The Advice of Elders

2 Chronicles 10   But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him.

 

Hanging out with buddies of similar ages is a special thing especially if you play together on a team.  Deep bonds can be formed, and lasting memories can be created.  I have many fond memories of the soccer teams I played on in my youth, our accomplishments and the friendships that were created.  There was a less positive side to this time though which started to rear its ugly head as we grew into our early and late teens – it was what I call “the macho years”.

Testosterone starts flowing in greater volumes, and the pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain that allows a person to consider the longer term ramifications of decisions) is only partially developed (in males it is not fully developed until the age of 25).  The result is that very poor, spur-of-the-moment decisions are made in games.  A player takes you out in a poor tackle; a pitcher hits you with a pitch; a runner trips you up in a previous race; a hockey player hits you from behind.  If you choose the advice of your teammates the advice will usually be consistent: “take them out!”

It is in these situations that hopefully you have a wise coach who operates as your “Pre-frontal Cortex” and they think through the ramifications of your decision.  In fact great coaches spend as much time concentrating on life lessons, and discipline as they do the skills of the sports.  In doing so, when something happens in the spur of the moment, the athletes can react wisely based on the training of discipline from their coach.

This story in 2 Chronicles 10 is a great example of where a young man had a choice to either take the advice of elders or the advice of his peers.  After King Solomon died, his son Rehoboam was ready to lead the Israelites; the people approached the new king to see if he would lighten the burden that his father had put on them.  Rehoboam consulted the elders and they advised him that it would be wise to be kind to these people because they had worked very hard for his father for many years and if he shows them kindness they would always be his servants.  But it says that Rehoboam rejected their advice and instead listened to the counsel of the young men he had grown up with.  Following their advice, Rehoboam said to the people:  “My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist.  My father laid on you a heavy yoke.  I will make it even heavier.  My father scourged you with whips.  I will scourge you with scorpions.” (2 Chronicles 10b-11).

When Rehoboam sent out his leader who was in charge of forced labour, the people stoned him to death, and King Rehoboam just managed to get into a chariot and escape to Jerusalem himself.  2 Chronicles 10 finishes by saying:  “So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day”.

Not all older people are wise, but there is often a strong correlation between age and wisdom.  If you diligently seek wisdom, if you earnestly want to make wise decisions, God will certainly bring “elders” into your life to give you wise counsel and help communicate God’s truths to you.  Do not be foolish like Rehoboam.  That seemingly small, single decision to heed the advice of his friends rather than the elders caused generational pain for millions.  Likewise, you may not even understand the future ramifications of the decisions you make today, but recognize that God will surround you with wise counsel if you desire it, and if you receive such wise counsel, be sure to heed it rather than suffer the consequences.

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