Changing One String (1 Kings 12:6-11)

Twang!

I groaned as I immediately recognized the sound. Sure enough. The frayed end of a string tangling from one of my guitars was testimony that one of the strings had snapped. As many guitar players have experienced, usually only one string breaks at a time. It can break during a performance or at rest. During a performance, one can quickly replace the string, but this may not resolve a more serious problem. If the remaining strings are also brand new, there is not usually a problem. However, replacing a brand-new string on a guitar strung with older strings will lead to a tonal imbalance; while one can play the guitar, the sound quality is far from ideal. The only solution is to change the remaining strings so that all of the strings are new and balanced. 

Finding the right balance is important in many areas of life. When a new CEO takes over a company, sometimes the only way to set the company in a new direction and restore balance is to replace the former senior management with new blood. Other times, the new CEO may successfully lead, occasionally keeping some, if not all, of their predecessor’s management team. The business world is replete with successful examples of both strategies. The recent changes at Twitter, when Elon Musk took over, is a dramatic example. The jury is still out whether his actions will be successful. 

It is not always necessary for a new CEO to replace the entire leadership of a company. Like the guitar strings, it is possible to achieve a good balance if the rest of the management are also relatively new or are in sync with the new CEO. The Bible gives us a tragic example of a leader who ignored the management and advice of his predecessor. King Rehoboam was the son and successor to King Solomon. Under Solomon’s reign, the kingdom of Israel achieved its greatest power, yet it came at a price. To finance and sustain the kingdom, Solomon levied oppressive taxes upon the people. When Solomon died and Rehoboam took over, a group of disgruntled citizens petitioned Rehoboam to lighten the taxes that had been so burdensome. Rehoboam turned to two groups of advisors to discuss the issue. 

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?”

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.” 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. “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?” 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! 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!’” 

1 Kings 12:6-11 (NLT)

Rehoboam sought to put his stamp on his new monarchy. He eschewed the advice of his father’s advisors and replaced them with younger men who grew up with him and told him what he wanted to hear. What was the result? A civil war ensued and the Kingdom of Israel was torn in two. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained with Rehoboam while the other ten tribes followed their king Jeroboam. The kingdoms of Judah and Israel would never be reunited and both were eventually conquered and sent into exile. 

Finding the right balance is important and whether it is dealing with a broken guitar string or taking over a new company, sometimes a complete change is needed. However, this should never be a knee-jerk reaction and such a decision can only be made by wisely using all resources available. Once again, God gives us the answer to how to live our lives.

Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days. Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand. 

Proverbs 19:20-21 (NASB)

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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