2 Chronicles 10-12…With humility comes wisdom.
Civil war, brother against brother, is an ugly thing. How did the nation of Israel, so soon after the golden age of David and Solomon, find itself on the verge of civil war? The seeds of this situation lay in discontent with taxation and forced labor, a result of decades of building projects. Jeroboam led a delegation asking Rehoboam, the new king, to take it easier. Rehoboam wisely asked for a delay to seek counsel, but then foolishly took the wrong advice. His friends apparently thought that authority and power were the same thing, and that power was shown in exploiting others. The idea of a king as the shepherd of his people and responsible before God had been lost somewhere.
God worked through the expression of Rehoboam’s foolishness; in fact, the Lord had already promised Jeroboam the northern kingship (10:15). He also sent His prophet Shemaiah to prevent armed conflict from breaking out, though Rehoboam still set up defensive posts. To his credit, he obeyed the prophet, though otherwise he didn’t show much respect for the Lord. Like his father, he took many wives, in violation of the Law (11:21; cf. Deut. 17:17). To the north, things were not much better. Jeroboam appointed his own priests and worshiped animal idols (11:15; cf. Lev. 17:7). Therefore, the priests and Levites headed south, and Jerusalem and the temple remained the spiritual heart of the divided nation.
A wise application from today’s reading is to consider carefully from whom you seek advice. Rather than heed the reasonable counsel of experienced men, Rehoboam chose to follow the advice of his peers. Were they “yes men”? Inexperienced or immature? Proud or aggressive? We don’t really know. But their advice was foolish and the results of following it proved disastrous. Are the counselors in your life more like them or more like the first set? Make sure you listen to the truth-tellers God has put into your life.