Monday, May 16, 2016

A Mother's Influence: The Story of Naamah (What’s Your Obituary? Part Two)

Traversing through I Kings one day, I ran across another obituary. (You can read it for yourself in  I Kings 14.)

Naamah.  Certainly not as popular as Ruth.  Or Abigail.  Or Mary.  She’s a woman we hear of very infrequently in the Scripture.  Three times only is she mentioned in this Book; but each time, her name is connected with Rehoboam, for she was his mother.

As one of Solomon’s many wives, she profoundly impacted that wise king and his son—helping to steal their hearts from following the God of Heaven and causing them to serve other gods.  False gods.

I firmly believe Rehoboam’s mother was intrinsically involved in his turning from God. Twice in I Kings 14 (essentially Rehoboam’s eulogy) it is written that Naamah is his mother; Gill says this twice mention emphasizes her influence. 

Who interpreted events for Rehoboam as a young child, a teen, a young adult?  Certainly not his busy father, who was building a temple and a palace and caring for his many wives.  Rather, Rehoboam’s confidante would have been his mother.  As Solomon’s own mother, Bathsheeba, had been his wise counselor, so Naamah became the counselor to their son, the young Rehoboam.

A mother’s influence can be far reaching.  Her worldview, perception of the things of God, and view of God's law—these all help to shape the view of the world she leaves with her children.   What of Naamah?  Did she value Israel’s history?  Had God’s Words penetrated her life?

Outstretched arms of a mammoth bronze bull statue greeted the young girl.  Looking up, little Naamah saw her youngest sibling, a baby girl, burning.  “A sacrifice to Molech,” Naamah’s mother whispered.  “To pacify his anger.  To keep the Hebrews from invading again.”

Growing up in the land of the Ammonites, Naamah had for years been a stranger to the Most High.  What she believed about deity she considered through Molech, the idol demanding child sacrifice.  And the Jews?  Well, her people had been long-time enemies with them.  The laws of God? The works of the Almighty?  They affected her very little.  It is unlikely she spent time imparting God's commands to her young son.  The Deity who had miraculously divided the Red Sea, who had led His children through the wilderness—was more Enemy than Friend to her.  His law even forbad her type to enter His sanctuary. 

With such an influence to shape his little mind, is it any wonder that by the time Rehoboam grew up and became king, he lacked the spirit of Joshua and Caleb, who “wholly followed” the Lord their God (Num. 32:12)?  Is it any surprise that he tolerated evil, even allowing those of Judah to build high places and groves "on every high hill and under every green tree"?

From the vantage point of the temple, erected by his very own father to worship a holy and exclusive God, Rehoboam could now behold the stones marking other altars…for other gods…on every high hill!  The dry, barren wilderness boasted few green trees.  But wherever there was one, a grove for an idol stood. The young king might have called it toleration.  Acceptance.  Love.  But however he justified his actions, the God of Heaven was not well pleased.

We don’t know anything about his mother’s personality.  Or her physical characteristics.  Perhaps she was a very kind woman with excellent intentions.  She might have had a very sweet disposition.  She was probably beautiful.  Many people may have liked her.  We are not told these things. But what Rehoboam most needed was a heart in love with God that would never compromise on truth, never violate the Lord’s commands.   This, as we insinuate from Rehoboam’s obituary, she did not impart.

When Rehoboam learned at his mother’s knee, what did she tell him?  First Kings 14:24 informs us that in Rehoboam's reign “there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.”

Naamah’s view of normal was coming from a culture that understood not the ways of God.  So as she opened her mouth to teach her son, that grandson of the sweet singer of Israel who had penned dozens of psalms instructing praise, her lips failed to yield glory to the one, true God.  In just a couple generations, the single-hearted devotion of David to Jehovah God had passed away, replaced by sodomy throughout the land and idol worship everywhere.  This was rampant evil—abounding in full degree.

Then, five years into his reign, disaster struck.  Egypt, that ancient enemy, invaded. Gone were the beautifully designed gold vessels specifically made for the temple.  Gone was the gold from his palace.  Gone were all the treasures--the candlesticks, the vessels, the bowls.  If Solomon could see his son now—working to design replacement sets of everything—not in gold but brass!  Because Egypt had come.  And robbed Israel--Egypt!  

Years before, during his grandfather David’s time, a plague had once been stayed at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.  Now, on that precious plot of earth stood a magnificent temple erected by his own father, King Solomon.  And here the enemies of the Lord came!   To steal his nation's treasure.

“Keep thy heart with all diligence,” Rehoboam’s wise father had written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23).

Oh that both Solomon and Rehoboam had done this!  Had Solomon kept his heart, he could have spared his own son from being raised by a woman who knew not God. Had he but remembered his warnings about the wrong kinds of women (Proverbs 23:27,” For a . . . strange woman is a narrow pit"), he could have avoided the snare of an ungodly woman.  Without her influence, would the spiritual lifeblood have been pinched from Rehoboam, grandson to the man after God’s own heart? Would the land have succumbed to idolatry and immorality and the devastation of a foreign attack?  

May we ever keep our hearts, staying in love with the God of Heaven, not tolerating any deviation from His narrow way.  Toleration may be popular, but truth is everlasting!  

Remembering how quickly truth may be lost, then, let us never compromise any of it! 

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