Her parents named her Loveliness. And I’m sure she was. Beautiful. Attractive. Alluring. Wonder if Solomon perhaps had her in mind when he described the “forbidden woman” of Proverbs. Lips dripping with honey, speech smoother than oil (Prov. 5:3). Intoxicating to look at (5:20), flattering to listen to (7:5), wired to be irresistible. Naamah, Loveliness, the Ammonite.
Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city that the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. . . . Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually. And Rehoboam slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. And Abijam his son reigned in his place.
(1Kings 14:21-22, 29-30 ESV)
Never noticed her before. But as I wrap up 1 Kings 14, there she is mentioned twice. As if punctuating the crazy section of God’s word that precedes her name. Almost as if the divinely inspired author of Kings is saying, When you think of Rehoboam, when you think of Jeroboam, when you think of the divided kingdom and the explosion of idolatry, don’t forget that it all began with Loveliness.
You pause at the end of 1 Kings 14 and you gotta ask yourself, “What just happened?” Just four chapters ago the Queen of Sheba is traveling to Jerusalem to see if the kingdom under Solomon’s rule is all it was reported to be — the reputation which preceded Solomon seemingly too good to be true. And when she gets there? Mind-blowing! “Behold, the half was not told me” (1Ki. 10:7). But now, at 1Kings 14:30, the kingdom has imploded. It’s divided. At war with itself. Worse yet, unfaithful to the God who called the kingdom into being. What just happened?!?
Loveliness. Naamah the Ammonite.
One of many foreign woman Solomon loved. An attractive lady “from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, ‘You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods'” (1Ki. 11:1-2). Her alluring beauty and enticing words a picture of the siren nature of the world around us. Catching our eye, winning our heart, drawing us in, ship-wrecking our faith.
Naamah was just a woman. But a woman who turned the heart of a king away from his God. A woman who primed the pump of idolatry. A catalyst for high places of worship. Freely offering cisterns to drink from which led a delivered people down the path of unfaithfulness to their Deliverer.
Loveliness was a little leaven that leavened the whole lump (Gal. 5:9).
Solomon played loose with the ways and warnings of God, and before his son died, the kingdom was dismantled. The wisest man in all the world thought he knew better than the One who gifted him with wisdom, and all that his hand had built, and the peace he had known, were, within a generation,well on its way to being destroyed.
And I can’t help but wonder if the author of Kings wants us to be reminded of the root cause. Loveliness, Naamah the Ammonite.
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” — Ravi Zacharias
O, to heed God in the small things. To believe God in the first things. To remain faithful to God in all things.
By His grace. For His glory.