Today: [1 Kings Chapter Twelve]: Learn to Limit Your Counselor. Solomon is dead and the kingdom is divided between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. Both men are insecure and seek out counselors who will tell them what they want to hear. As a result the kingdom of lost to Rehoboam, the nation is divided and a corrupt altar is set up in Bethel. When you are insecure and under pressure you may be tempted to seek out many viewpoints until you find someone who will agree with you. This is not true counsel. Let us learn from the example of these two men and hopefully we will avoid the difficulties brought upon them by seeking false counsel from illegitimate authorities in their lives.
[1Ki 12:1-33 KJV] 1 And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king. 2 And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard [of it], (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;) 3 That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying, 4 Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee. 5 And he said unto them, Depart yet [for] three days, then come again to me. And the people departed. 6 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? 7 And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever. 8 But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, [and] which stood before him: 9 And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter? 10 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 loins. 11 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.
Solomon is dead and now his son Rehoboam reigns in his place. In the previous chapter we see that in the later years of Solomon’s life he turned to idolatry due to the influence of his foreign wives. Because of this the Lord was displeased and told Solomon that in the days of his successor the kingdom would be rent from the house of David leaving only the tribe of Judah. The son of one of his servants by the name of Jeroboam was approached by a prophet who predicted by the word of the Lord that he would be king over the remaining tribes. When Solomon hears this prophetic word he seeks to kill Jeroboam and Jeroboam flees to Egypt until he hears of the death of Solomon.
Rehoboam is now the heir apparent and travels to Shechem where the people wait to make him king. Jeroboam is there along with all the representatives of the 12 tribes. They place a condition upon their loyalty to him. They ask that he alleviate the tax burden of Solomon from off their backs. He convenes counsel with the elders, the old men who counseled his father to receive their counsel. They rightly advise him to lower taxes and thus gain the favor of the people and secure his kingdom. Rehoboam is not satisfied with this answer so he goes to his friends, the young men he had grown up with. They advise him to take a harder tone to beat the people into submission and intimidate them with threats of even higher taxes and demands.
Here we see the wisdom of limiting your counselors. When you have a decision to make you may feel the need to get the opinion of others. One of the problems is that if you ask enough people you will ultimately hear every conceivable suggestion. My father and spiritual mentor often said that much pastoral counseling is sought by those who simply want to find agreement for what they have already decided to do. He tells the story about a wealthy woman who came to his office for counseling and before they began she laid a fat, sealed envelope on the desk without comment. She then proceeded to lay out all of her frustrations in her particular situations for quite some time while he listened in silence. Finally after carrying on for some time she went quiet and the two briefly regarded one another across my father’s desk with the envelope between them. Finally she spoke again “just forget it! You are just going to tell me what the bible says!” She then stormed out leaving the envelope on the table. It contain $2000 cash.
Until you are ready to hear from God yourself it is unproductive to seek out a counselor. Seeking counsel is no substitute for seeking God for yourself in prayer. One aged pastor made the joke that people would call him and say “Pray for me pastor – my life is a mess but I don’t have time to deal with it – I am on my way to Wal-Mart there is a sale on!” There is no indication that Rehoboam hesitated for one moment to hear from God for himself or through the prophets that were available to him. He wasn’t looking for wisdom he was looking for agreement with what he had already decided to do.
Another problem with seeking counsel is who you choose to share your situation with. Rehoboam didn’t like what the old men had to say so he went to his friends – those he had grown up with. Many times when we are under pressure we tell everyone who will listen what is going on in our lives. We need to remember that the opinions of others even unexpressed in our presence can create a kind of spiritual white noise that produces confusion and difficulty in hearing the voice of God. When I hear people say they are confused and unsure what to do in a circumstance this is almost always an indicator of opening their mouth to too many people for advise. Learn to limit your counselors.
There are two important qualities that a counselor should have: 1.) A stronger walk with God than you do. 2.) Abiding love for you and willingness to see you as God sees you. If you can’t look at your counselors life and say “I wish I had a life like theirs…” Then their counsel will be of little value. If your counselor looks down on you and doesn’t see you as God sees you their counsel will be worthless because while they may have great confidence in God in their own life they have very little confidence in God in YOUR LIFE. Proverbs 15:22 does speak of the value of a multitude of counselors but this is not a statement without conditions. Your counselors are only as valuable to you as the quality of their own walk with God and having an accurate perspective on who you are in God and what your potential is in the kingdom. Learn to limit your counselors.
12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day. 13 And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him; 14 And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father [also] chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. 15 Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat. 16 So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither [have we] inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents. 17 But [as for] the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. 18 Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who [was] over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day. 20 And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.
Let us remember the reason that there is a divided kingdom. Solomon was wholly given over to the worship of Molech, Ashtoreth and Chemosh. This indicates that he was involved in sexual perversion and child sacrifice. He forsook the altar of the Lord in his later years. Because of this the prophets declared to him that the kingdom would be taken from his successor. Rehoboam would have grown up in this environment. He saw the idolatry of his father. It has been said what you allow in moderation your children will take to excess. Solomon led the people in rebellion by the example he set. Then ultimately the people rebelled against Solomon’s rule itself. It is easy to get people to rebel it is another thing to get them to stop rebelling. This is one reason that my father would never pastor a church that arose from a split or divided congregation. The foundation was flawed and he had learned by experience that a congregation led in rebellion would do so again and again.
21 And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. 22 But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 23 Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying, 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. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD. 25 Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel. 26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: 27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, [even] unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. 28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves [of] gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 29 And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went [to worship] before the one, [even] unto Dan. 31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi. 32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that [is] in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. 33 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, [even] in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.
While Rehoboam is fuming in Jerusalem over the rebellion of the northern tribes, Jeroboam is becoming insecure over his own rule in Shechem. He has been established as king by God himself over the northern tribes but he doesn’t want the people to go to Jerusalem to worship. So now Jeroboam follows in Rehoboam’s example and seeks ungodly counsel. As a result he erects altars in Bethel and in Dan for the people to go to and in so doing forsakes the altar and the house where God Himself said He would put His name and commanded that the people would resort to. This insecurity between kingdoms and leaders fosters the same idolatry today. Leaders draw boundaries and borders around the work that they do and structure their counsel and teaching to keep people from being involved with anyone but them. This is the heart of sectarian attitudes and the party spirit that divides Christianity. In Rehoboam and Jeroboam’s day this was all about greed and insecurity. It is no different today.
Where does the accountability regarding this turbulent time rest? Primarily with Solomon now dead who led the people into idolatry. Also with Rehoboam and Jeroboam because they chose to be ruled by greed and insecurity rather than seek the word of the Lord by His true prophets. The responsibility also lay with the counselors who opened their mouth and told these men what they wanted to hear. When someone approaches you for counsel be sure that you refrain from giving your opinion. Your opinion is worthless. The only thing of value you can ever contribute is the word of the Lord. If you aren’t willing to say “thus says God” and stand behind your words then be humble enough to say “I have no opinion about that…” In so doing you will have the opportunity to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem.
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