The picture attached to this post is one that is very encouraging, and there are many examples of this going around in the country. Police officers are kneeling, praying and marching with protestors to show that they hear and understand the cries of racial injustice. That’s what we need.
Here is a contrast in Scripture to that positive example. The following is what NOT to do when you are in positions of authority.
In the Scripture below, we see that there was a time in Israel when people came to the leadership and cried out about oppression. The people came to King Rehoboam, son of King Solomon, and presented their case.
Their “yoke” was heavy. Solomon apparently had really taxed the people to the point of oppression, and the people wanted relief. They peacefully came to the King to ask for change.
The King, Rehoboam, had two sets of advisors. One group counseled the king to be a servant to the people and be kind to them. Hear their requests and serve them, and they will serve you forever. The other group of counselors advised the King to be even tougher than Solomon. Bring the hammer down on the people, they said.
So, the king listened to the second group, threatened the people, punished them for speaking up and pushed them away. This led to the nation literally dividing (as God had prophesied would happen).
“So the king did not listen to the people…”
What does God want from his leaders? People who listen. Those who hear the cries of the hurting. It’s one thing for those in authority to say they aren’t racist, it is entirely another when a police officer lays down his baton, takes off his helmet and hugs those in the crowd who are hurting and afraid.
Rehoboam had the opportunity to sit down and listen to the request of his people. He had been offered an olive branch to peacefully bring a resolution to what was hurting the nation. However, in his arrogance and in his thirst to assert his authority and dominance, he drove most of the nation away from him.
That is our choice as leaders. As parents. As spouses. As church leaders. As leaders in business. As leaders in the community. When those under our leadership cry out from broken hearts because of how they are being treated, how will we respond?
Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. And as soon as Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. And they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” He said to them, “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away. Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.” But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. And he said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us,’ thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s thighs. And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’” So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him, he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word, which the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
(1 Kings 12:1-15)