Undervaluing the Old and Overvaluing the New
by Joseph Franks
David was not perfect, but he was godly. Despite his many serious transgressions, Holy Scripture gave him this eulogy:
… My servant David [has] kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes. (1 Kings 14:8)
In similar manner, Solomon was not perfect, but he too was godly. He sinned greatly, and for being a man of unparalleled wisdom, he sure played the fool. However, Solomon seemed to bounce back and be spiritually revived towards the later days of his reign. Great wisdom was presented in his writings (Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes) as he sought to disciple the next generation of Israelites and keep them from having his misplaced affections.
However, by the time we get to 1 Kings 13-15, we see the glory days have clearly gone away. Rehoboam and Jerobaom are hellions who care neither for God nor his Law. Consequently, family schism, civil war, false prophets, and false worship are characteristic of the day. And it is only going to get worse as pagan oppression and destruction are around the corner. Even by the end of 1 Kings 15, we see the Chosen Nation is already torn in two; three centers of worship are vying for prominence; Egypt is invading the Holy Land; and the Temple is stripped of all its sacred treasures. Judgment is already beginning in the House of the Lord.
So, how did all this begin? What led Israel down this horrific path? Well, there may have been many contributing causes, but one characteristic was specifically presented:
Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive … 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. (1 Kings 12:6-8)
Rehoboam had the wisdom of Scriptures available. In addition, he had the spiritual tutelage of his father and mother to fall back on. The king had true prophets and men of God about him, and when he desired he could even consult his father’s counselors. Old men, who had seen the joys and sorrows of Solomon, were around and eager to assist. However, Rehoboam chose to forsake the old, godly men and give credence to his contemporaries. He forsook the old paths and old truths, and now there was hell to pay.
Therefore friends, will we follow the folly of Rehoboam? Will we forsake centuries of teaching? Will we disregard the counselors of our parents? Will we bypass their books and sermons? Will we dishonor our own fathers and mothers and the lessons they taught us? Will we disdain those who are called elders? Will we mock the gray-haired or bald-headed man? Will we over-value that which is new, fresh and contemporary? And will we arrogantly think we know more than all those who have walked before us?
Yes, I hear someone saying, “But contemporary is not always bad! Is not fresh reformation a never-ending practice in the biblical church.” My answer is “Absolutely!”
And yes, I also hear someone saying, “Traditional is not always good. Can’t you recall the misguided practice of the legalistic Pharisees who made too much of the practice of their fathers?” Once again, I would assert this thinking to be correct. Tradition is not always on par with truth, and truth is what we must desire.
However, it is my contention that truth and wisdom are often found in the presence of the aged. So before we get all restlessly fresh and creative, let us make sure we understand the logic of the tried and true. Let us not be arrogant, but let us honor our father and mother and be improved by the wisdom they learned from God’s Word and have put into practice time and time again.