You know how certain chapters are associated with various topics? 1 Corinthians 13 is the love chapter, James 2 is faith without works, etc. 1 Kings 12 is like the “bad advice chapter” and here’s why: Rehoboam had just taken over for his father Solomon and the people came to him and said, “Hey your dad built a lot of great stuff, like the temple, all his cities and gardens, but he had to work us really hard and tax us pretty heavily to do that, so can you lighten up on us?” (12:3-4).
Rehoboam said he’d get back to them and then went to older people for advice. They said: “Treat the people well and they’ll treat you well.” Not liking their advice he asked his younger friends (because we know younger people always have better advice than older people) and they said, “Tell them, ‘You thought my dad was tough? I’m going to be even tougher!’” He told that to the people and they said, “Okay, sorry. We’ll do whatever you want.” Not! Ten out of twelve of the tribes rebelled against him and started their own nation and when Rehoboam sent someone to try to make amends, they stoned him.
Now here’s the tremendous irony…
Sunday’s sermon discusses Jeroboam, the king of the ten tribes that rebelled. Only a few verses after Rehoboam asked for advice that led to a civil war in his nation, Jeroboam – who only happens to have a nation to rule because of Rehoboam’s foolishness – DOES THE EXACT SAME THING and asks for advice that leads to the downfall of his nation (1 Kin 12:28). I think 1 Kings 12 could seriously contain both examples of the worst advice anyone in history ever received.
As a pastor, I’ve seen the tendency in people to do this. People will ask me for counsel. I’ll give my thoughts. They won’t like what I have to say, so they’ll go and ask others until they find someone who will tell them what they want to hear. Other times I’ve had people ask me for counsel, and I could tell they didn’t like what I had to say. When I’ve pressed them, I could tell they’d already talked to someone else and they were going to do that because it agreed with what they wanted to do.
Next time you’re considering advice shopping – just looking for someone to validate foolish desires – read 1 Kings 12. Job nailed it when he said, “The counsel of the wicked is far from me” (21:16) and the psalmist when he said, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…but his delight is in the Law of the Lord” (1:1-2).
You can listen to the sermon discussing Jeroboam here.