Rehoboam succeeded his father Solomon as king. Then the citizens went to the new king Rehoboam and said, "Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke and he put on us, and we will serve you."
I get the impression Solomon forgot to groom his son for his role as king, because young king Rehoboam asked for three days time and then he would give them an answer.
First he asked his father's elders, who counseled him to do as the people asked. Then he asked his own friends with whom he had grown up. They advised him to say, "My little finger is thicker than my father's waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions."
Young Rehoboam decided to go with the answer of his young rebel friends. That was not so smart. This heir king, in sharp contrast, was not as wise as his father, Solomon.
The Israelites went home, telling everyone, "We're on our own. Rehoboam is not our king." They called Jeroboam out of exile in Egypt to an assembly and made him their king.
It's a bit tricky to keep these similar names sorted out. Rehoboam was the son of King Solomon. Jeroboam's father was an official under Solomon and came from the village of Zeredah. As a young man Jeroboam had showed so much leadership ability that Solomon had hired him too, and put him in charge his fortifications and public works projects. He also was put in charge of the levy or taxes from the house of Joseph. When the people were disappointed in Rehoboam, (the regal) they turned to Jeroboam (the jealous) to fix things.
Jeroboam's approach was to organize a larger rebellion, and let the people make him king over the larger portion, Israel.
Suddenly Rehoboam was only king over Jerusalem and it's immediate area. He managed to muster the tribe of Benjamin and was making ready for war against Jeroboam and the rest of Israel when a man of God strongly advised them to go home and not fight against their brothers in Israel. So they went home.
I say hurrah for a man of God who urges against fighting our own kith and kin!
Jeroboam was not perfect either. He was afraid the people would go back to King Rehoboam, so he set up two golden calves and placed one in Bethel and one in Dan, so that the people would not go to Jerusalem to worship and there get to know Rehoboam and be drawn to his side. This back-fired on him when God sent a prophet to warn him that He was going to wipe out all his descendants, and this altar he was at would be split open and the ashes poured out as a confirmation.
This whole story has me thinking about the dangers of peer pressure. A young generation does not understand that the more experienced people will have more practical and solid advice. They follow their peers' tastes, thoughts and example. They cannot imagine that the older people might have more wisdom.
Those of us "over the hill" have to admit that when we were in our teens and twenties we were very clever in our own eyes too. Nor were we willing to learn from our parents and grandparents. But that condemned us to learning from our own mistakes, repeating the wrongs the previous generations committed. How few from each generation learn instead from the one that went before.
Perhaps the whole moral of this story is for the youths who are tender of conscience and open to counsel from seniors. You will spare yourself so much trouble and heartache - even huge defeats - if you will hear out what your parents, grandparents and those of their generation have to tell you.
Whose advice do you seek out first? At any age we need to be careful and weigh the words of all our advisors against God's Word, the ultimate in perfect counsel.
[Note: if you missed any articles in this series of article on Friendships in the Bible, and want to read them, you'll find them all linked from this index which is about Friendships]
My novel, Ruthe's Secret Roses, and this related site have a Friendship theme. By getting to know and follow around the heroine, Ruthe, you can learn a lot about friendships, and that there is one that is the golden key to enriching all your other friendships and making them more satisfying. The site is more like a perfumed poupouri of articles and pages on that theme, and I've started a series on the friendships we observe in the Bible and what practical insights we can gain for our own friendships by thinking about them
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Ruth Marlene Friesen
The Responsible One
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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada