Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 21:5

But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, "How is it that your spirit is so sullen that you are not eating food?"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Dishonesty;   Government;   Indictments;   Jezebel;   King;   Naboth;   Women;   Thompson Chain Reference - Jezebel;   Queens;   Women;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Jezreel;   Naboth;   Vine;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ahab;   Jezebel;   King;   Steal;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Kings, the Books of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Esdraelon;   Festivals;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Government;   Jezebel;   Justice;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Jezebel ;   Jezreelite, Jezreelitess ;   Naboth ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Naboth;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Elijah;   Jezebel;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Babylonish Captivity, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Jezebel;   Judge;  

The Biblical Illustrator

1 Kings 21:5

Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?

A cure for the dumps

The witty Sydney Smith once said, “Never give way to melancholy, for if you do, it will encroach upon you like an overflowing river and overwhelm you.” He added he had given twenty-four precautions to a lady of melancholy disposition to keep her from being sad. One of the things he recommended was to keep a bright fire in her room. Another of Sydney Smith’s remedies for low spirits was to think over all the pleasant things you can remember. A third receipt was, always to keep a box of sugar-plums on the mantelpiece. Some of you would object to a sugar-plum when you go to a friend’s house, but at any rate, it would please the giver for you to accept it, and for myself I may say that it would give me pleasure to receive it. Another remedy for despondency prescribed by the humorous Canon was, to always have the kettle simmering on the hob. These of course are little things, but they have their influence. These fits of sadness and melancholy make good things appear bad, and they so disturb the balance of our reason as to cause us to imagine that even loving friends dislike us. Shakespeare puts into the mouth of the masterpiece of his creative genius, Hamlet, this excellent description of the feelings of people, who are in the dumps:--“This goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a barren promontory; while that most excellent canopy, the air, look you; that great overhanging sky, that majestic roof, fretted with golden fire,--why! it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.” When the “lumbermen” are floating great logs of wood down the river St. Lawrence, past the city of Quebec, from the interior of Canada--those great logs which are brought to Liverpool and along our canals and railways to be cut up in the saw-mills--it sometimes happens that one of these great logs from being in the river for more than one season, gets its millions of pores filled with water, when it becomes what is called “water-logged.” The log then sinks, through the water having got into its heart. Likewise, there are men and women who, while they are being carried along the stream of life, get so saturated with its cares and troubles that they sink; they are “trouble-logged,” and sometimes they die of what is called a broken heart. I think it is in our power to prevent people getting “trouble-logged “ and sinking helplessly in the Slough of Despond. Cervantes, the finest writer of humour that Spain has produced, whose works raised a smile on people’s faces when they read or heard about them, was one of the saddest of men, his features having the marks of perpetual gloom upon them. Moliere, the greatest master of humorous writing in France, looked as if his face had been made ugly with disappointment and grief; while Foote, one of our most comic English writers and actors died of a broken heart. We all get at times into this hypochondriac way--We all get into the dumps at times, feeling as if there were no God. The victims of this mental disease of “low spirits” go through the world as if they were forsaken orphans, without a penny or a friend. There is the instance of Ahab, who had everything that a despotic king could desire, but he was not satisfied. In many cases our troubles and disappointments arise from our own fault. This seems to have been the case with Jacob. Few Scripture characters had more trouble or were oftener sad than Jacob, who said that all the days of his life had been evil, and that his children would bring down his grey hairs in sorrow to the grave. In modern times, few men have excited more morbid and undeserved sympathy than the poet, Lord Byron, who was often in the dumps. He inherited a passionate and proud nature, but his greatest trouble seems to have been his unfortunate club.foot, which he could neither hide nor put out of remembrance. This and his dissipation made his nature gloomy. Hear his words--


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. (W. Birch.)

Nemesis of a selfish life-

A man who lives entirely for himself becomes at last obnoxious to himself. I believe it is the very law of God that self-centeredness ends in self-nauseousness. There is no weariness like the weariness of a man who is wearied of himself, and that is the awful Nemesis which follows the selfish life. (J. H. Jowett.)

