Maacah the Queen Mother
Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done. He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his fathers had made. He even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. Asa cut the pole down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 1 Kings 15:11-13
Queen Maacah would have fitted right in with the present era.
What’s that? You’ve never heard of Queen Maacah?
The verses quoted above include most of what little the Bible tells us about Maacah the queen mother. She was the number one wife of King Rehoboam, Solomon’s successor. She outlived her husband and then her son King Abijah, Rehoboam’s successor. She also outlived the zeitgeist, the spirit of the age that she had become accustomed to.
It’s easy to remember that King Solomon built the great Temple in Jerusalem for the worship of the Lord God. Yet sometimes we forget that in his later years King Solomon’s many foreign wives “turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4). For each of those foreign gods, Solomon also erected a house of worship in Jerusalem.
Thus Maacah grew up in a time of religious pluralism, an age when it was politically correct to live and let live in matters of religion . . . even when worship included sexual immorality. (Note the verses quoted above.) What a shock Queen Maacah must have had when her grandson, King Asa, came to the throne of Judah!
Viewed through the lenses of today’s conventional wisdom, Asa comes across as the bad guy in the story. He insisted that God is one, not many. He decreed that all of his people — even his grandmother Queen Maacah — should worship the one Lord God, . . . or at the very least should not be too blatantly obvious in flouting the royal decree. He burned Maacah’s Asherah pole (probably a pornographic phallic image). Yet even King Asa did not go so far as to abolish all shrines for pagan worship: “he did not remove the high places” (1 Kings 15:14).
In the Bible-based poetic meditation that follows, several expressions of today have been put into the mouth of Maacah the (former) queen mother. The words may be anachronistic, but the attitudes behind them are not.
Queen Maacah would have found herself more welcomed in contemporary settings than many Christians are, when we insist that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. With her pretentious broad-mindedness, Maacah would have felt right at home with people who are seeking “what works for me” rather than what is eternally true.
I’m not queen mother any more:
My grandson took away my throne.
I liked the way things were before:
Each one’s religion was one’s own.
My Rehoboam, when he reigned,
would let us worship as we chose.
My son Abijah never deigned
to say, “We serve these gods, not those.”
King Solomon’s extravagance
for each cult built a worship hall.
But now in youth’s intolerance
King Asa says, “One God fits all!”
I miss the perks of royalty.
My sacred pole has fueled fire.
And yet . . . my grandson set me free
to seek a way of life that’s higher.
I’d never be the one to cry
that all must sing the self-same song.
Let’s be broad-minded; who am I
to say your way to God is wrong?
O God in heaven, help me lovingly but steadfastly to follow the Christ who says, “No one comes to the Father except through me” [John 14:6]. Amen.
Copyright © 2015 by Perry Thomas