Holy Queen, Lesson 4.2

Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God

Lesson Four: Mother Crowned in Glory

Lesson Objectives

  1. To see the importance of the Queen Mother in the Davidic kingdom of the Old Testament.
  2. To understand the duties and privileges that came with the position of Queen Mother.
  3. To see how Mary fills the position of Queen Mother in the kingdom of Christ.

II. The Mother of the King

A. Solomon Bows to his Mother

In fact, one of the first things we hear about Solomon’s reign is the important part his mother played in it.

When Bathsheba enters the newly crowned King Solomon’s court, Solomon bows before her. Then he has her seated on a throne at his right hand (see 1 Kings 2:19). No other subject ever earned that honor - not during the reign of Solomon, and not under any other king in the Old Testament.

Then she asks him a favor, a request that Adonijah had given her. She acts in her traditional role as intercessor for the people - which is a bit surprising, considering who Adonijah was.

Adonijah, an older son of David, had been Solomon’s rival for the succession. David had promised Bathsheba that her son Solomon would be king, but Adonijah took advantage of his old father’s weakness to make a grab for the kingdom himself (see 1 Kings 1:5). It was only Bathsheba’s quick action that saved the kingdom for her son (see 1 Kings 1:16-21).

Now Adonijah asks for something extraordinary: he wants his father’s concubine Abishag as his wife. In Middle Eastern cultures, taking the king’s wife or concubine was a way of publicly declaring yourself king.

This time, Solomon doesn’t take his mother’s advice. He had very magnanimously spared Adonijah after the failed coup, but this was just too much (see the whole story in 1 Kings 2:13-25).

But even Solomon acknowledges, by placing her in such an exalted position, that she has a right to give him advice and to present Adonijah’s cause to him. The Queen Mother can intercede, but the king is the final judge.

The influence of the queen mother was one of the distinctive features of the government of Judah, the kingdom that David’s descendants ruled after the northern tribes broke away. (Solomon’s son Rehoboam was not as wise as Solomon: in his pride, he alienated more than half his kingdom. See the story in 1 Kings 12:1-20.)

We don’t hear about the queen mother very often, but every time we do, it is clear that she has great influence in the kingdom.

Even when the kingdom was near its end, the Queen Mother’s influence was still powerful.

“Say to the king and the queen mother,” God’s instructions to Jeremiah begin in Jeremiah 13:18. The prophecy of doom that follows would not have been addressed to the Queen Mother as well as to the king unless they both were powerful leaders in the kingdom.

Jeremiah’s prophecy came true. Judah was finally destroyed by the Babylonians, and Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian emperor, took away all the important people of Jerusalem.

“He deported Jehoiachin [the king] to Babylon, and also led captive from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother and wives, his functionaries, and the chief men of the land” (see 2 Kings 24:15).

The king’s mother is next in importance after the king, and more important than his wives.

All through the history of the kingdom, the Queen Mother occupied that place, second only to the king in the kingdom. There was a special word for the Queen Mother in Hebrew: she was called Gebirah,or “Great Lady.”

B. The Place of the Gebirah

The story about Solomon and his mother points out one of the chief duties of the Queen Mother in the government of David’s kingdom.

In the story, she comes to Solomon with a request from Adonijah, one of his subjects. In other words, she acts as intercessor for the people before the king.

Bathsheba was hardly the first Queen Mother to act that way. As far back as the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the most ancient literary works we know of, the Queen Mother in near-eastern courts had filled the role of intercessor for the people.

The reason for her special position is found as much in nature as in tradition. The king had absolute authority, and in the government of the state, his mother was subject to him.

But in the primary relationship of the family, she was still his mother, and had a mother’s authority over him. She was the only subject who could in any way expect the king’s obedience.

In times when polygamy was common, the Queen Mother’s position was usually more important than the position of any of the king’s wives. There were many wives, but only one mother.

From a practical point of view, the Queen Mother’s position in itself was a kind of proof of her political wisdom. A king like Solomon, who had seven hundred wives, must have had too many sons to count. But only one of them could be king - and that one probably by the influence of his mother.

Bathsheba’s case shows us that the wife whose son was chosen as heir must already have navigated some very tricky political waters. She would make a fine political strategist when her son was king.

So we see that the Queen Mother had several important functions in the government of the Davidic kingdom - functions that made her position not just a family relationship, but also a political office.

•“She was a visible sign of the king’s legitimate rule.

•“She gave the king practical advice.

•“She interceded for the people with the king.

These are the things that made the Queen Mother uniquely important among all the subjects in the kingdom, and that gave her an essential place in the government of the Davidic kingdom.

C. She Who Is to Give Birth

In spite of the promises that it would last forever (see 2 Samuel 7:16), David’s kingdom collapsed, and Nebuchadnezzar took all the leading families to exile in Babylon (see 2 Kings 24:10-16).

Had God gone back on His promise? Clearly that was impossible. The promise was unconditional, and God is faithful to His promises.

So the faithful people of God looked forward to a time when the kingdom of David would be restored. They clung to the words of the prophets, who promised that a king of David’s line would one day bring back all the lost sheep of Israel.

The prophets even made the king’s mother a key to their prophesies.

Isaiah, for instance, in a time of great distress told Israel’s King Ahaz to look for “this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel” (see Isaiah 7:14).

The sign was meant to reassure Ahaz of God’s continued commitment to the “house of David” (see Isaiah 7:2,13), in the face of foreign threats and intrigue.

Micah even more explicitly prophesied a coming ruler from the house of David.

He would be born in the city of David, Bethlehem and, like David, would be a shepherd. Micah, too, mentions the future ruler’s mother, referring to “she who is to give birth” (see Micah 5:1-3).

Once again, the sign of salvation is a future king to be born of a woman.

Notice that Isaiah and Micah say nothing about the fathers of these children. Usually, in the Bible it is the father of a prominent person who is mentioned, often to the exclusion of the mother.

Continue to Section 3

Other Lessons

  • Lesson One: A Biblical Introduction to Mary
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To understand the basic outlines of the New Testament’s witness to Mary.
    2. To appreciate how the Old Testament forms the essential background for what the New Testament teaches about Mary.
    3. To understand “typology” and its importance for reading the New Testament texts concerning Mary.

    Begin Lesson One

  • Lesson Two: Wedding at Cana, Garden in Eden
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To appreciate the Old Testament symbolism that forms the deep background to the Gospel account of the wedding feast at Cana.
    2. To understand how Mary is depicted as a “New Eve” in this account.
    3. To appreciate the importance of the Old Testament marriage symbolism for John’s recounting of the “sign” at Cana.

    Begin Lesson Two

  • Lesson Three: The Ark of the New Covenant
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To see how Mary’s visit to Elizabeth parallels David’s bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.
    2. To understand how the book of Revelation uses the startling image of the rediscovered Ark of the Covenant to introduce a vision of the Mother of Christ.
    3. To understand why the New Testament writers see Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant.

    Begin Lesson Three

  • Lesson Five: The All-Holy Mother of God
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To understand the relationship between Catholic teaching about Mary and the Scriptural portrayal of Mary.
    2. To understand the biblical foundations of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
    3. To appreciate how Catholic belief in the Immaculate Conception flows from the New Testament portrait of Mary as the “New Eve”

    Begin Lesson Five

  • Lesson Six: The Queen Assumed into Heaven
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To understand the biblical foundations of the Dogma of the Assumption.
    2. To understand the deep Old Testament symbolism and imagery in Revelation 12, and its relation to Catholic beliefs about Mary.
    3. To appreciate how the biblical portrait of Mary is reflected and interpreted in the Church’s liturgy.

    Begin Lesson Six