1 Kings 21:1-29
Just like Solomon, Ahab married a foreign wife from Sidon called Jezebel (a princess). His reign witnessed an upsurge of the encroachment of foreign religions, especially the worship of the Sidonian god called baal, brought in by Jezebel upon her marriage to King Ahab of Israel.
Ahab approached Naboth asking him to sell his inheritance-a family land to him (Ahab) to use as a garden, on the flimsy reason that it was near his house. Naboth refused, explaining to Ahab that it was almost an abomination for him to sell his family inheritance.
Ahab was displeased with this statement. He was so sad to the extent that he was unable to eat. Jezebel, his wife inquired what the problem was. Ahab told her of Naboth’s refusal to sell his land. Jezebel then promised to get the land for Ahab at all costs.
Jezebel wrote a letter, signed and sealed with Ahab’s seal. The letter called on the citizens of Jezreel to proclaim a fast which Naboth should be made the leader. This was to get rid of Naboth to enable Ahab satisfy his greed. Along the line, two base fellows should be appointed who would accuse Naboth during his speech as having cursed God and the king. By this, he would face death by stoning. This they accomplished, and wrote to inform Jezebel.
Consequences of Ahab’s Greed
At once, Ahab moved in and took the land. However, unknown to him and his wife, God had heard the cry of the blood of Naboth. Consequently, He sent the prophet – Elijah, who came and told Ahab bluntly that God was very displeased with his action. He told him all the Lord will bring upon Ahab. He prophesied that Ahab will die where Naboth died. As for his wife, Jezebel, the dogs will also eat her flesh by the wall of Jezreel, as recorded in 1 Kings 21:19-23:
“Thus says the Lord: In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick your own blood … (vs 19) Behold, I will bring evil upon you; I will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free in Israel … ;(vs 21). And of Jezebel … The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.” (vs 23)
Although, in 1 Kings 21:27-29, God postponed Ahab’s punishment until the days of his children because of his humility and repentance. It is worthy to note that Ahab and his wife later died exactly like the prophet predicted. This is what greed or covetousness can cause.
- King Ahab built a palace in Jezreel where he often visited from Samaria. His palace was near Naboth’s vineyard.
- He then requested from Naboth his vineyard in exchange for a better one somewhere or for Naboth to sell it to him outright. Naboth rejected both offers.
- This discouraged the king who refused to eat until his wife Jezebel encouraged and promised him the vineyard.
- She wrote a letter to the elders and nobles of Jezreel to proclaim a fast and set Naboth on high and let two base fellows accuse him of cursing God and the king, thereby stoning him to death. This order was carried out.
- Jezebel and her husband then moved in and took the land.
- Prophet Elijah passed God’s judgment on to them.
- Ahab humbled himself; there was a postponement of the punishment. But all were fulfilled later.
The second story on greed and its consequences centres around Gehazi, Prophet Elisha’s servant. Elisha was a prophet in Israel, whose period came immediately after Elijah. Naaman, the Syrian King’s army commander, came to Elisha on recommendation to be cured of leprosy.
Naaman was still at the gate when Elisha sent a servant to tell Naaman to move to River Jordan and dip himself seven times. The commander was annoyed because he thought Elisha would perform an instant miracle.
But on persuasion by his servant, he obeyed and was healed totally. He came back to the prophet with numerous gifts in appreciation of his healing, which the prophet declined to receive. This was the point where the devil tempted Gehazi – the prophet’s servant. He could not withstand the urge to possess these precious items, as a result, he went after Naaman. On meeting Naaman, Gehazi told him that the prophet had changed his mind and now needed those precious gifts:
‘My master has sent me to say:
“There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim, two youngmen of the sons of the prophets; pray, give them a talent of silver and two festal garments.” 2 Kings 5: 22
Here, Gehazi was trying to relay a purported message from Elisha, which were all lies, as no youngmen came to visit Elisha from the “hill country of Ephraim.” Gehazi took possession of those gifts and craftily hid them in the house. Not knowing that God had revealed everything to Elisha, Gehazi told him that he went nowhere, when Elisha demanded his whereabouts. Without much delay, Elisha proclaimed Gehazi’s punishment – Naaman’s leprosy came upon Gehazi instantly as he left Elisha’s presence as white as snow. Below is Elisha’s proclamation:
“Did I not go with you in spirit when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, menservants and maidservants? Therefore, the leprosy of Naaman shall cleave to you, and to your descendants for ever.” ‘So he went out from his presence, a leper; as white as snow’. (2 Kings5:26-27)
Lessons to Learn From Ahab’s and Gehazi’s Greed
- The satisfaction derivable from greed is only short-lived, whereas the consequences are bitter and lead to self-destruction.
- Greed does not pay at all, as in most cases, we pay for greed with our lives like Ahab.
- Let us be always contented with what we have.
- God cannot be silent when the well-to-do try to exploit the needy out of greed as in Ahab’s case.
- Greed breeds mistrust, disharmony, hatred, contempt and pain amongst people living together as in Elisha and his servant, Gehazi.
- The consequences of greed may have spill-over effects on others around us, especially our children, grand-children and indeed the whole family as in the two stories.
- Women are influential, hence, we should not allow our wives to push us into greed.
- We should not use our position of authority to amass wealth at the expense of the poor. This is a lesson for our rulers.
- We should not allow economic crisis or our hardship to lead us to greed.
- We should try to subdue inordinate ambitions in our ego.
- We should learn to be honest and faithful in little things.
- Naaman the army commander of Syria had leprosy and was sent to Prophet Elisha at Samaria for healing.
- The prophet sent a message to him through Gehazi to go and dip himself seven times in River Jordan.
- Elisha refused all his gifts. But Gehazi went after Naaman, told him lies and took the things.
- Elisha had the revelation of all these things, but Gehazi denied.
- Elisha cursed him and Naaman’s leprosy came upon him.