We’re pretty impressionable people. We all like to say that we are independent, free individuals who make up our own minds, but the reality is that we are heavily influenced by the company we keep. Therefore, we need to be very careful with how we create our inner circle and what advice we embrace.
If we look back into 2 Chronicles 10, Rehoboam had just been named the king of Israel after his father Solomon. His father had had a very successful reign by all accounts, but after he passed away, naturally his son had to step up and assume command.
Solomon was clearly a very wise man as he had requested and received extraordinary wisdom as a gift from God. However, he also had wise counselors around him, and those are the first people that Rehoboam went to consult after hearing that the people wanted a lighter government than Solomon had put on them.
"Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.
They replied, ‘If you will be kind to these people and please them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants’" (2 Chronicles 10:6-7, NIV).
This was a good first step. If you are moving into a new position, it is good to surround yourself with people who know what it takes to perform well in that position.
However, he wasn’t interested in their advice, and he decided to ask his younger friends.
"But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, ‘What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?’
The young men who had grown up with him replied, ‘The people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my fatherʼs 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’’" (2 Chronicles 10:8-11, NIV).
I’m not writing this post to say that we should disregard the advice of young men. If I was saying that, then you should stop reading my post right now since I am obviously disqualified by that same criteria.
However, these men did not have the experience to help Rehoboam make wise decisions. They hadn’t served Solomon, and they did not have the expertise that is necessary to run a nation.
When faced with both of these groups of people, I think that we all would probably agree that he should have listened to the elders. There are plenty of good reasons that it seems obvious that he should have gone with the people who truly understood the situation that Israel was in.
There is a key phrase that I think makes all the difference however. The young men were people that Rehoboam had grown up with. He felt comfortable with them, and he trusted them. He had been friends with them apparently all throughout their childhood, and now he was going to continue leaning on their advice.
Rehoboam listened to those who he had hung out with for years, and disaster resulted.
"When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:
‘What share do we have in David,
what part in Jesseʼs son?
To your tents, Israel!
Look after your own house, David!’
So all the Israelites went home" (2 Chronicles 10:16, NIV).
There was literally a rebellion because Rehoboam listened to bad counsel. Israel and Judah divided because Rehoboam ultimately kept company with friends who steered him in the wrong direction.
This is a cautionary tale for you and me.