Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 12:8

But he forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Counsel;   Fellowship;   Government;   Jeroboam;   Petition;   Rashness;   Rehoboam;   Revolt;   Rulers;   Young Men;   Thompson Chain Reference - Young People;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Alliance and Society with the Enemies of God;   Fools;   Kings;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Adoniram;   Jeroboam;   Rehoboam;   Shechem;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Jeroboam;   Jerusalem;   Rehoboam;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Counselor;   Elder;   Kings, First and Second, Theology of;   Wages;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Age;   Israel, Kingdom of;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Kings, the Books of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Counselor;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Age, Aged, Old Age;   Israel;   Rehoboam,;   Solomon;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Sanhedrin;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Rehoboam ;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Im'la;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Government of the Hebrews;   Jeroboam;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Revolt;   Kingdom of Israel;   Kingdom of Judah;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Age;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Age old;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Kings, Books of;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The age of Rehoboam at his accession is an interesting and difficult question. According to the formal statement of the present text of 1 Kings 14:21; 2 Chronicles 12:13, he had reached the mature age of 41 years, and would therefore be unable to plead youth as an excuse for his conduct. The general narrative, however, seems to assume that he was quite a young man (compare 2 Chronicles 13:7). Perhaps the best way of removing the whole difficulty would be to read in the above text “twenty-one” for “forty-one.” The corruption is one which might easily take place, if letters were used for numerals.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-kings-12.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him,.... He did not rightly relish it, nor cordially receive it; it did not suit with his haughty temper, he could not brook it, to stoop to his people; he thought it a lessening of his dignity to do anything that looked like courting their favour; and therefore determined not to take the advice given him by the old men, but to seek for other:

and consulted with the men, that were grown up with him, and which stood before him; the sons of nobles, with whom he had his education, and who were his companions from his youth upwards, and who were now officers in his court, and of his privy council, being his favourites, and those he consulted on this occasion; and though they are called young men, as they were in comparison of the old men, yet since they were contemporary with Rehoboam, who was now forty one years of age, they must be about forty, or not much under, and at an age to be wiser than they appeared to be.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-12.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:

Young men — So called, comparatively to the old men: otherwise they were near forty years old.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:8". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-kings-12.html. 1765.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE FOOLISH YOUNG KING

‘He forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him.’

1 Kings 12:8

Now that Rehoboam ascended the throne, the event was hailed by the national leaders as an opportunity for presenting a Petition of Rights, and Shechem was chosen as a place which might be the Runnymede of Jewish liberties. How this crisis was met by the king is described in the Lesson.

This was a turning-point in history. The Augustan period of Jewish monarchy, under Solomon, only lasted forty years, from 1015 b.c. to 975 b.c. Then began a period of steady decline, during which the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel stood side by side, ending in the captivity of Babylon, in 722 b.c. Although the immediate cause of the disruption is described here, we must remember that behind it was the jealousy constantly felt by the great tribe of Ephraim, which availed itself of this opportunity for asserting independence of Judah. This proud tribe recalled the prophecies of Jacob and of Moses and the recognition of its greatness by Joshua. Possessing, also, a more central and a more fertile district than Judah, it resented the supremacy of that rival tribe in providing as it did the king, the seat of government, and the sanctuary of the whole nation. Rehoboam’s folly, therefore, gave the occasion for a revolt already threatened, which any wise king would have tried to avert by special courtesy and consideration. Notice here—

I. Bad advice has wrecked many a life.—Rehoboam took bad advice, and his kingdom was rent. Young people will always have the same two kinds of advisers that this young king had. Their older friends will counsel them to be patient, moderate, generous, and kind—they have lost the pride and sternness out of their hearts in the experiences of life. Then they will have advisers of their own age, who are proud, hot-headed, self-conceited. Sad is it for those who follow such advisers.

II. Those who would rule over others must serve them.—Rehoboam is an example of those who try to govern others by tyranny. If he had really loved the people and had been disposed to serve them, sympathising with them in their burden-bearing, and showing them kindness, they would have continued loyal to him. Those who are placed over others in any way, to govern and direct them, should learn a lesson here. ‘By love serve one another.’

