MARY AS QUEEN MOTHER

A BIBLICAL CASE FOR MARIAN VENERATION

According to the Hebrew Bible, the mother of the Israelite king was given the status of queen mother. In other words, the [O]ld [T]estament shows that it wasn’t the wife of the king that was the queen but rather his mother:

“Also he removed Maachah his grandmother from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah. And Asa cut down her obscene image and burned it by the Brook Kidron.” 1 Kings 15:13

“Also he removed Maachah, the mother of Asa the king, from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah; and Asa cut down her obscene image, then crushed and burned it by the Brook Kidron.” 2 Chronicles 15:16

“Jehu met with the brothers of Ahaziah king of Judah, and said, ‘Who are you?” So they answered, ‘We are the brothers of Ahaziah; we have come down to greet the sons of the king and the sons of the queen mother.’” 2 Kings 10:13

“Say to the king and to the queen mother, ‘Humble yourselves; Sit down, For your rule shall collapse, the crown of your glory.’ The cities of the South shall be shut up, And no one shall open them; Judah shall be carried away captive, all of it; It shall be wholly carried away captive.’” Jeremiah 13:18-19

“Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive—to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon.(This happened after Jeconiah the king, the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.)” Jeremiah 29:1-2

The reason why the king’s mother was chosen as queen seems obvious. Since the Davidic rulers and their rivals (i.e., the kings of the northern kingdom in Samaria) were polygynists, it made sense that the mother of Israel’s human potentate would be given that role and position.

After all, not all of the ruler’s wives gave birth to the royal heir, to the son who would reign on the throne on behalf of his father. Hence, it only made sense that the mother of the king-apparent would be designated as queen.

This next case is rather interesting:

“Then Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established. Now Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. So she said, ‘Do you come peaceably?’ And he said, ‘Peaceably.’ Moreover he said, “I have something to say to you.’ And she said, ‘Say it.’ Then he said, ‘You know that the kingdom was mine, and all Israel had set their expectations on me, that I should reign. However, the kingdom has been turned over, and has become my brother’s; for it was his from the Lord. Now I ask one petition of you; do not deny me.’ And she said to him, ‘Say it.’ Then he said, ‘Please speak to King Solomon, for he will not refuse you, that he may give me Abishag the Shunammite as wife.’ So Bathsheba said, ‘Very well, I will speak for you to the king.’ Bathsheba therefore went to King Solomon, to speak to him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her and bowed down to her, and sat down on his throne and had a throne set for the king’s mother; so she sat at his right hand. Then she said, ‘I desire one small petition of you; do not refuse me.’ And the king said to her, ‘Ask it, my mother, for I will not refuse you.’ So she said, ‘Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah your brother as wife.’ And King Solomon answered and said to his mother, ‘Now why do you ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also—for he is my older brother—for him, and for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah.’” 1 Kings 2:12-22

Solomon honors his queen mother Bathsheba by bowing down to her and placing a throne for her at his right hand.

Here, once again, is the passage in question:

“Therefore Bathsheba came to king Solomon, to speak to him for Adonijah; and the king rose against the coming of her, and worshipped (wayyishtachu) her, and sat on his throne; and a throne was set to the mother of the king, and she sat at his right side. (And so Bathsheba went to King Solomon, to speak to him for Adonijah; and the king rose up to greet her, and honoured her, and then sat down on his throne; and a throne was put in place for the king’s mother, and she sat at his right side.)” 1 Kings 2:19 Wycliffe Bible (WYC)

The Hebrew word rendered as “bowed down,” “honoured,” “worshipped,” is shachah, and is the typical term used for the honor and worship which God himself receives. Note how the following passages employ this Hebrew phrase:  

“‘Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.’ So they worshiped (wayyishtachu) the Lord there.” 1 Samuel 1:28

“So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul worshiped (wayyishtachu) the Lord.” 1 Samuel 15:31

This next example is most relevant:

“And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the Lord your God. And all the congregation blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped (wayyishtachawu) the Lord, AND the king.” 1 Chronicles 29:20 AV

Here we have the Israelites worshiping or rendering shachah to both YHVH and king David!

The foregoing biblical cases affirm that God permits and even authorizes the relative worship or reverence of his anointed human agents, including the queen mother!

This brings me to my next point.

The Psalms speak of a Davidic Ruler who would be worshiped and praised by both the queen and the peoples since he is the Lord God who comes to reign forever:

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions. All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia, Out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad. Kings’ daughters are among Your honorable women; At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir. Listen, O daughter, Consider and incline your ear; Forget your own people also, and your father’s house; So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord (Adonayik), worship Him… I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever.” Psalm 45:6-11, 17

Notice how the Queen is described as being at the King’s right hand, which is reminiscent of king Solomon enthroning his queen mother at his right hand. This provides rather strong attestation that queen mothers would be seated at the right hand of their royal sons.  

CHRIST’S QUEEN MOTHER

The New Testament identifies this divine-human King of Psalm 45 as the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s uniquely begotten Son and co-Creator:

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You’? And again: ‘I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son’? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’ And of the angels He says: ‘Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire.’ But to the Son He says: Your throne, O God (ho Theos), is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.’ And: ‘You, Lord [the Son], in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail.’ But to which of the angels has He ever said: ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool’? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” Hebrews 1:1-14

Therefore, since Christ is identified as the God-Man of Psalm 45, the divine King whom all nations shall worship and magnify forever, being the Heir to the Davidic throne,

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’” Luke 1:26-33

This would make his blessed mother the Queen Mother.

Therefore, if Solomon’s mother Bathsheba would be so honored as to be enthroned alongside her son, despite her being an adulteress whose husband was murdered to cover up her shame and guilt (cf. 2 Sam. 11-12; Psalm 51), how much more would the perfect Son of God honor his holy and beautiful Mother who conceived and birthed him as a Virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit? (Cf. Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:34-35)

And seeing how God permitted sinful human kings to honor their sinful mothers by granting them the status of queen mother, how much more would the holy and righteous Father authorize his uniquely begotten Son, being the absolutely pure and sinless God-Man, to honor his beloved Mother by exalting her to the status of Queen Mother?

Finally, since Jesus is currently enthroned in heaven alongside the Father, and since believers reign as kings and queens alongside the Son,

“So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.” Mark 16:19-20

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:14-15

“For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;” Hebrews 7:26

“Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.” Hebrews 8:1-2

“For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Hebrews 9:24-28

“But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.” Hebrews 10:12-13

“looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

“and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6

“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21

“And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.’” Revelation 5:9-10

It only makes sense that the risen Lord’s blessed Mother would be the Queen at his right hand in heaven, seeing that she is the Queen Mother.

And since Mary is the heavenly Queen Mother, whose Son is the King of heaven, then it isn’t a far stretch to conclude that this by extension would make her the Queen of heaven.

Unless indicated otherwise, scriptural citations taken from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Holy Bible.

FURTHER READING

PROTESTANT SCHOLARSHIP ON LUKE 1:26-56 AND MARY AS GOD’S ARK

THE REFORMERS ON MARY’S PERPETUAL VIRGINITY

EARLY CHURCH’S INVOCATION OF MARY

What the Early Church Believed: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Church Fathers on Mary’s Perpetual Virginity

Mary’s Purity and Sinlessness in the Church Fathers

NOTES FOR THE DISCUSSION ON THE MARIAN DOCTRINES

NOTES FOR PERPETUAL VIRGINITY DEBATE

VENERATION OF THE SAINTS: A BIBLICAL OUTLINE PT. 1

VENERATION OF THE SAINTS: A BIBLICAL OUTLINE PT. 2

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