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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[3 Kings 21–22. 4 Kings 9]

ACHAB had a palace at Jezrahel, and near it was a vineyard owned by a man named Naboth. Achab, coveting the vineyard, said one day to Naboth: “Give me thy vineyard, that I may make me a garden, and I will give thee a better vineyard, or I will give thee the worth of it in money.” Naboth answered him: “The Lord be merciful to me and not let me give thee the inheritance of my fathers.” For the law of Moses forbade the son to sell the property which he had inherited from his forefathers.

The king was so troubled because he could not have the vineyard, that he could neither eat nor sleep. Jezabel, his queen, perceiving this, inquired the cause of his sadness and fretting. The king having explained the cause, Jezabel mockingly said: “Thou art of great authority indeed and governest well the kingdom of Israel! Arise and eat bread and be of good cheer: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezrahelite.”

She then wrote letters in the king’s name to the chief men of the city, whom she knew to be wicked like herself, requesting them to find some men who would wrongfully accuse Naboth. These men were easily found, and they bore false witness against Naboth, saying that he had blasphemed God and the king. And on their testimony Naboth was condemned, taken out of the city and stoned to death.

Jezabel being informed of Naboth’s death, went and told her husband that he might now take the vineyard, as Naboth was dead. And Achab took the vineyard. Then the Lord commanded Elias to go to Achab, to reproach him with his crime and to tell him that the dogs would lick up his own blood on the very spot on which Naboth was slain, and that the queen would be devoured by dogs in the same field. This prediction was literally fulfilled.

Three years after, Achab was mortally wounded in a battle with the Syrians; and when the chariot in which he received the fatal wound was being washed after his death, the dogs came and licked up his blood.

Some time after, when Jehu was king, he went to Jezrahel. And when Jezabel heard of his coming, she dressed herself in her richest apparel. She painted her face and adorned her head and stood at the window of her palace. Jehu, seeing her at the window, ordered her servants to cast her down. They did so, and the walls were sprinkled with her blood, and the hoofs of the horses trod upon her, and the dogs came and ate her flesh, so that only her skull, feet and hands remained for burial.

The Omniscience of God. God knew and revealed to Elias that Naboth was innocent, and that Achab had seized his vineyard by unjust means.

The Justice of God. Achab and his wicked wife were not able to enjoy for long their ill-gotten possession. The measure of their sins was full, and God punished them by a terrible and unexpected death. Jezabel’s body was trampled on by horses and devoured by dogs in Jezrahel, where she had murdered Naboth. Such was the terrible end of this imperious and arrogant woman! “Treasures of wickedness shall profit nothing” (Prov. 10:2).

The Faithfulness of God. The punishment with which Almighty God threatened Achab and Jezabel came to pass. When Achab went out to fight against the Syrians, he disguised himself so that he might not be recognised as king and attacked. But “a certain man (of the Syrians) bent his bow, shooting at a venture, and chanced to strike the king of Israel between the lungs and the stomach. And the blood ran out of the wound in the midst of the chariot, and he died in the evening. And they washed his chariot in the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood” (3 Kings 22:34 &c.). Now was it by chance that the arrow hit the disguised king? that his blood flowed into the chariot? and that the dogs licked it up? No, all this occurred under the Providence of the just and true God, who moulded circumstances so as to bring that to pass which He had threatened.

The eighth Commandment. The witnesses against Naboth sinned grievously; for they bore false witness in a court of justice, as to a serious matter that involved life and death. They were rightly called children of the devil, because it requires a devilish malice to commit such a sin.

The tenth Commandment. Achab sinned grievously against this Commandment by coveting the inheritance of Naboth.

The seventh Commandment. He also sinned grievously against this Commandment by taking for himself the property of the murdered man.

Sharing in the guilt of others. The prophet said to Achab: “Thou hast slain &c.” But how could Achab be Naboth’s murderer? He had not accused him or sentenced him to death! No, but Achab knew perfectly well that his wicked wife would use unlawful means to gain possession of the vineyard, and yet not only did he utter no word of protest, but consented to Jezabel’s writing a letter in his name and sealed it with his royal seal! Thus, by his silence, he consented to his wife’s wicked project. Neither did Jezabel kill Naboth with her own hands; but she commanded the ancients of the city to have him falsely accused and put to death. In this way she shared in the guilt of others by command and was guilty of murder.

Unlawful obedience. The ancients of the city ought not to have obeyed the royal command.

Covetousness. The source or root of all these sins we have been hearing about was covetousness. Achab’s desire to possess Naboth’s vineyard led to anger, bribery, injustice, murder and robbery. Covetousness or avarice is therefore one of the capital sins.

Inordinate desires make men unhappy, peevish and ill-tempered. Achab, not being able to gratify his longing for the vineyard, became sad and angry, and his very life was, as it were, darkened. Was not that silly and ridiculous?

APPLICATION. Have you ever taken anything that does not belong to you, such as fruit &c.? Are you contented with what you have got? If the desire to have that which is unlawful seizes you, overcome it at once and think of the just God who hates and punishes injustice. He who is contented is happy, but he who is discontented lives a life of disquiet and is in great danger of sin and eternal damnation.








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