How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,… (Psalm 1:1)
Everyone probably knows at least one person who has advice for everyone. These “know-it-alls” can tell everyone how to live, and what they should and shouldn’t do. If anyone has a problem or challenge or is just wondering about something, they have the answer – except when it comes to their own life. They can’t seem to get all that wisdom to work for them. The challenge comes when this person is a close or friend or family member. You feel obligated to listen to them. But if you really want to be blessed and make progress in life, you’ll think long and hard before taking their advice. Your own blessings can be hindered based on who you listen to. To be nice, you may let them say whatever they have to say, but if you let it affect your actions – your walk – you may regret it. The life of Rehoboam, the fourth king of Israel, exemplifies the psalmist’s words about taking bad advice. The story is recorded in 1 Kings chapter 12
Rehoboam came to the throne of Israel as a 22-year-old after the death of his father Solomon. The Bible tells how prosperous the nation of Israel was under King Solomon as people came from miles to see his vast fortune. However, in his later years, Solomon had allowed the 12 tribes to worship other gods, and to sustain the kingdom, Solomon began to heavily tax the people and force them to do hard labor. Solomon’s successor, Rehoboam, had an opportunity to continue the prosperity – and unity – of Israel when he came to the throne. The people came to him and asked, in exchange for their loyalty, that he cut their taxes and workload. Rehoboam took 3 days to think about it and receive counsel. Unfortunately, he chose to listen to the wrong people. The elders advised him to heed the call of the people and reverse some of the damage done by his father. His friends however, advised him to do even more than Solomon and increase the burden. When he followed the advice of his friends, the people rebelled and as a result the nation was split in two. Rehoboam only retained the loyalty of 2 tribes, afterwards known as Judah.
Everyone needs counsel sometimes. As a matter of fact, the Bible tells us in Proverbs 11:14 that in the multitude of counsel there is safety. However, be careful whom you listen to. Godly counsel is necessary, and the best way to know if someone’s counsel is Godly is to test it by the Word of God. Another key is to take note of the person giving counsel. Do they even follow their own advice? Does it work for them? As the Psalmist says (and I paraphrase), blessed is the man who doesn’t follow the advice of the ungodly. Who do you listen to? What voices have access to your life and provoke your actions? Today, make a list of the people you listen to, and then seek to discover how good their advice really is. God has surrounded you with safe people who speak His wisdom – these same people often challenge you and aren’t afraid to make you accountable. And although that may be hard to take, getting bad advice from people with no fruit in their lives is far worse.