Summary: Elijah’s confrontation of Ahab over Naboth’s death
If you don’t think God has a sense of humor just look at the person beside you.
Naboth’s vineyard I Kings 21:1-20
The story of Ahab could probably be summed up in one verse. It’s found in I Kings 16:33, “And Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings that were before him.” So Ahab was without a doubt the worst king the nation of Israel had ever seen. And when we see what the nation had come to as far as their relationship with God was concerned we’re reminded of the saying, “People get the leadership they deserve.” And maybe that explains the quality of people we have in control of our country.
We’ve seen a small portion of Ahab’s life as we’ve watched him being confronted by Elijah. We know that he was a jew who had married not only outside of his race but also outside of his faith when he married Jezebel. She was the daughter of the king of the Sidonians and her father was the head of Baal worship. So Ahab not only married an idolater but then we also saw that he did everything he could to help her promote idolatry among the Jewish people. We are told he even planted a grove which was a place of idolatry and immorality. And then of course he persecuted the prophets of the Lord. He went as far as killing any he found. The only believers that existed in his kingdom were Obadiah and no one knew he was a believer and the seven thousand he kept hidden in a cave. From what the scripture teaches us Ahab seemed to have hated the prophets of God because their message hampered his lifestyle.
I think Ahab would like some of the preachers we have on television today. People like Robert Schueller who says things like, “Inch by inch, life is a cinch.” Ahab probably had a bumper sticker on his chariot that said, “You just can’t fail, if you worship Baal.” Like many today he had a comfortable religion that accommodated his sin and made no demands on his lifestyle. I Timothy 4 that describes the so-called believers of the last days who get taken in by teachers who tickle their ears. They’ll tickle your ears as long as you tickle their palms. We don’t have to wait for the last days because there are plenty of them around today.
So Ahab had quite a history. He turned the nation from the worship of God to idolatry and immorality. He persecuted the prophets and established a couple of cults. And then he witnessed great miracles such as the three and a half-year drought, the fire that came down from heaven and then the rain that followed, all of which came as a result of Elijah’s prophesying. But in spite of everything he saw he gave in to Jezebel who threatened to kill Elijah.
Not long after this Ahab found himself at war with the Syrians who were led by Ben-Hadad. The account is found in I Kings 20. There were two major battles. We read that God gave Ahab the victory in the hill country and the Syrians responded by saying, “God did a good job on the mountains but He can’t fight on the plains.” So they went to battle down on the plains and Israel got the victory again. So Syria was completely defeated and then we’re told that Ahab captured Ben-Hadad and rather than execute him as an enemy he treated him like he was some kind of celebrity and this was a man that God had slated for destruction.
In spite of all his sinful dealings with the nation we find him in this passage seemingly at peace in his winter palace. He may be safe and secure in his palace but he’s not content. He couldn’t just live and let live. And so he’s strolling around on his roof and he looks over at his neighbor’s vineyard and he comes to the conclusion that his vineyard would be a great place for a great vegetable garden. He makes these decisions without even thinking about the fact that the land isn’t available.
At this point it seems like God says, “Thus far and no farther.” As the scripture says, “He touched the apple of God’s eye,” which is another way of saying he poked his finger in God’s eye. Has anybody ever poked their finger in your eye? No one has to tell you how to react because no matter who does it or why, we always react in shock and anger. Our reaction isn’t selfish it’s just the most sensitive part of our body. So God says Ahab poked his finger God’s eye by touching the people who were trying to obey the word of God. Proverbs 29:1 says, “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” And so I think we can say that this is the place, where Ahab passes the point of no return.