One day the wicked king Ahab gazed out at his neighbor’s land. This fellow Naboth had a fine vineyard that was the envy of the king. Ahab decided he had to have that vineyard. He paid a visit to Naboth and offered him a fair price or another piece of land, whichever Naboth preferred. Naboth told Ahab: “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers” (1 Kings 21:3).
Ahab went home and sulked and his wife, the queen of all evil, Jezebel, confronted him. When Ahab told her how disappointed he was not to have Naboth’s vineyard, Jezebel took matters into her own hands. She paid off witnesses, concocted some trumped up charges against Naboth and had him executed by stoning.
Covenant Obedience and Our Wealth
It is easy to recognize the evil of Ahab and Jezebel. But what do we make of Naboth? What drove him to resist the authority of the king? Why not give the king what he wanted?
Naboth was a man of faith, and he refused to compromise his covenant obligations to his God. Naboth’s covenant position was that of a steward. God had ordained that the land be apportioned among the tribes of Israel, and subdivided along family lines in perpetuity. That land plan was God’s way of declaring ownership while allowing his chosen people to live fruitfully as caretakers of the Lord’s allotted portion.
It was Naboth’s covenant duty to honor the Lord by guarding the vineyard and to use it as God had intended.
Naboth reminds Ahab of God’s gift of the land by referring to “the inheritance of his fathers.” God had given the vineyard to Naboth’s ancestors. It was Naboth’s covenant duty to honor the Lord by guarding that gift, i.e. to use it as God had intended.
God Owns it All
The message of Naboth to Ahab was clear:
The vineyard and all I have belong to the Lord.
God gave this land to my tribe, to my forefathers, and to me, and I am called to steward it for God’s purposes.
No power on earth, no king or human authority can overturn God’s ordained order.
Stewarding the Lord’s gifts is an expression of faith.
The desire to confiscate the property of the Lord is an act of sin, rebellion and idolatry.
It is no coincidence that Ahab’s covetousness is an expression of his tolerance and promotion of the worship of false gods, Baal, in his kingdom. Covetousness is idolatry.
Naboth’s Lessons for Today
- When we consider our possessions, do we focus on the fact that what we have comes from God and belongs to Him?
- Do we carefully consider our obligation to be good and faithful stewards of all that the Lord entrusts to us?
- Do we honor God in devoting our material wealth to His purposes and directing it to benefit His people?
Like Naboth, let our faith speak through our attitudes about our wealth and echo in our willingness and our joy to dedicate what we have to the Lord and direct it to His works, His ministries. Let us guard what the Lord has given us and glorify Him through our spirit of generosity.