Read 1 Kings 21
21 Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”
3 But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.”
4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.
5 His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”
6 He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”
7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. 9 In those letters she wrote:
“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”
11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.”
15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.
17 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18 “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. 19 Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’”
20 Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!”
“I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. 21 He says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. 22 I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin.’
23 “And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’
24 “Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country.”
25 (There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. 26 He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.)
27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.
28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”
So much of our journey through 1 Kings has been a deep dive into ancient Jewish history with chapter after chapter of compelling narratives, dynamic characters, and astounding events. Today’s reading is no exception! Let’s see what we can learn from the key players in this chapter.
First, we have Naboth. When Ahab makes an offer on Naboth’s land, Naboth declines. “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” Naboth’s refusal to sell the land isn’t due to sentimental reasons. He is a righteous man who is attempting to keep God’s Law. In Leviticus, God established a law for Israel regarding family land rights. “No inheritance in Israel is to pass from one tribe to another…” (Numbers 36:7). In response to Naboth’s principled stance, Jezebel plots to take his land by force. Sadly, Naboth is falsely accused of cursing God and the king and is stoned to death.
The principles that govern Naboth’s life are the same principles that cost him his life. Obedience to God’s Word may not always require giving up your life, but it may look like sticking to God’s truth at the risk of being outcast or ridiculed.
Next, we have Ahab and Jezebel. “There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord . . . He behaved in the vilest manner . . .” As Israel’s king, Ahab would have known the law or had access to it. But he is a weak man and a weak king who only desires to satisfy his fleshly whims, with no regard for the law of Yahweh. Jezebel formulates a plan to tarnish Naboth’s name and get him killed. With the help of the city elders and two false accusers, her plan succeeds. Naboth and his family are killed, and Ahab takes ownership of the vineyard. Even though Jezebel does the dirty work, God holds Ahab responsible for this sin.
Sound familiar? In the Garden of Eden, God holds Adam accountable for Eve’s sin. Just as God holds Adam and Ahab responsible for the actions of others under their leadership, God also holds us accountable as well. Another way to understand leadership is to use the word “influence.” Your influence affects the actions of others and reflects on you. Therefore, be mindful to steward your influence in a way that honors God.
Finally, we have Elijah. Elijah is God’s man. He’s a bold truth-teller, ready to declare God’s justice. He prophesies the judgment of the Lord upon Jezebel and Ahab. In previous chapters, God has used Elijah to feed the hungry, raise the dead, and testify to God’s power. However, Elijah doesn’t shy away from his duties even when he knows he’ll be considered the “enemy.” He stands his ground and declares the word of the Lord. His obedience leads Ahab to a place of repentance and humility, and God’s mercy is shown in Ahab’s life.
When there is an opportunity to be a bold witness, lean in and allow the Holy Spirit to guide those moments! The kindness of God is what leads us to repentance, and God’s kindness might just look like you being used to stir another person’s heart for Him. As you go through today, be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and look for opportunities to respond as He leads.
- What does this passage teach you about the character and nature of God? What does it teach you about humanity?
- What sticks out to you about Ahab’s repentance in this passage?
- Do you take advantage of each opportunity to share the Gospel with each person you interact with? How can you be more intentional than you are today?
Did You Know?
Jezebel met a very unfortunate end. She was thrown off a balcony by her own servants and trampled by horses! 2 Kings 9 records that dogs came and consumed her body, eating everything but her palms, feet, and skull.
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