God’s Thoughts to Me
Some time later there was a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.” ( 1 Kings 21:1-2, NIV)
The Hidden Story of Naboth’s Vineyard
I am a thinker. Actually I think a lot; deep and investigative, always searching for a story, the story behind the story and a few hidden ones in between! When I quite accidentally stumbled upon the meaning of the people’s names in the tale of Naboth’s vineyard, my story catching radar immediately tuned to the frequency of drama, murder, suspense and intrigue. I sensed a spiritual drama buried deep in the ground of Naboth’s vineyard.
Since we are all familiar with this story, allow me to to set the scene and introduce the cast:
1. Look at Naboth through our heavenly Pappa’s eyes! His name means “fruitful”.
2. Jezreel is the handywork of the divine Gardener for it means “The planting of the Lord.”
3. Ahab is derived from the Hebrew word “Aheb”. It is a masculine word meaning “lovers”.
4. Jezebel literally means, “Where is the prince?”, the prince, in this instance, being Baal.
It was the custom of the Baal worshippers to chant this prayer whenever they perceived him to have taken an extended winter vacation to the underworld, hoping to encourage him to return speedily with spring and new vegetation.
5. The elders and nobles represent the law-observers of the old covenant; man’s efforts to win God’s favor and blessings.
Ahab was a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8). I find it meaningful that his palace and Naboth’s vineyard were situated very close to one another. He was a religious man, wavering between his divided loyalties to Jezebel’s Baal worship and the religion of his ancestors. Ahab was an unfulfilled man and looking from the palace window at Naboth’s fruitful vineyard, made him greedy. Or, perhaps he realized the emptiness and futility of his own life when he saw the fruitful planting of our Pappa’s hands every time he looked through the palace window!
In the past, I used to self-righteously condemn Ahab for his covetousness and audacity, wanting to buy Naboth’s ancestral inheritance; and only to plant a vegetable garden! Ahab had no intention of cheating Naboth for he offered him a better vineyard or ample monetary compensation.
I had to face myself, admitting that I too, used to bargain with our Lord, wanting to “buy” the fruitful vineyard only our Pappa can plant and nourish, to replace it with a vegetable garden of religious self-effort, traditions and customs. Just like Ahab I was convinced that I could do a much better job than our Heavenly Father. Oh, the futility and impossibility of such reasoning.
Just like Ahab, I sulked and moped when our Pappa frustrated all my efforts! And just like Jezebel, the enemy of our hearts didn’t allow any grass to grow under his feet. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing he lured me to the assembly of the religious traditions of the elders and those whom we consider our Pappa’s Elite Corps; the spiritual nobility! He used a very pious religious practice as bait to make me feel so important in participating: fasting. The only fast I experienced was the hunger for our Pappa’s presence and love!
Just like Jezebel, he made it look so authentic by forging the king’s seal upon the invitation. He even gave me a place of honor, but soon sent his scoundrels to falsely accuse me of cursing our Heavenly Father and the traditions of the religious elite. Needless to say, I felt the stones bruising my heart and it took a long time to heal!
Oh, but the sweetness of that voice calling me just to come to Him, to stay in Him, and to experience His rest, was the coolest, most refreshing spring of joy and indescribable peace in the midst of an extremely severe winter season of my life.
I am not blessed with green fingers and therefore, with great joy and relief, I have surrendered my plans to plant a vegetable garden, to our Lord, resting in the shade of the vineyard He is planting in my life, enjoying all the delicious fruit He produces.
Much love to you