1 Kings 21:1-16
Jezebel. Her name invokes thoughts of wickedness, and she earned the reputation. She was passionate for the worship of false gods and goddesses and opposed to the true and living God and his prophets. She loved power and was not reluctant to conceive evil schemes and then carry them out. In our text, we see a clear example of what happened to anyone who stood in her way of self-gratification.
How did Jezebel devise to eliminate Naboth and seize his vineyard with the appearance of legality (21:5-10)? Her method was as follows:
- She fed Ahab’s wounded pride (21:7). She sweetly told him to act like a king in the same breath as assuring him that his dear wife would do what she could to get him the property. With the king in her hands, she could do what she wanted with impunity.
- She assumed a religious posture (21:9). She arranged for a fast led by the prominent men of the city. Her instructions were disguised with zeal for the Lord’s name. Let us not be gullible and assume that everyone who appears to be religious and wears the name “Christian” is really a believer. Many evil plots have been carried out in the name of Christ and “true religion”.
- She commanded false witness (Exodus 20:16) and murder (Exodus 20:13). So much for her zeal for the glory of God and his law covenant with Israel. Jezebel showed nothing but contempt for God and his law.
Her scheme when carried out brought others deeper into sin with her (21:11-14). Notice how far the people of the northern kingdom of Israel had descended. Jezebel did not think that they would hesitate to carry out her order, and they didn’t! And they were the respectable men of the community!
They also murdered Naboth’s sons (see 2 Kings 9:26). When we once step over God’s boundary lines, we quickly become experts in transgression. One sin leads to another to “secure” (so we think) our evil desires. Don’t play with sin. You reach down to pet a lap dog and find that a dragon is eating you alive.
Her scheme was completed (21:15-16). Who would dare oppose Ahab’s claim to the property? The pile of rocks over Naboth’s body would tend to chill anyone’s zeal for truth. Ahab acted like he had won a great victory, for he went in a grand march of triumph with his military leaders behind him (cf. 2 Kings 9:25-26).
Obedience to God never insures an easy life (21:13). Listen to the words of Hebrews 11:35b-38. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (ESV). Do not begin to think that your neighbors, your family, and your friends will be overwhelmed by your Christian profession. It took a miracle of grace to change your heart, and it will take a miracle of grace to change their hearts, too. The world will mark you down as a fool if you obey God (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:9-13). Do you want to follow Christ? Count the cost!
God does not always punish the wicked immediately for their acts of rebellion against him. Since God is eternal, he does not need to settle all accounts today. He can wait. The sinner’s doom may be more or less delayed, as in Ahab’s case. But God will finally bring justice. When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless until I entered God’s sanctuary. Then I understood their destiny. Indeed, you put them in slippery places; you make them fall into ruin. How suddenly they become a desolation! They come to an end, swept away by terrors. Like one waking from a dream, Lord, when arising, you will despise their image (Psalm 73:16-20 CSB). May we who love the Lord and people completely avoid the evil paths of Ahab and Jezebel.
Grace and peace, David