She didn’t believe the ol’ kook’s tirade! What did he know? He was so decrepit that she would be surprised if he didn’t croak before the day was out. Blind as a bat, he couldn’t see his hand in front of his face. Yet . . . he had seen through her disguise.
That wasn’t her fault. It met with her husband’s approval once she relinquished her last piece of gold jewelry–making her feel like she was in mourning–before she left on his miserable mission. And it took more than a hop, skip, and jump to get there. Anyway, he should have gone himself or sent for the old fogey. No doubt the feeble fool would have had a different answer in the presence of the king.
So why hadn’t her husband used all the pomp and circumstance befitting the first king of Israel? She didn’t want to believe he had turned coward. But he wasn’t acting like the man she admired–the man who had once stood up to King Solomon–the man Pharaoh Shishak had respected enough to give her–his own sister-in-law–to him in marriage.
What was it he had said to her just before she left? She was looking down on him from her donkey and barely heard it: “Ano, that man knows and speaks the truth. Before I fled to Egypt and met you, he told me I would become king over this country.”
So if Jeroboam already knew that bag of bones and was so sure he was a fortune-teller, why didn’t he talk to him? Better yet, why didn’t he ask a priest at one of his golden-calf altars for the answer to his question instead of sending her over hill and dale? There must be a backstory. But he had never mentioned it. Her husband must be afraid of something. But what could it possibly be?
She had to think. What had the shriveled-up toad said? Yes, that’s right. First he corroborated the prediction of her husband’s kingship. Then he told her to go home and tell him that because he had made idols and metal images to worship, his family line would be eradicated. Umph! She wasn’t about to believe that. She grew up in glorious Egypt, where they have worshiped many gods for thousands of years.
Why was she scratching? She didn’t see anything crawling on her skin. The sensation started when she remembered how the old man’s voice elevated when he said Jeroboam had turned his back on Yahweh.
That name. She had heard it somewhere else. Ah! Her son. He had told her the reason he defied his father’s edict and went on a forbidden pilgrimage to Jerusalem was to worship Yahweh, the one-and-only God. Her hand tossed dismissively in the air. Oh, what did he know? He was just a kid. A good one, though . . . so good . . . and now so sick.
She thought it uncanny the man knew her true identity before she said anything. The exact minute she stepped up to his door, he addressed her as the wife of Jeroboam, leaving her speechless. She wouldn’t admit it to anyone but herself that she had stood there frozen in her tracks the whole time. At the end of his diatribe, he answered her question–the question her mouth had never opened to ask.
Oh, oh, she must get off this donkey! She was feeling faint. Hyperventilating. Her servant saw her distress. He was coming to help.
She would walk the rest of the way. Slow down Ahijah’s prediction. Maybe the prophet was wrong; her son would not die as soon as she stepped foot in the city.
Every footprint she made on the trek home impressed a memory of her son. The first time he was laid in her arms. Chubby legs running to bring her a flower–roots and all. His infectious laughter. Time and again calling, “Mother, look what I can do!”
It was all she could do now to put one foot in front of the other as the city sprawled before her eyes. How she wanted to see her son alive! To kiss him. To tell him that she would miss him. Would there be time just for that?
As she came to the threshold of the house, the child died. All Israel buried him and mourned for him, according to Yahweh’s word, which he spoke by his servant Ahijah the prophet.
(1 Kings 14:17-18 WEB)
In time an army captain, deciding he had what it took to seize the throne, annihilated the house of Jeroboam.
He didn’t leave to Jeroboam any who breathed, until he had destroyed him; according to the saying of Yahweh, which he spoke by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite; for the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned, and with which he made Israel to sin, because of his provocation with which he provoked Yahweh, the God of Israel, to anger.
(1 Kings 15:28-29 WEB)
By the power and sovereignty of God’s grace, Jeroboam’s sick son did not live to suffer the extinction of his family. During his prophecy Ahijah had explained to the boy’s mother why her child would die an early death:
All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He is the only one belonging to Jeroboam who will be buried, because he is the only one in the house of Jeroboam in whom the Lord, the God of Israel, has found anything good.
(1 Kings 14:13 NIV)
In Jeroboam’s entire family this child was the only one who had reverenced the true God; and God, in His goodness, claimed the child for Himself with an untimely death.
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