1 Kings 21:17
Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
The Progress of SinA. Rowland 1 Kings 21:1-24
Divine InquisitionJ.A. Macdonald 1 Kings 21:15-24
Guilt and MercyJ. Urquhart 1 Kings 21:15-29
Elijah's Mission of JudgmentF. B. Meyer, B. A.1 Kings 21:17-19

Ahab lost no time in reaping the fruit of Jezebel's wickedness. The next day, after the murder of Naboth and his family, we find him taking possession of the coveted vineyard (see 2 Kings 9:26). But in all this dark business there was an invisible Spectator, whose presence does not seem to have been sufficiently taken into the account,


1. He inspects all human actions.

(1) He was present in the palace looking upon the king of Israel as he sulked and sickened upon his bed. His eye also was full upon Jezebel as she proposed her ready cure for the monarch's chagrin. "Thou God seest me."

(2) He was present in that court of justice when the honest Naboth was "set on high among the people." He witnessed the sons of Belial as they swore away the fives of a worthy family. He looked into the faces of the "nobles" and "eiders" of Jezreel who suborned these perjurers. "Thou God seest me."

(3) He was a spectator at the place of execution. He saw the steadiness of Naboth's step, and noted well the bearing of his sons as they came forth to suffer for righteousness. And the swelling of every muscle of those who hurled the stones was measured by His piercing vision. "Thou God seest me."

2. He surveys all human motives.

(1) He clearly discerned the abominable hypocrisy of Jezebel's "fast." It was proclaimed ostensibly to avert from the nation Divine judgments provoked by the alleged blasphemy or idolatry of Naboth. The vineyard of Naboth had more to do with it than his crime. It is "a new thing in the earth" to see Jezebel jealous for the honour of Jehovah!

(2) He knew why the sons of Belial publicly perjured themselves, and accurately estimated the price for which they sold the lives of honourable citizens. He also estimated the cowardly fear of Jezebel's wrath, rather than encounter which the magistrates carried out her wicked instructions. "Nobles" and "elders" they were accounted by men; perjurers, murderers, and dastards they were accounted by God.

(3) He nicely weighed the motive which nerved the muscle of every man who lifted a stone against the life of Naboth. If any were misled by the hypocrisy of the authorities, and thought they "did God service" when they cast the stones, their sincerity was recognized; and those who were not deceived were also known.

3. Nothing is forgotten before Him.

(1) As He sees the end from the beginning so does He see the beginning from the end.

(2) Let us never forget that God never can forget. Every action of our lives is present with Him - so every word - so every thought and intent of the heart. Therefore -


1. He makes sin bitter to the sinner.

(1) The acquisition of the vineyard, the murders notwithstanding, was at first so pleasing to Ahab that it cured his sickness, and he "rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it." And this is often the first effect of the gratification of covetousness.

(2) But how transient is the unworthy satisfaction! It is soon succeeded by a season of reflection. The sudden apparition of Elijah upon the scene filled Ahab with alarm. His conscience now brought his guilt home, and before Elijah uttered a word, the king exclaimed, "Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" This was the language of mingled hatred and fear (see Galatians 4:16). The presence of the good is a silent and effective rebuke to the wicked.

(3) The enormity of Ahab's guilt was brought home to him by the questions, "Hast thou killed, and also taken possession?" He has killed, for by taking possession he sanctions the means by which his title is made out (see Job 31:39; Jeremiah 22:18, 14; Habakkuk 2:12).

(4) God's Holy Spirit still, by means of the word of prophecy, if not by the lips of living prophets, carries guilt to the consciences of sinners, and fills them with remorseful shame.

2. He conveys judgments in His providence. We read this principle in the denunciations uttered by Elijah.

(1) Upon Ahab. "In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine." This was fulfilled (see 1 Kings 22:38). But how "in the place?" for Naboth suffered near Jezreel. Jezreel is, generally, called Samaria, being like Bethel, one of the "cities of Samaria" (see 1 Kings 13:32). So in verse 16, the vineyard of Naboth is said to be in Samaria. The passage is more clearly thus translated: "And the word of Jehovah came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Arise, go down to meet Ahab the king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, at the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to take possession of it."

