The Impact Of A Decision
1 Kings 12:8 But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him.
When Solomon reigned as King over Israel the nation reached its zenith. Solomon was filled with wisdom from God to lead the people. Sadly, Solomon did not finish as well as he started. For all the wisdom he had received he wasn't wise enough to turn from the deadly temptations that led his heart away from God. At the death of Solomon there was no question as to who would be his successor. Everyone in the Kingdom looked to Solomon's son Rehoboam as the next king. But, although Rehoboam inherited Solomon’s kingdom, he did not inherit his father’s wisdom.
On the day of his coronation, Rehoboam met with two groups for counsel. The first group were the elders who had served Solomon from the beginning and had observed the king’s strengths and weaknesses. They had taken note of what was a blessing under Solomon's reign and also what needed to change. They advised Rehoboam to speak kindly to the people and to serve and care for them. These insightful men had been around a lot longer than Rehoboam and wanted to see the nation stay together and continue to flourish. At first Rehoboam listened, but then he also consulted a group of younger men who had grown up with him and stood before him. Over time they had developed their own opinions and conclusions and advised Rehoboam to do things contrary to the ways of Solomon. They encouraged him to oppress the people and to place a burden on them. It's as if they were saying, "Change things up, be your own man Rehoboam. What do those counselors know anyway? They're holding back progress in the kingdom. You know what to do. Don't live in your father’s shadow." I imagine this was a difficult decision for Rehoboam. For, in addition to the young men urging him to move forward, he had Solomon’s kingdom and wealth amassed to get things done.
Having received counsel from both groups Rehoboam decided to reject the guidance of the elders and went with the recommendation of the young men. But when he stood before the people and began to put forth his vision for the nation, the people rejected his new plan. The tribes that had been united suddenly divided. The people formerly under Solomon began to leave and those who departed took their money with them.
As Rehoboam’s Kingdom continued to decline, the tribe of Judah went into carnal and idolatrous practices. Their Egyptian enemies entered their territory and stole the treasures of the house of the Lord, confiscating the gold shields that Solomon had made. Rehoboam had bronze shields made to replace the stolen gold shields. Though not gold the shiny bronze shields gave the impression that everything was as stable and fortified as ever. Yet, sadly, not everything was as it appeared.
I can't help but wonder if things would have been different had Rehoboam built an altar and offered sacrifices to the Lord. If he would have asked the Lord for wisdom like his father had. Unfortunately everyone was impacted by his decision.
The only consolation that can be found in this sad story is in 1 Kings 12:15: "… the turn of events was from the Lord, that He might fulfill His word …." In other words, God was still in control and God still had a plan. Ultimately, the Lord would use this for good.