Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all the Israelites had gone there to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still inEgypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned fromEgypt. So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly ofIsraelwent to Rehoboam and said to him: “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”
Rehoboam answered, “Go away for three days and then come back to me.” So the people went away.
Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.
They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”
But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?”
The young men who had grown up with him replied, “Tell these people who have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter’–tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.'” – 1 Kings 12:1-11 (NIV)
This is not the best way to start off a reign. Rehoboam has the opportunity to heal some wounds, repair some cracks in the kingdom and become beloved by his people, but he decides to hang with his friends. Where the elders under Solomon had gained wisdom, experience and perspective, Rehoboam’s friends had gained arrogance and bitterness. Stupid friends.
There is a disease that every generation suffers from in varying degrees. It attacks the mind, especially the areas controlling perspective, logic and reason. Those who suffer from this disease become convinced of their superior intellect, accepting their opinion as absolute truth. Usually the malady affects children beginning in the pre-teen years and can only be cured by respecting your elders and being teachable. The sickness is known by many names; I-know-it-all-itis, you-ain’t-the-boss-of-me-enza, and it’s-all-about-me-fever.
Rehoboam certainly had contracted the disease and it seems it was his friends who were contagious. Unfortunately our children can contract the disease very easily from friends, TV and even at home. We need to provide a healthy environment at home and inoculate them against the foolishness of this world. This requires discussing hard issues with hard answers, honesty and whole-hearted dependence on God for His wisdom to salt those conversations. Teaching our children to walk in the counsel of the wise is a daily challenge, but God will meet our daily need if we ask.
Rehoboam did not heed the words of his own father, “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:5-7) Our children need to hear this truth again and again, but more importantly they need to see it in action. They need to see God’s wisdom at work in our lives. They need to watch us reject the foolishness of this world for the wisdom of God’s kingdom. Let’s cure the disease by seeking healing for ourselves first.
Lord, help me to be wise. Give me a hunger for Your wisdom and good counsel. May my children grow in wisdom and humility, seeking friends who follow after You and You alone. Let them not “despise wisdom and instruction.” Amen.