« PreviousContinue »
studying Ahab's character, and examining into the causes of his great wickedness.
In the matter of Naboth's vineyard we have only one out of many such sins as Ahab was guilty of. But it is a very instructive history on many accounts. There is the smallness of its beginning,—it began with a wish of the heart, and the sin of covetousness. It was planned and carried out by Ahab's wife, he all the time taking no part in the transaction itself. Then there is an account of the discovery of his guilt, his reproof and condemnation by Elijah.
Let us look at these points, as related in the history, and learn from them the lessons taught us.
What a proof we have in Ahab's case that a man's happiness is not secured by the abundance he possesses. He who has much wants more. And his happiness is marred by not being able to have everything he wants. This is the case of those who, like Ahab, seek their happiness only from this world's things. He was a king. He had wealth, and power, and servants, and palaces, silver and gold, and everything that heart could devise ; yet see him coming to his house, heavy and displeased, and laying himself down on his bed and turning away his
face, refusing to eat bread. (ver. 4.) And what is the cause of his sorrow? What did he say when his wife came and said to him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread ?” He said unto her, “Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite ; and said unto him, give me thy vineyard for money ; or else if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard for it.”
Thus the thing that destroyed the king's happiness, was this one unsatisfied want ; -here was something he had set his heart upon, but he could not obtain. Naboth would not part with it, because it was the inheritance he had received from his father,
Now we see here that Ahab had some conscience. He did not think of taking by unjust means what he could not obtain by fair treaty. He therefore settled down into a discontented state of mind, like a child when forbidden some pleasure. Moreover that Ahab had some workings of conscience acting upon him at times is plain from what happened after Elijah had reproved him for his guilt. “He rent his clothes, put sackcloth on, fasted, went 'softly," and in fact "humbled himself." How then was it he attained to this
degree of guilt, whereby Naboth was killed, and Ahab obtained his vineyard ? It was through the deceitfulness of his heart, by which he made himself think the guilt would not be his own, if his wife did it for him. She was the agent of Satan by which the wicked deed was accomplished. Mark her subtilty and her depth of wickedness. “Jezebel his wife said unto him, dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry. I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite."
Ahab had been content to think the thing impossible. But his wife thought a king should find nothing impossible. Ahab had thought such foul means as robbery, much more murder, were a barrier to the wishes of even a king. Not so his wife, more accomplished in guilt. With a readiness of mind only the result of the devil's spirit and the devil's teaching, she saw at once a plan for securing her husband's wishes. Therefore she said to him, “Are you a king of Israel, and is there anything in Israel you cannot have if you wish? How weak and foolish of you, -I will get you what you desire, -leave the matter in my hands, and be again cheerful with the sure prospect of quickly having what
then set to work. She used her husband's name and his seal, and “sent letters in his name to the elders and the nobles that were in his city ; dwelling with Naboth. And she wrote in the letters 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 devil never wants for instruments in this world to do his worst deeds. She too knew there were sons of the devil to be found ready enough for any black deed. She gave therefore the order : and two sons of Belial were at once forthcoming directly. The crime was soon done. Word was brought to Jezebel of it, and she went and said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.”
Ahab inquires not how this was brought about. All we read of him is this, “And it came to pass when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.”
But here he was quickly followed by one who had seen all his guilt, and all the evil
workings of his heart while he let Jezebel his wife work outwardly for him. The Lord sent Elijah to him directly, with this message, “Thus saith the Lord, hast thou
, killed and also taken possession ? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, thus saith the Lord, in the place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine."
Observe how God regarded his guilt. Not a word was said about his wife having been the cause : he himself is addressed as the doer of the deed,--the niurderer, “Hast thou killed and also taken possession ?” His punishment is added. It was a just
He should die a violent death, and that in the same spot where he had been the cause of the death of an innocent man, merely to satisfy a selfish wish.
His own conscience now also condemned him. This was clear from his words to the prophet, “ Abab said to Elijah, hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" One who was
” the messenger from the Lord might have been his friend ; but an enemy to God himself, Ahab regarded every one from God as
He knew he could come for no other purpose than to remind of his guilt and to tell of his punishment.