Advise is a wonderful thing if I choose wise advisers. But if I choose foolish, immature or selfish advisors, I am likely to make very bad decisions and make choices that I will regret for years to come. It is interesting to me that in the first chapter of Proverbs, Solomon advises his son to be careful in choosing his advisors. He warned him that if he chose the young men around him as his advisors they will likely lead him into sin and mistreatment of other people. We aren’t told which son of Solomon it is that he is speaking to in Proverbs. But in I Kings 12 Solomon had died and his son Rehoboam is ordained as the new king over the Israel. Solomon had prospered as king of Israel, like no other. He spread the borders of the nation wider than at any other time and the kingdom was filled with wealth. But when Solomon died the people came to talk with Rehoboam his son and to plead with him to make their load a little lighter. The tax burden and the service to the king had become unbearable. They pleaded with the new king to lighten their load and promised that they would be loyal to him in every aspect of their lives.
Rehoboam sought advise on how to react to the request from the people. He first went to the older advisors who had served his father and asked them how they advised him to react to this request. They encouraged him to lighten the load on the people. Lower their tax burden. Make their burden easier to carry and they said, if you will do that, these people will be true to you and follow your lead all their lives. They advised him to listen to them and show them his love, compassion and devotion to them as his people.
After seeking their advise, he turned to the younger men he had grown up with to ask them for advise on the same thing. He said to them, that the people have come asking me to lighten their load and the tax burden upon them and that they would be loyal to him as their king if he would. He told them how the older advisers to his dad had advised him to listen to them and follow their plea and it would have great results in the loyalty of the people. But these young men advised him to go back to the people and tell them that if they thought his dad had made it hard on them, just wait to see how hard he makes their lives. They said, to tell them that his little finger would be heavier on them that his dad’s thighs had been. They told him to go back and tell them that if they were beaten badly by their dad, just wait until he beats them with scorpions.
Imagine being in this man’s place and becoming king in the place of your father who had reigned over Israel for forty years and through most of that time and been highly successful as their king. But as the years had gone by, he had turned from God to the devil and followed the influence of his foreign wives to worship the idol gods they introduced him to. Rehoboam was 41 when he became the king. He was old enough to know some things and to choose good advise. If you were in his place and taking on such a role from your father, who would you listen to? Let’s face it, we are only as wise in our decisions as the advise we choose to listen to? If I choose to listen to ungodly advisors who point me toward revenge and hurting others, I will destroy the relationships that matter in life. Later Solomon would write the proverb, “He that walks with wise people will be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed.”
I wonder what would have happened in Israel if Rehoboam had listened to the advise of the older people instead of his young friends. I know it was in God’s plan for him to act crazy and follow the wrong advise that led to the division of the nation. But if it had simply been a human thing, the reality is that it would likely have saved the nation for him to listen to the older people and show respect for the people and their hurts. The truth is, in every part of life, who we listen to and whose advise we follow determines our success or failure. No one lives in a vacuum. We are all influenced by the advise of others. But whose advise we follow will determine what becomes of us and of those we love.