Justice Corrupted

KEY VERSE: “Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.” —I Kings 21:20

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Kings 21:1-4, 15-20

WE READ IN the Selected Scripture: “Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, … in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.”

Even though the king had his heart and mind set on getting his neighbor’s vineyard, he proposed to give Naboth full value of it in money, or a better vineyard in exchange. To simply desire this added property was not evil, but to desire anything inordinately is covetous and selfish. Naboth rejected the king’s offer, explaining that he had inherited the vineyard from his ancestors and he could not bear to part with it. Ahab went home depressed and angry over Naboth’s reply; he lay down on his bed and would not eat. Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, noting that her husband appeared despondent, asked him the reason. Upon learning it, she advised him to cheer up—that she would give him Naboth’s vineyard.—I Kings 21:1-7

Jezebel, using the king’s official seal, wrote letters to “the elders and to the nobles that were in his city … saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.” The officials did as Jezebel commanded, proclaiming a day of fasting, giving Naboth the place of honor. The two men of Belial witnessed against him in the presence of the people, saying the words which Jezebel had suggested, and he was stoned outside the city until he was dead. (vs. 13) As soon as Jezebel received the message, she said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” (vs. 15) Immediately, Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth to take possession of it.

“Then the Lord said to Elijah, the prophet from Tishbe, ‘Go to King Ahab of Samaria. You will find him in Naboth’s vineyard, about to take possession of it. … Say to him, ‘After murdering the man, are you taking over his property as well?’ Tell him that this is what I say, ‘In the very place that the dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, they will lick up your blood!’”—I Kings 21:17-19, Today’s English Version

Just as Ahab was entering the garden, he was met by Elijah. The king, confounded at the sudden unexpected meeting with Elijah, saluted the prophet, speaking the words of our Key Verse, “So you have found me, my enemy!” (TEV) Pronouncing God’s wrath against Ahab, Elijah said, “I have found you. … I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel. … And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.” (vss. 17-23, New International Version) The prophetic violent death of “this cursed woman” is described in II Kings 9:30-37.

Ahab’s covetousness was the kind that sought to act through others. He stoned Naboth to death by proxy, rather than directly by his own act. That he did, however, fully endorse the conduct of Jezebel is shown by his readily accepting the fruitage of her action.

As Christians, we are reminded that “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor.” (Rom. 13:10) Even more than this, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”—I Cor. 13:4, NIV

Elijah’s message caused Ahab to become repentant, putting on sackcloth and ashes. Hence, the Lord told Elijah that because Ahab had humbled himself he would postpone the prophesied disaster until Ahab’s son would become king.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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