III. Sin is a terrible destroyer.—It was sin that rent this kingdom in twain. Solomon received it from David as a united kingdom. But he forsook God, and thus wrought the ruin of his country. Whenever we let sin into anything we are doing we seal its doom. We see here also how the sin of one man leaves its blight upon succeeding generations. The evil that men do does not stop with themselves or with their time.

IV. We must not conclude that God approved of Jeroboam’s course because he permitted him to become king of the ten tribes, or because this result was in punishment of Solomon’s sin.—On the other hand, the holy seed was in David’s line, and the rending of the kingdom was the preservation of the true religion. Then the rebelling kingdom was founded in sin. It cut itself off from the Temple and the worship of God. It was based on idolatry—the worship of golden calves. Its advantages in numbers, in territory, in all the ordinary elements of strength, availed not to make the kingdom secure. As we read on we shall find that Jeroboam stands in all the story as the author of a terrible evil. He is called everywhere ‘Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

The circumstances which led to the partition of the land of Israel were foreseen and permitted by the Eternal; and, indeed, were foretold as a result of Solomon’s apostasy. Still, the guilt of Rehoboam was none the less. And his folly and infatuation in listening to the youthful counsellors who urged him to severity of language and of conduct, may be to all readers of this passage a practical warning which may be useful to them in many circumstances of life.

I. Bad counsel.—Occasions occur in the experience of all men when they will not act upon their own judgment, when they will seek and perhaps take the advice of others. But we are all exposed, and the great and powerful are peculiarly exposed, to unwise and pernicious counsels. Such advice may be owing to—(1) Inexperience. Some of the young men, whom Rehoboam was so foolish as to consult, may have advised him as they did because they knew no better, because they had no experience in State affairs, and little of human life. (2) Flattery. When kings ask advice, unprincipled men will give such counsel as they suppose will be acceptable, as will minister to a monarch’s vanity. (3) Pride. It is a foolish thing to despise and to treat unreasonably those who are in an inferior and dependent position, simply in order to gratify the feeling of personal superiority. Yet this is often done.

II. Good counsel.—(1) This often proceeds from those mature and experienced. So it was on this occasion. The venerable counsellors who entreated the young king to act with consideration and leniency, had seen something of policy, and knew what was likely to concilitate and unite the people. (2) It may be unpalatable and displeasing. He who will advise honestly must be prepared sometimes to offend and to alienate. (3) If it be rejected, events will justify it. Time shows what is wise and what is injudicious and short-sighted. (4) If it be accepted, the wise counsellor will have his reward.

III. Application.—(1) Let those who seek advice seek it in the right quarter. Especially should this be done when religious teaching and guidance are desired. (2) Let those who give advice do so faithfully and candidly, as those who must give account to God. To lead a soul astray is a fearful responsibility; to guide a fellow-pilgrim into the way of life is matter for everlasting rejoicing.

Illustrations

(1) ‘A judge, when in the company of a young gentleman of sixteen, cautioned him against being led astray by the example or persuasion of others, and said, “If I had listened to the advice of some of those who called themselves my friends when I was young, instead of being a Judge of the King’s Bench, I should have died long ago a prisoner in the King’s Bench.”’

(2) ‘The son of Solomon had the enormous disadvantage of being reared in the midst of luxury. He and his young men, arrogant young aristocrats, contrast with Saul and his young men, whose hearts God had touched, the latter at the springtime, the former at the autumn, the sere and yellow leaf, of Israel’s greatness. His time of crisis and judgment has come; and he is tested by the eternal test of compassion, the principle, as our Lord taught, of God’s judgment in all ages. Like the unfaithful upper servant to whom his lord comes unexpectedly, he is cast out of his high place.’

(3) ‘The counsel of the young men expresses the absolutely false theory of government, that the king is the master, not the servant, of the people. Rehoboam attempted to govern by pride and force—which always fails when the people are fairly intelligent. Pride provokes pride, and force produces reacting force. Men are so made that they can only be governed by an inner law, by impulses, not from without, but from within. Hence the power of reasonableness, humility, and love. No service is so absolute, and yet none is so free as that of love to Christ.’

