Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 12 No. 9 September 2010
Page 4

Priscilla's PageEditor's Note

Mrs. Jeroboam — Deliverer
of a Message of Doom

1 Kings 14:1-18

Bonnie RushmoreLike many of the characters in the Bible, the life of Mrs. Jeroboam ended in tragedy. The only mention of her is in 1 Kings 14, and those verses reveal heart-wrenching events that will not be overcome.

As with the study of any individual, especially a married person, one must look at the overall context and family relationships. First, we will give an overview of the life of King Jeroboam and the events leading up to Chapter Fourteen of First Kings.

Upon the death of King Solomon, his son Rehoboam became King. When Jeroboam heard of the death of Solomon, he returned from hiding in Egypt (1 Kings 11:40). Jeroboam and the assembly of Israel approached the new king with a request to make their burdens lighter than that of King Solomon. These men promised King Rehoboam, if the king fulfilled their request, they would faithfully follow him as their king. Rehoboam not only refused to lighten the load upon the people, but he created heavier burdens for them (1 Kings 12:12-14).

The ten northern tribes of Israel chose to appoint Jeroboam as king over them. The tribe of Judah chose to follow King Rehoboam (1 Kings 11:34-36). (For treatment of the use of biblical numbers relating to this passage, and the technical treatment of the actual tribes ruled by Jeroboam versus those ruled by Rehoboam, see Keil & Delitzsch.) This was fulfillment of the prophecy of Ahijah that God would take ten tribes from Solomon’s son and give them to Jeroboam because of the sins of King Solomon (1 Kings 11:29-39). In order to keep the children of Israel from returning to Jerusalem to worship at the Temple on the God appointed days, Jeroboam made two golden calves. He placed one calf in Dan, the northern most city in the land of Israel, and one calf at Bethel, at the southern edge of the land of Israel. Then, King Jeroboam appointed priests, who were not from the tribe of Levi, to preside over the burnt offerings to these false gods.

Sometime after these events, one of King Jeroboam’s sons, Abijah became ill. Perhaps, Jeroboam remembered the promise Ahijah made to Jeroboam before he was made king – the promise of God’s blessings if Jeroboam remained faithful to God. Now, with the illness of his son (the one whom the people loved and the son probably in line to take the throne upon his father’s death), Jeroboam wanted confirmation from the prophet as to the severity of this illness. Thus, Jeroboam decided to send his wife to the prophet Ahijah to inquire about the sickness. Since Ahijah was old and nearly blind, Jeroboam instructed his wife to disguise herself and take gifts to the prophet that a commoner would take. “Strange infatuation! To suppose that the God who could reveal futurity could not penetrate a flimsy disguise” (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary). Mrs. Jeroboam did as her husband told her. She dressed in the clothing of a peasant woman, took ten loaves, some cracknel (a sweet biscuit or cake that crumbled easily) and a jar of honey. “It was customary to give presents to all great personages; and no person consulted a prophet without bringing something in his hand (Adam Clarke’s Commentary). These items were the gifts a commoner would take a prophet.

Before Mrs. Jeroboam arrived at the home of Ahijah, God spoke to him telling of the upcoming arrival and hope of deception. Furthermore, God gave Ahijah a message of doom for Mrs. Jeroboam. Her son would die as she returned to her home city. Ahijah instructed Mrs. Jeroboam to tell her husband that because of his wickedness and failure to follow God’s commands and rule as King David had ruled, each of his male descendants would be eaten by wild animals upon their death. Only Abijah would be buried in a tomb, “…for he is the only one of Jeroboam who shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something good toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam” (1 Kings 14:13).

Jeroboam’s evil was greater than any Israelite ruler before him was. …above all previous rulers of the people, whether Judges or kings. Hereto none of the rulers of Israel had set up the idolatrous worship of ephod, teraphim, and the like (Judges 18:17), as a substitute for the true religion, or sought to impose an idolatrous system on the nation. Gideon’s ephod “became a snare” contrary to his intention (Judges 8:27). Solomon’s high places were private-built for the use of his wives, and not designed to attract the people. Jeroboam was the first ruler who set himself to turn the Israelites away from the true worship, and established a poor counterfeit of it, which he strove to make, and succeeded in making, the religion of the great mass of his subjects. (Barnes’ Notes.)

This great wickedness caused Abijah’s early death, the prophecy that the children of Israel would be destroyed and the lack of proper burial for all male members of Jeroboam’s family.

I can only imagine the heavy heart and dejected footsteps of Mrs. Jeroboam as she traveled home. She knew that when she entered the city that her young son would die. Her last glimpse of him was as a sick child, and when she saw him again, life would have left his body. Furthermore, she needed to tell her husband that his wickedness caused the death of this son and the shameful death of him and all his descendants.

Application

Mrs. Jeroboam was obedient to her husband.

We do not know the full context of the discussion between Mr. and Mrs. Jeroboam. The only information given to us is that King Jeroboam told his wife to disguise herself and go to Ahijah the prophet to seek information about their sick son. God chose not to reveal Mrs. Jeroboam’s attitude toward this deception. The record says, “…And Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh” (1 Kings 14:4). She obediently followed the instructions of her husband.

God’s laws for the twenty-first century woman are the same as that given in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:16). God’s command for women to obey their husbands has not changed. The apostle Paul makes a comparison of the husband/wife relationship with the church/Christ relationship in Ephesians 5:22-33:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

The apostle states that just as Christ is the Head of the church, the husband is the head of the wife. With this relationship, the church must obey Christ and the wife must obey her husband. Paul continues this analogy while correlating the love Christ has for the church with the love a husband should have for his wife. Typically, men care for and nourish their own bodies and Paul states that a man who properly loves his wife will treat her as he treats himself. He will nourish and cherish her as he would himself. When a man treats his wife as he should, she will lovingly and willingly follow God’s command to be obedient to her husband.

