Who speaks into your life? Whose voice matters? We all need people to counsel us, to challenge us, and to encourage us. But if we make bad choices regarding the voices we will listen to, we can allow ourselves to be led into some serious difficulties.
Toward the end of the book of 2 Chronicles, we see a king whose life perfectly illustrates this point for us. His name is Joash.
2 Chronicles 24:1-2 – 1 Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zibiah of Beersheba. 2 And Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.
Joash, as a young man, was advised by Jehoiada the priest. And so long as Jehoiada was helping Joash, he followed the ways of the Lord well. Chapter 24 of 2 Chronicles highlights great reforms that Joash made and a great return of the people to the temple of God.
But, when Jehoiada died, things in the kingdom changed.
2 Chronicles 24:17-18 – 17 Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them. 18 And they abandoned the house of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs.
After the death of Jehoiada, Joash heard different voices. Like King Rehoboam long before him, Joash was influenced by younger men who flattered him and convinced him to walk a different path than that of wisdom. Joash seems to have been convinced not by Scripture and not by wisdom but by the homage offered to him by these nobles. His hunger to be praised led him to choices that brought the wrath of God upon the land.
What voices do you listen to? Are you able to listen to a wise, older counselor? Are you able to take it when a person questions the wisdom of a choice you want to make? Or are you easily flattered?
The book of Proverbs repeatedly warns us that flattery is a dangerous thing. After all, the one who flatters us is not often out for our best interest. And the one who flatters us is very seldom interested in the glory of God. Flattering lips are those which would seek to manipulate us for another’s gain. Joash fell victim to them. We need to be careful.
How can we be careful here? First, be sure that you surround yourself with a few believers who will honestly speak Scripture to you that is rightly understood and applied. You would be wise to be sure that you do not limit all the voices you hear to your own generation. Jehoiada was a much older, much wiser, and much more experienced person who could offer Joash counsel. Watch out for flattery. Do not let yourself grow to love the sweet words of others so much that you let them lead you with short-lived thrills of praise. And, in all things, be sure that you know the word of God well enough that you do not let any counsel that opposes Scripture slip through.