Injustice for Innocence: Naboth’s Vineyard – 1 Kings 21
On the surface, the story of Naboth’s vineyard in 1 Kings 21 seems straightforward: a profoundly wicked king and queen, the injustice they commit, the innocent man who dies at their hands, and the judgment they receive from a holy God.
But like all good stories, this one points to a greater Story. This story has another main character—one whose name is not mentioned, but whose presence looms large between every line, if we only have eyes to see Him.
Consider Naboth, who refused to sell his inheritance. Despite the fact that he could make a profit (the king, after all, was offering to give him a better vineyard), he held fast to his family’s land, knowing that this proof of God’s promises was priceless.
Naboth was falsely accused of offending God and the king. Powerful rulers plotted against him, producing false witnesses and charging him with blasphemy. Naboth was taken outside the city and killed for a crime he did not commit. Once he was dead, another could take possession of his inheritance. “Naboth is not alive, but dead,” Jezebel announced triumphantly to her husband (v. 15).
Sound familiar? Except that Jesus, as both innocent Man and true King, freely offered his inheritance. What He possessed in Heaven far surpassed any earthly inheritance, yet He did not cling to it. He died willingly, in order that those who did not even recognize its value could take possession of it. But He didn’t remain in the tomb: “He is not here, but has risen,” the angels told Jesus’ disciples, in sharp contrast to Jezebel’s proclamation.
Consider King Ahab, whose every action in this story serves as a counterpoint to the glory of King Jesus.
Ahab was a wicked king who stole an inheritance that was not rightfully his. Jesus is the Righteous King who gave away His own inheritance to those who do not rightfully deserve it.
Ahab humbled himself in a superficial way, and as a result, disaster came not upon him but upon his descendants. Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death, and as a result, disaster came upon Him so that it would not come upon His descendants.
Jesus is not mentioned in this story. He does not seem to speak or act. But when I open my eyes, I see Him so clearly. And isn’t that true of my life as well? Jesus is not a tangible character in it; He does not speak audibly or act visibly. But is He not present everywhere? If only I will choose to see!
I have this tendency to desire and expect that my life is about me. I want to imagine myself as the main character in a captivating story, just as Ahab and Naboth seem to be the main characters in 1 Kings 21. But the true center of the drama is far more grand and glorious, far more worthy of attention and honor and praise.
Sometimes I am Ahab: dissatisfied with the abundance that is already mine, greedy and grabbing for more, pouting like a child when life doesn’t go my way, trampling others as I chase after idols.
Sometimes I am Naboth, wisely clinging to my inheritance in Christ because I know how valuable a treasure it is.
Always the real Hero is Jesus, who purchases the inheritance I don’t deserve and makes me heir to the most fruitful and beautiful vineyard imaginable. And I will be whole and happy only when I open my eyes to His beauty and bow low so that the focus of the story is on Him, where it belongs.
original image credit: Unsplash
Amy Kannel often suffers from spiritual amnesia, easily forgetting who Jesus is and what He has done for her—so she writes to remember His faithfulness and help others see Him as the Main Thing. She makes her home in the Nashville area and will be forever grateful to the South for introducing her to tomato pie. When she’s not writing, you might find Amy making said pie and other kitchen messes, singing to her three-year-old son, reading with her six-year-old son, or ballroom dancing in the living room with Mr. Wonderful. And if you’d told her ten years ago that she would even think of mentioning cooking in a bio, she would have declared you certifiably insane…which just goes to show that she serves a God who’s in the business of changing people. You can find more of Amy’s writing at Choosing Hallelujah.