The tyranny of self

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. (Great Thoughts.)

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Kings 21:5". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible


"But Jezebel his wife came unto him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? 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. And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let thy heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. 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, and that dwelt with Naboth. And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: and set two men, base fellows, before him, and let them bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst curse God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him to death."

"Naboth answered, I will not give thee my vineyard" (1 Kings 21:6). Ahab here lied against Naboth, because he omitted the reason why Naboth would not sell his vineyard. Ahab most certainly did know what Jezebel had in mind, because we have here a glimpse of her modus operandi when she murdered the priests of Jehovah. She did it in the king's name, and by using his signet, or seal. The use of royal seals is very old, and the king's seal was often engraved on a gold ring. And, in the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan, this writer has seen the gold ring of Alexander the Great, with which he sealed royal documents.

"Dost thou not govern the kingdom of Israel?" (1 Kings 21:7). There is obviously contempt on Jezebel's part in such words as these. She no doubt despised her weakling husband.

"And she wrote ... proclaim a fast" (1 Kings 21:9). "The purpose of this was to cast a religious mantle over the whole diabolical procedure."[7] The evil leaders of Jezreel, following Jezebel's orders to the letter were pretending that their city was under some great cloud of guilt, due to some citizen's having committed some capital crime. Their procedure mimicked the behavior of Joshua following the sin of Achan, in which event, the guilt of the people could not be lifted until Achan was identified and stoned to death, along with all the members of his family (Joshua 7).

"Set Naboth on high among the people" (1 Kings 21:9). This is somewhat misleading, because it sounds as if they were to honor Naboth, but that is not what was meant. "It was a command to bring him before a court, or general assembly, for a public trial."[8]

"Set two men before him, base fellows, and let them bear witness against him" (1 Kings 21:10). How remarkable it is that Jezebel here betrayed a rather thorough knowledge of the Law of Moses, which specifically required that at least two witnesses be required for the condemnation of anyone accused of crime (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6,19:15).

"Saying, that, Thou didst curse God and the king" (1 Kings 21:10). Oh yes, and Jezebel knew exactly what kind of a crime was punishable by death (See Leviticus 24:15).

"And take him out, and stone him to death?" (1 Kings 21:10). Furthermore Jezebel was thoroughly familiar with the Divinely-prescribed penalty for such a crime. Furthermore, she knew all about the instructions for such an execution, how it was to be by stoning and outside the camp or the city (Leviticus 24:14). It is hundreds of examples just like this (throughout the entire O.T., and which we have cited in our commentaries) which effectively refute the nonsense advocated by the critical community regarding a late date for the Pentateuch. Jezebel evidently was familiar with all five of the Books of Moses in the mid-ninth century before Christ.

We treasure the significant word of Hammond, who wrote, "Even Jezebel bears witness to the Pentateuch."[9]

"Thou didst curse God and the king" (1 Kings 21:10). The Hebrew text here has "bless God and the king," and Snaith explains why "The word BLESSED was deliberately substituted for CURSED, because Jewish writers considered it sinful even to write the word CURSE or BLASPHEME; and our English versions have properly changed the word back again to CURSED."[10]

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:5". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But Jezebel his wife came unto him, and said, why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? She perceived he was low spirited, and supposed he had met with something that had ruffled him, and made him so uneasy that he could not eat his food; and she desired to know what it was, that she might relieve him if possible.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:5". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

1 Kings 21:5-16. Jezebel causes Naboth to be stoned.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 21:5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?

Ver. 5. But Jezebel his wife came to him.] This was well enough. Woman was first given to man for a comforter; but if sometimes for a counsellor, yet not at all for a controller, as this wicked woman took upon her to be.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?
25; 16:31; 18:4; 19:2; Genesis 3:6
Why is thy spirit
2 Samuel 13:4; Nehemiah 2:2; Esther 4:5
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 19:1 - Ahab;  2 Kings 3:2 - and like;  James 3:6 - a world

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:5". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".