This past week I’ve read the book of 1 Kings. It begins with King David’s death, having lived to be an old man. Under King David, Israel has been united. They’ve established themselves victorious over their enemies and the kingdom is flourishing.
No kingdom is established without conflict, however, and before David has drawn his last breath, his sons are fighting over who will take his place. Adonijah asserts himself and decides the throne will be his. Scripture includes this detail: His father had never crossed him at any time by asking, “Why have you done so?” And he was also a very handsome man and he was born after Absalom (1 Kings 1:6).
In other words, he was spoiled, never having been told “no.” We can understand at some level; David mourned Absalom’s death and perhaps Adonijah was still young enough to provide a balm to his heart. So Adonijah assumed he could have his father’s place without question.
The prophet Nathan intervenes, because he knows it is David’s will for Solomon to be king, and so it happens. David dies, and Solomon begins his reign over the still united kingdom. Unfortunately, he listens to the wrong people – his many, many wives. He takes seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines who turn his heart away from the Lord. Though he starts out well, devoted to God, he is influenced by those who do not love God.
After Solomon dies, the kingdom goes to his son, Rehoboam. You would think he would have inherited a bit of his father’s wisdom, but instead, he follows in Solomon’s footsteps by also listening to the wrong people. While deciding how he will rule, he first consults the elders who had served his father. The people have asked for the heavy burdens of service to be lifted and the elders advise him this is good; they will be grateful and serve him well forever if he is kind to them. Then Rehoboam turns to the advice of his peers, the young men he grew up with. They are immature and see only the power Rehoboam can exert; they give bad advice. As a result, the kingdom is divided. Ten tribes follow Jeroboam (by God’s sovereign plan) and Rehoboam is left with the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
The books of 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles tell the tales of the divided kingdom, switching back and forth between the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. Each king must decide if he will be devoted to God and follow His ways or turn aside and worship other gods. Over and over, the fate of kings is decided largely by whose advice they choose to listen to. If they follow the wisdom of the prophets of God, they are successful, but when they are either deceived by false prophets or simply choose the path of evil to satisfy their own desires, they fail.
Ahab is a prime example. Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him (1 Kings 21:25). And later, at the end of his life, he dismisses the advice of the one prophet he knows always speaks the word of the Lord, regardless of what it might cost him, and listens to four hundred other so-called prophets who tell him what he wants to hear. In this case, we learn that God is working behind the scenes, knowing Ahab’s pride will take him down the path of destruction.
It’s important to know who you’re listening to! The legacy you leave behind depends on it. Whether it’s the intentional advice and wisdom we seek from others, or simply the influences of what we read, hear, and listen to, we are all susceptible to being deceived by what sounds good to our ears. The only protection we have – the only sure foundation to knowing what is right and good and true is God’s Word. The wise person makes God’s Word the standard and discards any other wisdom that can’t measure up.
2 Corinthians 10:5 – We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.