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There is a very clear message in this chapter that can be summed up with these words: BE CAREFUL WHO YOU LISTEN TO! This chapter also illustrates the truth of Proverbs 13:20 which reads, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

King Solomon had died and his son, Rehoboam, is about to be crowned king. A man named Jeroboam, who was very popular among the northern tribes of Israel, had been mistreated by Solomon and had sought refuge in Egypt. He heard of Solomon’s death so he returned home and in verse 4 he and all the northern tribes approached Rehoboam with these words, “Your father made our yoke hard; now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you” (NASB). Rehoboam told them to return in three days. Not knowing what to do, he asked for advice from the elders who had served Solomon. Their counsel is given in verse 7, “If you will be kind to this people and please them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” This was WISE COUNSEL, for Proverbs 15:1 teaches us, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Sadly, we read in verse 8 that Rehoboam “…forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him.” What advice did they have for Rehoboam? They gave him the OPPOSITE counsel, for in verses 10-11 we read, “My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! Whereas my father loaded with you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” In verses 12-14 we learn that when Jeroboam and the people returned Rehoboam “answered them harshly” and repeated the advice that the young men had given him. How tragic! Instead of heeding the counsel of WISE MEN by speaking “good words to them,” he followed the counsel of FOOLS. We just saw that “grievous words stir up anger” and in verse 16 we see that Jeroboam and all Israel said “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. Every man to your tents, O Israel; Now look after your own house, David.” And the chapter closes, in verse 19, with these solemn words, “So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.”

This division of the nation could have been avoided had Rehoboam taken the right advice, but he chose to be, as we noticed in Proverbs 13:20, a “companion of fools,” which in turn led to his ruin. May we learn the lesson the Lord has for us; “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”  (152.7)  (DO)