The young and the old - Hope 103.2

The young and the old

By David ReayWednesday 2 Jul 2014LifeWords DevotionalsCultureReading Time: 0 minutes


Read 1 Kings 12:1-11

1 Rehoboam went to Shechem,where all Israel had gathered to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of this,he returned from Egypt,for he had fled to Egypt to escape from King Solomon. 3 The leaders of Israel summoned him,and Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. 4 “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.”

5 Rehoboam replied,”Give me three days to think this over. Then come back for my answer.” So the people went away.

6 Then King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counseled his father,Solomon. “What is your advice?” he asked. “How should I answer these people?”

7 The older counselors replied,”If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favorable answer,they will always be your loyal subjects.”

8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. 9 “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?”

10 The young men replied,”This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! 11 Yes,my father laid heavy burdens on you,but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips,but I will beat you with scorpions!'” (NLT)

Living as we do in a society which tends to glorify youth,this is a sobering reminder that sometimes the ‘oldies’ have a bit more to offer than what we think. Rehoboam went badly wrong when he took the ‘youth’ path and imposed harsh burdens on his subjects. He relied on his young cronies rather than his wise elders.

In our churches it is all too easy to put much of our emphasis on the young and come to neglect the older people. They can be seen as obstacles in the way of progress,relics of a bygone era. Yet,like Rehoboam,we push them aside at our peril. We very eagerly seek to employ youth and children’s workers (rightly so) but rarely employ anyone to care for the more senior members.

Of course the old can be obstructive just as the young can be impulsive. Each generation needs the other. We dare not send a spoken or unspoken message to our more senior people that they somehow are past their use-by date. They can be safely tucked away in a corner whilst the real action happens elsewhere.
Rehoboam’s ‘youth policy’ ended up badly. May we not make the same mistake.

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David Reay