It wasn’t that he listened to some bad advice. Instead, the new king Rehoboam shopped around until he found some counselors who told him what he wanted to hear. He looked for some outside confirmation of the folly he had already inwardly determined to follow. Dumb move on Solomon’s son’s part. But this was “a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that He might fulfill his word” (1Kings 12:15).
Rehoboam went first to the counselors of his father, the wisest man the world had ever known. You’d think they’d know something of the affairs of government and how to apply sound judgment from the throne. Ease up, they told the young king, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them . . . then they will be your servants forever” (12:7). But the rookie king rejected their counsel. He left it on the table. Walked away from sound advice. It didn’t align with his vision of what it meant to rule, nor his ambition of trying to “one up” his dad. And so we went to others who thought like he did. And they said, “Pour it on!” And Rehoboam told the people he would. And the people replied to Rehoboam, “We’re done with you!” And the kingdom was divided.
So goes the ways of the hardened heart. Selfish in nature, blinding men to the truth. True of Rehoboam, true also of the new king of the northern tribes of Israel.
Jeroboam is given a kingdom by God just as God had told him He would (1Kings 11:31-33). But after taking the throne of this divinely promised and established kingdom, this new king also listens to his own heart rather than believe the promises of God. “And Jeroboam said in his heart, ‘Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David, if this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD at Jerusalem . . .'” (12:26-27). His solution to the perceived issue? His good idea to secure his rule? Make new gods, saying they had been the gods that led the people out of Egypt. And establish new sacrifices in a new place with new priests. So operates the calloused heart, the heart not turned toward the Lord.
They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!
(Ephesians 4:18-20 ESV)
All my readings this morning conspired to focus my thoughts on matters of the heart.
The foolishness of these early kings contrasted with the heart of the Boy one day to be revealed as King of kings. The boy Jesus who sat among the teachers, “listening to them and asking questions”, increasing “in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:46, 51). That is how I’ve learned Christ!
Then, Paul’s exhortation to those who have believed in Jesus to walk worthy of the new hearts given them in Christ. Having learned the way of Christ, to put off the old self with it’s darkened and hardened heart and, being “renewed in the spirit of your minds”, put on the new self “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24).
The heart of folly is still kicking around, but I need not listen to its counsel. The old man still contends for control but I need not concede it any power. And thus this encouragement from the songwriter in my last reading this morning.
I entreat Your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to Your promise.
When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to Your testimonies.
(Psalm 119:58-59 ESV)
The heart’s GPS set toward living in the favor God offers. Seeking the grace available to those who believe the promise. And so, when I think on my ways, when I need to make a decision, when I need some direction and counsel, I determine to look for the path that aligns with His Word. With the mind of Christ available to me through the Spirit who lives in me, I purpose to align my thoughts concerning my ways with His revelation of how to walk in His way.
It’s the advantage of the new heart. It’s the path and promise of sound counsel. It’s the way of wisdom.
Turn my feet to Your testimonies.
By Your grace. For Your glory.