1 Kings 12:6-11 (NKJV)
6 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, and he said, “How do you advise me to answer these people?” 7 And they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” 8 But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. 9 And he said to them, “What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?” 10 Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you should speak to this people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’—thus you shall say to them: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! 11 And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!’ ”
A catalogue of the lessons that young men teach us would be woefully inadequate did it neglect the danger of peer influence. As we learned several weeks ago, the very strength of young men can condition them to scorn the different types of strength that God has bestowed on others at different stages of life. And it is this folly that we find in our text today.
Rehoboam has received a deputation from Jeroboam and the northern tribes of Israel – be kind to us; reduce our workload; stop taxing us so heavily. Rehoboam begins well – before he responds he seeks counsel. The elders advise moderation, kindness, and service from Rehoboam. “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” The elders urge Rehoboam to humble himself, to acknowledge the complaints that the northerners are making against him, and to serve these people.
But the idea of serving is distasteful to Rehoboam. And so he seeks other counsel – and counselors to tell him that these elders are just a bunch of fools are not hard to find. Don’t listen to them. You’re the king. These people must submit to you. Let them know who’s boss.
Young men, beware the folly of Rehoboam. There will always be fools about to counsel you to spurn the words of your parents and elders. Unfortunately, today, there are even old folks who would counsel you like Rehoboam’s companions. God is speaking to you from the life of Rehoboam – listen to the wisdom of your elders. Give heed to their voice. Do not be overcome by the flattery of your peers.
So, young men, imitate Rehoboam in this: seek counsel before you act. But don’t play the fool and seek counsel only to spurn it. Listen to your elders; listen to the Word of God; humble yourself. In other words, imitate our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who grew in favor with God and with men by honoring and respecting his parents and elders.
Likewise, the rest of God’s people. Learn from Rehoboam’s folly – seek counsel and follow those who speak in harmony with God’s Word not with your own desires.
Reminded that we are often prone to listen to the wrong counselors, that we scorn the wisdom that God sets in front of us for folly, let us kneel and confess our sins to God.