1 Kings 21:1-29 (Part 1) – Sobbing She Said, “Now I Have Got To Eat Four Pieces…”

Posted: March 10, 2019 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 21:1-29 (Part 1 of 4)

Naboth’s Vineyard

Although there are many upsides, one of the downsides about being a preacher’s kid is that you often become the subject of sermon illustrations during your dad’s sermons. I suffered through that many a time growing up – my behavior or misbehavior becoming a way for dad to illustrate the point he was trying to make in his sermon. So, today, my oldest daughter, now 33 years old, almost 34, and a wife and a mother will get the same treatment I used to often get from my dad. She will be the subject of a blog illustration. Sorry, Meghan!

One of the things that my first wife and I did right with our children when they were little was to teach to eat what was put in front of them at the dinner table. I know many parents today who take a shortcut on this issue and prepare multiple meals for dinner – one for mom and dad, and whatever each child wants to eat. One of my stalwart parenting tips is that “discipline starts at the dinner table!” When we give in to what our kids want at the dinner table, we give them the idea that they can expand that power to other areas of life – and they do. You have to start at the dinner table. As soon as kids are able to eat normal food, you do not come at them with any preconceived ideas about what they will like and not like. You prepare one meal. They eat it. That’s it. That’s the rule. It’s not to be mean to your child but it is to teach them lessons about life. When they are required to eat what you eat not only is it easier on mom but it is also a way to start disciplining a child about life. They must learn that they cannot whine their way out of things. They must learn that special exceptions will not always be made in life for them. They must learn that sometimes in life you have to do things that you don’t want to do and you just get through them. That’s just the way life is. If you can’t teach that to a child at the dinner table, how are you going to teach it to them anywhere else?

So, over the years, my girls (Meghan, my oldest, and Taylor, my youngest) learned to eat what was on the dinner menu for the evening. No special meals made just for them. Whatever my first wife, Lisa, cooked is what they would eat. Plain and simple. Over the years, they learned to enjoy a multitude of foods. We did not have to worry about what other people were fixing when they had us over for dinner. We did not have to worry about what foods a restaurant had on their menu that would fit into a spoiled child’s limited menu. They would eat just about anything that adults would eat. It all started when they were young and it all started at the dinner table. We may have screwed them up in many other ways in life as parents but at least we did that one thing right!

That’s not to say that there were not battles. There were. One battle in particular comes to mind. It was before Taylor, my youngest daughter, was born. Meghan was an only child for about 5 ½ years before that. So, this incident had to have happened when Meghan was about 3 years old, 4 years old at the most. One evening we were having dinner on a Saturday evening, I think it was. Lisa, my first wife, was a really good cook. She could whip up just about anything and she was good at it. This particular evening, the main dish was roast beef. Lisa could cook a mean roast! Tender and tasty, back before crock pots and slow cookers and instant crocks. I could wipe out one of her roasts by myself (in those days I could eat as much as I wanted as often as I wanted and NOT gain weight! LOL!). I don’t know what the problem was that night. Maybe, it was that Meghan was just having a bad day. Kids can have ‘em just like you and me. She usually like to eat her mom’s roast beef. Maybe, she had filled up on candy over at her grandmother Jane’s house earlier in the day. Who knows! Meghan was typically a well-behaved child with a cheerful disposition. All and all, she was an easy child to raise. So often she was mature beyond her years as she was growing up. But there were some meltdown moments of course. There were moments she acted her age and we are about to explore one of those.

That night, she ate everything else ok and without complaint. But she did not touch her serving of roast on her plate. Two small slices of roast. She asked if she could be excused and being the “discipline begins at the dinner table” dad, I said no. I told her she had to eat the meat on her plate. Well, within minutes she was crying because I would not let her leave the table. If you know how close Meghan and I are, you would know that her crying, especially as a little girl, just would make my heart ache, literally. But trying to instill discipline, you have to get beyond that. I stood my ground and asked her why she was crying? She had the meat was too big for her to eat! Well, for me, that’s a solvable problem. I proceeded to cut each slice of meat into smaller halves. Problem solved, right? She could eat the smaller pieces. That solves the problem, right?

Wrong. She begins to cry even harder. You know those kid cries where they take a deep breath and then you know all hell is about to be unleashed – the loud, uncontrollable sobbing that leads to snot coming out of their nose and all that! I try to calm her down. I try to reason with her by saying, “what’s wrong? I cut the two big pieces into to smaller halves so it would be easier to eat!” In between sobs, she then exclaims, “Now..(sniffle, sniffle)…now…(more sniffles)…I have FOUR pieces of meat to eat…(loud crying ensues)!” I had to choke back the belly laugh that was roaring through my soul and keep a straight face and be the “discipline begins at the dinner table” dad. She finally ate those FOUR pieces, but it was a monumental struggle that night. Meghan was tired. I was tired. But the point was made.

That’s what I thought of this afternoon as I read through this chapter, 1 Kings 21. I thought of Meghan trying to get her way at the dinner table that night, how I stood my ground, and how she reacted to it. She was pouting and crying because she did not get her way. She did not want any part of eating the meat that night. She wanted to get down from the dinner table and go do what she wanted to do. Why does this matter? What does it have to do with 1 Kings 21? Let’s read the passage/chapter and see how Ahab reacts to not getting what he wanted:

21 Now there was a man named Naboth, from Jezreel, who owned a vineyard in Jezreel beside the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. 2 One day Ahab said to Naboth, “Since your vineyard is so convenient to my palace, I would like to buy it to use as a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or if you prefer, I will pay you for it.”

