1 Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”
3 But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.”
4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.
5 His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”
6 He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”
7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. 9 In those letters she wrote: “Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”
11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.”
15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard. (1 Kings 21:1-16)
“You can’t always get what your want.” It is not only the title of a famous Rolling Stones song, but that is the lesson that King Ahab should have learned that day. Ahab, king of Samaria, wanted something that didn’t belong to him. He wanted a garden that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite because it was close to Ahab’s palace. So Ahab approached Naboth with a proposition. “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.” (v.2) For what it’s worth, Ahab’s proposal is fair, if not generous. He was willing to give Naboth a better garden or pay fair value for what it was worth.
But Naboth, a Jezreelite, did not dare part with the inheritance of his ancestors and rejected Ahab’s offer. Ahab should have gone home with his head held high that he treated Naboth fairly and made him a more than fair offer. Had he accepted that he could not have everything, the story could have ended and perhaps Ahab would have been viewed differently. But instead of holding his head high for treating Naboth fairly, we are told, “So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, ‘I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.’ He lay on his bed sulking and refusing to eat.” (v. 4) That was his first mistake.
The second mistake is that he had surrounded himself with the wrong people. When his wife Jezebel found out why he was so sullen, not only was her advice to him horrible, but her actions were even worse. Jezebel said in v. 7, “Is this how you act as a king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” Not only did she condemn him for his actions but she proceeded with her own actions, actions that would result in the death of Naboth and ultimately lead to Ahab getting the vineyard that he wanted. “When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.” (v. 16) Due to the actions of Jezebel, Ahab went from dealing fairly with the people to a tyrant who used his position for selfish, personal gain.
Ahab’s actions are a stark contrast to the actions of King David when he wanted someone. Ahab, the despised king went to the owner and made fair and equitable offer. David, the respected king of Israel, had his servants go and bring Bathsheba to him when he saw her bathing from his palace (2 Samuel 11:4). David disrespected Bathsheba and her husband Uriah by his actions when he wanted Bathsheba. But David had surrounded himself with good advisors. So after David’s selfish actions, the prophet Nathan came to him and rebuked him (2 Samuel 12:1-10). This led to David confessing his wrongdoing and repenting for his actions, including the writing of Psalm 51. David went from doing something horrible to being redeemed by God, partly because David had surrounded himself with good people who would speak truth into his life. Ahab started out well but went downhill because of the people he had around him.
The people we surround ourselves with and whose advice we listen to have a tremendous impact on us. If we surround ourselves with good Christian brothers and sisters who are willing to speak truth into our lives and we are willing to listen to them, they can not only help us avoid sin, but they can even help us come back closer to the Lord if we do sin. But if we surround ourselves with people who do not have pleasing the Lord as their main goal in life, we can end up being led down horrible paths.
The question we need to ask ourselves is who have we surrounded ourselves with? Have we surrounded ourselves with brothers and sisters in Christ who are willing to speak truth into our lives, even when the truth hurts? And are we willing to hear them out, especially when what they have to say to us hurts? Have we surrounded ourselves with wise, Godly people whom we can turn to for advice? Or have we surrounded ourselves with people who are more concerned about the things of this world than the things of Jesus? Have we surrounded ourselves with people who will agree with us so that we can do whatever we want? Have we cut out those who spoke truth into our lives because we didn’t want to be convicted of the truth of Jesus Christ?
If you have wise, Godly people around you, great! Continue to talk to them and learn from them and ask them to speak truth into your lives. But if you do not have such people in your lives right now, please find some. They can be friends from church, they can be older, wiser and more mature brothers and sisters from church as well. And after you find them, talk to them, ask them questions, learn from them, and most importantly, listen to them when they speak truth into your life, especially when it hurts.
But also find some people with whom you can share your wisdom and experience too. We are always looking out for ourselves, but we also need to look out for others, and share the wisdom that we have with others, and also speak truth into their lives as well. You never know, the Lord may use the counsel you find to keep you from going down the wrong path and draw you closer to Him instead. Or the Lord may use you to keep someone else on the straight and narrow too.