"Something Rotten in the State"

Michael Wilcock

READ : 1 Kings 21:1-16

The elders . . . did as Jezebel had sent word to them. (v. 11)

Even in a secular state where public morality is reckoned to have nothing to do with religion, such perversion of justice as Jezebel’s judicial murder of Naboth ought to raise howls of anger. The fact that it can happen among God’s own people shows how far they have sunk. They may not care much about the religious contest between Baal and Yahweh, but they ought to care about murder! What Shakespeare says about Hamlet’s Denmark is equally true of Ahab’s Israel – there’s something rotten there.

In the Naboth affair there is a nasty whiff of the relativist morality of our own day. Naboth’s right to hold on to his historic family property conflicts with Ahab’s power, as an oriental monarch, to take it from him. What decides the outcome? Not the old-fashioned absolutes of God’s law, but the prevailing climate of opinion – in this case Jezebel’s opinion, to which it seems everyone bows.

After an absence of a chapter and a half, Elijah takes a stand once more against the evils that are destroying the nation. God’s judgment on it cannot now be avoided; even so, his servant still has the duty of speaking out against the sins that provoke that judgment.


Lord, give us the courage to hold forth your law as well as your gospel.