Vol. 4, No. 4
Priscilla's Page *Editor's Note*
~ Page 16 ~
We know much about many Bible characters. Such people are the subject of frequent studies and may even have whole books or chapters of books devoted to them and the lessons we can learn from them. There are other people mentioned in the Bible about whom we know very little. These people may only be mentioned in passing or are found in only one or two places in the Bible. Often these people are overlooked, yet they appear in our Bibles for a reason.
John 20:30-31 tells us that Jesus did many things that were not recorded in the Bible. The things that were recorded are to strengthen our faith. Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that everything in the Bible is from God and is for our learning. With this in mind, there can be no doubt that these little known, "forgotten" men and women of the Bible can teach us valuable lessons today.
Many people are familiar with the evil done by King Ahab and his wicked Queen Jezebel. Beginning in First Kings, many of their crimes are recorded, including the crime against Naboth. Often, people remember the story of Naboth and his encounter with the royal couple, but usually the focus is placed on the "bad guys." For a moment, let's take a look at the incident from the viewpoint of Naboth, the "good guy."
In First Kings 21 beginning with the first verse, the story of Naboth unfolds. Naboth owns a vineyard next to the palace that greedy King Ahab decides he wants. The king offers Naboth money or another vineyard and Naboth refuses both. Ahab, angry and disappointed to not get his way, returns to his rooms to pout. When Jezebel learns of the reason for Ahab's pout, she urges him to cheer up because she will get him what his heart desires. Using the king's seal, Jezebel sends a message commanding the magistrates of Naboth's village to put him on trial and accuse him of blasphemy against God and the king. To help ensure a guilty verdict, they are to use two false witnesses. Jezebel's instructions are carried out, Naboth is found guilty, executed and King Ahab claims the vineyard.
What can be learned from this brief encounter with Naboth? First, Naboth served the Lord even in times of great idolatry and wickedness. Ahab, King of Israel at this time, is recorded to be one of the most idolatrous leaders in Israel (1 Kings 16:29-33). Verse 33 states, "And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him." Queen Jezebel did her best to kill all of God's prophets (1 Kings 18:4). The prophet Elijah looked at the nation and felt that he was the only one serving God (1 Kings 19:10). God told Elijah that there were seven thousand in Israel that had not bowed down to the idol Baal, but Elijah apparently had trouble noticing them for all the rest who were doing evil (1 Kings 19:18). It was in these times of great wickedness that Naboth refuses his king's offer based on the commandment of God (1 Kings 21:3). In many ways, the era in which we live is no different. Many idols in the form of materialism, immorality and greed prevail in society. Like Naboth, we can still serve God.
In addition to serving God in a land overrun with idolatry, Naboth stood strong in his convictions and faith even when faced with potential harm. On the surface, Ahab's offer seems like a good deal. Naboth could exchange his vineyard for money or another vineyard. However, Naboth knew the laws of God. Leviticus 25:23-28 and Numbers 36:7 forbid the Israelites to sell any portion of the land they inherited. To sell the vineyard or exchange it for another at the request of the king would have been a sin. Naboth answered Ahab's request with, "The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee" (1 Kings 21:3). This faithful servant of God knew the kind of man Ahab was. It is reasonable to suppose that Naboth knew his life could be in danger by refusing the king, yet he did what was right in the sight of God. As Naboth did not let greed for money and land or fear of punishment stop him from doing what was right, we must also stand for our convictions. Our treasures are to be stored in heaven instead of earth (Matthew 6:19-21). When it comes down to obeying God or fellow man, we must choose to obey God (Acts 4:19; 5:29).
Notice the character of Naboth. When Jezebel instructed the magistrates to put Naboth on trial, part of her instructions included finding false witnesses. Under the Old Testament law, capital crimes required a minimum of two witnesses for a guilty verdict. Blasphemy of God was a capital offense under the law (Leviticus 24:15-16). Blasphemy of the king was a capital offense by custom (2 Samuel 16:9; 19:21). Jezebel knew that the only way to convict Naboth of these crimes and ensure his death was to use false witnesses. The willingness of the magistrates to comply with the evil instructions of the queen again shows how corrupt and unrighteous the people of Israel had become and is a great contrast to the righteousness of Naboth.
We can learn another thing from Naboth that should give us great comfort. Because of the evil done by Ahab and Jezebel toward Naboth, God severely punished them. After Ahab claimed Naboth's vineyard, God sent his prophet Elijah to deliver a message to the king. God promised that he would wipe out the seed of Ahab; God also promised violent deaths for the pair. We need to remember that God will punish evil. He has promised eternal life to those who obey him and eternal punishment for those who chose to disobey (Matthew 7:21-22; Revelation 21:7-8). We may never see our adversaries punished in this life, but we should always remember, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Romans 12:19), and God always keeps his promises (2 Peter 3:9).