Do Possessions Make You Happy?

1 Kings 21:3 – But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”

In this scene from Elijah’s life, the time has come for God to straighten things out with King Ahab. Ahab was not content, despite his family ruling over the nation of Israel for generations as evil dictators, living in a lavish castle, and owning more land than he could ever need. This truth just goes to show that enjoying our life has a lot more to do with the attitude in us than the possessions around us. 

One day, perhaps peering out a window high atop his towering palace, the king saw a piece of land that he did not own, and suddenly he began breaking the 10thcommandment by coveting, which led to his wife breaking the ninth and sixth commandments against bearing false witness and committing murder, all so they could break the eighth commandment, all of which was set in motion by them also breaking the first and second commandments by worshipping other gods and making idols. His sense of unlimited entitlement would be the beginning of his end. 

Ahab did not really need the land, just like Adam and Eve did not need the forbidden fruit. But, once he saw it, the king began obsessing over it. He offered its’ owner, Naboth, either a land swap deal, or an outright purchase. Naboth refused saying, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” (1 Kings 21:3) 

Naboth was apparently a godly man, his land had belonged to his family for generations, and he would be sinning against his God and family if he took the deal. One Bible commentary explains, “Priestly legislation viewed the land of Israel as YHWH’s possession, and the Israelites as temporary dwellers on it; therefore, it was not theirs to sell in perpetuity or alienate from the family, and the property would revert to its owner in the jubilee year (cf. Lev. 25:23-28; Num 36:7)… that the proposed act of sale would be a desecration and so was to be avoided at all costs; cf. Josh 22:29; 1 Sam 12:23; 26:11; 2 Sam 23:17; and without yhwh, e.g., Gen 44:7, 17. It sometimes precedes an oath, to strengthen it, as in 1 Sam 24:6–7.” (1)

In tomorrow’s devo, we’ll find out how Ahab continued his passive behavior while Jezebel continued her controlling behavior in breaking multiple commandments of a God they did not serve or respect.

Have you ever seen someone take something that wasn’t theirs and seemingly get away with it? Remember that God will get ultimate justice and victory in the end.

  1. Mordechai Cogan, I Kings: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 10, Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), 477-478.

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