Daily Readings & Thought for August 17th. “HE ABANDONED THE COUNSEL …”
Those in authority, for example, Govt Ministers, are surrounded by advisors who debate situations and counsel those in power on the best policies to follow. Tragically there have been some examples of human wisdom, or lack of it, that have been quite tragic. We have an example in our 1 Kings reading today; a new king seeks advice on what policy he should follow, but really he has made up his mind and so seeks advisors to give him an answer that appeals to him.
This king is Solomon’s son Rehoboam. He first “took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father” [12 v.6] Their advice was to lighten the heavy tax burdens Solomon had put on the people – as they had requested and all will be well. But next we read, “He abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him…” [v.8] Their advice was the opposite! “And the king answered the people harshly …” [v,13] We wonder if they had too much confidence in the promises made to David, thinking, surely his grandson can dictate what the people should do?
Rehoboam was 41 when he ascended to the throne – and should have been mature. He surely knew the promises God had made to his grandfather, and, we suspect, had a false expectation as to how they would work themselves out in his generation. He did not humble himself before God to learn and do his will.
God knew his heart; he knew the disaster that would soon befall him. Rehoboam went boldly up to the northern tribes, but soon, he “hurried to mount his chariot and flee to Jerusalem.” [v.18]. We can see the lessons that this incident provides for us. Where do we go to seek counsel? We know the answer! But we must not make the mistake of so many, in searching Scripture looking for the kind of answer we want in relation s to some issue, so that we can seem to ‘confirm’ our belief in something we want to believe. It is this desire that has led to so many churches coming into existence.
Let us meditate on the example of Paul and his words to the elders at Ephesus. “I do not count my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God…. I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” [Acts 20 v.24,27] We need the “whole counsel of God” – that is why we need to read – and reflect on what we read – from God’s word every day, each year reading all the words that he has caused to be recorded and preserved – the lessons from Jeremiah being particularly relevant – as is tomorrow’s chapter in Mark about the return of Christ “after that tribulation” .