Summary: We as Christians know that all people are responsible to God for their actions. God is the final King over this earth, and he holds all of us accountable for our actions.
The story in 1 Kings 21:17-29 is the aftermath of King Ahab’ theft of Naboth’s vineyard by murder. It is a story of prophecy and grace.
Ahab died in battle shortly after the events in this story, and dogs licked his blood at the pool in Samaria. Believers have the courage not to take revenge into their own hands because they have confidence in God’s willingness to avenge evil. That’s why Elijah did not seek revenge on behalf of Naboth. Elijah was content to be God’s messenger and to let God avenge Naboth’s death. The prophecy concerning Jezebel (namely, that she would be eaten by dogs) was fulfilled during the reign of Jehu.
Ahab showed repentance by tearing his clothes. The tearing of garments was a common expression of grief, terror or repentance in the face of great personal or national tragedy. Ahab also showed repentance by wearing sackcloth. Sackcloth was rough and made the skin itch, so it made the wearer remember his or her sin.
When Ahab repented, God had mercy on him and did not judge Ahab’s house during Ahab’s lifetime. Even the most evil person on earth is not beyond God’s mercy, but just because God shows mercy doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences for sin. For example, even though God showed mercy on Ahab, he still brought judgment to Ahab’s house after Ahab died. God gives grace to the humble.
The prophet Elijah caught Ahab in the act of confiscating Naboth’s property. Elijah prophesied God’s punishment for Ahab and Ahab’s family. Elijah was the best friend Ahab had in his kingdom, and like a true best friend he warned Ahab of the consequences of his actions. Sin always blinds sinners to the true identities of friends and enemies.
Jealousy may creep into our lives and lead us to sin. Surrounding ourselves with bad people when we are vulnerable can lead to sin. Ahab was a good example. He sought comfort from Jezebel, and her idea of “comforting” Ahab led to sin, murder and God’s vengeance. Sin blinded Ahab to the true nature of his wife Jezebel. His choice led to physical and moral ruin. Jezebel was singled out for judgment because of her influence on Ahab. Our poor choice of a mate can also lead to physical and moral ruin.
Sin causes the sinner to be ashamed of the best things in life. The apostle Peter made the same mistake when he denied knowing Jesus on the night before Jesus was crucified.
Sin causes us to sell our souls in the following ways. First, we sell our souls when our desire is uncontrolled. Ahab’s sin was the sin of coveting. He coveted Naboth’s vineyard, and that desire led Ahab and Jezebel to commit murder. Second, we sell our souls when we believe we are above the law. Ahab and Jezebel manipulated the law to get Naboth’s property. Finally, we sell our souls to satisfy our desires when we believe no one will know about our sin. Ahab felt guilt over what he did. Ahab’s guilt teaches us that we can’t hide anything from our conscious minds. When we violate our standards of right and wrong, that result is guilt.