And he did evil, because he did not
prepare his heart to seek the Lord.
2 Chronicles 12:14
Rehoboam, the Unwise King
Rehoboam was the forth king of Israel. Unlike his father, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, and his grandfather, David, a man after God’s own heart, Rehoboam displayed a distinct lack of wisdom and concern for the ways of God.
In 2 Chronicles 10 the people approached Rehoboam about lightening the heavy labor load Solomon had put on them. In return they promised to serve Rehoboam. Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father. They encouraged Rehoboam to be kind and do as they people asked. In return, the elders said, the people would serve him always.
For reasons unknown, Rehoboam apparently didn’t like the advice of his father’s elders and sought advice from his peers, young men he had grown up with. These young men, perhaps in an attempt to win favor, power, and position appealed to Rehoboam’s own sense of power by telling Rehoboam this was the time, not for kindness, but a display of power and might. Instead of lightening the load, the young men suggested Rehoboam display his power by increasing the load to the point of making the people wish they were still under the heavy burden of Solomon’s rule.
Rehoboam chose to follow the advice of these unwise, self-interested young men. As a result the kingdom split. From that day forward, the nation God had planned, developed, and shaped split in two.
Prepare to Seek God
The writer of Chronicles tells us why Rehoboam made a decision that had such devastating and lasting effect on his nation. He did evil because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord. I find it curious that Rehoboam’s problem wasn’t just that he didn’t seek the Lord, but that he didn’t prepare to seek the Lord.
The Hebrew word translated as prepare is translated elsewhere in the Old Testament as
Each of these gives an additional sense to what it means for us to prepare our hearts to seek God.
- Are we ready to seek Him?
- Are we determined?
- Have we set our hearts to seek God?
- Have we established a time and place to seek God?
- Are we steadfast in preparing our hearts?
Lent can be a great time to contemplate whether we are preparing our hearts. We must continually be on guard. We may have prepared our hearts last year, but that doesn’t guarantee we haven’t let something contrary to God’s ways creep into our lives.
Ways to Prepare
There are many ways to prepare our hearts to seek the Lord. Here’s a short list of my ideas.
- Change sinful ways Sometimes we allow sin to creep into our lives. Other times we blatantly choose to rebel against God. When we are unrepentant and unwilling to turn from sin, we always have a barrier between God and us.
- Dream bigger Small dreams can keep our hearts from receiving all God has for us. When we quickly dismiss big dreams as beyond our ability we leave no room for God to guide us and act in supernatural ways in our lives.
- Dream smaller Just as small dreams can keep us from living out God’s will for our lives, so can dreams that are too big. When we focus on doing the grand thing for God, we may miss the small, every day, insignificant-to-us, ways God wants to use us to make a difference in the lives of those around us.
- Hold expectations loosely Unrealistic or misplaced expectations have the potential to set us up for disappointment. Anger and bitterness can also settle in our hearts when God fails to fulfill what we think we ought to have.
- Examine motivations Throughout history many good things have been done for the wrong reasons. The writer of Proverbs reminds us that “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. (Proverbs 16:2)
- Be ready A heart that is not ready to hear from the Lord, often does not.
- Be open to new opportunities Our comfort zones can sometimes be more limiting than we realize. When we live within those zones, we curb our openness to the new possibilities God desires to lay before us.
Are You Prepared?
How are you doing in preparing your heart to seek the Lord? Are you opening yourself up to unintended evil because you have failed to prepare? I encourage you to ask God to show you any ways your heart is not prepared. God is gracious and good and will be gentle in His response.
For more on knowing God and the way to salvation see God So Loved the World.