The Lord usually brings the rod before he brings the axe. So starts this chapter based on the story of King Jeroboam and his son Abijah. In this story recounted in 1 Kings 14, Jeroboam’s son Abijah had fallen sick. So the King sent his wife, in disguise, to see the prophet Ahijah to find out what the fate of the boy would be. The prophet told the Queen that as a result of all the evil King Jeroboam had committed that the kingdom would be ripped away from him and that every male in the house of Jeroboam would be cut off. Regarding the King’s son Abijah, Ahijah told Jeroboam’s wife that he was appointed to die as soon as her feet step back into the city and would not suffer the fate of the reminder of Jeroboam’s family. This was because in Abiajh was found “some good thing toward Jehovah, God of Israel.” The “some good thing” serves as the basis for this chapter and the next. Spurgeon examines the “some good thing” found in Abijah that led God to spare him from the fate that befell the rest of the house of Jeroboam.
What was the “good thing?” found in Abijah
The Bible does not tell us specifically what form “the good thing” found in Abijah took. Despite the lack of information regarding “the good thing,” Spurgeon asserts that there is something we can be certain of. That is that the child must have had faith. Spurgeon reminds us that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Since God showed Abijah grace in not allowing his to fall victim to the fate of the rest of King Jeroboam’s family is an indication that Abijah was likely a childhood believer in the Lord God.
When it comes to children, Spurgeon explains that they often speak more of their love of Christ than their trust or faith in Christ:
“…for converted children more usually talk of loving Christ than they do of trusting in Him: not because faith is not in them, but because the emotion of love is more congenial to the child’s nature than the more intellectual act of faith. The heart is large in the child, and therefore love becomes his most conspicuous fruit.”
As it related to the “good thing” found in Abijah, Spurgeon explains:
“It was not merely a good inclination which was in him, nor a good desire, but a really good, substantial virtue.”
Our goal in Children’s Ministry does not stop at just building a love for Christ. After all, children love their teddy bears and ice cream as well. We desire more than just a fondness or love for Christ. Our goal is to develop a willingness and longing for Christ to be the Lord of their lives.
How did the “good thing” come to Abijah?
Again, we don’t know specifically how the good thing entered Abijah. One thing that is clear though is that God recognized it in him. Spurgeon explains:
“It is not essential to us to know how a child receives grace. We need not be painfully anxious to know when, or where, or how a child is converted; it may even be impossible to tell, for the work may have been so gradual that day and hour cannot be known.”
As Spurgeon notes, God sees the least good thing inside of all of us. When a child professes faith in Christ, the important thing is the profession itself and not the details regarding the date and time that it happened. Many adults who eventually come to Christ can recollect the exact moment when they received him. The change in their lives is so marked that they will not soon forget the exact moment of their salvation. On the other hand, Spurgeon notes that in kids the work of salvation is sometimes so gradual that it is impossible to know the exact date and time of conversion.
We don’t know how God placed the good thing in Abijah other than to know that it was the Lord God who put it there. Despite Abijah’s wicked parents (and they are some of the most wicked recounted in the Old Testament), and despite the culture that in which Abijah lived, the grace of God found Abijah. Despite a lack of parents willing to raise him in the fear and admonition of the Lord, God’s will and God’s grace still controlled Abijah’s life. Spurgeon draws the following conclusion from the life of Abijah:
“Be it ours when we see in children some good thing to rest content with that truth, even if we cannot tell how it came there.”
Spurgeon notes that in Abijah’s case:
“God’s electing love is never short of means to carry out its purpose: He can send His effectual grace into the heart of Jeroboam’s family, and while the father is prostrate before his idols the Lord can find a true worshipper for Himself in the king’s own child.”
We should never lose hope in a child just because of the environment that he lives in. The power of God to reach beyond circumstances to effectuate his grace and salvation is astounding. To ignore a child, and refuse to pour into his life, because we have determined that he is beyond the saving reach of God is a blasphemy of the highest order.
What type of “good thing” was it?
Next, Spurgeon moves on the talk about the type of “good thing” found in Abijah and notes that it was a good thing towards God. Spurgeon explains:
“In children there often will be found good things towards their parents: let these be cultivated—but these are not sufficient evidences of grace. In children there will sometimes be found good things towards amiability and moral excellence: let all good things be commended and fostered, but they are not sure fruits of grace. It is towards God that the good thing must be that saves the soul… The child had love, and there was in it love to Jehovah. He had faith, but it was faith in Jehovah. His religious fear was the fear of the living God; his childlike thoughts, and desires, and prayers, and hymns, went towards the true God. This is what we desire to see not only in children, but in adults; we wish to see their hearts turned to the Lord, and their minds and wills moving towards the Most High.”
Many Children’s Ministry focus on teaching children the virtues found in the Bible. This is certainly a noble goal, but the critical thing that we must teach them is about God and the salvation that he offers. It is not enough that any type of “good thing” be found in child, but it must be a “good thing towards God.”
The Effect of the “Good Thing”
Finally in this chapter, Spurgeon examines the result of Abijah’s faith. He notes that Abijah’s faith must have manifested itself to people because he was well loved. When he died he received both tears and a tomb – a far cry from many royalty that died in those days received. Indeed, the remainder of Jeroboam’s family was devoured by dogs. However, the people saw something different in Abijah. His faith must have been evident to other people. Spurgeon notes:
“It is a very blessed thing when there is such a good thing in our children that they come to be beloved in their little spheres.”
What a wonderful sight it is to see the evidences of faith displayed in the life of a child. Spurgeon ends this chapter with a personal note on the grace of God seen in the lives of children:
“Youthful piety is a very touching thing to me; I see the grace of God in men and women with much thankfulness, but I cannot perceive it in children without shedding tears of delight. There is an exceeding beauty about these rosebuds of the Lord’s garden; they have a fragrance which we find not in the fairest of earth’s lilies. Love is won for the Lord Jesus in many a heart by these tiny arrows of the Lord, whose very smallness is a part of their power to penetrate the heart. The ungodly may not love the grace which is in the children, but since they love the children in whom that grace is found, they are no longer able to speak against religion as they otherwise would have done. Yea, more, the Holy Spirit uses these children for yet higher ends, and those who see them are often impressed with desires for better things.”
Links to Complete Text
If you’re interested in reading the complete text of “Come Ye Children,” it can be found on at: http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cyc.htm
The complete text of Chapter Twenty can be found at: http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cyc20.htm
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