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Los Lunas Cornerstone

Church of the Nazarene

Seeking God's Will (1 Kings 12)

    “The other events of Solomon’s rule are written down. Everything he did and the wisdom he showed are written down. They are written in the official records of Solomon. Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over the whole nation of Israel for 40 years. Then he joined the members of his family who had already died. He was buried in the city of his father David. Solomon’s son Rehoboam became the next king after him.” (1 Kings 11:41-43).
    This is the record of Solomon’s death. It is recorded without any honor, or pride, just a record of the facts and nothing more. His death is the catalyst for the splitting of Israel into two kingdoms, the northern kingdom which was made up of ten of the tribes of Israel; and the southern kingdom which was made up of the remaining two tribes of Israel, and would include Jerusalem in its territory.
    All of this was foretold to Solomon and Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s officials. Solomon was told that his kingdom would be taken away from him because he built places of worship to foreign gods in Israel and worshiped those foreign gods instead of following the Lord only. Solomon was told that the kingdom would be taken away and given to one of his officials.
    That official was Jeroboam. Jeroboam was put in charge of the northern parts of Israel under Solomon’s reign when Solomon saw that he was an accomplished and hard worker. Then, Ahijah, the prophet, told Jeroboam that the Lord was taking ten of the twelve tribes of Israel away from Solomon and giving them to Jeroboam because of Solomon’s actions and because the people in the northern parts of Israel followed Solomon’s example in worshiping idols and false gods.
    Jeroboam was warned by God though, “Do everything I command you to do. Live the way I want you to. Do what is right in my eyes. Obey my rules and commands. That is what my servant David did. If you do those things, I will be with you. I will build you a kingdom. It will last as long as the one I built for David. I will give Israel to you.” (1 Kings 11:38).
    Though Solomon messed up, and the people messed up too, Jeroboam was given an opportunity to set things right, as long as he followed the Lord and His ways.
    This is where 1 Kings 12 picks up, with a kingdom moments away from being divided after Solomon has died.
    Traditionally, the entire kingdom would pass to Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. Indeed, 1 Kings 12 opens with Rehoboam going to assume the throne of Israel. He gathered the people to him, including Jeroboam who had been one of Solomon’s most trusted officials, and this is what the people said to Rehoboam, the new king, “Your father made our yoke hard; but now, lighten the hard labor imposed by your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.” (v. 4).
    We know from other places in Scripture that Solomon did in fact use slave labor, even Israelite slaves, to build all of his many building projects. He also, we find, raised taxes to help pay for his many building projects. This understandably created a hardship for many people in Israel. So when Rehoboam gathered all the people, wanting to know what would make him a great king to them, it should have come as no surprise that they asked for the slave labor and heavy taxes to stop. The people were crying out for their king to look on his people with KINDNESS. If you want to take notes this morning in your bulletin, that is your first blank.
    It’s not an unreasonable request, either. Rehoboam responded that he wished to take three days to think about their request, and then he would return to them with an answer. Let’s look at verses 6-7 to see what King Rehoboam did, “And King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” Then they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their request, and speak pleasant words to them, then they will be your servants always.”
    Their advice to him was good, sound advice. In fact, if you’re even in a position of leadership, the advisors words to Rehoboam are wise words to any leader. Serve the people you lead, listen to them honestly, speak kindly to them. It’s good advice. It’s advice Rehoboam should have taken. Instead though, we’re told that he listened to the advice of the young men he had grown up with, men who presumably had never given counsel to a king before, or if they had, they certainly weren’t as experienced in wise counsel as the elders who had served Solomon.
    Here’s the advice he received from his younger friends, “And the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, “This is what you should say to this people who spoke to you, saying: ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us!’ You should speak this way to them: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! Now then, my father loaded you with a heavy yoke; yet I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions!’” (10-11).
    You don’t need the wisdom of Solomon to know that this is horrible, horrible, terrible advice. No leader ever gained the favor of the people they were leading by being more harsh and more oppressive. It was terrible advice, but it’s the advice Rehoboam took.
    The people rightfully cried out against this increased oppression; the kingdom was broken in two, with ten tribes in the north under Jeroboam’s leadership as the new king, and two tribes in the south under Rehoboam’s continued kingship. We’re told that the only reason that Rehoboam was allowed to continue to be king was because the Lord had promised David that someone from his line would always be on the throne. But, in the end Rehoboam did what was EVIL in the sight of the Lord because he led his kingdom to do more sinful acts than all the generations before them. That’s your next bulletin blank.
    Before I get to my main point this morning, we should know that even though Jeroboam was given the chance to be the king the Lord wanted him to be, he is known for further leading Israel into the sin of idolatry and worship of pagan gods. Like Rehoboam, he is noted for doing EVIL in the sight of the Lord, and not much else. That’s your next blank in your bulletin.
    Let’s go back to the advice that Rehoboam received: good advice from wiser elders and bad advice from younger friends. Listening to friends isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but this passage highlights the importance of choosing carefully the people who are close to you who will speak into your life.
    The people you choose to give authority to speak into your life should be people who have proven themselves to be wise; they should be people whose default for problem solving is to go to the Lord and seek Him first; they should be people who would rather wound you in truth than speak what you want to hear and lead you to destruction. These are the people that will bring you good advice.
    I want you to look at Proverbs 3, written by Solomon in part to his son, Rehoboam. “My son, do not forget my teaching, But have your heart comply with my commandments; For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and a good reputation In the sight of God and man.” (vv. 1-4).
    If Rehoboam wanted wise advice, wanted to be a good king, he could’ve taken this wise advice from his own father, one of the wisest men to have ever lived. Even with all of Solomon’s failures, this advice is gold!
    Solomon told Rehoboam to not let kindness and truth leave him. All he had to do was to take this one piece of advice, and it would have guided him to choose the advice of his elders concerning how to be a good king to his people. Kindness would have been lessening the oppression the people were feeling, truth would have been seeing that no man was made a slave by God. Rehoboam was told that by acting in kindness and truth, he would find favor and have a good reputation in God’s eyes and man’s eyes.
    Yes, Solomon’s words to his son would have guided him well, the elders words would have guided him better than the young friends words. But…what would have been best?
    Look back at Proverbs 3, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.” (vv. 5-8). And this, “The Lord founded the earth by wisdom, He established the heavens by understanding. By His knowledge the ocean depths were burst open, And the clouds drip with dew. My son, see that they do not escape from your sight; Comply with sound wisdom and discretion, And they will be life to your soul And adornment to your neck. Then you will walk in your way securely, And your foot will not stumble.” (vv. 19-23).
    Wise counsel is great, and we should listen to wise counsel with humility and grace, carefully weighing the wisdom given and allowing truth to pierce our hearts. But most important is seeking God’s will; seeking God’s advice; seeking God’s word. This way you know that you will not be led astray, and those who are speaking into your life are truly wise, what they say will line up with God’s will.
    If we are to be wise, God’s wisdom is the first place we should turn. He will always lead us true.

1. The wisdom of elders in 12:7 is contrasted with the foolishness of younger men in 12:10-11. What connection do you see with Peter’s words in 1 Peter 5:5? What difference does it make that an “elder” in Peter’s letter refers to someone more mature in the faith? What might that mean for all Christians concerning the wisdom they should pay attention to?

2. What promises do Psalm 1 hold for those who delight in the Lord’s Word? What do those promises mean in a practical way to believers?

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