3 But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance that was passed down by my ancestors.”

4 So Ahab went home angry and sullen because of Naboth’s answer. The king went to bed with his face to the wall and refused to eat!

5 “What’s the matter?” his wife Jezebel asked him. “What’s made you so upset that you’re not eating?”

6 “I asked Naboth to sell me his vineyard or trade it, but he refused!” Ahab told her.

7 “Are you the king of Israel or not?” Jezebel demanded. “Get up and eat something, and don’t worry about it. I’ll get you Naboth’s vineyard!”

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, sealed them with his seal, and sent them to the elders and other leaders of the town where Naboth lived. 9 In her letters she commanded: “Call the citizens together for a time of fasting, and give Naboth a place of honor. 10 And then seat two scoundrels across from him who will accuse him of cursing God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”

11 So the elders and other town leaders followed the instructions Jezebel had written in the letters. 12 They called for a fast and put Naboth at a prominent place before the people. 13 Then the two scoundrels came and sat down across from him. And they accused Naboth before all the people, saying, “He cursed God and the king.” So he was dragged outside the town and stoned to death. 14 The town leaders then sent word to Jezebel, “Naboth has been stoned to death.”

15 When Jezebel heard the news, she said to Ahab, “You know the vineyard Naboth wouldn’t sell you? Well, you can have it now! He’s dead!” 16 So Ahab immediately went down to the vineyard of Naboth to claim it.

17 But the Lord said to Elijah,[a] 18 “Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He will be at Naboth’s vineyard in Jezreel, claiming it for himself. 19 Give him this message: ‘This is what the Lord says: Wasn’t it enough that you killed Naboth? Must you rob him, too? Because you have done this, dogs will lick your blood at the very place where they licked the blood of Naboth!’”

20 “So, my enemy, you have found me!” Ahab exclaimed to Elijah.

“Yes,” Elijah answered, “I have come because you have sold yourself to what is evil in the Lord’s sight. 21 So now the Lord says,[b] ‘I will bring disaster on you and consume you. I will destroy every one of your male descendants, slave and free alike, anywhere in Israel! 22 I am going to destroy your family as I did the family of Jeroboam son of Nebat and the family of Baasha son of Ahijah, for you have made me very angry and have led Israel into sin.’

23 “And regarding Jezebel, the Lord says, ‘Dogs will eat Jezebel’s body at the plot of land in Jezreel.[c]’

24 “The members of Ahab’s family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the field will be eaten by vultures.”

25 (No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel. 26 His worst outrage was worshiping idols[d] just as the Amorites had done—the people whom the Lord had driven out from the land ahead of the Israelites.)

27 But when Ahab heard this message, he tore his clothing, dressed in burlap, and fasted. He even slept in burlap and went about in deep mourning.

28 Then another message from the Lord came to Elijah: 29 “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has done this, I will not do what I promised during his lifetime. It will happen to his sons; I will destroy his dynasty.”

In today’s look at this chapter, we are looking at Ahab and his childish reaction to not getting his way. If you remember earlier, in 1 Kings 20:42, Ahab was a pouty man. He liked getting his way and did not like it at all when he did not. Similarly, here in 1 Kings 21, he had a spoiled rotten child’s reaction. He wanted the vineyard and had the equivalent of a temper tantrum when he did not get what he wanted.

Naboth wanted to uphold God’s law. The people of Israel since the conquest of Canaan had recognized that God granted each tribe and each family their land, not any earthly king. So, this rebuke of the offer was not just some stubbornness but exercising his right of refusal granted to him by God. Most ancient civilizations held that all land within a kingdom belonged ultimately to the king and he simply allowed his subjects to hold it and use it. However, for God’s People Israel, land ownership came to them from God not some king. Kings of Israel and Judah were limited by the King of Kings.

How like Ahab are we today? We want things our way. In order to get what we want, we want to ignore the truth of God. We want to ignore the boundaries that God sets out in His Word for how we are to live in relation to Him and in relation to others. We want what we want and we want to circumvent God to get it. We ignore God’s sovereignty over us. We decide what we want and how we want to get it. In order to get what we want, we claim that we have evolved beyond God. We no longer need Him and all His rules. We have a right to pursue what we want. We are me-centered little children who want to ignore their parents’ authority over them and just go after what they want.

Just as any good parent has rules for their children, so it is with God. We do not have rules for our kids simply to have rules or to torture them in some way. We have rules for them because we know what is best for them. We have rules for them for their own good. Left to their own devices, our children will hurt themselves, get into serious trouble, and sometimes even their lack of discipline can even lead to their death. We don’t have rules for our kids because we hate them. We have rules for them because we LOVE them. We don’t want them to grow up and go out into the world unready and get run over and swallowed up by the world. We want them to be well-adjusted and able to survive the cruel world when they are out of our nests. God loves us just like we as parents love our kids.

He does not hold us back from anything because He wants to torture us. He simply wants us to obey Him because He is God, the ultimate Parent, who knows what is best for us and what will destroy us. So, the first takeaway from this passage is that we should obey God’s Word. He has set forth in His Word how we should be in relationship with Him and how we should be in relationship with each other. When we depart from his standards as set in the Bible, we descend into habitual sin. When we depart from His Word, we begin to be selfish and make ourselves our own gods. When we depart from His Word, we no longer care about one another and are only out for what we can get for ourselves. When we depart from His Word, we want to set the standards for our own behavior and pout when we don’t get our way.

When we go down that road, it leads to ruin. When we go down that road, we will find that we will end up in a bigger mess on our hands than if we had just simply followed God’s Word. Our troubles grow deeper and wider and more numerous. We will find like Meghan that we’ve got FOUR pieces of meat to deal with and not just two.

Amen and Amen.

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