A view towards Bishopsteignton in mist. As the mist clears, everything becomes clearer

1 Kings 21:1-28


Naboth's vineyard.


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Read 1 Kings 21:1-3

1 Some time later (Possibly 859bc) there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”

3 But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”


That seemed a reasonable, even generous request. Was Naboth being rude or disrespectful? Or was he simply stating the truth?

What did the Lord forbid?

Leviticus 25:23 The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.

God's law regarding inheritance was very specific. If through poverty you were forced to sell your land, you had the absolute right to buy it back again. Otherwise it would be returned to you or your family on the 'Year of Jubilee' (Leviticus 25:25-28)

Ahab had made a fair offer, but Naboth was simply not able to accept it.


Read 1 Kings 21:4-7

4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.

5 His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”

6 He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’ ”

7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”


Jezebel had no regard for Almighty God, or his laws. She had not witnessed God's power on Carmel, in fact she held God and his laws in contempt.


Read 1 Kings 21:8-16

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. 9 In those letters she wrote:

“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them testify that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”

11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned and is dead.”

15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.


I can picture an emotionless Jezebel simply noting that her royal decree had been carried out; and a smug Ahab hurrying to inspect his new vineyard.

Read 1 Kings 21:17-26

17 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18 “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. 19 Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’ ”


20 Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!”

“I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. 21 ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. 22 I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin.’

23 “And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’

24 “Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country.”

25 (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. 26 He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.)


How did Elijah feel about delivering that message?

He probably returned to where he was staying thinking ‘well at last Ahab is going to get his come-uppance’.


But, for the first time in his life, Ahab shows genuine remorse for his actions. Read verse 27:

27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.


Now it is Elijah’s turn to have a Jonah moment. Read verse 28:

28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? 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.”


Do we naturally feel that revenge is sweet?

Is it right that those who do wrong should be punished?

Is it good enough just to say sorry?


But again we have to understand that God does not think like us


Ezekiel 18:23

23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?


Ezekiel 33:11

11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’


If God’s primary aim is the repentance and reconciliation of each of those who he has created, and who he loves as a father, do we have any right to look at other people in judgement?


Are there any exceptions?


Is it our duty to always reflect God’s love to everyone?





1 Kings 19f 1 Kings 22a NIV Copyright