Unfortunately, some men forget to apply these verses to themselves and mistreat their wives, making it difficult for the wife to have the reverence for her husband that she should have. Nevertheless, a wife is still obligated to obey her husband even if he does not treat her as God has commanded. The only exception to this God-given rule is when the husband demands the wife to do something that is contrary to the laws of God (Deuteronomy 13:6-8; Matthew 19:29; Matthew 10:37; Acts 5:29). Even though we do not live under the Old Law, the principle has not changed. God will not accept the excuse, “I had to obey my husband” on the Judgment Day, nor will he accept the excuse, “My husband was unreasonable, harsh and cruel (or any other negative characteristic).”

Are you like Mrs. Jeroboam? Are you obedient to your husband? Do love and reverence your husband as Paul outlined in Ephesians?

Mrs. Jeroboam had a heavy heart.

Mrs. Jeroboam’s heavy heart could have been avoided if Jeroboam had gone to Ahijah seeking repentance for his sinful actions instead of trying to trick the prophet. God had promised Jeroboam an enduring kingdom, one that would see his descendants rule for many years if Jeroboam followed God as David had followed God. “Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you” (1 Kings 11:38-39). However, like many today, Jeroboam chose to follow Satan instead of following God. Just as God forgave David when he repented of his sin with Bathsheba and the subsequent sins to hide the adultery, God would have forgiven Jeroboam, and possibly his son would not have died an early death if Jeroboam had repented.

Instead of living a lifetime of serving God as the queen of a God-fearing nation, Mrs. Jeroboam was given the heart-wrenching task of telling her husband of the impending doom that lay ahead for them and the nation of Israel. She also knew that upon her arrival home her son would die.

Every individual faces difficult situations at some time in his or her life on this earth (John 16:33; Acts 14:22). “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). All who strive to follow God and obey His commands will be tested and tried. Some difficulties are caused by others, and some are the result of sin in one’s life. We can use the trials of life to bring us closer to God (Romans 8:17-18; 1 Peter 4:13), or we can use them as an excuse to pull away from God. As Christians, we have the wonderful relationship with our Father in heaven who will comfort us in times of trial, if we are obedient to Him (2 Corinthians 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 2:11-12; 1 Peter 1:5-7).

The Bible gives no other details about Mrs. Jeroboam. First Kings 14:17 simply states, “And Jeroboam’s wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah: and when she came to the threshold of the door, the child died.” She returned home with a heavy heart and no indication of any comfort. Do not be a Mrs. Jeroboam. Turn to God in repentance, and He will comfort you in times of trials.

Mrs. Jeroboam tried to deceive God.

Mr. and Mrs. Jeroboam were foolish when they thought they could trick a prophet of God into believing Mrs. Jeroboam was a peasant woman rather than the wife of a king. To think that an all-knowing God would fail to inform His prophet of the coming deception is remarkable.

The Bible clearly teaches that God is omniscient. New Unger’s Bible Dictionary gives the following definition for omniscient:

OMNISCIENCE. The divine attribute of perfect knowledge. This is declared in Ps 33:13-15; 139:11-12; 147:5; Prov 15:3; Isa 40:14; 46:10; Acts 15:18; 1 John 3:20; Heb 4:13, and in many other places. The perfect knowledge of God is exclusively His attribute. It relates to Himself and to all beyond Himself. It includes all things that are actual and all things that are possible. Its possession is incomprehensible to us, and yet it is necessary to our faith in the perfection of God’s sovereignty. The revelation of this divine property like that of others is well calculated to fill us with profound reverence. It should alarm sinners and beget confidence in the hearts of God’s children and deepen their consolation (see Job 23:10; Ps 34:15-16; 90:8; Jer 17:10; Hos 7:2; 1 Peter 3:12-14). The Scriptures unequivocally declare the divine prescience and at the same time make their appeal to man as a free and consequently responsible being.

David made this clear in Psalms 139:1-4, “O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.” God knows our thoughts and our movements. He knows us better than we know ourselves.

God knows every detail of our lives whether it is small or great, our physical bodies or our innermost thoughts. “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:29-31). Consider Proverbs 5:21, “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He ponders all his paths.” God knows where we are headed and what we are going to do when we get there.

This does not mean that God makes us do something. God has given us freewill (Revelation 22:17). We make our own choices as to what we do, where we go and what we say. However, God knows how we will react to any given situation before the situation occurs.

Mankind can deceive other individuals for a time, but we cannot deceive God. Usually, our deceptive practices are eventually discovered by those that we attempt to trick into believing we are something we are not. We may pretend to be faithful servants of God when in reality we are simply going through the motions of Christianity while our heart is on the things of this world (James 2:10; 4:4).

Are you like Mrs. Jeroboam? Do you try to deceive God and others into believing you are not who you really are?

Mrs. Jeroboam was a deliverer of a message of doom. She had the God-given responsibility of telling her husband of the coming destruction of his descendants and the overthrow of the Israelite nation – all because they tried to deceive a prophet of God.

Works Cited

Adam Clarke’s Commentary. CD-ROM. Seattle:  Biblesoft, 1996.

Barnes’ Notes. CD-ROM. Seattle:  Biblesoft, 1997.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary. CD-ROM. Seattle:  Biblesoft, 1997.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament. New Updated Edition. CD-ROM. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996.

New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, The. CD-ROM. Chicago: Moody P., 1988.


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