There is wisdom in listening to elders and not just our friends our age who can sometimes have a limited perspective/motive/attitude when giving advice. The elders in this passage had advice that benefited the whole kingdom for the long term (the King and the people.) The younger friends advice seemed to be prideful and only looking out for Rehoboam’s authority being established at the beginning, not with a long term perspective.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” -Proverbs 15:1 NIV
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” -Mark 3:24 NIV
These are the verse I thought of as I read this story in 1 Kings:
“Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked. They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?” The young men who had grown up with him replied, “These people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’ ”
When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: “What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, Israel! Look after your own house, David!” So the Israelites went home.
When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David. “When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin—a hundred and eighty thousand able young men—to go to war against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon. But this word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to all Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’ ” So they obeyed the word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered.”
1 Kings 12:6-11, 16, 20-24 NIV