(4) ‘In the Life of Rev. F. D. Maurice occurs the following: “A striking incident occurred in the giving up of No. 5 Russell Square. There was, at the end of the garden behind the house, a stable and coach-house, which, having an independent entrance into a mews, had been let by my father for a term of years to a sub-tenant, a working carpenter. Having received an offer for the lease of the house, my father had arranged the matter himself, without consulting his solicitor. As soon as he reported the facts to his lawyer, he was told that he had done a very rash thing; that his sub-tenant might give him a great deal of trouble, as he could not fulfil the contract he had made by giving possession. ‘You are completely in his hands, so you had better leave me to go and make the best bargain I can with him.’ ‘Very well,’ said my father, ‘you shall do so, on one condition—that before you do anything else you tell him exactly how the case stands, and let him know the advantage he has.’ Remonstrance being useless, Mr. Burgess, the solicitor, gave his promise, and went down to see the tenant with small hopes of success. He delivered his message, as in honour bound, and was at once met by the tenant with an astonished inquiry, ‘Did Mr. Maurice tell you that you were to tell me that?’ Mr. Burgess assured him that he had only carried out instructions which certainly were not in the ordinary way of business. ‘Well, now,’ replied the tenant, ‘that is what I call the act of a real gentleman, and I will give up the stables this day or any day, if it will serve him, and will not take anything for doing so. If a man treats me like that, I would not meet him any other way but his own for my life.”’

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:8". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-kings-12.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 12:8 But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, [and] which stood before him:

Ver. 8. But he forsook the counsel of the old men.] With whom he consulted only for fashion’s sake - as Xerxes did when he went against Greece, (a) - resolved beforehand to stand upon his pantofles, and not at all to stoop to the people. He had those about him, doubtless, that would tell him - as some court parasites did our king John, when he had yielded to the requests of his barons for the subjects’ liberty (b) - that now he was "a king without a kingdom, a lord without a dominion, and a subject to his subjects."

And consulted with the young men.] So did our king Richard II, to his utter ruin. So did Xerxes despise the grave counsel of his uncle Artabanus; and was wholly led by young Mardonius, to the loss of all. (c) The like is reported of Dionysius, king of Sicily; Croesus, king of Lydia; Nero, emperor of Rome; (d) James, that reigned in Scotland in Edward IV’s time; (e) and Lautrer, of whom it is reported that he lost the kingdom of Naples from the French king his master, and all that he had in Italy, because he would not ask nor follow the advice of them that were wiser than himself. (f)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-12.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Kings 12:8. Consulted with the young men that were grown up with him It was a custom among the kings of the east, to have their sons educated among other young lords of the same age; which, as it created a generous spirit of emulation, and both endeared the prince to the nobles, and the nobles to the prince, could not, in general, but tend greatly to the benefit of the public. So that Solomon's method and design in the education of his son was wise and well concerted, though it failed of success. These young men, however, were not so young but they might have known better, for Rehoboam was one and forty years old when he entered upon the kingdom: so that these nobles who were brought up with him must have been about the same age; but they were young in experience and wisdom, and therefore they gave the king such unseasonable advice. See Patrick and Calmet.

REFLECTIONS.—The succession devolved on Rehoboam without dispute, and none seemed to contest his title: but we are not most safe, when most confident in our security.

1. The people of Israel desired the king to come to Shechem, in the tribe of Ephraim, as if they would there recognize his title; but, in fact, with a view either to redress their grievances, or revolt from his government; and they were probably already gained by Jeroboam's emissaries. Note; Many a base design lurks under the most specious appearances.

2. Having privately sent for Jeroboam out of Egypt, they, probably at his instigation, presented a petition for the redress of their grievances, which, whether real or not, would give him a handle to strike the stroke that he meditated. They complain not of his father's sins, but of the heaviness of their taxes, and beg that they may be lightened; nor is it at all unlikely, that though Solomon's reign at first was so gentle, and their circumstances so affluent, yet when a thousand women had him in their power, they would, like so many harpies, fleece the poor people. Note; (1.) The best government will not be without factious spirits, ready to blow the coals of sedition among the populace. (2.) The avarice of a kept mistress is insatiable. (3.) Most men are more concerned how to save their money than their souls.

