« PreviousContinue »
appointment. He came home heavy and displeased; he would not eat, but lay down upon his bed, and turned away his face in sullen vexation.
Surely, if there be one sin more fearful and odious than another, it is when any person wilfully tempts and leads on their brother to wickedness, perilling two souls at once. But we know that, to those who do not resist the beginnings of evil, Satan is ever ready to send such tempters, from the day that he tempted Eve until this present moment. So now, while Ahab brooded over the disappointment of his covetous desires, his constant temptress Jezebel was ready at his side. She taunted him for fretting at such an unfulfilled wish, he, the king of Israel ! and bade him rise up, eat and be merry; for she would deliver Naboth's vineyard into his hand. Again we see the weakness of Ahab, for he must have known
very well that Jezebel could only do this by foul means; yet he suffered her to take his royal seal, and use it as an authority to the letters which she wrote in his name. Without a moment's doubt or fear the wicked queen wrote orders that a fast be proclaimed, and Naboth set forth as a prisoner. She went on to direct “ Arise,
that two false witnesses should be set up, who should
say that he had blasphemed God and the king. “Then,” she wrote, “carry him out,
. and stone him, that he die.”
Her hateful orders were obeyed; and when tidings were brought to the queen that all was done as she desired, she went in triumph to the scarcely less guilty Ahab, and said, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead !"
Ahab made no scruples. He had not courage to do the deed of blood by himself, but he was willing to profit by it when done, and thus fully to share his wife's guilt. He went down to the vineyard to take possession of it; but before he could delight himself in the gains of wickedness, he was met with the sentence of his punishment. The Lord had sent Elijah to meet Ahab; and well the wicked king must have known the prophet's errand, for his first greeting was one of mingled defiance and fear: “ Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?”
“I have found thee,” was Elijah's solemn answer, “because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.” The prophet then gave the Lord's sentence, how
evil should come upon Ahab, and his posterity be uprooted, and how" in the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine." Upon Jezebel, too, sen
, tence was given : “The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.”
When Ahab heard this, some real touch of penitence seems to have come upon him ; for he rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth, fasting and “ going softly," as one humbled and subdued. Then the LORD, Whose mercy never faileth, and Who is ever ready to receive the least sign of penitence and return from any sinner, however great, looked pitifully upon Ahab, and spoke to Elijah, saying, “Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before Me? Because he humbleth himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days; but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.'
THE DEATH OF AHAB.
When Asa, king of Judah, died, he was succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat, who was a good man, and “sought to the LORD God of his
father, and walked in His commandments.” Therefore the LORD stablished the kingdom in his hand, and he had riches and honour in abundance. Jehoshaphat made an alliance with Ahab, and for the first time since the kingdom was divided, there was peace between the kings of Israel and Judah. Ahab wished to go and take Ramoth Gilead from the king of Syria, and he asked Jehoshaphat to join him. The king of Judah agreed, saying, “I
, am as thou art, and my people as thy people, and we will be with thee in the war." Jehoshaphat wished Ahab to inquire the LORD's will before they went to war; and, probably to please him only, Ahab called together four hundred priests or prophets, and asked, “ Shall we go to Ramoth Gilead, or shall we forbear ?” They were all false prophets; and because Ahab wished to go to battle, they answered, “Go up, for the Lord will deliver it into the king's hand.”
It seems as if the king of Judah was not altogether satisfied, but mistrusted these prophets ; for he inquired, “ Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might inquire of him?” Ahab said that there was one Micaiah, the son of Imlah, but that he hated him, be
cause Micaiah always prophesied evil to him. However, Jehoshaphat urged for Micaiah's summons, and Ahab was forced to yield, and send for him. The two kings sat each on a throne, in an open place near the gate of Samaria, where all these false prophets came to them, and there the true prophet Micaiah
The messenger who was sent to fetch him told the prophet what was going on, and entreated him to speak fair words to the king, as all the others had done. But Micaiah answered, “As the LORD liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak.
When he came before the kings, and Ahab asked the same question of Micaiah, he first repeated the words of the false prophets, but probably in a manner which showed that he did not mean it; since Ahab, who would gladly have taken such a prophecy, answered, “How many times shall I adjure thee that thou say nothing but the truth to me in the Name of the LORD ?" Then, indeed, Micaiah gave a very different
“I saw all Israel scattered upon the
I . mountains," he said, “as sheep having no shepherd; and the LORD said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace.”