Relationships –Rehoboam and His Advisors

Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone there to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and all Israel went 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, “Come back to me in three days.” 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 you will be kind to these people and please 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, “The people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now 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.’”
Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” The king answered them harshly. Rejecting the advice of the elders, he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from God, to fulfill the word the Lord had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite.
When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:
“What share do we have in David,
    what part in Jesse’s son?
To your tents, Israel!
    Look after your own house, David!”
So all the Israelites went home. But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them.
King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labor, but the Israelites stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.

  • 2 Chronicles 10:1-19

When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered Judah and Benjamin—a hundred and eighty thousand able young men—to go to war against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam.
But this word of the Lord came to Shemaiah the man of God: “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your fellow Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’” So they obeyed the words of the Lord and turned back from marching against Jeroboam.

  • 2 Chronicles 11:1-4

A Quote

[2 Chronicles 10:1-11:4] Rehoboam followed foolish and bad advice from novices rather than the good counsel of wise, seasoned people. The result was the division of the nation. Amazingly, with all the strength of Solomon’s reign, unity was fragile and one fool in the place of leadership ended it. Rehoboam tried to unite the people by force, but was not allowed to succeed by God (11:1-4).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary

What Do We Know about their Relationship?

We know that Solomon had good advisors.  A wise king would.  Rehoboam became king and ignored the wise advice.  Instead Rehoboam took the advice of his friends from his youth.

It clearly states that this series of events took place so that God’s promise to Jeroboam would be fulfilled.

What Can We Infer about their Relationship?

We can infer that Solomon’s advisors were around when Jeroboam first tried to rebel against Solomon.  Jeroboam took refuge in Egypt (1 Kings 11).  If so, these advisors would already know the mindset and the strengths and weaknesses of their adversary.

We can probably infer that Rehoboam’s young advisors were the buddies that he got into trouble with in his youth.

Is it possible to infer that Solomon was as much of an absentee father as David seemed to have been?  With 700 wives and 300 concubines, Solomon probably had many offspring.  Was Rehoboam really the best choice?  If Solomon spent time with his children, what criteria did he use in selecting his successor?  For David, Solomon was not the oldest living son of David.  Again, Solomon’s “wisdom” failed him.

In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?

In modern times and in most places in the USA, your juvenile criminal record is sealed, but Solomon should have known Rehoboam’s transgressions and which of his friends got him in the most trouble.  My wife and I did to a certain extent with our children.  A raucous novel could be written about “Rehoboam: the preparation to become an inept king.”  Okay, maybe not a peppy title, but there could be a lot of gap filling here and if Solomon knew half of the story, why did he pick Rehoboam?  Unless the rest were even more spoiled.

What Can We Learn from this Relationship?

What we cannot learn from this is what Rev. MacArthur suggests.  In a perfect world, the seasoned advisors will give you better advice, especially the advisors that knew the back story of the prior rebellion.  But what if the seasoned advisors had been corrupted in some way?

We can learn that old friends of our youth, especially a rebellious youth, will never be good advisors.  For one, they do not know any more than we know.  They’ve had the same experiences since we hung out together all those years.  And two, your connection with them is on a friend level.  Their advice attracts you due to your emotional bond with those friends.  You would never think clearly with that advise.

When I was a platoon leader in the US Army, I had a master’s degree in an engineering field, but I knew that I knew very little about leading men and I knew next to nothing about the men that I was leading.  I quickly got to know my platoon sergeant, and he became one of my best friends until the day he passed away.  We still kept in contact.  We quickly developed a professional bond and an emotional bond also.  I knew that he had my back.

But then, after working together for a year, the company was drastically restructured for a huge construction project.  They took our executive officer of the company and made him the project leader.  My platoon sergeant was his chief advisor on the vertical construction (everything except earth moving – horizontal construction).  He had over two hundred people working on the project at one point.  I moved up to his position as the executive officer, but half of my platoon remained at the barracks for a local construction job.  My platoon sergeant was a two-hour flight, by helicopter, away from where I was and I had to rely on the next tier and the tier of experienced soldiers to complete the local construction job, so that the rest of my guys could then go work for someone else.  I immediately realized that I had failed to get that deep relationship with the Staff Sergeant that I had with my platoon sergeant.  It did not take long, but I realized I had made a tactical error.  By then, I knew everyone, their strengths and their weaknesses, except in the area of leadership and attention to task completion.  I had nothing to fear, but I felt lost until I had established that rapport.

But in this example, there were none of these men who I grew up with and most of the sergeants in the platoon had been soldiers in Vietnam.  Rehoboam had his old buddies with no experience other than the mischief that young boys get into.

I added this relationship discussion for this very point.  You need trusted advisors.  You need advisors that are not your bosom pals from your youth.  You need advisors with experience.  But you need to spend time with these advisors to feel them out and know what their strengths and weaknesses are.

What Have We Learned thus far?

We have learned to:

  • Own our own mistakes and not blame others.
  • Be faithful to God, and worship properly, in the proper spirit.
  • Go to God in prayer, especially before any major decisions.
  • Do not show favoritism among family members, but always go to God.
  • Forgiveness is extremely important for none of us are perfect except for God.
  • Beyond physical love, there are other expressions of love, and respect is very important.
  • A relationship requires maintenance, nurturing, and an acceptance of the roles.
  • Be humble and listen to wise advice, and even wait when necessary.
  • At times, we must be bold and trust God, and we must obey.
  • And to love, love, and love.
  • Be trustworthy.  Trust is required.
  • And don’t worry.  God has this situation, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
  • And remember to forgive others and confess our sins.
  • And never go against what God instructs us to do.
  • And truly believe that God can show you mercy and accept the mercy offered.  Yet remember that it is indeed mercy.
  • Not blindly trust our buddies from our youth as advisors and there may be emotional ties that make their advice sound better than it is.

A Closing Prayer

Lord,
We look to You for guidance.  Solomon wrote about advisors – too much and too little advice – in Proverbs.  It seems Rehoboam did not read the book.  Help us to know what we do not know and learn who has that knowledge that we lack.  Help us to take that trusted person’s advice, even when the advice might not be the most popular decision.  And let us always come to You for advice and guidance, supported with Your Holy Scriptures.
In Thy Name we pray,
Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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