The Voice of Wisdom and the Voice of Preference
But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him . .. 1 Kings 12:8
My first Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, several years ago, was a veteran of recovery with years of sobriety and experience. Did he know more than me about recovery? Yes. Should I have listened to him? Again, yes. Did I continue to work at my recovery every day like he suggested? Absolutely not. I knew that I would never be dumb enough to return to active addiction and I did not want to work at recovery. My sponsor’s wisdom fell victim to my preference and my preference brought me back to active addiction.
Today’s passage tells a somewhat similar story of wisdom and preference. King Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, inherited the throne upon his father’s death and soon faced Jeroboam, an adversary of his father. Jeroboam came to King Rehoboam in petition to lighten Solomon’s tax burden. Rehoboam sought the advice of the old men, who wisely counseled that he grant the request and heal the kingdom.
Rehoboam did not like that answer though, so he went to his friends who told him what he wanted to hear: Increase their burden. Punish them for their insolence. Rehoboam abandoned wisdom, did what he wanted, and tore his kingdom in two.
Like Rehoboam, I have often listened only to the voice I prefer, which is usually my own. I have been given wise counsel, only to abandon it to my own desires. When I was told I needed to work at recovery and follow God every day if I wanted to stay sober, I was unwilling, simply because it sounded like a lot of work. I’m fine. I don’t need to do all that.
Following the voice of wisdom is often difficult. It takes honesty and humility to admit the painful truths about ourselves. Then, it takes strength, commitment and sacrifice to address those painful truths. If we desire to avoid our own self-made misery and if we want to follow God though, we must often turn a deaf ear to our own voice to follow His.