Wednesday, February 13, 2008

1 Kings 21

What is this passage all about?
Jezebel arranged for the death of Naboth, so that Ahab could take possession of Naboth's ancestral vineyard. Elijah prophesied Jezebel and Ahab's deaths as a result, and Ahab humbled himself.

What can I learn from it?
Ahab had no control over his emotions. He reminds me of a little child, like my sons and daughters who sometimes sulk or get angry if they do not get their own desires. Naboth told Ahab he wouldn't sell the land that was his inheritance. "So Ahab went home, sullen and angry... He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat." (v4) It took his wife's cajoling to get him out of bed and eating food again. Her question of his attitude made it clear his behaviour led her to disrespect him (v7): " 'Is this how you act as king over Israel?' " All over a bit of land he wanted for a vegie patch!
Jezebel's plan was truly wicked. She not only had Naboth killed, she tricked the people of Israel into killing him for what they thought were righteous reasons (that he had cursed God). What a woman! Of their partnership, the Bible records (v25), "There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife." Compare this to some verses commending deserving wives:
~Psalm 128:3 "Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house..."
~Proverbs 5:18-19 "...may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. ...may you ever be captivated by her love."
~Proverbs 12:4 "A wife of noble character is her husband's crown..."
~Proverbs 18:22 "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favour from the LORD."
~Proverbs 19:14 "Houses and wealth are inherited from parents but a prudent wife is from the LORD."
~Proverbs 31:10 "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value." [Compare this honest gain through the wife's diligence to this story of Ahab, Naboth and Jezebel.]
~Ecclesiastes 9:9 "Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun..." [Read more of Ecclesiastes to understand the context of this discordant description.]
And something about the wonderful treasure of marriage, from the Law:
~Deuteronomy 24:5 "If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married."
And from the prophets:
~Malachi 2:15-16: "Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. 'I hate divorce,' says the LORD God of Israel, 'and I hate a man's covering his wife with violence as well as with his garment,' says the LORD God Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith." [Note: covering with garment indicated a coventant made esp an offer of marriage cf Ruth 3:9, also other covenants like that of taking an apprentice as per 1Kings 19:19.]
Ahab was condemned for Jezebel's actions on his behalf through the words of Elijah, whom God sent to the king. For the first (recorded) time in his kingship, Ahab demonstrated repentance for his evil. God had mercy on Ahab and told Elijah (v29), " 'Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.' "

How does this help me to worship God?
When I read about things like this, I feel just like Jonah, who told God (Jonah 3:2), " 'This is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you were a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.' " I know God is loving and merciful, and I totally appreciate it for myself and those I love. But when it comes to people who I think have done terrible things (like murder), sometimes I wish He would not extend that same mercy. Which is very two-faced of me! After all, there is nothing that I could do that would make me acceptable to God through my own merits. As a sinner, before I became a Christian I stood in exactly the same (metaphorical) shoes as Ahab, even though my sins are different to his. I am not worthy. It is Christ alone who is worthy:
Revelation 5:9-10 "And they sang a new song:
'You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation. [Even me, God!]
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.' "

No comments: