11(1Kings 11,28-12,14)Seeking Wise Counsel
Saul was the first king of Israel. David was the second king. Then Solomon was the third king. Each one of these kings reigned for forty years, which means for 120 years they had had only three kings. Now, we come to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon.
When you read Proverbs which was written, for the most part by King Solomon, you will notice that many times, especially in the opening chapters of the book of Proverbs, Solomon will say, "My son." I have wondered when Solomon said that if he was talking in particular about his son Rehoboam. Were these words of wisdom give by Solomon, who was the wisest man who ever lived, for his own son Rehoboam?
We know that in the latter years of Solomon’s life he departed from the wisdom of God and he became a very foolish man. I wonder if Rehoboam disregarded the words of his father and rather followed the example of his father.
Rehoboam was 41when he began to reign; he reigned for 17 years in Jerusalem.
I. The Counsel He Seeks.
He has come to be king in a time when the people are disaffected. There is trouble in the kingdom. There are rumblings of revolution. He goes over to Shechem, evidently to see if he can't conciliate the people. The word gets all the way down to Egypt where Jeroboam has fled because of his conflict with King Solomon. Jeroboam hears about it and comes back into the land. The people appoint Jeroboam to be their spokesman.
In v. 2-4 Jeroboam lays before the new king Rehoboam the situation and the concern of the people. In verse 4 he has laid it out quite well. Look at what he says to Rehoboam, speaking as an official spokesman for the people. "Your father made our yoke grievous." They were saying, "Your dad made it hard on us." He basically says, "If you will make our yoke lighter, if you will lighten up on us some, then we will serve you."
When you study the reign of King Solomon, you will find that this is legitimate. Solomon built the temple of the Lord and we are told in the fifth chapter that he conscripted the people. About 30,000 of the people were put into hard labor to build that temple. It was a very tedious and a very difficult situation.
In addition to that, there was heavy taxation on the people, oppressive taxation. Here in America, one of the issues that caused the American Revolution was taxation without representation. Rather than being a shepherd of the people as the kings were intended to be, he became a slave driver of the people.
Basically they are saying, "You just be the kind of king you are supposed to be and give us a break. Lighten up on us a little bit."
You read about the great leaders in the Scripture and they were servants of the people. There was Moses, the great leader who led the people of God out of the land of Egypt and led them through the wilderness to the Promised Land. He was a servant of the people.
Even David, his grandfather, was a shepherd of the people. He was a servant of the people.
Jesus said one time in Luke 22, The gentiles have leaders who Lord it over you. He said it's not to be that way among you. "He who would be the greatest among you, let him be your servant." Real leadership is servant leadership. That's their request.
Now look at verse 5. Rehoboam says, "Depart yet for three days, then come again to me, and the people departed." He is saying, "Give me some time to think this over." That's fine. Any leader needs to be very deliberate. He doesn't need to make snap judgments. He asked for three days to consider their requests.
We don't have any evidence that he spent those three days in prayer. No mention of that. We have no evidence that he sought for the priests to see if they would go to God on his behalf. Nor do we have any evidence that he sought the prophets of God and ask what the men of God had to say about the matter.
But there is evidence that he sought counsel. That is a good thing to do. It is always wise to seek counsel. Verse 6 says, "And King Rehoboam consulted with the old men that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, 'How do ye advise that I may answer this people?'" So far, so good. He has advisors around him.
He goes first of all to the older men, which is not to say necessarily that they will all give good counsel either. Old men can be fools just as young men. But he goes and they give him some advice. (7)
That was good counsel.
The Scripture establishes the great principle of getting good, godly counsel. Rehoboam got good counsel. But in verse 8 it says, (8)
The indication to me is that Rehoboam has already made up his mind. He has pretty well decided what he wants to do. When you have made your mind up what you want to do, chances are you are going to fish around and look around until you find somebody to tell you to do what you really want to do in the first place. Am I right?
Rehoboam evidently has decided already what he wants to do. Now, he turns to the young men. You read about that crew in verse 8. "...consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him." That's the palace gang he was brought up with. That was all the young lions of the establishment. They were part of the elite. Their daddies were the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Treasury, and Chief of Staff. These were the sons of the whole palace crowd. They had been brought up with Rehoboam. They had been running together. Now they are going to run the government together.
Verse 9 he says to these young guys, "What counsel give ye that ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter. And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us, thus shalt thou say unto them. My little finger shall be thicker than my father's lions." In other words, you think my dad was tough on you, you just wait until it get hold of you.
Verse 11 says this. "And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke, my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions." Scorpions was probably a reference to a whip that had metal in it. Their advice was, SHOW THEM! Their advise was, listen the only way to run this crowd is bully them.
That's the idea some people have of leadership, just be a bully. Just run all over people. These young punks have the mistaken idea that the people existed for them. They have the idea that somehow the people were to respond to them and do what would please them. These young guys are basically saying this. "We need to be respected."
I hear people today saying that they demand to be respected. You can't demand to be respected. You can earn respect, but you don't demand respect. These guys are all caught up with the privileges of leadership instead of the responsibilities of leadership. They are interested in their rights instead of the opportunity to serve. It was bad advice. And of course you know whose advice he took.
If a church wants to have good, godly leadership it has to have a combination of the older and the younger together. If all the church has is older leadership, they will bind you up. On the other hand, if all you have is younger leadership, they will burn you up. But if you get older and younger and they are godly and working together, they will build you up.
