Last week we looked at a series of Ahab's bad decisions and then the pronouncement of judgement on him for them. This week we find King Ahab going home to Samaria to sulk. While he’s there, he notices a man’s vineyard next to his palace. He’s probably seen it 100 times, but today, he decides he wants it. Talk about retail therapy. He’s just been chided for not following through what God asked of him of the Aramaen king, so he wants to comfort himself with the taking over of more property for himself. He goes to have a chat with the land owner. He claims he’d like a nice vegetable garden in the place where the vineyard is. He even promises to give the landowner another plot of land for his vineyard.
The landowner does the unthinkable. He tells the king no. Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” Do you see what is happening here? A couple things, really.
1. This is land that has been in Naboth’s family for generations. It’s land God promised the people of Israel back in the days of Moses during the Exodus. The sense we get here, is that Naboth’s family has been cultivating this specific patch of land for generations. He sees God’s blessing and provision to his family through the everyday cultivation and care of this land.
2. Naboth acknowledges the Lord. He is one of the few who has not been turned away to the Baal’s by the king’s wife. He knows that the blessings he’s been given have been given to him by the Lord. Not a neighbor, not a king, and certainly not an ungodly man could finagle this property and promise from God from his hand. There’s too much tied up in it. It is the fulfillment of God’s promises seen everyday in this little patch of land.
This is where King Ahab becomes “sullen and vexed” again. He’s been told no, when he NEEDED the affirmation to make him feel better. Worse yet, in the “no” Naboth reminded him of his previous sin of disobeying God. One man's obedience called out another man's disobedience.
This is what happens when we walk faithfully with the Lord. We don’t always have to call out the sin of others by actually naming it. Our walk with the Lord shows others what a life committed to Him looks like, and either guilt or repentance happens. Have you heard people accuse others of being judgmental? Boy, I have. Sometimes it’s 100% justified. Christians [including myself] can be self-righteous, hypocritical, and unkind in calling out the sins of others. So while sometimes it’s justified, sometimes just living a life contrary to how others live, the Spirit convicts their hearts. If they are not in a place to respond positively to the conviction, they might call out judgment in others to avoid their own repentance.
That is what I see happening here. Naboth stood by his convictions, and gave God the credit for it. Ahab didn’t get his way and saw again how the man respected God more than Ahab and he couldn’t handle it.
Ahab complains to his wife. Scripture says he crawled in bed, turned his face to the wall, and wouldn’t eat. I’ve seen children behave in much the same way. Jezebel doesn’t like seeing her husband like this, so she “takes care of it.” She frames Naboth. She plans a dinner and seats Naboth at the head, as the guest of honor. Then she plants 2 scheming nobodies and has them testify that Naboth has cursed God and the King. Which is precisely the OPPOSITE of what he actually did.
It works. The men accuse Naboth, and the people stone him to death.
Jezebel tells her husband that Naboth’s dead, and the land is all his for the taking. Ahab gets his sulky self out of bed and takes possession of this man’s land.
Enter Elijah. Elijah tells Ahab what his punishment will be.
God is finished with Ahab and Jezebel’s rebellion. When Naboth was stoned, he was left in the streets for stray dogs to feed on. God promises Ahab the exact same end: disgraced, without any heirs take over the throne, and alone. Here are some interesting facts.
Scripture says that NO ONE did evil like King Ahab and Jezebel did. Yet God shows mercy to Ahab. Again. When Ahab heard from Elijah his punishment, he humbled himself, fasted, and prayed. God relents. He promises that Ahab’s sons will see this punishment, but Ahab will not.
God is much more merciful than I, and I am so thankful.
How have you seen merciful acts from God in your life?
How have you seen them in the lives of others?
Take a few moments to rejoice over the mercy of God. We sin and deserve consequences for our sin, but God does not always give us the consequences we deserve. This ought to propel us into worship.