2 Chronicles 9:1–10:19, Titus 2:1–8, Psalm 95:1–11, 1 Kings 11:29-39
At opposite ends of the spectrum are two ways of being a king. One will rule with kindness and respect; the other with harshness and discipline. David and Solomon choose the first, but Solomon’s son Rehoboam (the next generation) choose the second.
So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” And the king answered them harshly; and forsaking the counsel of the old men, King Rehoboam spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” (2 Chronicles 10:12–14)
Rehoboam’s decision had nothing to do with any wisdom in leadership. The results were not good: “So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.” (2 Chronicles 10:19)
However, there is more to the story. In 1 Kings 11:29-39, the Word of God reveals the plan of God. The kingdom would be divided and most of it would go to Jeroboam. This began with Rehoboam’s decision to rule harshly and turn the people against him. What this king intended for evil, God used for His purposes.
I talked with my sister-in-law yesterday about those times we say things we should not have, yet realize God can use them for His purposes. We don’t know what is going on in the hearts of those who hear us, but we do know that God is not bound by our foolishness, just as He was not bound by Rehoboam’s foolishness.
But God’s power is not an excuse for selfish choices. Being disrespectful and having a loose tongue are not the behaviors God desires, even if He can use anything for His plans. Because of His love for me, I’m supposed to choose the other end of the spectrum: “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” (Titus 2:7–8)
Rehoboam’s choice of harsh leadership angered God’s people and they resisted him. From that choice, the Davidic kingdom fell apart. History shows that disrespectful leadership, even Christian leadership can cause similar downfalls.
In the final reading, the psalmist, no author given, offers good advice:
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.” (Psalm 95:6–11)
In the first part, the psalmist encourages me to revere and worship God, remembering who I am. The second part is God speaking a warning. When I hear Him speak, I need to keep my heart soft toward Him, not test Him or question His wisdom as He leads me through my wilderness (called life). With God, the pattern of leadership is great kindness and respect, but if that goodness is resisted and rejected, then He will rule with a much heavier hand.