But his wife Jezebel said to him, "Do you not reign over Israel? Get up, eat some food, and be cheerful, for I will get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite."
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.
I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth.Luther says of his wife, "I would not exchange my poverty with her for all the riches of Croesus without her." Isabella of Spain, by her superior faith in Columbus, put into the hand of Ferdinand, her husband, America. John Adams, President of the United States, said of his wife: "She never by word or look discouraged me from running all hazards for the salvation of my country's liberties." A whole cemetery of monumental inscriptions will not do a wife so much good after she has quit the world as one plain sentence like that which Tom Hood wrote to his living wife when he said: "I never was anything till I knew you." O woman, what is your wifely ambition, noble or ignoble? Is it high social position? That will then probably direct your husband, and he will climb and scramble and slip and fall and rise and tumble, and on what level, or in what depth, or on what height he will, after a while, be found, I cannot even guess. The contest for social position is the most unsatisfactory contest in all the world, because it is so uncertain about your getting it, and so insecure a possession after you have obtained it, and so unsatisfactory even if you keep it. The whisk of a lady's fan may blow it out. The growl of one "bear," or the bellowing of one "bull" on Wall Street, may scatter it. Some of us could tell of what influence upon us has been a wifely ambition consecrated to righteousness. A man is no better than his wife will let him be. O wives, swing your sceptres of wifely influence for God and good homes! Do not urge your husbands to annex Naboth's vineyard to your palace of success, whether right or wrong, lest the dogs that come out to destroy Naboth come out also to devour you. Righteousness will pay best in life, will pay best in death, will pay best in judgment, will pay best through all eternity. In our effort to have the mother of every household appreciate her influence over her children, we are apt to forget the wife's influence over the husband. In many households the influence upon the husband is the only home influence. In a great multitude of the best and most important and most talented families of the earth there have been no descendants. Multitudes of the finest families of the earth are extinct. As though they had done enough for the world by their genius or wit or patriotism or invention or consecration, God withdrew them. In multitudes of cases all woman's opportunity for usefulness is with her contemporaries. How important that it be an improved opportunity! While the French warriors on their way to Rheims had about concluded to give up attacking the castle at Troyes, because it was so heavily garrisoned, Joan of Are entered the room and told them they would be inside the castle in three days. "We would willingly wait six days," said one of the leaders. "Six!" she cried out, "you shall be in it to-morrow," and, under her leadership, on the morrow they entered. On a smaller scale, every man has garrisons to subdue and obstacles to level, and every wife may be an inspired Joan of Are to her husband. What a noble, wifely ambition, the determination, God helping, to accompany her companion across the stormy sea of this life and together gain the wharf of the Celestial City! Coax him along with you! You cannot drive him there You cannot nag him there; but you can coax him there. That is God's plan. He coaxes us all the way — coaxes us out of our sins, coaxes us to accept pardon, coaxes us to heaven. If we reach that blessed place, it will be through a prolonged and Divine coaxing.
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
PeopleAhab, Ahijah, Amorites, Baasha, Elijah, Jeroboam, Jezebel, Jezreel, Melech, Naboth, Nebat
TopicsAct, Arise, Bread, Cheer, Cheerful, Eat, Execute, Exercise, Glad, Govern, Heart, I'll, Jezebel, Jez'ebel, Jezreelite, Jizreelite, Joyful, Kingdom, Merry, Naboth, Reign, Rise, Rule, Ruler, Sovereignty, Vine-garden, Vineyard, Wife
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 21:7
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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