By Ann Swindell | January 2019 WBS Devotional
Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, [the king] followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier…” (1 Kings 12:13-14 NIV)
Over the holidays, I would wake up and flip the switch on the Christmas tree, illuminating the branches in a soft, white glow. Then, I would light a festive candle and turn on some Christmas music. Our whole family loves Christmas music, our daughter especially. But whenever she started reading her Bible verses for the day, she always asked me to turn the music off. She couldn’t focus on reading with other words and noise in the background.
My daughter needed to focus in order to be able to understand and heed the words of Scripture, and so we had to silence all other noises—and all other voices—in the house.
The voices that we listen to matter, and we see this truth played out with painful clarity in chapter 12 of 1 Kings. Here, the Israelites have entered into a new season; King Solomon has died, and the kingdom is preparing to transfer to his son, Rehoboam.
At his coronation, Rehoboam is approached by the people of Israel. They ask him to reduce their workload and ease the taxes that Solomon had placed on them, promising that they will serve Rehoboam in return for his kindness.
In response to their question, Rehoboam takes three days to seek advice from two groups of people. The first group, the elders—men who served his father and have years of experience—recommend that he do as the people request, believing that his kindness would win their hearts. The second group, the “young men” Rehoboam grew up with, recommend that he threaten the Israelites with harshness.
God had set wise elders in place to help guide the new king, but Rehoboam refuses to listen to them. Instead, he chooses to listen to his friends, even though their voices lack wisdom and restraint.
Unfortunately, Rehoboam’s choice leads to the undoing of an entire kingdom. When the people gather again after three days, Rehoboam taunts them: “‘My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions’” (v. 14).
In response? All but two of the tribes reject his leadership, and Rehoboam barely escapes with his life! The ten tribes remaining claim Jeroboam—a man of evil and idolatry—as their ruler, and the kingdom of Israel is divided.
In a very short amount of time, the unity of Israel under Solomon is shattered by his son. Why? Because Rehoboam chose to listen to the wrong voices.
Every day, we are assaulted with countless voices telling us what to do and how to live, and the voices that we choose to listen to will not only impact our lives but also the lives of those around us. The voices of the world and the enemy will tell us to make choices to pursue our own happiness and security above anything else. But God’s voice—that still, small whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13) that we learn to discern through careful reading of the Scripture and time in prayer—leads us to make choices to pursue holiness, the good of others, and the glory of Christ.
Listening to God’s voice will require us to humble ourselves before Him and others. Obeying Christ will rarely gain us applause from the world. Sometimes, obedience to God will even put us at odds with our family and friends. But only Christ has the words of life (John 6:68), and following His voice not only will secure a lasting peace for our souls, but can also influence the souls of those in our spheres of influence—our children, our spouse, our coworkers and ministry partners. For our sake and for theirs, it’s always worth it to follow the voice of the Lord.
Lord, there are so many voices swirling around me, and it can be hard to choose the path of obedience to Your voice. Some days it would be so much easier to just go with the crowd and follow the voices in the world. But I know that only You have the words of life! Help me to listen to You above everyone else; help me to obey Your Word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
QUESTION FOR REFLECTION:
In what area of your life can you choose to follow the voice of the Lord today rather than the voices of the world?