a break. In return, Rehoboam’s kindness would net him “loyal subjects.”
Good advice isn’t always sought, but even when it is, it’s often ignored. Such was the case with Rehoboam.
“Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. ‘What is your advice?’ he asked them. ‘How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?’
The young men replied, ‘This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’’” (I Kings 12:8-11).
Here’s where all of Rehoboam’s smarts went right out the window. Listening to his immature friends’ bad advice, “Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to hear Rehoboam’s decision, just as the king had ordered. But Rehoboam spoke harshly to the people, for he rejected the advice of the older counselors and followed the counsel of his younger advisers. He told the people, ‘My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’ So the king paid no attention to the people” (I Kings 12:12-15a).
Before this day ever came into being, God knew exactly what Rehoboam would do: “This turn of events was the will of the Lord, for it fulfilled the Lord’s message to Jeroboam son of Nebat through the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh” (I Kings 12:15b).
Good advice does no good unless it’s taken. Rehoboam had just made the biggest mistake of his life. Tomorrow we’ll find out what happened.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates