Ahab answered, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and told him, 'Give me your vineyard for silver, or if you wish, I will give you another vineyard in its place.' And he replied, 'I will not give you my vineyard!'"
I. AN INIQUITOUS PALACE.
1. The king is utterly unprincipled.
(1) See him "heavy and displeased," sick with rage and chagrin, lying in bed in a sulk, his face turned away, refusing to eat. And what for? What dreadful calamity has befallen him? Simply that he could not have the vineyard of Naboth for a garden of herbs!
(2) But, to make things worse, he could not have it without inducing Naboth to transgress God's law (see Leviticus 25:28). Naboth had too much respect for the law to yield. Ahab was really sulking against God I
(3) What model king is this I How could he expect his subjects to be law-abiding when he showed them this example? What a royal soul to take it thus to heart that in addition to his kingdom he cannot have this vineyard!
2. His queen is a "cursed woman."
(1) Such is the style in which she is described by Jehu (2 Kings 9:34). She seems never to have failed in any incident of her life to justify this description.
(2) Now she promises to give Ahab the vineyard of Naboth. Thus she encouraged his evil humour, instead of pointing out to him, as she should have done, his folly.
(3) She will accomplish this by an act of cruel and treacherous despotism scarcely to be paralleled in history (vers. 8-10). She makes her pliant husband her accomplice, using, with his consent, his seal of state, as probably she had done before when she destroyed the prophets of the Lord (1 Kings 18:4), to give authority to the missive of death. She engaged in this business all the more readily because Naboth appears to have been one of the "seven thousand" who would not bend to Baal.
II. AN UNSCRUPULOUS MAGISTRACY.
1. Their servility is horrible.
(1) Not voice of any noble or elder in Jezreel is raised in protest against the order from the palace to have Naboth murdered. With eyes wide open - for the sons of Belial are not found for them; they have themselves to procure these wretches - they proceed to give effect to the dreadful tragedy.
(2) What motive can influence them? They are afraid of Jezebel. They knew her power over Ahab, and they knew the cruelty and vindictiveness of her nature was nerved by more than masculine resolution.
(3) But where was their fear of God?
2. It is aggravated by treachery.
(1) Naboth was one of their number. Is not this suggested in the words, "the elders and nobles that were in the city, dwelling with Naboth! Then is there no voice of neighbourly friendship to speak for Naboth? No voice is raised.
(2) If one voice found courage surely others would take courage, and it might be found in the sequel that the sense of justice would be represented by such numbers and influence that even Jezebel might hesitate to reek vengeance upon them. But not a voice was raised.
3. The treachery is aggravated by hypocrisy.
(1) The tragedy opens with a fast. This is proclaimed ostensibly to avert from the nation the judgments of God supposed to have been provoked by the crimes of Naboth. How much more fitting had it been proclaimed to avert the judgment provoked by the crimes of Naboth's murderers!
(2) The accusation is, Thou didst blaspheme God and the King", (ברכת אלהים ומלך), which by some is rendered, "Thou hast blessed the false gods and Molech." Parkhurst says, "The Lexicons have absurdly, and contrary to the authority of the ancient versions, given to this verb (בר) the sense of cursing in the six following passages: 1 Kings 21:10, 13; Job 1:5, 11; Job 2:5, 9. As to the two first, the LXX. render בר in both cases by ευλογεω, and so the Vulgate by bendico, to bless. And though Jezebel was herself an abominable idolatress, yet, as the law of Moses still continued in force, she seems to have been wicked enough to have destroyed Naboth upon the false accusation of blessing the heathen Aleim and Molech, which subjected him to death by Deuteronomy 13:6; Deuteronomy 17:2-7."
(3) What abominable cruelties have been perpetrated under the name of religion!
III. A DEMORALIZED PEOPLE.
1. Sons of Belial are at hand.
(1) There seems to have been no difficulty in procuring men so lost to truth and mercy that they will readily swear away the life of a good citizen. Nor is this to be wondered at when the whole magistracy are sons of Belial, no better than those they suborned. Jezebel saw no difficulty in procuring such. The nobles and elders of Jezreel found none.
(2) The sons of Belial no doubt were paid for their services. The "consideration" is not mentioned. What will not some men stoop to for gain! What will they hazard in eternity! And for what a trifle!
2. No voice is raised for justice.
(1) Naboth has no hearing in his defence. The sentence given, he is hurried away to be stoned to death.
(2) His family are sacrificed along with him (see 2 Kings 9:26). This was on the principle that the family of Achan had to suffer with him (Joshua 7:24). But how different are the cases!
(3) Unless the family of Naboth had perished with him, the vineyard would not have fallen to the crown. This would be an objection to Jezebel hiring sons of Belial to assassinate Naboth, for Naboth's heirs would still have to be disposed of. Melancholy is the condition of the nation in which right is sacrificed to might. "Sin is reproach to any people." - J.A.M.
Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?
Sits on me as a cloud along the sky,
Which will not let the sunbeams through, nor yet
Descend in rain and end; but spreads itself
'Twixt heaven and earth, like envy between man
And man — and is an everlasting mist.Why should we punish ourselves because we cannot have what others have, and which instead of being a blessing might prove a curse? Why should we torment ourselves because somebody else has obtained what we wanted? Addison has beautifully described in an allegory the foolish way in which people are disappointed because their life is one of obscurity. He says, "There was one day a drop of rain fell from a cloud into the ocean, and the drop of water bitterly complained and was sad of heart because it thought it was annihilated in the mighty expanse of the sea. But it dropped down into the open mouth of an oyster, where, in process of time, it was transformed and became a pearl, which at the present day is the ornament of the crown of the Persian monarch." This little fable teaches us not to repine at our lot. Though you may be feeble and humble as compared with other people, though you may not be beautiful or wealthy, and think yours is a disappointed lot, yet, like that drop of water, our God is preparing you to be an adornment of heaven. Do not therefore be cast down, or let your heart be grieved by any discouragement of birth or fortune in this life.
(J. H. Jowett.)
Great Thoughts.There can be no real happiness in the heart, where self is enthroned. If you would have peace, you must seize, bind, and never again let loose, for self is the cruellest tyrant, the deepest shadow, and the blackest blot that darkens life. To be rid of the despot, you must begin by placing others first in all your thoughts and actions; at this the coward drops his head; he hates another to be first. Next, give him no thought or consideration at all, and though at this neglect he cry out piteously, heed him not, for now is the time to bind him hard and fast with the cords of forgetfulness; then cast him far behind, and be careful to allow neither the call of pain nor pleasure to entice you into loosening one jot or tittle of his bonds, or, once set free, the monster will rise again, hydra-headed, and, towering above all else, enfold and crush you within his clutches, until you are no more free, but a slave, bound hand and foot, in the deadly meshes of over-mastering self.
PeopleAhab, Ahijah, Amorites, Baasha, Elijah, Jeroboam, Jezebel, Jezreel, Melech, Naboth, Nebat
TopicsDesire, Jezreelite, Jizreelite, Money, Naboth, Please, Pleases, Pleaseth, Pleasing, Prefer, Price, Sell, Spake, Speak, Spoke, Stead, Talking, Vine-garden, Vineyard
Outline1. 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 Themes1 Kings 21:1-13
5550 speech, negative
LibraryAhab 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 …
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