3. Rehoboam's folly ruins him. Desiring three days to answer their petition, he consulted first the old men who had been trained up in the school of wisdom before Solomon. They prudently advise him to comply with the people's request; either the demand was reasonable, or at least, in their present disposition, it were politic to appear gracious, and by one concession secure for ever their fidelity. Rehoboam relished not this advice; therefore he consults his younger companions, who, having grown up with him in his pleasures, knew how to flatter his pride, and to advise those harsh measures which they saw most agreeable to his temper; as if he had nothing to fear, but might, by rigour and threatenings, over-awe the people to obedience. Advice so suited to his own disposition, he failed not to pursue; and, on the third day, roughly received the deputies of the people: far from condescending to their request, or vindicating his father's government from oppression, he threatens to make their yoke heavier, and, if they refused to draw in it, to chastise them with greater severity than his father had ever done: if they dared dispute his will, he would make them feel his power; so that his little finger should be thicker than his father's loins. This bad advice was God's just judgment on him, and conduced to the fulfilment of the prophesy of Ahijah. Note; (1.) That government which subsists only by severity, is in a tottering condition; no throne is sure, where a king reigns not in the hearts of his subjects. (2.) They are our best friends who dissuade us from rash designs; and they are our greatest enemies who soothe our folly and flatter our pride. (3.) At court, too commonly, not the profit of the kingdom, but the pleasing of the king, is the object most in view.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:8". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-kings-12.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

He forsook the counsel of the old men; judging it unworthy of his majesty and authority, and likely to encourage and increase the people in their insolent demands. The young men; so called comparatively to the old men; otherwise they were near forty years old, as the following words imply.

That were grown up with him; which is added as the reason of his inclination to their counsels, because his daily converse with them, and the likeness of their age and humour to his, had engaged his affections to them, and that bribed his judgment, as it commonly doth.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:8". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-kings-12.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

8.The young men that were grown up with him — Probably sons of Solomon’s chief officers, who had been trained at the royal court, and were designed to be the officers of the succeeding king. Though called ילדים, youths, they may have been, like Rehoboam, forty or more years old.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:8". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-kings-12.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Kings 12:8. But he forsook the counsel of the old men — Judging it unworthy of his majesty and authority, and likely to encourage the people in their insolent demands; and, being proud and vain, he scorned to condescend to them and court them in this way, but would have obedience paid to him as to an absolute monarch; and consulted with the young men — So called compared with the old men, otherwise, as they had grown up with him, they must have been near forty years old. They were, however, men who were unexperienced, and who understood not the humour of the people they had to do with. This is frequently the fault of new kings: to show their power, and gratify their dependants, they frequently change their counsellors and put in new officers; not considering who are wisest and worthiest, but who have been their companions.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:8". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-kings-12.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Him. They were young, compared with the former, though they might be 40 years old. (Menochius) --- It was frequently the custom in the eastern courts, to educate young noblemen along with the heir to the crown. Such formed the captains of Alexander, (1 Machabees i. 7,) and the warriors of Sesostris, whose father ordered all the male children who were born on the same day in his dominions, to be brought to court, to be educated with his son. (Diodorus i.) --- The Persian nobility were brought up at the gate of the prince, that they might learn temperance and the art of governing. (Xenophon, Cyrop. i.) --- The endeavours of Solomon were frustrated by the evil disposition of his son, and of those about his person.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:8". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-kings-12.html. 1859.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:
2 Chronicles 10:8; 25:15,16; Proverbs 1:2-5,25,30; 19:20; 25:12; Ecclesiastes 10:2,3
Reciprocal: Genesis 41:46 - he stood;  1 Kings 12:28 - took counsel;  1 Chronicles 6:32 - and then;  1 Chronicles 19:3 - but the princes;  Proverbs 13:20 - but;  Hosea 6:10 - there

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:8". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-12.html.