Check All The Boxes

Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders … [and] consulted the young men… (1 Kings 12:6, 8). 

As King Rehoboam ascended Israel’s throne, the people met with him to ask if there could be a change in policies. They stated that Rehoboam’s father, King Solomon, had worked them hard building God’s temple and Solomon’s palace. They asked for a bit of reprieve. 

Rehoboam took this suggestion to both the elders who had consulted his father, as well as to his friends that were his own age. 

Sometimes the older generation wants to stick with “the way we’ve always done things” because it appears tried and true; they are usually hesitant to make any changes.

Sometimes the younger generation wants to change nearly everything because they think there must be a better way; they are usually anxious to make changes. 

So when the elders suggested a change from Solomon’s policies, Rehoboam should have taken notice. “This is not typical for the elders to suggest a change, so perhaps I should ponder this more closely.” For the young leaders to suggest a change was typical for their generation, so Rehoboam should have expected that. 

Also notice that the elders’ advice was toward servant leadership, while the young men’s advice was toward more top-down, heavy-handed leadership. Although there is no record of either Rehoboam nor his advisers seeking God’s counsel, the elders’ advice is clearly more in line with God’s heart. God spoke through Moses about how He carried (or served) His people (Exodus 19:4), so a reprieve from hard labor would have been more God-honoring. 

Sadly, Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders, making the working conditions even harsher for the people of Israel. This terrible decision had disastrous consequences, as Israel was henceforth split into two nations: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Rehoboam missed the cues from both the older and younger generations, as well as God’s own example, that could have preserved a united nation. 

For our decision making today we have the additional example of Jesus who came not to be served but to serve others, and who gave us a similar servant-hearted command (Mark 10:45; John 13:12–17). 

When God-fearing people are facing a key decision, here are three important things to consider: 

  1. Are the seasoned, God-fearing elders advocating a change? 
  2. Will this decision help me better serve the people I lead? 
  3. Is this decision exemplifying Christ’s servant-leadership? 

This is so important—I need a “YES” in all three boxes if I am going to move forward! 

If any box is unchecked, I need to seriously re-evaluate making a change.

Are You Listening?

Are you listening?David subdued Israel’s enemies. His son, Solomon, brought Israel incredible wealth and prestige. And his son, Rehoboam, brought it all crashing down.

How? “…the king did not listen to the people” when they asked him for relief (2 Chronicles 10:15).

It’s hard to lead people you don’t listen to! In fact, not only did Rehoboam not lead them, he destroyed a strong, rich, peaceful, united kingdom.

Actually Rehoboam’s problem goes back even earlier. He couldn’t hear his people because he didn’t hear his God—“He did evil BECAUSE he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord” (2 Chronicles 12:14, emphasis added).

If I set my heart fully on God, I can hear His voice.

If I can hear His voice, I can accurately hear others’ voices.

If I can accurately hear other people, I can serve them (see 1 Kings 12:7).

This is the only way to have God-enabled success with people!

Cheap Trade-Off

During the reign of King Rehoboam in Judah, God’s judgment fell on the land. Because of their sin against Him, God allowed Shishak, the king of Egypt, to plunder Jerusalem. Shishak carried off all of the valuable furnishings of the temple in Jerusalem.

To replace what had been plundered Rehoboam commissioned the casting of shields made of bronze (1 Kings 14:27). Whenever the king went to the temple, all the guards would carry these shiny shields with them, but then immediately after the king left the temple the guards returned their shields to the armory.

It looked good, but it was all a cheat … an imitation … a cheap trade-off.

Looking back a few chapters we read that not only did Rehoboam’s father, King Solomon, make the original shields out of gold, but he made almost everything out of gold. In fact, the Bible says, “Nothing was made of silver, because silver was considered of little value in Solomon’s days.” If silver was of little value, can you imagine how cheap bronze was?!

The temple is plundered. The gold shields—along with anything else of value—are gone, but there is no outcry from Rehoboam or the people, no repentance for their crimes against God, no anger at their sin that allowed Shishak’s raid.

Instead, Rehoboam wanted to try to keep up appearances.

He made bronze shields to look like the stolen gold shields.
He made his trip to the temple a spectacle of pomp and circumstance.
He hid the bronze shields away after he left the temple.

Isn’t this how many people deal with the plundering of their lives? I know I have at times. It seemed so much easier to try to cover up what was lost because of my sin, than to simply admit I sinned, repent of that sin, and ask for God’s merciful forgiveness.

Sure, Rehoboam still looked like he had his act together. But he knew—every time he was on this way to the temple and saw those bronze shields—that he was living a lie. He accepted a cheap trade-off for the real deal.

I am so grateful that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

I’m not going to settle for cheap trade-offs anymore. How about you?

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