King Solomon is dead. While he is known for his great wisdom and building the temple, he also built many other lavish monuments to himself, and lead a lifestyle that were all carried on the backs of the people of Israel.
Rehoboam Solomon’s son is the clear heir to the throne, but politics are politics and even a king needs his supporters. Jeroboam who was a pain in Solomon’s backside returns from Egypt and his plan for usurping the throne is back in place.
The whole assembly of Israel, now faced with a choice, comes to Rehoboam to see what he has planned. They have been squashed by forced labor and taxes that no modern day politician would ever endorse and they want to know what the new king plans to do.
The wise older men who saw what Solomon’s policies did, advised him to speak “good words” to the people, in other words to talk of tax cuts, and maybe most of all to serve them as king then he would be set. But Rehoboam talks to his buddies too, essentially they advise him to be a tough guy, don’t back down, show them who is boss!
This is where you actually need to read the verses they didn’t place in the reading because Rehoboam, disregards the advice of the old dudes, and repeats to the people the advice he received from his drinking buddies. He then sends the guy who was in charge of forced labor to the people to emphasize his point I guess, and they stone poor Adoram. Rehoboam flee’s back to his stronghold in Jerusalem, and the kingdom is divided.
Israel is now the 10 northern tribes and Judah is now just the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi. Its a mess.
The problem here is not just that Rehoboam didn’t take wise council, though that was the fuse that set it off, it goes all the way back to his dad, who did not do what was good in the sight of the Lord and worshiped other gods.
So my question today is who do you listen to? Where does your advice come from?
I try and draw advice and council from all quarters. People my age and younger have some good ideas, but they also lack experience and perspective. Older folks have both those gifts, but sometimes they are locked into a fixed way of seeing things because of it. Both sources of advice can be blessings but only when seen through the lens of what God desires.
In our reading today the key is the word servant, God would have his leaders serve, and in turn those served will serve willingly and lovingly. No matter where your advice comes, I think a good filter is to ponder this, is it all about you? Or is it about you, being all you, for the sake of others? I think if you find it to be the latter, there you will find God at work for you and for all.