Standing up to the king
1Kings 21: So help me God, I’d never sell the family farm to you!
Naboth the Jezreelite makes his only appearance in the Bible, not as a hero or a villain, but simply as a man with principles. His story is told not to inspire us but to show us what an evil man Ahab is. Naboth owns a vineyard that Ahab wants and when Ahab offers to buy or trade for it, Naboth refuses to sell. This is more than a pure business deal. In this culture the ownership of land carries with it strong religious undertones. God gave the land to families and it’s to be passed from generation to generation. To some extent, this concept is still true today and we see it as a key component in the struggles between Israel and Palestine in our daily news. Naboth responds to Ahab’s offer with shock and refusal. No matter how good a deal Ahab might offer, he’ll never give up his family’s inheritance. This is the only insight we gain so far as Naboth is concerned because the focus immediately moves to the wickedness of Ahab and Jezebel and how God deals with them. Still, what we do see of Naboth causes us to see him as more than a victim of Ahab’s greed. This is a guy who has some principles and, because of that, he’s willing to stand up to the powerful king. These days our post-modern culture views life as pretty much adrift on the “ethical sea.” “Right” and “wrong” are relative terms. What works for you may not work for me. The Ten Commandments aren’t binding, and there are many different paths to God. We Christians are being pulled in that direction too and if we aren’t careful we’ll sever the ropes that hold us steady in our faith and drift away from the firm truths of God. Naboth’s principled stand both encourages and challenges us today.
Take Away: When all is said and done, some things are right and some things are wrong. Christians need a firm grasp on the absolutes.