The book of Kings and Chronicles records the history of the kings of Israel from Saul to Zedekiah, from the building of the Temple to its destruction by Babylonian invaders. One of the sub-themes of these books is listening to the counsel God gives.
God gave warnings to the kings during this time period, but His warnings were not taken seriously. Later on, in the captivity, He reminded the people of His previous witness, saying “I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking but you did not hear, and I called you but you did not answer” (Jeremiah 7:13).
Looking at the book of Kings as a whole, there are several ways to heed the counsel of God. By looking at the lives of Solomon, Rehoboam, Ahab and Jehoshaphat we can learn a few.
Solomon sought the best counsel
From the example of Solomon, we learn that the greatest counselor we can ever seek is the Lord Himself. When Solomon was “young and inexperienced” (1 Kings 3:7) he turned to the Lord to cry up for wisdom. Because his prayer was pure, not asking for his own comfort or aggrandizement, his request was granted.
Solomon prayed for wisdom that he might know how to discern between good and evil, and God answered his prayer (1 Kings 3:10,11). We learn from this example that God is the first Counselor we must turn to, seeking Him through the prayer of humility for His guidance.
Rehoboam sought the counsel of the experienced
Next, we see Rehoboam seeking counsel from others. Unlike his father, Rehoboam did not turn to the Lord to seek wisdom but to others. It is good to seek counsel from others but only after we have sought the Lord about it first. In this, Rehoboam failed.
But Rehoboam did well in that he asked counsel from different sources: he asked the wise, experienced counselors of his father’s generation and he asked the young men he grew up with (1 Kings 12:6,8).
His fault lay not in the counsel he sought but in the counsel he chose. It is wise to seek counsel from different sources, but we must discern who has the mind of the Lord.
Jehoshaphat sought the Word of the Lord
Like Rehoboam, King Ahab turned to his peers to find the counsel he was looking for. Four hundred hireling prophets stood ready to tell the king whatever he wanted to hear. We must be on guard against these kind of counselors for they are legion.
The world will happily counsel you to “follow your heart” and do “whatever feels right.” Meanwhile, an arrow shot at random pierces all those who follow the counsel of the world.
Jehoshaphat was different. His mantra was, “Please inquire for the Word of the Lord today” (1 Kings 22:5). Had Jehoshaphat lived today and attended our churches, I suspect his conviction would be to follow fully whatever the New Testament teaches.
Jehoshaphat knew how to discern between the wheat and the chaff, between the counsel of fluff and the counsel of substance. We need to do the same.
A Final Word
In our postmodern, social media driven world more than ever we need the ability to discern God’s guidance. Many voices compete for our attention, but only one voice is God’s. He speaks to us through prayer. He speaks to us through His Word. And He speaks to us through the counsel of others.
Let us humbly seek His face that we might be wise believers who do “what is right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 22:2).