Category Archives: I Kings

It’s not worth it

I Kings 21:7

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.” NIV

One of the things that makes this project challenging, and interesting at the same time, is that the word “worry” does not appear, even once, in the King James version of the Bible.  All the same stories are there, of course, as translated from the original Greek and Hebrew, but, it appears to me that at the turn of the 16th century in England, the word “worry” was not in as wide a use as it is today.

I checked that out on the Web, and found one source, “The Word Detective,” that claims that the use of the word worry in the context of “to make or to be consistently anxious,” came into being in the early 1800s.  The site also says, and this is fascinating to me, that the original meaning of the word in Old English was “to strangle.”  I need to ponder that one.

In the meantime, this morning, I decided to look at the New Living Translation, expecting, correctly, that it would have translated some words to the word “worry” that other versions have not.  That’s where I found this verse.  The NLT translates this verse, “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!” NLT

As I read the whole story of King Ahab, it seemed to me that he wasn’t worried, as much as he was just plain spoiled.

Ahab sets his heart on a vineyard that is close to his castle.  He thinks it will make a lovely vegetable garden.  He goes to the vineyard’s owner, Naboth, and asks him to give the land to the king.  In return, Ahab promises Naboth a better vineyard, or, he tells him, he will gladly pay for the land.

Naboth declines the king’s offer.  “Not on your life!” he says in verse 3, “So help me God, I’d never sell the family farm to you!” MSG

King Ahab goes back to the castle, which is right next door to the vineyard.  Verse 4 says, “he went to bed, stuffed his face in his pillow, and refused to eat.” MSG

He hasn’t gotten what he wanted, and he’s been insulted in the process.  He is the king of Israel, and, one of his subjects, instead of gladly granting his wish, has had the nerve to stand up to him.

What happens next is fascinating.

Jezebel comes in, delivers her speech, and then arranges for Naboth to be publicly maligned and stoned to death.  After he is dead, she goes to the king and tells him that the vineyard is now conveniently available.  Verse 16 says, “The minute Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he set out for the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, and claimed it for his own.”  MSG.

No remorse, no “What have you done?!?”  He just goes out to the vineyard, and, presumably begins planning where he’ll put the tomatoes.

The rest of the story is long and complicated, and doesn’t end well for Ahab’s family.  Very sad.

Ahab wants something.  There is a barrier.  He is completely distressed by the barrier.  It seems to him that life is not worth living if the barrier cannot be bridged.  Perhaps, he even feels “strangled” by his unfulfilled want.  Ultimately, he and his wife take matters into their own hands and break down the barrier in order to achieve the goal, paying no mind to the hurt they inflict in the process.  The goal is achieved, and, as you read on, life still is not really worth living for Ahab.

This is a pretty effective lesson.  Whatever it is that we’re worried about, or that we think we want, isn’t worth it.  Our ultimate goal here needs to be to serve God, to commune with Him and to do His work.  We shouldn’t waste our time pining after what someone else has, or something that we think we want.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Anxious, I Kings, Old Testament, Worry

You can’t out-give God

I Kings 17:13-14

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid.  Go home and do as you have said.  But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.  For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.'” NIV

I’m now in the story of Elijah.  As this story of the widow at Zarephath unfolds, we learn that there has been drought so severe that the brook dried up.  God tells Elijah to go to Zaraphath, because He has “commanded a widow” in that place to supply Elijah with food.

When Elijah gets to the town gate, there is a woman there gathering sticks.  He asks her to bring him some water, and as she is going to get it, he calls after her, “And bring me please, a piece of bread.”

This is where she pours out her heart to him.  She doesn’t have any bread.  All she has is a little flour and a little oil.  She explains to Elijah that she is gathering sticks so that she can go home and bake a loaf of bread for her and her son, “so that we may eat it — and die.”

This woman has real problems.  She and her family are literally on the brink of starvation.  And yet, when Elijah asks her for water, she goes immediately to fetch it for him.

I am curious about the wording of verse 9, where God says, “I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.”  I am wondering if she had, in fact, heard the command, and had determined that she did not have the means to feed someone else.  I am wondering if her plan was to eat the last of the food, so that when the stranger showed up, she could truthfully tell him that she had nothing to offer.  I think that would be pretty tempting … self preservation is a pretty strong instinct.  I can easily see how this might have been the case.

But, Elijah tells her to go ahead and make a meal for herself, but first, to make a small cake for him.  And then, he drops the bombshell, “the jar of flour will not be used up and jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.”

If I had been that woman, I think I would have thought that Elijah was telling me that the drought would be over the next day.  But, that wasn’t what happened.  The woman and her child and Elijah continued to eat each day from that same supply of flour and oil for some time.

You can’t out-give God.

This woman was faithful.  She did as God commanded and as Elijah told her.  She fed Elijah first from what she had, and then herself.  And, God was faithful to allow the flour and the oil to sustain them.

In my own life, I’ve found that if I am faithful in following God’s commands, especially about tithing, I am somehow always taken care of.  Despite multiple instances where I have worried that I would run out of money before I ran out of month, God has somehow always provided — a rebate check will arrive, or someone will send me a gift, or some sort of something will happen — the money shows up.

God is faithful.  He is not bound by time, or by my circumstances.  He has an army of children at His disposal who are willing and able to do His will here on earth.  God works miracles.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Hope, I Kings, Old Testament, Trust, Worry