Maybe Athaliah had heard the words of the prophet in the vineyard of Naboth when he foretold the tragic deaths of her parents:
And you shall say to him, Thus says the LORD, Have you killed and also taken possession? And you shall say to him, Thus says the LORD: In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood (I Kings 21:19).
And of Jezebel the LORD also said, The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel. Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat (I Kings 21:23,24).
In fact, she likely had rehearsed these words many times in her mind. She had seen other prophecies of Elijah come to pass. Perhaps she had been startled in the night by nightmares about the dogs licking the blood of her father and the dogs eating her mother. It had to come as no surprise when she heard about the death of her mother:
When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it. And she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out of the window. And as Jehu entered the gate, she said, Is it peace, you Zimri, murderer of your master? And he lifted up his face to the window and said, Who is on my side? Who? Two or three eunuchs looked out at him. He said, Throw her down. So they threw her down. And some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and they trampled on her( II Kings 9:30-33).
Jezebel must have anticipated the mission of Jehu. She must have known that her time was at hand. She even called Jehu a murderer as he approached that infamous wall of Jezreel. But she wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. She made sure every hair was in place and her make-up was just right, including her eyeliner and mascara (II Kings 9:30). Maybe Jezebel thought that since she wasn’t likely to get a proper funeral, she’d at least look good as she perished. She looked pretty as the servants shoved her from the top of the wall. But then as her body bounced on the side of the stone wall, she wasn’t very pretty any more. Her blood spattered the wall and the very horses that trampled her body. A little while later when Jehu’s men came to gather her remains for burial and they found nothing but her hands, her feet, and her skull, she was certainly not the vision of loveliness she had envisioned in front of the mirror earlier that day. The dogs in Naboth’s neighborhood once again had fulfilled the words of the prophet. It was not a pretty picture. It was so grotesque that Jezebel’s body looked like refuse on the ground so that she was not even recognizable. Since they were gathering her remains for burial, one might suppose that Athaliah could have seen those remains. Jehu, after all, indicated that there should be some ceremony for her burial, “since she was a king’s daughter” (II Kings 9:34). Athaliah at least knew about the situation of her mother’s demise. She must have been nauseated by the images. But then again, the end result of sin is never as lovely as the sinner has imagined.
And finally, the end came for Athaliah. She must have pushed the images of Ahab’s death in the vineyard from her mind. She must have silenced the haunting voice of her mother Jezebel’s scream as she was pushed from the wall of Jezreel. Every time she heard a pack of dogs bark, she must have quickly diverted her attention elsewhere. She had seen every detailed prophecy of the Lord against her family come to pass. The terror of the Lord must have haunted her as she reigned over Judah for six years following the death of her son. She was unaware of the little boy, Joash, who was quickly growing up in the house of God. It’s ironic that they could successfully hide Joash in God’s house. I guess that was the one place they were sure Athaliah would not visit!
It was just another day, when Athaliah overheard a tumult around the temple. People were running jubilantly and there was a loud sound of cheering. And then Athaliah saw him. It was young Joash, the seven year old son of her husband Jehoram. “How had this happened? Did I miss one of the children? Why they are blowing the trumpets, shouting ‘Long live the king!’ and singing to this little boy? Look! There is a crown on his head!”
And then, above the sounds of the trumpets, all of the instruments, the shouting and the singing, Athaliah’s all too familiar voice could be hear hysterically shouting “Treason! Treason!” As she rent her clothes and screamed her dissent, the priest Jehoida was ready for her. His commanders were at bay just waiting for the directions once they had seized her. Jehoida’s orders were to take her away from the temple before they put the sword through her. After all, there were impressionable children around the pillars of the temple, one of whom needed a clear mind as he grew into the kingship of Judah (II Chronicles 23:1-21; II Kings 11:4-21)!
“And the city was quiet because Athaliah had been slain by the sword” (II Chronicles 23:21).
How will it be when you die? Will there be a “city” or group of people around you who find some measure of peace because you are gone? More importantly, will your children find any comfort when your spirit leaves your body? Will they know that you rest with the Lord? Will heaven become dearer to your children after you’ve passed from this life, because they know you will be there? Will you face the terror of the Lord when you die? What of your children? Will they, as it were, be running and screaming and tearing their clothes? Or will they be carried by the angels to a place of bliss (Luke 16:22)? They will likely follow you in death. But where will they follow you?