by Dr. Ken Matto

(1 Ki 21:3 & 14 KJV) And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. {14} Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.

Today we look at Naboth. Naboth was a very godly man and had a vineyard right next to the king’s palace. King Ahab was a very wicked man who was married to a very wicked woman named Jezebel. Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal II, king of Tyre and Sidon. Both of these monarchs were wicked and evil and had no regard for the teachings of the Law or for God Himself. Now Ahab made, what sounded like a fair deal, that if Naboth would give him his vineyard, that he would reciprocate and give Naboth a better one. In terms of real estate dealing it may have been a good deal, but in terms of being obedient to God, it could never happen. (Lev 25:23 KJV) The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. Naboth could not sell nor trade the land because the land belonged to God. Naboth was being obedient to the law of God and stood firm on his conviction. His unwavering commitment to God had cost him his life. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for obedience. (Mat 24:13 KJV) But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Naboth was a great example of the verse our Lord gave that only those who are truly saved, will be faithful right up to the end.

How do we respond when we read about someone like Naboth who refused to disobey God’s commandments concerning the land? It gets us to think about our own commitments in this life. If we do a commitment check, how will we compare to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in their obedience to God? One of the chief tests that give us our commitment barometer is that of tough times. When we hit a rough time in our life, do we exchange obedience and commitment for an easier path, even though that path may take us into sinful waters? Naboth could have reasoned it out by saying that he would have been able to pass down to his progeny a bigger and better vineyard, also that he would have increased the size of God’s land. He could have also reasoned that by doing business with the king, he could have won political favor.

When we read the first dialogue between Naboth and Ahab, we see that Naboth was not careful to answer the king. He told him instantly that the king would not have the land that was given to him by his fathers. We see a similar scenario with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (Dan 3:16 KJV) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. These three Hebrew boys refused to bow down to this pagan king and it would have cost them their life but God intervened and they lived. Here we have two scenarios of faithfulness, Naboth refused to bow the knee to the pagan king and neither did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The three boys lived but Naboth lost his earthly life. However, their level of obedience and commitment were equal. They all knew that obedience to God carries with it the possibility of a death penalty. All were prepared to make the supreme sacrifice for obedience to God. When the boss on the job wants us to do something shady, are we careful to answer, in light of obedience or disobedience to God? Do we have to reason our obedience or is our obedience coming from faith?

When we read about people such as this who were so committed to God, that they did not even take into consideration a time of reasoning. Their obedience was instant because their commitment was real and abiding. Whenever a situation arises which tests our commitment to the Lord, do we have to take time and think about whether we are going to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in the furnace of affliction or if we are going to try and find another way out. If we are truly committed to the Lord, then our response to any situation should always be to follow the Lord’s word, and not after a period of deliberation, but our obedience must be instant. There will always be repercussions to being obedient to God in this world but as Christians, either we are obeying God or obeying Satan. There is no such thing as half-faithfulness, half faithfulness equals full faithlessness. We need to believe the Word of God as more than just a doctrinal journal. These scenarios which God gives us in Scripture are for our benefit and understanding. I personally have received much chiding for my non-wavering stance on the King James Bible, both through attacks and sometimes through a joke, nevertheless, you can’t have two versions of a Bible, one which leaves much out and one doesn’t. They both can’t be the word of God, either Acts 8:37 is in, or it is not. You cannot have it both ways.

God wrote the Bible through people because it is people He is dealing with throughout all ages. God teaches us the faithfulness of Naboth as well as the faithlessness of John Mark when he departed from Paul, yet we see that later on, Mark was reconciled as a useful believer. God shows us these things so we may test where we are in our spiritual walk. Has something happened in your life where you were either instantly obedient or acted with “reasoned” disobedience? Naboth was instantly obedient because he knew his God and was committed to being obedient to Him, even to the point of death. There may come a time in our life when we come upon a situation and we may make the wrong decision, and that will happen, but if we are steeped in the word of God, it will be the exception and not the rule. Maybe this weekend will be a good time to do a commitment check.  (10/10/03)