It is a mistake to believe that pagan worship is pointless. Satan has much power and can make a difference in the life of a person that will worship him. There are things Satan does not have power over, the most important of which is death. Satan cannot give life, neither can he take life without God’s permission (Job 2:6), so when Jeroboam’s son fell sick, he tried to bribe God into sparing his life (1 Kings 14:3).
The problem with Jeroboam’s plan was that he thought he could trick God into doing what he wanted him to. Jeroboam did not know God, nor did he respect God’s power. Jeroboam was only concerned with getting his own way. Through the prophet Ahijah, God let Jeroboam and his wife know that he was in control.
Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel, and rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee: and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in my eyes; but has done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back; therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone.
After receiving the bad news of God’s judgment, “Jeroboam’s wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah: and when she came to the threshold of the door, the child died” (1 Kings 14:17).