1 Kings 21

1 Kings 21

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Naboth’s Vineyard

21 Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food.

But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?” And 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 please you, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ And he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” And Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; 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 she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city. And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people. And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.” And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”

As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

The Lord Condemns Ahab

Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Have you killed and also taken possession?”’ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.”’”

Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD. Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. And I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the anger to which you have provoked me, and because you have made Israel to sin. And of Jezebel the LORD also said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel.’ Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat.”

Ahab’s Repentance

(There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD cast out before the people of Israel.)

And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.”


1 Kings 21 Commentary

by Hank Workman

Her name is synonymous with the evilest woman in all of Scripture.  In fact, her name is mentioned in Revelation as an example of people who completely and totally reject God.  Jezebel was a pagan who married Ahab through an agreement between Israel and the king of the Sidonians.  As was the case with all these intermarriages between nations, the women brought their gods with them.  However, it seems no one was more determined than Jezebel to make Israel worship her gods. 

In that right, she was successful.  Israel forsook the God of Israel for the other gods.  Consider even, to Elijah it seemed she had succeeded in this goal as he thought he was the only one faithful.  This was not the case however as 7000 were still serving God.  They had simply gone underground as the times of hate dictated against them.

More than this goal, however, she held great power.  She managed and controlled her husband, Ahab, who was incredibly weak.  She had and controlled 850 pagan priests.  She believed what she wanted she would and could get as today’s story of plotting and carrying out the murder of Naboth so his land could be acquired.  There was nothing beyond her reach, or so she thought.  She was pure evil on so many levels, which is why within the book of Revelation her name resurfaces to the spirit within her that will be seen during the end of time.

Oh, Jezebel would find her demise of course.  It would be a brutal death but not before her husband was killed in war, her son slaughtered by Jehu who would take the throne by force.  She would be thrown from a wall as she was still in the throes of trying to manipulate and get her way.  She died defiant up to the very end.

Today’s story brings a pause of consideration.  When you compare Jezebel to Elijah each showed strength and commitment.  The big difference was to whom or what were they committed to?  Jezebel was committed to her ways and her gods.  Elijah even though we read of his struggles, was committed to God.  Where does our commitment rest?

1 Kings 21 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

When Elijah finished speaking, Ahab tore his clothes, took them off, and put on sackcloth. He refused food, slept in the sackcloth, and went about gloomy and depressed.

1 Kings 21:27

The tearing of one’s clothes signified public humiliation. It was the expression of grief, terror, or repentance. In this case, Ahab actually did show some humility after he received the word from Elijah. This is what it took for him to begin to bow his knee. For so long, he was attracted to the selfish pursuit of comfort and pleasure. He built his life around it. But in this one moment of confrontation, he realizes that his world is about to come crashing down.

What is it that causes us to go back to sin, time and time again? Why do we wait until consequences come to truly change our path? If we are honest, we can see a little Ahab in all of us. The king was someone who grew up with truth. He knew God was over all things. He knew God would judge the unrighteous. He experienced God’s grace. He even witnessed God’s miracles and faithfulness on the battlefield.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again. Ahab continually chose his sin over God. He continued to go back to his chains. He went back to Jezebel. He went back to Baal. Even in all this, God honors his repentance! God withholds his judgment because of Ahab’s choice to change his direction!

When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put sackcloth over his body, and fasted. He lay down in sackcloth and walked around subdued.  28  Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite:  29  “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? I will not bring the disaster during his lifetime, because he has humbled himself before Me. I will bring the disaster on his house during his son’s lifetime.”

1 Kings 21:27-29 HCSB

Look at what it took for Ahab to be brought to this point. It took grace + consequences. Unfortunately for Ahab, his repentance would not last. It would prove, once again, to be a self-serving act.

“But this humiliation or repentance of Ahab’s was only external and superficial, arising from the terror of God’s judgments; and not sincere and serious, proceeding from the love of God, or a true sense of his sin, or a solemn purpose of amendment of his life, as appears, because all the particulars of his repentance here, are external and ritual only; nor is there the least intimation of any one sign or fruit of his true repentance, as that he restored Naboth’s land, or reproved his infamous wife; but in the very next chapter you find him returning to his former vomit.”

Matthew Poole
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