“The king answered the people harshly. He disregarded the advice that the older men had given him and spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, ‘My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’” (1 Kings 12:13-14)
The king who spoke “harshly” in today’s scripture was Rehoboam. His words were indeed ugly, and they eventually led to the blowing up of the Israelite nation.
Rehoboam’s words may have sounded strong, but they weren’t. Instead, they were arrogant, stupid, and weak words.
Here’s the counterintuitive reality about arrogance. Most often, arrogance doesn’t come from strength but from weakness. Rehoboam didn’t say these words because he was secure and courageous but because he was shaky and fearful.
What can today’s scripture be saying to us?
First, let’s not be fooled by arrogant people. They talk big because they feel small; they strut because they’re afraid; they over-speak because they’re worried they will under-deliver.
Second, let’s not resort to being arrogant when we’re feeling inadequate. There are few things more ugly than arrogance.
How can we find strength when we feel unequal to some task? Admit it. Seek help. Find a mentor. Get guidance. Pray.
How else can we receive strength? We become stronger when we acknowledge our mistakes, our humanity, our needs, and our weakness. When we make a mistake, apologize. When we don’t know all the answers, admit it. When we fall short, confess it. When we have lost our way, name it. When we need help, ask for it.
The older men counseled Rehoboam to speak kind words to what became known as the ten northern tribes. Out of weakness, he rejected their advice and chose the harsh and confrontational advice of the weaker, deluded, and younger men.
Rehoboam’s arrogant words destroyed the unified nation. We blow things up when, out of weakness or insecurity, we resort to arrogant words, rigid reactions, or harsh behaviors.
I encourage us to listen to the counsel the elders gave to Rehoboam. When we speak with kindness, calmness, fairness, and humility, we find true strength, and we will form stronger connections with others.
- What do you do when you feel like you don’t have all the answers?
- Have there been times when you, like Rehoboam, listened to bad advice and acted rashly? If so, what were the results?
- Have you ever had a wise council of elders in your life? If not, how come? Are you at a point in your life where it would be fitting for you to be a wise elder to someone else?