Lessons from Ahab and Jezebel

The Bible is replete with historical stories that can inspire us and instill wonder and even fear in a Higher-Power God that moves in the lives of real people, good and evil. This one particularly. 

An innocent man with coveted property is targeted, tricked, and murdered by a notorious husband and wife team. The wicked husband, a political leader, repents of this egregious act and is spared from certain punishment by death. His power-hungry wife relishes in her evil accomplishment but ultimately faces the consequences of her actions.

Sounds like contemporary political intrigue or the plot line for a new movie or television series.

It’s actually a captivating Old Testament story that gives us insight into the wide range of human behavior and God’s response. In fact, there are numerous lessons we can extract from this one story alone.

It’s the story of the infamous King Ahab, his wife Jezebel, and an unfortunate man named Naboth.

The Motive and Crime. Ahab ruled over the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the latter 9th century BC. Naboth had a vineyard near King Ahab’s palace in the countryside outside his capital city of Samaria (1 Kings 21:2). Ahab wanted this vineyard so he could convert it into a vegetable garden. He offered to pay Naboth outright for it or exchange it for an upgraded plot of land.

Naboth refused. He was actually following God’s Law handed down from Moses to the Hebrews that an Israelite’s family inheritance should not be sold (Leviticus 25:23, Numbers 36:7).

King Ahab was not happy with this response and returned home “sullen and angry” that he could not have Naboth’s vineyard. He even refused to eat (1 Kings 21:4).

When Ahab’s wife, Queen Jezebel, learned the full reason for her husband’s unhappiness, she chastised him for his passivity and assured him that she would “get the vineyard of Naboth” (1 Kings 21:7). She conjured a deceitful plan involving forged letters from the king and the hiring of “two scoundrels” to falsely accuse Naboth of cursing both God and the king (1 Kings 21:8-12).

Based on these trumped up charges, Naboth was taken outside the city and stoned to death (1 Kings 21:13). When King Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he went to the vineyard and now took possession of it (1 Kings 21:16).

Judgment and Repentance. Because of the murder of Naboth, God condemned both Jezebel and Ahab. The word of the Lord came to Elijah the prophet in a terse message which he delivered to King Ahab: “Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?…In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your own blood… I (God) will bring evil upon your household…and dogs shall devour Jezebel by the walls of this city (1 Kings 21:17-24). 

After hearing God’s terrible pronouncement of judgment, Ahab repented before God for his actions toward Naboth (1 Kings 21:27). Because of Ahab’s humble response, God chose not to bring the promised disaster on Ahab during his lifetime but instead during “his son’s days” (1 Kings 21:29).

Aftermath. In fact, God’s word was fulfilled as Ahab was killed in battle with his own blood washed out of his chariot in the same place where Naboth had been stoned to death, just as Elijah had said (I Kings 22:34-38). As for Jezebel, she was later thrown out of a palace upper story window where her smashed body was eaten by dogs (2 Kings 9:30-37). Shortly following her death, Ahab’s 70 sons and their entire households were killed – “for the Lord has done what He said by His servant Elijah” (2 Kings 10:1-11)

Lessons Learned
Here are 7 object lessons that can be derived from this tragic story sown of idle greed, power, and evil.

  1. God is not rushed. – God is very comfortable with letting things play out over a very long period of time. Justice was ultimately served many years after the death of Naboth.
  2. God is not mocked. – What God says is Truth and is to be obeyed. His Law and precepts are specific and purposeful. Ahab disregarded Naboth’s Godly obedience.
  3. Good people suffer and even die. – Despite our obedience, as humans we all die – even, unfortunately like Naboth, due to the evil intentions of others. In God’s omnipotence and omniscience, He doesn’t necessarily save us all from early death. This says something about the comparative value of eternity.
  4. Evil people seem to get away with it. – Whether it’s lying, cheating, stealing, hurting, or even killing, it seems that sometimes the bad guys get a way with it. It’s not for us to judge how God will deal with wrongdoings. We can trust however that God sees all wrongdoings.
  5. God deals with evil and disobedience. – While often not in our timing or manner or to our liking, all evil and disobedience is ultimately dealt with by God. There’s no getting around it. He has the final say.
  6. God is forgiving. – Even evil King Ahab was given mercy by God. Yes, his next generation paid the price for his deeds (see #5), but Ahab was able to reap the benefit of his repentance to God in his own lifetime.
  7. God always speaks Truth. – Whenever God promises something directly in the Scriptures through one of His human prophets, you can always count on it coming to fruition. He is, after all, God.

Do you know these lessons?
But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” – 1 Kings 21:3

Categories: Devotion, Faith, Family, Forgiveness, Israel, Marriage, Old Testament, Suffering

Tags: , , , ,

5 replies

  1. If Christ came to take away our sins, and a person accepts Him as the Messiah and Savior, repents of all sin, then why would God still allow that person’s next generation suffer for the person’s wrongs? I’m confused. If I am forgiven, why should I then have to worry about my sins hurting my children? What then is Grace? What would be the purpose of accepting Christ as my Savior, if I am not truly forgiven?


    • Great question, Angie. Consider that pre-Christ, there was no ultimate atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind. We are under that forgiveness umbrella now when we repent and surrender under Christ’s authority. God’s forgivess is complete. Ahab, a Jewish/Hebrew king, was operating in a pre-Christ world and was under the Law as dictated by God to Moses and delivered to and for the Jewish people. God, as God, dealt in the Old Testment (pre-Christ) with sin as He deemed appropriate. And the Jewish people knew it. In this case of an evil action (innocent blood shed) by Ahab, a king no less, and his wife, God meted out punishment yet He had compasson for Ahab’s remorse. Ahab’s next generation paid the consequences as foretold by Elijah the prophet. God indeed does promise us full forgiveness for past, present and future sins. Of course, He does not protect our families from any human consequences of our sins; we are only eternally forgiven and saved. You can trust and rest assuredly in the grace, mercy, and faithfullness of God.


  2. I think the whole concept is wrong. Every person in this world is independent and will be responsible for his deeds. The Prophet’s work is only to convey the message of God to mankind and guide them to the right way.


  3. We, humans, often forget who we are; and who God is. God is the creator, all-knowing, all-powerful, everywhere all the time, without evil, only good, beyond our comprehension, never born, will never die…
    We cannot begin to fathom who He is. We are merely a creation made to do good things. God can do anything He wants with us and to us. It is our place to do what He has told us to do. Alot of people have a problem with this because their God is too small, and their pride is too large.

    I do understand the Angie’s question, though, as I once felt that way. But Michael is correct that this story is before Christ and the cross. Also, God may be explaining what will happen when children are raised in an evil home. They will turn against God and will suffer the consequences.

    But my belief is in my first paragraph. Even if it seems unfair to us, God knows what is right and wrong. He created us. He can do what He wants with us. Some people are smarter than others, more beautiful, more talented, but that’s just the way it is. We must accept who God made us to be, and be content with it. We all have a purpose, which is to reach those who are lost, to love everyone, and to do good things. We need to increase our faith and trust in God. If He really did create this amazing universe, our planet, all its beauty and inhabitants, who are we to judge? Good grief! When was the last time you or I created anything to compare! We are a mere creation of our Amazing God, made a little lower than the angels.

    Liked by 1 person

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