This morning for my devotional, I read 1 Kings 12, a story with which I am quite familiar. But on reading it again, it came to me with a new impress as I have been thinking of the ongoing presidential campaign. The story is that of Rehoboam, King Solomon’s son, who was to be installed on the throne following his father’s death. At the assembly for the coronation, the people’s emissaries requested certain reforms in the tax policy followed by Solomon. In order to facilitate his extravagant lifestyle, and build palaces for his many wives and concubines, Solomon had put a very heavy tax burden on the people. The tax reforms requested by the people was to reduce the royal treasury and its power to continue the magnificence of Solomon’s court. When Rehoboam listened to the request for reform, he asked for a few days so that he could seek counsel. He then went to the men who had counseled with his father. We are not sure whether the elders told Rehoboam to accept the people’s demands but they counseled him to speak to the people in a civil manner. But Rehoboam must have been uncomfortable with the counsel of the older men, and therefore sought counsel from his peers who advised him to show no weakness to the people, and to tax them even more then his father had done. He then went to the people with a proclamation thus:
“Whereas my father laid upon you a heavy yoke, so shall I add tenfold thereto. Whereas my father chastised (tortured) you with whips, so shall I chastise you with scorpions. For my littlest finger is thicker than my father’s loins; and your backs, which bent like reeds at my father’s touch, shall break like straws at my own touch.”
The rest of the story is that the people of Israel rebelled. The two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, remained with Rehoboam; and ten tribes went to Jeroboam about whom it was predicted that one day he would be king.
One of the central points of the story is that although the kingdom was already breaking up, yet accepting wise counsel could have kept it together much longer under Rehoboam’s rule.
Yes, in leading in any sphere – home, church or the public square – it is important to listen to wise counsel. Not every word of counsel works, but the wise person will seek to gain wisdom from others and seek the will of the divine.
Here are a few significant scriptural quotes that should be ever kept in mind:
He did evil in the sight of the LORD like the house of Ahab, for they were his counselors after the death of his father, to his destruction. – 2 Chronicles 22:4
Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory – Proverbs 11:14
For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
– Proverbs 24:6
What kind of counsel are you listening to? Do you listen to wise counsel? Or foolish counsel? Do you listen to any counsel at all?