1Later the following events took place: Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. 2And Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, so that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” 3But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.” 4Ahab went home resentful and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, “I will not give you my ancestral inheritance.” He lay down on his bed, turned away his face, and would not eat.
5His wife Jezebel came to him and said, “Why are you so depressed that you will not eat?” 6He said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard for it’; but he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” 7His wife Jezebel said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Get up, eat some food, and be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” 8So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal; she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who lived with Naboth in his city. 9She wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth at the head of the assembly; 10seat two scoundrels opposite him, and have them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out, and stone him to death.” 11The men of his city, the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. Just as it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, 12they proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the head of the assembly. 13The two scoundrels came in and sat opposite him; and the scoundrels brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death. 14Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.” 15As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Go, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab set out to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
17Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying: 18Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria; he is now in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. 19You shall say to him, “Thus says the Lord: Have you killed, and also taken possession?” You shall say to him, “Thus says the Lord: In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, dogs will also lick up your blood.” 20Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, 21I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel; 22and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin.”
1 Kings 21:1-22
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Reflection: What would cause someone to do something like Ahab and Jezebel did to Naboth? It would be easy to simply demonize the crooked king and queen and pretend as if we could never do such a thing. Yet Ahab and Jezebel are simply an exaggerated version of us all. What led them to commit such a treacherous act were the same self-centered, sinful realities that live within us all. In this instance, they embraced greed instead of the spiritual fruits of love, contentment, honesty, respect, and gracious generosity. While we might not go to such great lengths to steal from and kill others, greed and many other sins still abide in us. If we make a practice of embracing such sin, then it can grow and grow into actions and attitudes much more serious than we ever thought we could embody. Look at the picture above of the lush grapes growing in the vineyard. Are you allowing God to cleanse and free you from your sin, such that his good, lush spiritual fruit is growing within you? Or have you decided to not face your sin, allowing for the thorns and weeds to spread in your soul and choke out the fruit of the Spirit? Invite God to convict you of your sin and experience his response of mercy, grace, and renewal. In Jesus Christ God has not only canceled your sin, but he has broken the power of sin over you. You are forgiven; you are free; you will be fruitful.
Prayer Focus: In many ways, our society operates on greed. The rich get richer, oftentimes at the expense of the poor who get poorer. The systems of banking, healthcare, government, business, and even education often exploit those at the bottom for the enrichment of the few at the top. This week, pray for those who are struggling just to survive in our country and in our world. Pray for the single mothers working multiple jobs, the poor peasant farmers trying to grow enough food for their families, and those in foreign countries working for pennies to produce the goods we use here in America. Pray that God would move within the hearts of the extremely wealthy to practice justice and generosity in their business dealings. Ask God to grant you contentment and to give you the strength to resist the world’s mantra of “more is better.” Seek after the greater gifts of God. Store up treasures in heaven. Share the blessings God has given to you.
Meditation Focus: Enough. What is enough for you? Have you ever said something along the lines of “if I get this I will never ask for anything ever again” or “all I need is one more…”? Greed can lead to envy and envy can lead to destructive actions. Consider this week all the good and perfect gifts God has blessed you with. Mentally walk through your home and through a typical day. What do you see or whom do you encounter that inspires within you a word of gratitude. Express it to God for each person, each situation, each blessing (material and immaterial) that you encounter. Then imagine yourself sitting with God at the end of that mental journey. Look God in the eyes, however you can imagine that, and speak these words of thanksgiving: “You are enough for me and have supplied all of my needs.” Experience the lightness of soul and the freedom that come with such a confession before God. Enough. God is enough for you today and forevermore. God has filled your life with blessing. Thanks be to God.
Journaling Focus: Recall a situation in which someone was very generous with you. Was this generous person a stranger or someone you knew well? In what ways was that generosity shown to you? Did their generosity involve a sacrifice on their part? What needs did you have at the time that were either met or eased by their generosity? Now consider ways in which you might share similar generosity with others. Whom do you see around you in need? How might God be calling you to sacrificially and generously respond to their need? May God remind us all of the generous grace we have received through God and others as we live in a world in which people are too often treated not as neighbors with whom to share God’s blessings, but as commodities to exploit for personal gain. May God increase the spirit of sacrificial giving in and through us.
Breath Prayer: Father, save me (us) from greed and create in me (us) a spirit of generosity.