Study Notes

1Kings 21:1-29


Last time, we saw that Ahab was given two victories in battle by the Lord. God's purpose in doing this was so that Ahab would know that God was the Lord.

But Ahab had acted unrighteously, letting the enemy king Ben-had-AD go after God had delivered him into Ahab's hand. A curse was spoken by a prophet upon Ahab's house:

1Kgs. 20:42 ..."Because you have let go out of {your} hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people."

Now, as we pick up in chapter 21, we see that Ahab is too busy coveting to be repenting.

21:1-3 Naboth's Vineyard

Next to Ahab's palace in Samaria was a vineyard. He liked the land and wanted to turn it into a vegetable garden. But it was owned by a man named Naw-BOTH, and he didn't want to sell. Although Ahab made offers of money or better land as a replacement, Naw-BOTH didn't want to sell. This was the inheritance of his fathers. Remember that all land was considered to be the Lord's, which he gave as an inheritance to individual families. The Law said,

Lev. 25:23 ‘The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are {but} aliens and sojourners with Me.

They were not even allowed to keep it in Israel, yet sell it to a family of another tribe.

Num. 36:9 "...No inheritance shall be transferred from one tribe to another tribe, for the tribes of the sons of Israel shall each hold to his own inheritance."

It would seem that Naw-BOTH was conscious of violating the Law and grieving the Lord.

21:4-7 A Supportive Yet Wicked Wife

Ahab acts like a spoiled child who doesn't get his way. He doesn't eat, and pouts on his bed. Jezebel his wife inquired of him as to what was wrong. When she found out that it was because the neighbor wouldn't sell his vineyard to her husband, she promised to get it for him. Knowing Jezebel's wicked heart, you can guess that this won't be through skilled realty negotiations!

21:8-13 Naboth Falsely Accused And Killed

Jezebel arranged the false accusation of Naw-BOTH, having him accused publicly of cursing God and the king.

When you first read this, especially in the NIV, it sounds like they are having some kind of dinner party and two guys are planted near him at the table that will supposedly overhear his curses.

But in reality, a fast was proclaimed in a city when a grievous sin had been committed, and people were humbling themselves lest God's judgment come upon them.

So when a fast was proclaimed, the people would all be wondering whose sin had brought this about. Jezebel wrote that they were to place Naw-BOTH at the head of the people, in other words, "bring him into the court of justice, as defendant before all the people" (Keil).

When the two false witnesses testified against him, he was put to death by stoning.

Stoning was a method of capital punishment by which a person would be put to death by having large rocks thrown at him until he was dead. It dates back biblically to the days of Moses. He made reference to both the Egyptians (Exo. 8:26) and the Israelites (Exo. 17:4) stoning people. The Lord first made reference to stoning in Exodus 19 when He commanded that no one come up on Mount Sinai when God came down on it. He said,

Exod. 19:12-13 "...Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether beast or man, he shall not live."

The idea of stoning is that you put a man to death without touching him as he dies.

Naw-BOTH was stoned in obedience to the commandment given in the Law, in the book of Leviticus. In Leviticus 24, we read the story of two men that got into a fight. As they struggled with each other, he let out a curse, a vile blasphemy against the name of God.

Lev. 24:12-16 And they put him in custody so that the command of the LORD might be made clear to them. Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Bring the one who has cursed outside the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then let all the congregation stone him. And you shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If anyone curses his God, then he shall bear his sin. Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.

So the law dictated that a person who cursed God must be put to death. Jezebel made sure that two men were planted to accuse Naw-BOTH, for the Law also said,

Deut. 17:6 On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.

The Scripture promises that a false witness will not go unpunished (Prov. 19:5; 19:9; 21:28). Jezebel and these two men will give an account for this sin on the day of judgment.

21:14-16 Take The Vineyard

Jezebel told Ahab that Naw-BOTH was dead. As a result, Ahab took ownership of the vineyard as his vegetable garden.

The taking of a vineyard by killing the rightful owner should sound familiar to us. Jesus told the parable,

Matt. 21:33-39 "...There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey. And when the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. And the vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.' But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance.' And they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

The vineyard in prophecy and parable represents the nation of Israel. Jesus was illustrating how the kings and religious leaders of Israel had killed the prophets that God had sent to them over the years, and how they would ultimately kill Him - God's Son whom He had sent.

Naw-BOTH was an Old Testament typological picture of Jesus. He was the rightful owner of the vineyard, having inherited it from his father. Jesus said,

John 3:35 "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. "

The wicked authority of Israel wanted what the son had, just as the Scribes and Pharisees coveted the authority that Jesus had.

Naw-BOTH was falsely accused on both religious and legal grounds. So too with Jesus - who was religiously falsely accused on religious grounds of planning to tear down the temple, as well as being falsely accused on legal grounds of refusing to pay taxes to Caesar.

For his sentence, Naw-BOTH was killed after a short and emotional trial. The same thing happened to Jesus.

The result was that God pronounced judgment upon the leadership of Israel, which affected the entire nation. The same thing happened as a result in Jesus' case - the destruction of Jerusalem was brought about because they had killed the rightful heir.

21:17-26 The Prophecy Of Elijah

The Lord told Elijah to let Ahab know that God knew all of what had happened. The judgment upon Ahab was that his kingdom would end just as the kingdoms of Jeroboam and Bah-SHAW had. His family members would die terrible deaths.

21:27-29 Ahab Humbles Himself

Ahab does something completely unexpected here: he humbles himself before the Lord. And God has mercy on the humble heart. No matter how wicked the person, no matter how evil their actions have been, God wants to have mercy on them. He wants them to be sorrowful for it and turn from it. This is the nature of God. Remember the Ninevites - they were brutal, hateful, and evil. But when they heard the preaching of Jonah saying,

Jonah 3:4-10 ..."Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown." Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered {himself} with sackcloth, and sat on the ashes. And he issued a proclamation and it said, "In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent, and withdraw His burning anger so that we shall not perish?" When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do {it}.

God is so merciful, wanting to show his mercy on the most wicked of people who humble themselves. And because Ahab did humble himself, God postponed the judgment upon his house until the next generation.

Go to next study

Go to previous study