That's the beautiful thing about our fellowship here. We have some of the godliest leaders there are anywhere in the world. Some of those leaders are getting older and older. Some of you young folks coming along are going to have to begin to take places of leadership. But you are going to have to learn to be faithful. We have older leadership and they are faithful. They are here. You look around and they are here. You are going to have to learn to give and give faithfully because they give. You are going to have to learn to be witnesses for the Lord and tell people about Jesus because they do. I want to challenge our young men and ladies in the fellowship to begin to commit yourselves totally to the Lord and to the work of His church. As you move into places of leadership and those who are older graduate on into glory, we need strong leaders all through the years. That's what it takes to build a great church.
Rehoboam got some bad advice. Here they come. See what happens. IN verse 12 they came together after three days. In verse 13 it says, "And the king answered the people roughly and forsook the old men's counsel." Verse 15 says, "Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause from the Lord." The counsel he seeks.
II. The Conflict He Sees.
When he gives that announcement in verse 16 and following, now you basically have a rebellion on your hands. The people just rebel. They say in verse 16, "What portion have we with David? To your tents, o Israel." And the kingdom just tears in two. They have a civil rebellion on their hands. It splits into the northern kingdom known as Israel in the Scriptures now, and the southern kingdom known as Judah.
This happens in businesses. The third generation, many times, will squander what previous generations have built. Here is a man or a group of brothers. They have built a great company together. It becomes exceedingly prosperous and successful. Then that second generation comes along and they just live off the fruits of the first generation. Then that third generation comes and they just blow the whole things.
That is what has happened here. One bad sentence from Rehoboam and he tears down in three days what it took his father and grandfather 80 years to build. And there is rebellion!
Look at what this young king does in verse 18. "Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute." He sent the tax collector. "And all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died." That wasn't a real smart move was it? Rehoboam had to high tail it back to the palace. That's real smart. You have a rebellion on your hands and you send your tax collector.
Rehoboam still doesn't get it. In verse 21 he just decides to go to war. Just have a fight. That's the tendency of youth, too. Just have a big war. In verse 21 he gathers them together to fight against the house of Israel. In verse 22 God steps in. "The word of the Lord came unto Shemaiah, the man of God (a little known prophet in the Scripture). Shemaiah says to the king in verse 24, "Thus saith the Lord, ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel, return every man to his house, for this thing is from me."
What you have there is a picture of divine sovereignty and human responsibility right alongside one another. Somehow in the divine sovereignty of God, this was all of God. Yet, these people who made these decisions all made them of their own free will.
When Jesus was crucified on the cross, in Acts 2, verse 23 Simon Peter said, "Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken and crucified with wicked hands."
He causes rebellion. He causes religious problems. He causes conflict in the religions. In verse 25 we are told the account of how Jeroboam is going to become the king of Israel in the north. He wants to keep the people in the north from going down to Jerusalem to worship. Verse 28 says he makes two calves of gold. He says, "Behold your God." He puts one of them in Bethel and other in Dan. The Bible says in verse 30, "This thing became a sin."
Because of the foolish decision of young Rehoboam the king who wouldn't listen, he brings more idolatry, more apostasy, and more false religion into the nation. He causes unbelievable conflict.
Today we will see the importance of community in this process of hearing God. We take as our subject: “Hearing God through the counsel of others”. How do you know when its time to go to someone for counsel and help concerning something in your life? How do you know where to go for that help? How do you sort through all the advice to arrive at an understanding of what God is wanting you to do or what the real solution to the problem is? Those are the kind of questions we want to address this morning.
III. Why do we need counsel from others?
A. If we have the Holy Spirit why can’t we just ask God what to do and listen to what He tells us?
§ That is the first thing we should do.
§ There is no mention of Rehoboam going to God in prayer and asking Him what to do.
§ But as we see in the story he did not really want to know God’s counsel.
§ For many decisions in life we can simply ask the Lord what He wants us to do and do it.
§ But sometimes we have done all that and we are still at a loss as to what the answer is.
Why—because God has not designed our relationship with Him to be exclusive of other people.
He sets the solitary in families. He leads us into relationships with other people. He places us in the Body of Christ as it pleases Him. Paul uses the imagery of a human body to describe our relationships in the Church. 1 Cor 12:20-21 “As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’” No matter how spiritual a person may be he can never say that he has no need for the gifts and ministries of other Christians. That is one reason that God will not always give us direction exclusive of other people. He has called us to interdependence upon one another. You will find over and over in the New Testament those two words that describe our relationship—“one another”. Let me read you just a few. Rom 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Eph 5:19-21 “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Heb 10:24-25 “ And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
B. There are two extremes that we should avoid.
§ One is dependence instead of interdependence.
§ We should not just hand our life over to someone else and let that person decide how we will live it.
§ The Bible says each one of us will give an account unto God of himself.
§ The other extreme is independence which is very prevalent in the American culture.
§ Proverbs 18:1-2 for a moment. “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment. 2 A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.” (NKJV)
§ That verse is not talking about a brief time alone with God. It is talking about pulling back from the Body of Christ to do your own thing—no matter how much of a religious, spiritual spin you may put on it.
§ God’s design for His people is interdependence—not dependence and not independence.
C. Listen to the value God place upon wise counsel.
§ Prov 11:14 “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” NKJV
§ Prov 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.” NKJV
§ Prov 15:22 “Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.” NKJV
§ Prov 19:20-21 “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days. 21 There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the LORD’s counsel -- that will stand.” NKJV
IV. When is it appropriate to seek out counsel from others?
D. The magnitude of the decision is a factor
E. You have already tried everything you know to do or you are in confusion about the matter.
F. Sometimes we need counsel because we don’t have experience or expertise in what we are about to do.
§ Ask God to give you wisdom about when to get counsel.
V. To whom should we go for counsel?
A. I would suggest you go to the godly for counsel. Ps 1:1 “Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” (NKJV)
B. Seek counsel from people with the expertise you need. (1 Kings 12)
§ Prov 13:20 “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”