Talk about a pressure cooker… Rehoboam is following quite a legacy. He’s King David’s grandson, the man after God’s own heart that God promised to establish his kingdom through. And he’s the son of King Solomon, known for the unmatched amount of wisdom that God blessed him with. As Rehoboam becomes King himself, his very first order of business presents itself. The pressure is on.
1 Kings 12:1-20 outlines this start as King.
This feels a little bit like ‘one step forward, two steps back’. King Rehoboam takes his step forward by first seeking counsel in making the decision of lightening the workload and burden of the Israelites (requested of him by Jeroboam). Great idea to get advice, and especially to seek it from those with experience and history in the situation. And then he takes his first step back – not liking that advice and instead seeking out people that will validate his own desires. And then, he hastily makes the decision and announces it within three days, without praying and seeking direction from God.
King Rehoboam wanted to show his power and strength, mightier than his father or grandfather. He wanted to make his own name for himself, and so instead of building trust with the people by easing the already heavy burden, he increased it. It seems like a mixture of pride, immaturity, and haste all led to this decision.
This created the divide across the tribes that is still present today. The ten northern tribes separated and lived under the rule of Jeroboam, while King Rehoboam maintained Judah in the south. During his 17 years of reign, Judah lived in conflict and great sin (1 Kings 14:21-31).
What a great lesson in decision making and leading people. We all have to make hard decisions at times – whether it’s in the workplace, in our personal relationship, health situations, etc. I can look back at decisions made too quickly, without the right input, and without seeking God’s direction. King Rehoboam had access to the same things we do: God’s guidance, wisdom from God followers, and history/scriptures. Think about all of the generations before him and lessons he would have learned.
Exodus 18:21 Choose trustworthy, God-fearing men from the people and appoint them over the people to help you
Leviticus 19:18 Love your neighbor as yourself
Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord, take heart and wait
It’s not always easy to wait to make a decision – sometimes we want to just move forward in a direction. Not all decisions need to be made today. Can more time in prayer or seeking more advice lead to a better decision and outcome? Or at least a decision made with more peace and confidence?
And then there are other decisions we have to make with little time to even think. We pray for direction, doors to open, and gather input and advice from the best sources in the moment. White knuckling our way through and praying it was the right choice.
I’m thinking back on decisions I’ve made recently, and where I gathered input and advice.
- Do the people in my circle challenge my thinking?
- Am I mostly surrounded by those that will validate and agree with me?
- Who can I rely on for their experience and wisdom, that doesn’t have anything to gain or lose by the decision being made?
- What pride or blind spots do I have that keeps me from asking for advice?
God knew the decisions Rehoboam was going to make, just like he knows each decision we have made and will make. He is faithful to give us wisdom if we seek it and ask. He is here to lead and guide us, and help us when we mess up and make the wrong decisions.