Jeroboam knew the truth but he refused to accept it. But when trouble strikes his home the first place he goes looking is to God.
Jeroboam had at least two personal encounters with prophets delivering God’s word to him. The first was Ahijah when he told Jeroboam that he would receive ten tribes of Israel to rule. The second was the story with the man of God we just read about. I know they were quite distant from one another in his life, but I would expect they had a significant impact on him.
I’m curious about Jeroboam’s reactions. The first encounter got him planning and scheming. He was forging alliances that would help him take the kingdom. The second encounter preceded him building as many ‘high places’ as he could and ordaining anyone who wanted to be priests to the gods he set up. My question is, was he trying to make things happen under his own plan? His alliances were certainly used upon his return. He probably thought that he alone tore the ten tribes away from Rehoboam instead of God doing the work. Was he ‘insulating the people’ against the promise of Josiah by making too many strong holds for one king to tear down? I have news for him on that front. God is BIGGER than ANY plan man can come up with. If HE says it, you can believe it.
There is trouble in Jeroboam’s household though. His child is gravely ill. Jeroboam, knowing the power of God, turns to the Lord for help. He doesn’t go directly to God but to the man who first called him to be king of Israel. And he doesn’t go himself.
Jeroboam knows ‘his name is mud’ with the prophets of the Lord. He fully expects to be turned down by God. So he sends another to find help for his son. The one he sends is his wife. But Jeroboam fears that even being the wife of him could cause the prophet to refuse to answer his question. He sends his wife in disguise.
Did you notice that Jeroboam didn’t ask that his wife request the prophet heal his son? He simply asked to know what was going to happen to his son. He didn’t even ask what lay in his future. He also had no doubt that the prophet would give him an answer regarding his son. “He will tell you what shall happen to the child” (verse 3b). He will receive more than he asked for.
Who was the disguise meant to fool? Was it meant to hide her identity from the prophet or the people? Since Jeroboam fully expected the prophet to answer her regarding their child, wouldn’t the prophet need to know which child was in question? And God would know who stood before His servant.
But what would happen if the king, who set up other gods for his people, was seen seeking answers from the Lord? Would they begin to doubt his ‘faith’ in the gods he made? Was he afraid they would turn to the Lord again if they saw him turning? Was this the real reason for the disguise? Or was he possibly afraid that his wife would be taken prisoner by soldiers of Judah if she was recognized?
From the reaction of Ahijah, her disguise was probably meant to fool him too. “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another” (verse 6b). Her disguise was useless with him on two counts. First, he was blind and couldn’t see who addressed him anyway and, second, God uncovered her identity before she even got to him.
Jeroboam’s child was suffering for the sins of his father just as surely as David and Bathsheba’s son did. Both were innocent victims. And both were taken before they could be corrupted further by the sins of their fathers. David repented of his sin and his judgment stopped there. But Jeroboam, even after this, would not repent. His judgment would encompass ALL of his household.
How old was Abijah? He was called a ‘child’ in our reading. But even at this age, God saw something special in him. He was the only one in Jeroboam’s house that was pleasing to the Lord. God wasn’t punishing Abijah through death. He was protecting him from what was to come. From then on, the men in the family of Jeroboam would meet with disaster and desecration after death.
I started to wonder why the child had to suffer if God was saving him future suffering. Then I realized that it was the child’s suffering that brought Jeroboam seeking the Lord. If Abijah and quietly died, Jeroboam wouldn’t have known of God’s judgment against him and his family. And he could have gone to his grave ignorant of the price his family would pay. Now, he knew the price of his sin. I hope it tore at his heart daily. I wish it would have turned him away from that sin; but it didn’t.
The timing of Abijah’s death was also important. The moment his mother’s feet touched the threshold of the house, he died. This was to remove ANY doubt that what was spoken would come to pass.
If I were the mother in this position I might try to circumvent this death. I might have refused to enter the city and sent word to have the child brought out instead. But I know good and well that it wouldn’t have worked. You cannot out maneuver God. I’ve found that out in my own life a few times. He knows any ‘tricks’ I might try to get my way instead even before I think them up. Jeroboam learned this too, the HARD way.
Be certain that your sins will find you out. It does no good to try and hide them or hide from them. God knows and He requires that you deal with them one way or another: through repentance, turning away and forgiveness or through judgment. Jeroboam chose the latter and his WHOLE family paid that price.
Father God, forgive me for ever thinking I could hide from You. You know my heart better than I do. You created me. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. You gave me life through Your Son before I was even a thought on the horizon of man. You ordered my steps and brought me to You. And You see my struggles and reach down and touch me in them. I’m SO grateful for Your hand in my life! Thank You that I don’t have to hide from You. I can come to You with anything. You meet me at the point of my need.