Summary: A look at the story of Naboth and his vineyard and how it applies to us.
You ever feel like just when things are going well that the Government comes along and wants everything you have? If it’s not property tax that the HRM wants, then it’s sales tax the province wants or income tax the federal government wants. Did I read somewhere that the average Canadian has to work until June just to pay their taxes? But all is not lost; we’ve been told that a part of the Budget Surplus from last year will go into an income tax break, which could result in a $50.00 a year savings. Be still my trembling heart. What will I do with all that extra cash?
On the other hand it could be worse. Put yourself in this guys shoes. One day you’re out working in your vineyard, tending the vines, killing the bugs, pulling out the weeds and whatever else you do when you’re tending a garden. Can’t tell I was a fisherman and not a farmer can you. And into your life arrives the King who makes you an offer you can’t refuse, but you do.
What happens is that the king tells you he wants your vineyard to plant a veggie garden in. And he offers to give you a better vineyard, or whatever else you want. Just imagine John Hamm arrives at your door and says “I love your house, and I will trade you for a much nicer home or give you however much you want for it.” The problem was that this vineyard had been in Naboth’s family for longer then long. This was in all probability the plot that was given to his family hundreds of years before the Israelites had first arrived into the Promised Land to sell his birthright was against the law of God. And so he didn’t even think about it he just told the king no.
So the King went home and climbed the miff tree, you know he went to snitsville, or whatever. Because regardless of what you call it the King began to sulk. Poor king. It wasn’t hard to notice that he hadn’t gotten his own way, he’d just gone in thrown himself on his bed and stared at the wall, wouldn’t come out not even for dinner. And so while he’s having fun at his own pity party his wife Jezebel comes along and wants to know what’s wrong. And so Ahab tells her, 1 Kings 21:6 “I asked Naboth to sell me his vineyard or to let me give him a better one, and he told me I couldn’t have it.” You can almost hear the whine in his voice. Now personally I love the response of the queen cause she says, “Aren’t you the King of Israel?” And then she tells him, “Get out of bed and eat something! Don’t worry, I’ll get Naboth’s vineyard for you.” Now is this a dysfunctional relationship or what?
Now if this were a movie, the music would change to a minor key to signify that something was about to happen, and indeed something did happen, and it wasn’t all that nice.
Jezebel borrowed the King’s seal and letterhead wrote letters to the officials of the town where Naboth lived, asked them to order the people in the town to begin a fast and to call for a town hall meeting with everyone in the community. Now this might seem a little strange to us, but to the people of Jezreel it could only mean one thing. I suppose I should tell you, right? It meant that somehow they had displeased God and the officials were going to make it right. Along with the call to a fast Jezebel added one other thing. She wanted the town leaders to find two false witnesses who would swear that they heard Naboth curse God and the King. And then there were to take Naboth out and execute him. Simple yet effective. And to the bottom of the letter she affixed her husbands seal and signature.
And that’s what happened, as a matter of fact not only was Naboth stoned to death, but later on we discover that his entire household was put to death. Conveniently leaving his estate including his vineyard without an heir.
Well what is a king supposed to do? The land now reverted to the crown because the previous owner had been found guilty of treason and blasphemy. I’m sure that Jezebel was thinking, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
Not a very nice story, but then again Ahab and Jezebel weren’t very nice people. So what can we learn from this story.
Naboth’s sin started when he wanted something that somebody else had. Naboth wasn’t alone here; the very essence of sin goes back to principle. If you were to take a trip back to the beginning you would find the original couple, Adam and Eve had everything they could possibly want, except for one thing, they could not eat from one tree. They could do anything they wanted to with the tree. They could look at it, they could touch it, they could climb it, they could chop it down and burn it, but God had told them very specifically in Genesis 2:16-17 But the LORD told him, “You may eat fruit from any tree in the garden, except the one that has the power to let you know the difference between right and wrong. If you eat any fruit from that tree, you will die before the day is over!”