Many years passed, and I became a man. Hard work on my family’s farm proved to be just the thing I needed to dull my aching conscience and forget about the prophet prophesying that Prince Abijah would be the only one to be buried properly. I scoffed at the idea that Jeroboam’s family would be wiped out. I knew for a fact that Jeroboam had lied about the divine calf prophesying that he would reign. Jeroboam had admitted that to the queen right in front of me, but everyone else still believed his lie. No one would dare dethrone Jeroboam for fear of the god’s mighty vengeance!
The years brought many changes for me. I grew strong and muscular from my hard work in the fields. I took a wife and she gave birth to three sons and one daughter. I was quite proud of my little family.
One thing did not change. I still hated God for being so unjust. The calf had also lost it’s power over me as I knew that it had all been a scam created by Jeroboam to make his subjects happy. I tried to never think about religion of any kind. My wife did not insist that we go to King Jeroboam’s temple, and so we lived as if there was nothing above the sun.
King Jeroboam died in the twenty-second year of his reign and his son, Na-dab reigned in his stead. If Prince Abijah had been like his father, Na-dab was even more so. I had never really seen much of him, as he was the son of King Jeroboam’s second wife. When Abijah was alive, he was considered rather insignificant, but of course, being the second-oldest, his status became much higher upon the death of his eldest brother.
I was quite sure that he knew of the events that had happened to his brother Abijah and his father, but he never worshiped God. In fact, he encouraged the people of Israel even more to forsake God and cleave to their idols.
I cared for none of these things, but continued to live my life as if the palace and God did not exist.
One late-afternoon, during the second year of King Nadab’s reign, I was out in my fields harvesting grain. I had hired a few men to help me cut the grain and tie it into sheaves. I and another men were cutting the stalks and three other men were following behind tying the stalks together to make a sheaf.
“The grain looks good this year,” my friend Korach said, leaning on his scythe for a minute to catch his breath.
I nodded as I straightened up and rolled my shoulders trying to ease my aching muscles. “We just have to hope that it won’t rain before we can bring in the harvest.”
“It won’t,” Tabai, an older member of our group assured me. “The weather is good. All the signs are good.”
“Though it would help if you sacrificed once in a while,” Korach said with a wink, knowing he was poking a sore spot.
I ignored his comment and looked towards my house. My wife was coming out to the field with water for us to drink. I was surprised to see her coming out with the water, because usually she was busy making dinner at that time and would send one of the boys out with the water — our daughter being only three years old. The boys hated the “girly job,” so I figured she had just taken pity on them today.
When she got closer, I could see that her eyes were round with fear and traces of tears were on her cheeks. I ran to meet her, so that I could talk privately to her.
“Are you all right?” I asked softly, so the other men couldn’t hear.
“There is news in town,” my wife said, her lip trembling just a bit. “Nadab has been slain.”
“What?!” I gasped, feeling my heart almost stop in surprise. “Who has done this?”
“Ba’-a-sha the son of Ahijah, from the tribe of Issachar,” my wife replied, beginning to cry in earnest. She dropped the water bucket on the ground and hugged me, her tears falling rapidly on my chest. “He is destroying Jeroboam’s entire house and leaving them for the dogs and fowls to eat!”
A sickly pall came over my face, and sweat began to pore out of my skin. Suddenly I was very frightened. Not because I feared Ba’-a-sha. I had been out of the King’s service for years and no one from the palace would have recognized me as the young servant boy of Prince Abijah.
I was afraid of God.
In my mind, I could see the prophet of God standing before the altar declaring what the LORD would bring to pass. I could see King Jeroboam’s hand wither and then being restored. I heard the old prophet’s warnings about how God punished those who disobeyed Him. In my mind’s ears I again heard the queen telling King Jeroboam about the prophet’s prophecy that all of his house would be killed.
And I saw myself. I saw myself bowing low on the ground to the calf and refusing to even bow my head to God. I saw myself refusing to listen to the prophets and accusing God of injustice.
And then I seemed to hear the voice of Prince Abijah and for the first time his words pricked my heart.
“God rewards the righteous and punishes the unrighteous . . . . God is just.”
I knew what I had to do. I had to get myself right with God before it was too late. Breaking myself away from my wife and trying to erase all the fear I felt off of my face, I said, “Don’t cry. Everything will be fine. I must go. There is something I have to do.”
“No!” My wife grabbed my arm, “Jessie, what are you going to do?”
“Don’t worry. I will come back safe.” I turned to the men who had been standing in rather awkward silence. “I must go. We will continue working tomorrow.”
The men nodded their agreement and I ran towards the enclosure where I kept my horse. I quickly saddled the horse and galloped down the road.
A few hours later, I reached Prince Abijah’s grave, where I knew I could be alone. I tied my horse to a nearby tree and then threw myself on the ground.
I cried for what seemed like an eternity, sobs shaking my entire body. I could hardly hope that God would have mercy on me after all my rebellion and hatred I felt towards Him.
As it grew darker, my sobs lessened and I began to consider again why God had allowed Prince Abijah to die from disease. It was so obvious now. It was because God was having mercy on Abijah, that God allowed him to die when he did.
“Mercy. God is just, but He is also merciful!” The happy revelation crossed my mind and filled me with hope. “Prince Abijah repented and God gave him mercy.”
I got up from the ground and knelt on one knee. “God,” I cried allowed. “I am so sorry. Please forgive me for my rebellion and bitterness. I know now that You are just and merciful. Please give me mercy and I will worship you forever.”
I breathed a heavy sigh of relief and I felt as if a burden had been lifted from my back. For then I knew that I could trust God. Trust Him for what I could see, but also for what I could not understand.
Prince Abijah had been rewarded! No, it would not have been the reward I would have chosen, but now I could see how it was for the best. God had chosen to miraculously spare him the pain and dishonor that his family had justly received. I shivered at the thought of what would have happened if the prince had lived. Truly God does reward the righteous.