Scripture reading – 1 Kings 21; 1 Kings 22

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Our study of the kings of Israel and Judah continues with today’s Scripture reading, 1 Kings 21 and 22. This is the first of two devotionals and will focus on 1 Kings 21.

Lifted with pride and failing to consult the LORD, Ahab spared the life of Benhadad, king of Syria, and provoked God’s wrath (20:31-34). The LORD then sent one “of the sons of the prophets” (20:35). He prophesied the death of the Ahab, saying, “Thus saith the Lord, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people” (20:42). Heavy-hearted and dejected, Ahab returned to his palace in Samaria (20:43).

Jezebel, the wicked queen of Israel

1 Kings 21

A Sulking Monarch (21:1-6)

Rather than repent of his failures and seek the LORD, the king set his covetous heart upon a vineyard next door to his palace. Now, the vineyard belonged to a man of Jezreel named Naboth, so Ahab proposed that the owner trade his land for “a better vineyard” or sell it (21:1-2). Though the proposition appeared fair, it was intolerable for Naboth, for it had been his inheritance from his father and, no doubt, was passed down through his family for generations (21:3). Rejected, Ahab went to his palace sulking over Naboth’s refusal, laid upon his bed and refused to eat (21:4).

Jezebel, the wicked queen of Israel, observed the king’s spirit and asked, “Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?” (21:5) Ahab then confided in his wife how Naboth had refused his offer, and would not sell him his vineyard (21:6).

A Scheming Wicked Queen (21:7-16)

Jezebel rebuked the king and asked him, “Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel?” (21:7) She asked, in essence, Are you not the king? Will you allow a man of your kingdom to refuse you? Jezebel then assured Ahab that she would take care of the matter with Naboth and encouraged the king, saying, “Arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite” (21:7).

Foolish Ahab did not question his wife but allowed her to plot against Naboth. Jezebel then forged the king’s name and used the royal seal to “proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people” (20:8). She then engaged “two men, sons of Belial” (21:10) to bear false witness against Naboth and accuse him of blasphemy against God and the king (21:10).

The queen then placed Naboth in a position of privilege (20:12). Then, false witnesses arose against Naboth and accused him of blasphemy. The men then “carried [Naboth] out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died” (21:13).

“When Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, [she] said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite…for Naboth is not alive, but dead” (21:15). Foolish Ahab, did not question the fate of poor Naboth but did as his wife said, and took possession of his vineyard (21:16).

A Startling Prophecy (21:19-23)

A Startling Prophecy (21:19-23)

 

Now, the murder of Naboth so stirred the wrath of the LORD that He commanded Elijah to confront Ahab and prophesy the king’s death, saying, “In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine” (21:19).

Elijah obeyed the LORD as he was commanded (21:17-19), and Ahab scoffed at the prophet, saying, “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?” (21:20)

Confident in the LORD and courageous, Elijah boldly declared all the LORD had commanded. He foretold the king would die, and his lineage would be cut off from ever reigning in Israel (21:20-23). Elijah also prophesied the king’s wife would be cast over the wall of Jezreel, and “the dogs shall eat Jezebel” (21:23).

 

Closing thoughts

The wickedness of Ahab exceeded all the kings who had gone before him. Rather than a moral influence for good, Jezebel had “stirred up” the king to serve idols” (21:26).

Astonishingly, Ahab responded to the warning of God’s judgment with humility, and “rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly” (21:27). Even more astonishing was the LORD’s response to the king, for He restrained His judgment saying, “29Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house” (21:29).

Tragically, their children will bear the consequences of Ahab and Jezebel’s sins. (Exodus 20:5)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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