The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions. And when all Israel saw that the king would not hearken unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? and we have none inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to your tents, O Israel: and now, David, see to thine own house. So all Israel went to their tents. 2 Chr 10:10,16.
Does it not sound unbelievable, that ten tribes out of twelve will come to ask you to “reduce our burden and we shall serve you “ and you will say no! And because of that simple ignorant response, Rehoboam the son of Solomon the grandson of David lost 83% of his subjects! I wish Rehoboam will learn from today’s politicians who will promise you heaven on earth and do the opposite. They will promise you a “change” to a better life and give you a bitter life!
When I read the story of Rehoboam’s response again this morning, I made fun of Rehoboam’s decision-making skills with my wife, however, the Holy Spirit jolted me to action, how do you make your own decisions?
How do you counsel people? How do you respond to church members’ demands? Do you react to issues or do you respond? How do you govern the state/ province where you are the governor or the Premier? As a President maybe your refusal of genuine wisdom from the Elders is what is causing the rise of secessionists in your nation and instead of looking at your decision-making process you label them the enemies of your nation.
The Holy Spirit corrected me that the story was for a purpose, for me to learn how to respond particularly to tense situations. Looking back on my pastoral life I recognize there were times I made stupid decisions like that of Rehoboam and allowed Jeroboam to take away over 80 percent of what by wisdom belonged to me.
Maybe you lost your best staff because you did not know how to handle his simple demand.
Maybe you would have avoided that church split if you listened to the counsel of the Elders and not your peer group who are as inexperienced as you are in pastoral matters.
Maybe you would have saved your marriage if you had listened to your pastor who had 40 solid years of marriage instead of your divorced friend who told you – “show him what you are made of”, “let her know you are the husband and you pay the bills”
The Holy Spirit is warning about the consequences of irrational peer pressure, and unreasonable decisions that have the potential of derailing the lives of men. Realize you are not the only loser, most times you waste the lives of many people, just as Rehoboam left the lives of ten tribes to the poor leader – Jeroboam who made Israel sin. “And to this day the northern tribes of Israel have refused to be ruled by a descendant of David.” V19.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica : “Following the conquest of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians in 721 BC, the 10 tribes were gradually assimilated by other peoples and thus disappeared from history.”
“In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes” 2 Kings 17:6; 15:29
How do you make the right decisions?
1. Ask God in prayers and fasting. If Rehoboam had been anything like his grandfather David, he would have learnt that he does not take action until he has consulted God. “And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop” 1 Sam 30:8. God is still interested in guiding you. Who to marry, where to live, which job or career to pursue, your calling and ministry, your business partner?
2. Put yourself in other people’s shoes. Think things through. The person making the request may have a genuine concern, who wants to be a slave forever? If your father enslaved people common sense should tell you slavery is not a good thing, particularly for the slave.
3. Apply the golden rule. Do unto others what you want done to you. Can you imagine someone saying to another human being “Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions”. You pray for people to die every day for one inconvenience they did to you; do you want someone to waste your life, your children, parents, spouse’s life for a simple correctable mistake? Why don’t you forgive that brother since you also need forgiveness?
4. Be humble. Be meek. “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” Prov 15.1
5. Respond don’t react. The Yorubas have an adage- “Eko gbigbona nfe suru” Don’t drink hot cornmeal in a hurry, it will burn your tongue. Don’t rush to make decisions. Take your time. Patience is a virtue. To react is to allow emotions to take you over. To respond is to take action based on facts and values devoid of unnecessary sentiments and emotions.
6. Ask more questions. There is what is called assumption and presumption. Don’t assume you know why they are making the request even when if it looks obvious.
7. Realize no condition is permanent. The position could be reversed tomorrow! Learn to be considerate.
8. Conclusion: The decisions you make today have consequences on you and others tomorrow. God is your father, he cannot deceive you. He knows the past from the present and the present from the past. Trust me he is the best Counsellor. God has sent the Holy Spirt to teach you, guide you and lead you in the right path. Many marriages, lives, and careers have been ruined by peer pressure, they lead you astray and at best shed crocodile tears at your grave. All efforts for Rehoboam to regain the people failed. A stitch in time saves nine! You are warned! Shalom