1 Kings 21:1-10

Ahab Covets Naboth’s Vineyard

21 Now it came about after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in Jezreel beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden because it is close beside my house, and I will give you a better vineyard than it in its place; if [a]you like, I will give you the price of [b]it in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” So Ahab came into his house sullen and vexed because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and ate no [c]food.

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 [d]food?” So he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you a vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now [e]reign over Israel? Arise, eat bread, and let your heart be joyful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent letters to the elders and to the nobles who were living with Naboth in his city. Now she wrote in the letters, saying, “Proclaim a fast and seat Naboth at the head of the people; 10 and seat two worthless men before him, and let them testify against him, saying, ‘You cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him [f]to death.”

I’ve been pondering on this passage for two days now, and first I look at Ahab. He offers a generous price for the vineyard, and he gets turned down. No harm there, the land has been in the family for hundreds of years, and Naboth just can’t bring himself to part with it.

Ahab acts like a whiny baby, but that seems to be only half the problem. Soon, Jezebel steps in and says “Aren’t you the king?” Now, there are two ways that could be interpreted, and perhaps she meant both of them, but only one is really legitimate.

The first is: you’re the king, stop acting like a child, and have some respect for the position. The second is: you’re the king, you can do whatever you want. And that’s where they get into trouble. Being a leader doesn’t mean doing whatever you want. Power doesn’t grant you license do take what you please, and say what you like. It grants you enormous responsibility to do good and the same power to do evil.

Ultimately, power shows what is in your heart, and does so on a grand stage. Unlike normal peasants that might be evil to the core, but hardly anyone sees their true heart. Thus we see the darkness of Jezebel’s heart as she conspires to murder Naboth, to get his vineyard and stop her whiny husband from crying.

But before we get too far down the rabbit hole, it reminds me of another verse (which I’ll paraphrase): “who can find a virtuous wife? She is worth more than all the money in the world, far more than a stupid vineyard.” Don’t settle for a pretty face, or you might just find a Jezebel. Look for more, look for a heart that is set on God, and you’ll get both in the deal. And yes, the same goes for the women too. Don’t settle for a hunk without a heart of gold. You’re worth more to the king than that, and He wants the best for you.

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