1 Kings 21:8

Time was when the Hebrew nation was great and respected, "a praise in the earth" for kings wise and honourable, for magistrates upright and noble, and for a people faithful and true. But how completely is all this changed! A more pitiable picture of national depravity could scarcely be drawn than that presented in the text. Here we have -


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.


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!


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.
How important that every wife have her ambition an elevated, righteous, and divinely approved ambition! And here let me say that what I am most anxious for is that woman, not waiting for the rights denied her or postponed, should promptly and decisively employ the rights she already has in possession. Some say she will be in a fair way to get all her rights when she gets the right to the ballot-box. I do not know that it would change anything for the better. But let every wife, not waiting for the vote she may never get, or, getting it, find it outbalanced by some other vote not fit to be cast, arise now in the might of the Eternal God and wield the power of a sanctified wifely ambition for a good approximating the infinite. No one can so inspire a man to noble purposes as a noble woman, and no one so thoroughly degrade a man as a wife of unworthy tendencies. While in my text we have illustration of wifely ambition employed in the wrong direction, in society and history are instances of wifely ambition triumphant in right directions. All that was worth admiration in the character of Henry VI. was a reflection of the heroics of his wife Margaret. William, Prince of Orange, was restored to the right path by the grand qualities of his wife Mary. Justinian, the Roman Emperor confesses that his wise laws were the suggestion of his wife Theodora. Andrew Jackson, the warrior and President, had his mightiest reinforcement in his plain wife, whose inartistic attire was the amusement of the elegant circles in which she was invited. Washington, who broke the chain that held America in foreign vassalage, wore for forty years a chain around his own neck, that chain holding the miniature likeness of her who had been his greatest inspiration, whether among the snows at Valley Forge or the honours of the Presidential chair. Pliny's pen was driven through all its poetic and historical dominions by his wife, Calpurnia, who sang his stanzas to the sound of flute, and sat among audiences enraptured at her husband's genius, herself the most enraptured. Pericles said he got all his eloquence and statesmanship from his wife. When the wife of Grotius rescued him from long imprisonment at Lovestein by means of a bookcase that went in and out, carrying his books to and fro, in which he was one day transported, hidden amid the folios; and the women of besieged Wurzburg, getting permission from the victorious army to take with them so much of their valuables as they could carry, under cover of the promise shouldered and took with them, as the most important valuables, their husbands — both achievements in a literal way illustrated what thousands of times has been done in a figurative way, namely, that wifely ambition has been the salvation of men. De Tocqueville, whose writings will be potential and quoted while the world lasts, ascribes his successes to his wife, and says: "Of all the blessings which God has given to me, the greatest of all in my eyes is to have lighted on Maria Motley." Martin 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.)

By the fate of Ahab, whose wife induced him to steal; by the fate of Macbeth, whose wife pushed him into massacre; by the fate of James Ferguson, the philosopher, whose wife entered the room while he was lecturing and wilfully upset his astronomical apparatus, so that he turned to the audience and said: "Ladies and gentlemen, I have the misfortune to be married to this woman"; by the fate of Bulwer, the novelist, whose wife's temper was so incompatible that he furnished her a beautiful house near London, and withdrew from her company; by the fate of John Milton, who married a termagant after he was blind, and when somebody called her a rose, the poet said, "I am no judge of colours, but I may be so, for I feel the thorns daily" — by all these scenes of disquietude and domestic calamity, we implore you to be cautious and prayerful before you enter upon the connubial state, which decides whether a man shall have two heavens or two hells, a heaven here and a heaven there, or a hell now and a hell hereafter.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

Ahab, Ahijah, Amorites, Baasha, Elijah, Jeroboam, Jezebel, Jezreel, Melech, Naboth, Nebat
Jezreel, Samaria
Ahab, Ahab's, Authority, Chiefs, Dwelling, Dwelt, Elders, Freemen, Letter, Letters, Naboth, Naboth's, Nobles, Placed, Responsible, Seal, Sealed, Sealeth, Stamp, Stamped, Writeth, Wrote
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 21:8

     5391   letters
     5518   seal
     5723   nobles

1 Kings 21:1-13

     4366   stones

1 Kings 21:1-14

     5550   speech, negative
     5951   slander

1 Kings 21:1-16

     5714   men
     6710   privileges

1 Kings 21:1-19

     4538   vineyard
     5440   perjury

1 Kings 21:1-25

     5745   women

1 Kings 21:2-16

     8716   dishonesty, examples

1 Kings 21:7-13

     5969   treachery

1 Kings 21:7-14

     5202   accusation, false

1 Kings 21:8-10

     5348   injustice, nature and source
     5798   betrayal
     8841   unfaithfulness, to people

1 Kings 21:8-11

     5638   writing

1 Kings 21:8-13

     5201   accusation
     5625   witnesses, false

1 Kings 21:8-14

     7719   elders, as leaders
     8751   false witness

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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