Summary: 1 Kings 14
CHANGE COMES FROM WITHIN (1 KINGS 14)
As Bill was approaching mid-life, physically he was a mess. Not only was he going bald, but years of office work had given him a large pot belly. The last straw came when he asked a woman co-worker out on a date, and she all but laughed at him. That does it, he decided. I'm going to start a whole new regimen. He began attending aerobics classes. He started working out with weights. He changed his diet. And he got an expensive hair transplant.
In six months, he was a different man. Again, he asked his female co-worker out, and this time she accepted. There he was, all dressed up for the date, looking better than he ever had. He stood poised to ring the woman's doorbell, when a bolt of lightning struck him and knocked him off his feet.
As he lay there dying, he turned his eyes toward the heavens and said, "Why, God, why now? After all I've been through, how could you do this to me?" From up above, there came a voice, "Sorry. I didn't recognize you."
Jeroboam, the first king of the northern kingdom, Israel, had extraordinary help rising to the top. Initially, he was a warrior, a capable worker in charge of Joseph’s house (1 Kings 11:28), the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (Josh 17:17). Because of Solomon’s idolatry, Ahijah the prophet announced to Jeroboam that
God would tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give him ten tribes
(1 Kings 11:31). Meeting the prophet did not stop him from making two golden calves to cause Israel to sin (1 Kings 12:26-33). Jeroboam turned idolatrous, ironically, when there was peace in the land (1 Kings 12:21-24). From there on, Jeroboam was the most idolatrous king in Israel’s history, the worst of the lot because of his powerful influence.
Why is idolatry odious to God? Why are people ungrateful despite God’s grace? How does God want us to respond when we sin? What lurks ahead for all unrepentant sinners?
Confess and Not Conceal Sin
1 At that time Abijah son of Jeroboam became ill, 2 and Jeroboam said to his wife, "Go, disguise yourself, so you won't be recognized as the wife of Jeroboam. Then go to Shiloh. Ahijah the prophet is there — the one who told me I would be king over this people. 3 Take ten loaves of bread with you, some cakes and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what will happen to the boy." 4 So Jeroboam's wife did what he said and went to Ahijah's house in Shiloh. Now Ahijah could not see; his sight was gone because of his age. 5 But the Lord had told Ahijah, "Jeroboam's wife is coming to ask you about her son, for he is ill, and you are to give her such and such an answer. When she arrives, she will pretend to be someone else." (1 Kings 14:1-5)
A lady is walking down the street to work and she sees a parrot in a pet store.
The parrot says to her, “Hey lady, you are really ugly.” Well, the lady is
furious! And she storms past the store to her work. On the way home she saw the
same parrot in the window and the parrot said to her, “Hey lady, you are really
ugly.” Well, she was incredibly ticked now. The next day see saw the same parrot
and the parrot said to her, “Hey lady, you are really ugly.”
The lady was so ticked that she went into the store and said that she would sue the store and kill the bird. The store manager said, “That's not good.” and promised he wouldn't say it again. When the lady walked past the store after work the parrot said to her, “Hey lady.” She paused and said, “Yes?” and the bird said, “You know.”
There is no hiding in sin. Note it was Jeroboam’s and not his wife’s idea to disguise herself, using an imperative “Go/Arise” to direct her. He was so sure the deception would work, adding “so you won't be recognized as the wife of Jeroboam.” The man was either infallible or ignorant. His plan was, of course, incomplete and ill-conceived, calling Ahijah a prophet (v 3) but nevertheless thinking he could fool him or God. The word “disguise” (v 2) is also translated as “change” (Mal 3:6).
Emphasizing in Hebrew, Jeroboam added “yourself” (disguise yourself) in Hithpael form, which was laughable. One can only disguise one’s behavior, with clothes but not the true self. Here was a man who was smart enough to know that Ahijah was a “prophet” but still was stupid enough to pull off a trick.
Jeroboam’s wife did her best to pretend (v 5) to be another but there was no pretense before the Lord (v 6). This chapter is about disguise (v 2) and pretense (vv 5, 6). In truth, Jeroboam was never really repentant of his sins. When his son was sick and dying, he did not get on his knees or turn from his sins, but sent his wife as substitute in camouflage, in costume, cloak and cover to inquire of the prophet if his son would recover. He was more interested his wife to “change herself” than himself to change. He coveted the cure but not the change. He sought for diagnosis but not deliverance. As it is said, “Change comes from within.” Worse, Jeroboam was shameless by preying on an old prophet who not only had trouble seeing, but could not see. Probably Jeroboam knew Ahijah could not see because of old age, even though we are not told if he did. We are not sure if Jeroboam did his homework. If he did, his wife would not need to pretend. Either way, he did not want to take the risk.