When she arrived, she saw the newly crowned king standing in his place of authority by the pillar, as was the custom at times of coronation. The commanders and trumpeters were surrounding him, and people from all over the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets. When Athaliah saw all this, she tore her clothes in despair and shouted, “Treason! Treason!” (2 Kings 11:14)
Relate: The king is dead. Long live the king. This idea of the immediate transfer of power was still centuries away. At the time of King Ahaziah, the throne would normally pass to the oldest son, but he actually did have to be crowned first. There was a ceremony that would take place at the Temple. He would be anointed by the High Priest, given a copy of the Torah, and a covenant would be made between him and the people. At least, this was the ideal. We don’t actually know how closely this was carried out in practice.
What we do know is that the Queen Mother, Athaliah, wanted to make very sure this could not happen. As soon as word came down that Ahaziah had been caught up and killed in Israel’s coup, she decided to pull off her own coup. She immediately set about killing all of her grandbabies so that she, not one of them, would ascend to the throne. Unfortunately for her, one of the former king’s sisters stole away the king’s baby son Joash and hid him, with the priest’s help, in the Temple. For the next six years, Athaliah ruled in Judah but she was not truly queen.
Apparently, six years was long enough for her to buy into the lie that she truly was the legitimate ruler. Once Joash was old enough, and once circumstances had changed enough that her usurpation could be challenged, the rightful heir was reinstated. The king is dead… Long live the king. We just had a six-year ellipsis, that’s all. Athaliah’s cries of “treason” have absolutely no legitimacy outside of her own mind.
React: Right is right no matter what society says. Even when the cultural or political powerbrokers might say otherwise, God is still on the throne and what He has decreed is still the only authority by which we should live our lives. When we stand up for truth and justice, the world might cry out, “treason” or even declaim us as evil. So what? Their authority to determine what is good and what is right is no more legitimate than Athaliah’s.
had it been written at the time, that false queen might have tried to quote just as some politicians have lately to defend their evil by misquoting Paul and saying, “Obey the laws of the government because has ordained the government for His purposes.” After all, she had been “governing” the land for the past six years, right? But doesn’t Paul immediately after this say, “If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law… Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” Where is the love in murdering children to maintain your own power? Where is the love in forcibly separating families to maintain your own borders? When the law of the land is acting in direct opposition to the laws of God, it is not treason to oppose them.
Help me to look to You for what is right and true, not to what my culture or society says is right. Help me to be guided by Your Word not by any political party platform or loyalty. Even as I continue to pray for those in power, help me to have the decency to uphold them when they are right and the courage to oppose them when they are wrong. Even when the world might cry out “treason” help me to be about doing Your will and bringing Your Kingdom here on earth, as it is in heaven.