Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt
Read I Kings 21:1-29
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying: Go 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. You 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.”
More thoughts for meditation
Much could be said about Ahab’s sin, the way it was conceived in desire, nurtured with resentment, and birthed by lies. Perhaps we see the same sins being committed against the poor and powerless today, or know ourselves beset by the temptation to take what we want by force or deception. Jezebel asks Ahab, “do you now govern Israel?” Or, in other words, you’re a king, so act like one. Want a vineyard? Take it. Notice that she doesn’t come right and say it. It is a mere suggestion, something which might cause his ego to doubt its power, and then to prove it by having Naboth killed and appropriating the vineyard.
Ahab has been trapped by his greed. This is not made apparent until he is confronted by Elijah. “You have sold yourself to do what is evil,” Elijah says. In other words, in reaching out and taking, it is actually Ahab who has been taken possession of, not the vineyard. Greed became his master, and to satisfy its appetite he sold all that was reasonable and sane within him, any ability to judge rightly between good and evil.
Naboth, on the other hand, suggests a very different way to think about what we own. He enjoys the vineyard, only because he situates his ownership of it in a larger moral order. It is not really his, it belongs to his family, and therefore he does not have the authority to sell it. This is more than only a sentimental attachment, it is connecting his ownership to a larger web of kinship and belonging.
Suggestions for action
Pray: We cry out against abuse of power that privileges the desires of the rich over the good of the poor. Even when the mighty are toppled and receive their just deserts, it does not satisfy the wrong they have done. We look to You, O Lord, to make this world right.
Show me how I belong in this world, that I may rightly use what I have been given for Your glory and for the good of myself and others.