(2) Upon the family of Ahab (vers. 21, 22, 24). This was a reprisal for the family of Naboth sacrificed with him (see 2 Kings 9:26). All was to the letter accomplished (see 2 Kings 9:10.)

(3) Upon Jezebel. The "cursed woman" is signally execrated (ver. 23). The retribution was as signally accomplished (see 2 Kings 9:36).

(4) This law of retribution in the judgments of Providence is not limited to sacred history. Orestes recognized it when he said to AEgisthus -

"Go where thou slew'st my father,
That in the selfsame place thou too may'st die." It may be read in every full and accurate history.

3. He will finally judge the world.

(1) For Naboth and his family have yet to be vindicated. Providence has vindicated their reputation; but they have to be vindicated in person also. To this end all parties concerned in their murder will have to stand face to face, with their hearts exposed to the clear light and sensible presence of Omniscient Justice. What defence can the sons of Belial then set up? The magistrates? Jezebel? Ahab?

(2) What a day of vindications will that be to all the righteous! What a day of confusion to all the wicked! Everything will be righteously adjusted in that final sentence (Matthew 25:34, 41, 46). - J.A.M.

And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite.
We bend our attention exclusively on the part played by Elijah amid these terrible transactions.

I. He was CALLED BACK TO SERVICE. How many years had elapsed since last the word of the Lord had come to Elijah, we do not know. Perhaps five or six. All this while he must have waited wistfully for the well-known accents of that voice, longing to hear it once again. Hours, and even years, of silence are full of golden opportunities for the servants of God. In such cases, our conscience does not condemn us or accuse us with any sufficient reason arising from ourselves. Our simple duty, then, is to keep clean, and filled, and ready; standing on the shelf, meet for the Master's use; sure that we serve if we only stand and wait; and knowing that He will accept, and reward, the willingness for the deed. "Nevertheless, thou didst well, in that it was in thine heart."

II. ELIJAH WAS NOT DISOBEDIENT. Once before, when his presence was urgently required, he had arisen to flee for his life. But there was no vacillation, no cowardice now. His old heroic faith had revived in him again. His spirit had regained its wonted posture in the presence of Jehovah. His nature had returned to its equipose in the will of God.

III. HE WAS ACTING AS AN INCARNATE CONSCIENCE. Naboth was out of the way; and Ahab may have solaced himself, as weak people do still, with the idea that he was not his murderer. How could he be? He had been perfectly quiescent. He had simply put his face to the wall and done nothing. Often a man, who dares not do a disgraceful act himself, calls a subordinate to his side, and says: "Such a thing needs doing; I wish you would see to. it. Use any of my appliances you will; only do not trouble me further about it — and of course you had better not do anything wrong." In God's sight that man is held responsible for whatever evil is done by his tool in the execution of his commission. The blame is laid on the shoulders of the Principal; and it will be more tolerable for the subordinate than for him in the day of judgment. Further than that, but on the line of the same principle, if an employer of labour, by paying an inadequate and unjust wage, tempts his employes to supplement their scanty pittance by dishonest or unholy methods, he is held responsible, in the sight of Heaven, for the evil which he might have prevented, if he had not been wilfully and criminally indifferent. It is sometimes the duty of a servant of God fearlessly to rebuke sinners who think their high position a licence to evil-doing, and a screen from rebuke. And let all such remember that acts of high-handed sin often seem at first to prosper.

IV. HE WAS HATED FOR THE TRUTH'S SAKE. "And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" Though the king knew it not, Elijah was his best friend; Jezebel his direst foe. But sin distorts everything. It is like the grey dawn which so obscures the most familiar objects that men mistake friends for foes, and foes for friends: as in the old story, the frenzied King of Wales slew the faithful hound that had saved his child from death. Many a time have men repeated the error of the disciples, who mistook Jesus for an evil spirit, and cried out for fear.

