There is a great story in a book of the Bible called 1 Kings that deals with listening. Solomon, David’s son, has turned from God and has been told that the kingdom would be ripped from the family except for Judah. Then God tells a man named Jeroboam that he will become the king of the majority of the tribes. All of this takes place without Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, knowing about it.
Rehoboam is placed as king over all the tribes, and Jeroboam and others go to meet the new king. They let him know that Solomon, his father, was to hard on them and worked them to much, and if Rehoboam lightens the load then they will all willing serve him. Rehoboam being a good king seeks advice. The counsel of the old men to Rehoboam was to lighten the load. They agreed that Solomon was to hard, and that the nation will surely follow Rehoboam if he lightens the load. Rehoboam then asks his friends, the young men, what to do. Their counsel is to make the workload harder not easier. Rehoboam listens to the young men and much of Israel revolts against the king.
At this point those tribes make Jeroboam their king, just as God said. But Jeroboam makes a huge mistake by then building idols for his tribes to worship. Let me share with you several observations about listening from this story.
1. If God tells you He is going to do something for you and does it, in turn, don’t build some idols and give them the credit for it. (dumb mistake Jeroboam)
2. When a big decision needs to be made the more advice the better, even though some of it may be bad. (Rehoboam did that part right)
3. Give more weight to people with experience. There are times when I am going to make a big decision and I will ask some friends what they think because they may be dealing with the same thing. But they have not lived long enough to have hindsight over the situation, so their advice may be flawed and they just don’t know it yet. Rehoboam did not make a mistake by asking his friends what they thought, the mistake came when he listened to them. He should have listened to those with more experience. This then begs a question.
Why don’t we ask for/listen to older peoples’ advice?
1. We know what they are going to say and we want to do the opposite: Many times we know what the right thing to do is but we don’t want to do it. So we ask enough people advice until we find the lone dumb person to agree with us, giving us to permission to blame others when things go bad.
2. Selfishness/Self-centeredness: Most of us do not like being told what to do, even when we ask people to tell us what to do, we don’t like it. We assume we always know what is best and no one else can understand what we are dealing with. The problem with this is that we are the best at getting ourselves into trouble.
In the future may God provide for you the right people to give advice, and give you the courage to LISTEN to them.