5.68 1 Kings -- The Sin of Ahab
Ahab's theft of Naboth's vineyard is a revisiting of the story of David and Bathsheba, substituting the beautiful garden for the woman (1 Kings 21). All the elements were there: proximity to the palace, uncontrollable envy and desire, scheming, a poison-pen letter, murder, expropriation, and a prophetic visitation. In this case, however, Ahab was too weak to do his own dirty work. He just lay around and sulked until Jezebel took things into her own hands. The elders and nobles of the city played Joab's role in killing Naboth, thus clearing the way for the new owner. Ahab asked no questions and had no qualms about taking possession of the property.
He was truly a stupid man! In the days of the judges, when the prophet Samuel came to a town, the elders trembled and asked if he came in peace (1 Sam 16:4). Yet when the prophet Elijah confronted Ahab, the king greeted the messenger of God with the surly words,
"So you have found me, my enemy!" (1 Kings 21:20)
This was a clear declaration of whose side Ahab was on, and it wasn't God's. Elijah laid the responsibility for Naboth's murder on Ahab, though he had not been directly involved in the plot. This means that God held him guilty for sins of omission: allowing his wife to carry out the scheme, pretending ignorance, letting an innocent man die. Elijah delivered a devastating judgment on him:
"In the place where dogs licked up Naboth's blood, dogs will lick up your blood....You have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. I am going to bring disaster on you. I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel -- slave or free." ....And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: 'Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel'" (1 Kings 21:19-23).
Scripture also adds its assessment of him:
(There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel) (1 Kings 21:25-26).
Yet when Elijah delivered God's sentence of death on him, Ahab did an uncharacteristic thing: he repented! This is the only righteous act Ahab ever performed in his entire reign, at least so far as the Bible records. Just as amazing, God repented of His word of judgment, or more accurately, He deferred it. How ready God was to recognize even the slightest measure of obedience from the worst of men. But it seems that Ahab's repentance was temporary, and he soon reverted to business as usual.
Because Ahab did not put Ben-Hadad to the sword, the Arameans continued to plague Israel's northeastern region. Ahab made an alliance with Jehoshaphat of Judah to fight against Aram.
Jehoshaphat insisted on inquiring of the Lord before they went into battle. Micaiah the prophet came forward and foretold Ahab's death in battle, but Ahab dismissed the warning as an expression of the prophet's own personal spite. He imprisoned Micaiah and rode off to battle. So Ahab died, and the dogs licked up his blood, as Elijah had promised. The first Book of Kings ends with Ahab's son Ahaziah ruling Israel, and Jehoshaphat on the throne of Judah.