The Influence of a Woman
I am currently reading through 2 Chronicles and am greatly enjoying it! I have learned so much through studying the history of the Israelite people in Kings and Chronicles and strongly encourage you to read straight through these books if you never have. (This is actually my first time to read straight through them!)
Chapter 21 describes the reign of King Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, grandson of Asa. Jehoshaphat, though not perfect in his reign, was known for how he sought after the Lord. He was humble and trusted in God in moments of adversity. And Asa, his grandfather was also a man who sought after the Lord and trusted God in hard times. With such a rich spiritual heritage, I expected Jehoram to follow in their footsteps. But to my surprise, this chapter starts out with Jehoram killing all his brothers as soon as he became king. It doesn't even give a reason why he did this. He also led the people of Judah astray by enticing them to worship other gods (v. 11). So what happened to Jehoram? How did a guy with such a great start to life turn out so bad?
Well let me introduce you to his wife. Her name is Athaliah and she is known by her parents. This girl is the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. Ahab was king of Israel and was more wicked than every king before him! This is one bad dude. He was also married to Jezebel, who was a very deceitful, conniving, evil woman herself. 1 Kings 18:19 mentions how all the prophets of Baal and the Asherah (the false gods and idols of the day) ate at Jezebel's table. To sum up this couple's life: "Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him." (1 Kings 21:25) Can you imagine growing up in this home?
It is Ahab & Jezebel's daughter who marries Jehoram and clearly she had a significant influence on him. "Jehoram walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab did (for Ahab's daughter was his wife), and he did evil in the sight of the Lord." This same story is written in 2 Kings 8:18: "Jehoram walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab became his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the Lord." This one woman had more influence on her husband than his father and grandfather.
In the very next chapter of 2 Chronicles we see her continue to have an affect on her family. Once her husband, King Jehoram dies, her son Ahaziah becomes king. And what does it say of Ahaziah? "He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counselor to do wickedly. He did evil in the sight of the Lord like the house of Ahab." (22:3-4)
As I read these chapters this morning, I couldn't help but notice the incredibly powerful impact this one woman had on her husband and son. Judah went from having good kings that trusted in the Lord and sought Him with all their heart to wicked kings that did evil in His sight so quickly. And it is all because of the influence of one woman.
This has lead me to ask this question: what kind of influence am I having on my family? I might not be causing the same kind of great evil in my family as Athaliah caused hers, but I still need to evaluate how I am....... Do I criticize my husband and cause him to shrink into passivity? Or do I encourage him and strengthen him to step up into his God-given leadership positions with confidence? Do I have an complaining and woe-is-me attitude that makes my home a sorrowful place to be? Or do I have a grateful and cheerful heart that brings joy to our home? Do I treat my daughter like she is an inconvenience to my day and a burden? Or like she is a blessing and a wonderful gift to be celebrated and enjoyed?
I might not be seeking to cause evil and wickedness in my family, but I do have an influence. And I believe my influence can be just as powerful and long lasting in my family as Athaliah's was in hers. And I pray that God will continue to grow me into a woman whose family is blessed and better off because of her.