Selective Hearing

from Lynda Lindsey

The king (Rehoboam) answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier… .” I Kings 12:13-14(a)

After seeking advice, the king (Jeroboam) made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin… . I Kings 12:28-30(a)

The priests and Levites from all their districts throughout Israel sided with him (Rehoboam). The Levites even abandoned their pasturelands and property, and came to Judah and Jerusalem because Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them as priests of the Lord. And he (Jeroboam) appointed his own priests for the high places and for the goat and calf idols he had made. II Chronicles 11:13-15

Selective hearing is the capability of the brain to filter sounds and noise, blocking out the least important information while retaining and responding to the most relevant. People usually pay attention to and retain ideas most interesting to them, ignoring other information. Asking for advice can be an exercise in selective hearing…often we ask people for advice only if we know the counsel given will be what we want to hear. 

Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, inherited Solomon’s vast wealth and one of the richest kingdoms of the world. Rehoboam could have chosen to rule with kindness and justice. Regrettably, out of selfishness and greed, he sought and took counsel he wanted to hear. Rejecting wise advice ultimately destroyed the united kingdom of Israel. 

Jeroboam, afraid of losing his hold on the northern kingdom, sought out and followed unwise counsel that blatantly defied God’s rules for worship. The Israelites were required to worship at the Jerusalem Temple at certain times of the year. Jeroboam, claiming it was inconvenient to travel so far, erected pagan idols and shrines in northern cities and appointed his own priests to offer sacrifices, forcing God’s true priests to flee. Jeroboam’s rebellion and selfishness ultimately brought disaster upon his whole house as well as the entire nation.

People, at one time or another, need counsel. Sadly, we too can have selective hearing. How often have we decided against asking certain people for advice because we know they will tell us truths we don’t want to hear? It’s supremely important to cultivate relationships with godly men and women, wise friends who will speak plain, unvarnished truth to us. Choose counselors wisely. Evaluate advice carefully. The choice we make can save us, and our loved ones, from grievous sin.