V. HE WAS A TRUE PROPHET. Each of the woes which Elijah foretold came true. Ahab postponed their fulfilment, by a partial repentance, for some three years but, at the end of that time, he went back to his evil ways, and every item was literally fulfilled. But as we close this tragic episode in his career, we rejoice to learn that he was reinstated in the favour of God; and stamped again with the Divine imprimatur of trustworthiness and truth.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

Ahab, Ahijah, Amorites, Baasha, Elijah, Jeroboam, Jezebel, Jezreel, Melech, Naboth, Nebat
Jezreel, Samaria
Elijah, Eli'jah, Saying, Tishbite
1. Ahab being denied Naboth's vineyard, is grieved
5. Jezebel writing letters against Naboth, he is condemned of blasphemy
15. Ahab take possession of the vineyard
17. Elijah denounces judgments against Ahab and Jezebel
25. Wicked Ahab repenting, God defers the judgment

Dictionary of Bible Themes
1 Kings 21:17

     5092   Elijah

1 Kings 21:1-19

     4538   vineyard
     5440   perjury

1 Kings 21:1-25

     5745   women

1 Kings 21:15-19

     5931   resistance

1 Kings 21:17-19

     4208   land, divine responsibility

1 Kings 21:17-26

     4938   fate, final destiny

Ahab and Elijah
'And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy!'--1 KINGS xxi. 20. The keynote of Elijah's character is force-the force of righteousness. The New Testament, you remember, speaks of the 'power of Elias.' The outward appearance of the man corresponds to his function and his character. Gaunt and sinewy, dwelling in the desert, feeding on locusts and wild honey, with a girdle of camel's skin about his loins, he bursts into the history, amongst all that corrupt state of society, with the
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

(Tenth Sunday after Trinity.) 1 Kings xxi. 19, 20. And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? and thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine. And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord. Of all the grand personages
Charles Kingsley—Town and Country Sermons

Whether all Dissimulation is a Sin?
Objection 1: It seems that not all dissimulation is a sin. For it is written (Lk. 24:28) that our Lord "pretended [Douay: 'made as though'] he would go farther"; and Ambrose in his book on the Patriarchs (De Abraham i) says of Abraham that he "spoke craftily to his servants, when he said" (Gn. 22:5): "I and the boy will go with speed as far as yonder, and after we have worshipped, will return to you." Now to pretend and to speak craftily savor of dissimulation: and yet it is not to be said that there
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Touching Jacob, However, that which He did at his Mother's Bidding...
24. Touching Jacob, however, that which he did at his mother's bidding, so as to seem to deceive his father, if with diligence and in faith it be attended to, is no lie, but a mystery. The which if we shall call lies, all parables also, and figures designed for the signifying of any things soever, which are not to be taken according to their proper meaning, but in them is one thing to be understood from another, shall be said to be lies: which be far from us altogether. For he who thinks this, may
St. Augustine—Against Lying

Blessed are they that Mourn
Blessed are they that mourn. Matthew 5:4 Here are eight steps leading to true blessedness. They may be compared to Jacob's Ladder, the top whereof reached to heaven. We have already gone over one step, and now let us proceed to the second: Blessed are they that mourn'. We must go through the valley of tears to paradise. Mourning were a sad and unpleasant subject to treat on, were it not that it has blessedness going before, and comfort coming after. Mourning is put here for repentance. It implies
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

Then has God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.' Acts 11: 18. Repentance seems to be a bitter pill to take, but it is to purge out the bad humour of sin. By some Antinomian spirits it is cried down as a legal doctrine; but Christ himself preached it. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent,' &c. Matt 4: 17. In his last farewell, when he was ascending to heaven, he commanded that Repentance should be preached in his name.' Luke 24: 47. Repentance is a pure gospel grace.
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

Of Antichrist, and his Ruin: and of the Slaying the Witnesses.
BY JOHN BUNYAN PREFATORY REMARKS BY THE EDITOR This important treatise was prepared for the press, and left by the author, at his decease, to the care of his surviving friend for publication. It first appeared in a collection of his works in folio, 1692; and although a subject of universal interest; most admirably elucidated; no edition has been published in a separate form. Antichrist has agitated the Christian world from the earliest ages; and his craft has been to mislead the thoughtless, by
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

The book[1] of Kings is strikingly unlike any modern historical narrative. Its comparative brevity, its curious perspective, and-with some brilliant exceptions--its relative monotony, are obvious to the most cursory perusal, and to understand these things is, in large measure, to understand the book. It covers a period of no less than four centuries. Beginning with the death of David and the accession of Solomon (1 Kings i., ii.) it traverses his reign with considerable fulness (1 Kings iii.-xi.),
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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