The history of Ahab still continues a melancholy, because a sinful history; to the end. Here he is presented to us as coveting his neighbor's vineyard. By Jezebel's stratagem he succeeds. Elijah is sent to him with an awful message from God.
(1) ¶ And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. (2) And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. (3) And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.
The sin of Ahab, in coveting this vineyard of Naboth, will not so fully appear, unless we connect with it the law of God, concerning the possessions of Israel in Canaan. The Lord had solemnly commanded, that no land in Israel should be sold off from the proprietor forever. For, even in case of extreme poverty, at the year of jubilee, if the poor Israelite's poverty, before this year, prevented him from repurchasing it; unbought in that year, it was to revert back to the original owner again. And there can be no doubt, but that a blessed gospel mercy of redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ, was veiled under this command. Indeed the matter is so plain, that a reference only to the scriptures concerning it, will be sufficient proof: see Leviticus 25:23-28. Well might Naboth therefore excuse himself, and say, The Lord forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.
(4) And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. (5) ¶ But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? (6) And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. (7) And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
Whether Jezebel communicated to her husband the plan of villainy, by which she would accomplish this diabolical deed, is not said - But whether or not; both she and her husband were implicated in the sin and consequent punishment.
(8) So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth. (9) And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: (10) And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die. (11) And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them. (12) They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people. (13) And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died. (14) Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.
Nothing can exceed the deliberate purposes of sin in this most atrocious deed. Religion is first called in to the aid of it. A fast is to be proclaimed, as if under the judgments of the Lord, the nations were to be assembled to humble themselves before him. Justice and judgment also to men, shall be apparently regarded for the poor unconscious Naboth, for the accomplishment of whose death, this mockery, both of religion and justice, was to be observed, shall be confronted by witnesses, as if jealous of God's honor and glory. Reader! let me beg of you, never to peruse such instances of cruelty and oppression, without pausing to consider, to what a state of sin our nature is sunk; and what mercy it must have been in our Jesus, to recover our nature from it.
(15) And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead. (16) And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
After looking with horror and astonishment at the murderous prince, in this expedition to take possession of his prey, I would beg the Reader to turn to 2 Kings 9:25, and there he will discover that Jehu, who attended Ahab, as his master on that expedition, was the very person deputed by the Lord to revenge the blood of Naboth on Jezebel; see also 2 Kings 9:33-34. Neither is it a subject less worthy of remark in this place, that as the elders of Jezreel were so forward to execute Jezebel's orders for the murder of Naboth; so were the elders of Samaria equally obedient to execute Jehu's orders, in the after reign, for the destruction of the 70 sons of Habakkuk. Surely the judgment of God lingereth not, and the destruction of sinners slumbereth not. See 2 Kings 10:1-7.
(17) ¶ And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, (18) Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it. (19) 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. (20) 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. (21) Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, (22) And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin. (23) And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. (24) Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat. (25) But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. (26) And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.
Observe in this account, how the Lord's eye had been looking on through the whole transaction. He did not stop Jezebel's proceedings, He did not stay the minds of the elders of Jezreel; no! nor the hands of the common executioners, who stoned Naboth. In the government of the world, how often do the oppressed cry out by reason of the oppressor! Nay, Reader! look at the cross of Christ! think of that! Paul sums up the account, when he saith, He spared not his own Son. Romans 8:32. Is the Reader at a loss to explain these things? The Bible fully doth it for him. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. This one assurance answers all inquiries. And oh! what a precious thought is it, that He who will preside there as Judge, is at the same time, the Saviour and Brother of his people.
(27) And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. (28) And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, (29) Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.
Though Ahab humbled himself before the Lord, and like another Felix, trembled; yet we read nothing of his heart being turned towards the Lord. But behold the graciousness of God. The evil day is postponed, intimating the Lord's readiness to pardon, and his reluctance to punish. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel; how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? Hosea 11:8.
IT is impossible to behold human nature, as represented in such characters as Ahab and Jezebel, but with the most humiliating pain and sorrow, from our connection in the general mass. When I consider that, by nature, we are all alike children of wrath, enemies to God by wicked works; oh! how humbling is the view! But when, through grace, our souls are brought to look at the rock whence we are hewn, and to the hole of the pit from whence we are digged; oh! how precious, how inestimably precious is that mercy, which is so distinguishing. Never, blessed Jesus; never, I beseech thee, dearest Lord and Saviour, suffer me to read of such awful characters in thy sacred word, without feeling the blessedness of that question of thy servant the apostle, applied and brought home to my soul; Who maketh thee to differ from another: and what hast thou which thou didst not receive? And, Lord! suffer me to ask another mercy from thee: while beholding the miseries of our nature, the sufferings of the oppressed, and the cruelty of their oppressors; oh! give me to behold the virtue, the efficacy, the merit, the power, the all sufficiency of thy precious blood, in cleansing from all sin. Here let me gaze on thee and thy cross, until my whole soul goeth forth in the most ardent faith and dependence upon thee. Lord! impress upon my mind, in yet stronger characters, thy eternal excellency. And let my dying moments bear one uniform correspondence with my living conviction; that salvation is in no other; neither is there any other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany