THE WIFE OF JEROBOAM.
King Jeroboam earned for himself a terrible and unenviable reputation. He is continually spoken of in the two books of the Kings as “Jeroboam the son of Nebat who made Israel to sin.”
What kind of wife would such a man have? We have seen in the case of Abigail that a godly woman can be godly when her husband is most unspiritual and wicked; but, too often, the head of the family gives tone to the whole, and there is no evidence that Jeroboam’s wife was godly.
Abijah, their eldest son, the heir to the throne, fell sick. Would Jeroboam, in this trial, recognise the hand of God? He had received a very solemn call when, at the altar of Bethel, he had put forth his hand to seize the prophet who was sent of God to reprove him: he had found that a higher power than his had dried up the strength of his right hand, “so that he could not pull it in again to him.” He had also seen and experienced the healing power of God, when the very prophet against whom his enmity was stirred entreated the face of God at his request, and, in answer, his hand was restored again and became as it was before.” (1Ki 13:3; 13:6.)
What should he now do? The judgments of God had entered his family. The son on whom his hopes were built was sick unto death. No doubt the doctors had done all they could, and every remedy which riches or talent could procure had been sought and tried. God was driving the idolatrous king into a corner, but Jeroboam did not humble himself; he “returned not from his evil way” (1Ki 13:33). Instead of dealing with God, he fell back upon human help, and now, as a last resource, he would seek to obtain second‐hand a counsel from God. O how inadequate are the conceptions of God in the hearts of those who are not subject to Him! Jeroboam thought to dupe God!
“Arise, I pray thee,” he said to his wife, “and disguise thyself, that thou be not known to be the wife of Jeroboam; and get thee to Shiloh: behold, there is Ahijah the prophet, which told me that I should be king over this people.”
What idea of the living God had the king and queen, that they could attempt to deceive His prophet by any disguise? Did they know they were dealing with God in the person of His prophet?
“And take with thee,” said the king, “ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey” (a poor woman’s offering) “and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of the child.”
There is something very solemn in the fact that an unconverted man, living in rebellion against God, one who was guilty of drawing aside ten tribes of the people of the Lord into idolatry, yet knew so well that God was true, that now, in his greatest need, he sent to none of the priests of his own creation, none of the prophets who were under his patronage, but to the one man of God who lived in communion with Him in the land. He that “knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” (Luk 12:47.)
What should Jeroboam’s wife do? If she were a true woman of God she could never have yielded to be a party to such deception. Duplicity and faith cannot live together. Jeroboam’s wife was no true helpmeet, no counteracting influence against the idolatry with which he sought to establish his throne and secure his dynasty in Israel.
“AND JEROBOAM’s WIFE DID SO.”
O, dear Christian wife, if thy husband should command thee something in which thou canst not act transparently, but must needs go aside from the uprightness which belongs to the path of the just (Isa 26:7), stand true to thy God, even though thou must meet with reproach where it cuts thee closest! Never encourage thy husband on a wrong path.
“Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah.”
The old prophet was blind. He “could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age;” but, in God’s sight, he was a “seer” still, for he could see what other men could not, he could see what God revealed to him. And the Lord was beforehand with the disguised queen. She, who was used to ride in her chariot, and to have servants to wait upon her, and to relieve her of the burden of anything she might carry in her hands, must have found it a hard undertaking to walk this distance on foot, and carry the basket with her offering. But what will not a mother’s love accomplish? She was counting on the success of her journey, all unconscious that God was on before, and that her disguise was useless.
And the Lord said unto Ahijah, “Behold, the wife of Jeroboam cometh to ask a thing of thee for her son, for he is sick; thus and thus shalt thou say unto her; for it shall be, when she cometh in, that she shall feign herself to be another woman.”
The prophet was prepared. God does not allow His prophets who wait on Him to meet any circumstances unprepared. “The Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.” (Amo 3:7.) He is there before an unexpected visitor shall enter, how then can a child of God fear a trying interview? If He who knows all things is at hand, why dread to meet a deceiver? God showed His prophet what to do.
“And it was so, when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, that he said, Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself to be another? for I am sent to thee with heavy tidings.”
Who had betrayed her? How did Ahijah discover her plot? Poor distracted mother! She sought to take advantage of the blind prophet by his blindness, but she saw that her stratagem was in vain; it had been contravened by a higher Power; and there she stood; her deception exposed; humbled, mortified, and despairing, with nothing but heavy tidings from an offended God to greet her!
“Go tell Jeroboam,” said the prophet, “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over My people Israel, and rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee; and yet thou hast not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments, and who followed Me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in Mine eyes; but hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke Me to anger, and hast cast Me behind thy back; therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam.”
The king and queen had sacrificed everything, even their soul’s salvation, to the building up of their dynasty, the establishment of their house, the satisfaction of their ambition, and they had thought their interests safer in their own hands than in the hands of God; and now the queen must hear that all their hopes were to be blighted in the person of her beloved child, on whom all their hopes were fixed.
The old prophet added a declaration of judgment after judgment, ending with the words: “Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the fields shall the fowls of the air eat: for the Lord hath spoken it. Arise thou, therefore, get thee to thine own house: and when thy feet enter into the city,
THE CHILD SHALL DIE.”
O, the agony of that moment for the wife of Jeroboam! What should she do? Sooner or later she must return to the city, and every step she took would hasten her child’s death. While she stood without, he still breathed, but she would never see him in life again! Should she stay away to prolong that beloved life a few more hours, or should she hurry forward in the hope that perhaps one look of recognition might be given her, and the stern prophecy which had reached her from God relax in its severity for a last farewell? It must have been an awful, maddening time of anxiety for a broken‐hearted mother.
But one more communication must the wife of Jeroboam listen to. Ahijah said of the young prince:
“All Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him; for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.” There was still in Israel an appreciation of one who could be true to God. But such a one was too ripe fruit to be left still in that source of idolatry, the house of Jeroboam!
“Moreover, the Lord shall raise him up a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day…And He shall give Israel up, because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.”
Jeroboam’s wife, still wearing her disguise, worn and weary in body and in mind, “arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah.” She had taken her decision; she must be at the side of her son whether he was living or dead. The word of the prophet was fulfilled: “When she came to the threshold of the door, the child died.” And still further was the Word of God fulfilled, “They buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the Lord, which He spake by the hand of His servant Ahijah the prophet.”
O what a lesson this is that deceit and treachery can never answer in the long run. “He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (Jhn 3:21.) This poor unhappy queen reaped a terrible harvest for her sowing; no stratagem of man’s can turn aside the judgment of God; the only true wisdom is to yield to His rebuke, and then trust to His tender mercy.