Jude verse 18b, “…who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.”
Have you ever been teaching or training, and, all of the sudden, the words you are speaking about the Bible become terribly convicting to YOU? That happens to me…a lot. Last Sunday I was teaching a lesson to my 8th grade girls in Sunday school. The lesson was about King Ahab wanting Naboth’s vineyard. (I Kings chapter 21) As I was explaining the story, another passage of Scripture came to my mind, a mirror opposite of the story of Ahab and Jezebel. Allow me to explain.
In I Kings 21, we see the story of Ahab, King of Israel, his wife Jezebel, and a farmer with a vineyard near the palace, whose name was Naboth. The king saw Naboth’s vineyard, and, although he had so many riches and lands and wealth, it wasn’t enough. He coveted Naboth’s vineyard. Well, that land had been in the family a long time, and Naboth was not about to sell his family’s inheritance, even to a king. After failed negotiations, King Ahab came back to the palace, depressed, because he couldn’t get what he wanted. He lie down on his bed and pouted. At this point, Jezebel came in to find her husband so sad and forlorn. When she heard the reason for his pouting, she told him to let her solve his problem. And she did.
Jezebel was a real force of nature; nothing was going to stand in her way. She found people to lie about Naboth in court, and she had him executed. He did nothing wrong, other than refuse to sell his family’s land to a spoiled, jealous, whiny king. But that was enough. He died, and Jezebel triumphantly told Ahab that he could now have Naboth’s vineyard. She had purchased it with blood money. Wow! Does it get any worse? No, I don’t think so.
Immediately while teaching this, Proverbs 31 popped into my mind. What a contrast! This chapter was not written about a specific person in history. This chapter was written by a queen to her young son, Lemuel (many Bible scholars feel that this was Bathsheba writing to her son, Solomon). She is explaining to him what kind of woman he should choose to be his future wife, the future queen. This mother paints a picture of a woman who is a very hard worker. She is up before dawn; she labors physically. She makes clothing for her family. She is well-dressed. She is a business-woman who deals with merchants. Her husband “sits in the gates,” which means that he would have a position of leadership and authority in their community. Possibly a judge or official. She accomplished a great deal. She was, no doubt, very intelligent, resourceful, a good communicator…all while remaining kind and loving to her family and servants.
The key verse in Proverbs 31 is verse 11. “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.” This lady’s husband trusts her completely. He trusts her motives. He knows that she has the good of her husband and her family at heart. She is unselfish and not frivolous. He has no need of spoil (i.e., extra treasure and riches- like the “spoils of war”) He does not have to get a second job because she is out racking up credit card debt. He trusts her with the family finances. Simply, he trusts her with everything. Verses 28-31 describe the high esteem in which this woman is held by her husband and her children. They love, respect, and appreciate her for her kindness, her hard work, her unselfish life.
Wow! Now let’s compare these two King’s Wives–Jezebel and the Proverbs 31 Woman. Take a look at the following verses to make that comparison:
I Kings 21:25, “But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.”
Proverbs 31:28-31, “Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”
That is the comparison of a woman who has her own agenda, a woman who takes matters into her own hands, and woman who thinks she knows better than God and her husband COMPARED TO a woman who has pure motives, who lives and works unselfishly for the good of her husband, a woman who trusts in and respects the Lord. What a difference!
After Ahab acquired Naboth’s vineyard, he was visited by the Prophet Elijah. Elijah told him, in no uncertain terms, how angry God was at what Ahab had done. He was in for it! Upon hearing of the Lord’s judgment against him, Ahab humbled himself. He repented of his wicked deeds. But, notice–Jezebel NEVER humbled herself and repented of her wickedness. She carried her pride and selfishness to the grave. What a heartless woman.
I asked my class on Sunday, “After Elijah reproved Ahab, do you think he wanted that vineyard anymore? How do you think he felt each time he looked out of the palace window and saw the vineyard, and remembered how innocent life was lost because of his greed? Do you think that this event brought Ahab closer to Jezebel? Do you think he respected her more for what she did? No way! The regret he felt probably put a huge wall between them. Ahab probably blamed his wife for his guilt and shame. This deed was probably a huge wedge in their relationship from that time forward.”
Ladies, I have had days when I have acted like Jezebel. I have seen an issue in my marriage, and I have decided to take matters into my own hands to accomplish what I thought should be done. I didn’t wait on God or His timing. I have regrets about times in my life when I acted selfishly, for my own gain, just like Jezebel. These times did not bring me closer to my husband. My selfish motives caused him to respect me less, not more.
I have also had times, though not as often as I’d like to, when I resisted the urge to control a situation, and I gave it to God. I stepped back, stayed in my rightful place, worked hard, prayed, and waited. It was when I acted unselfishly, with pure motives, these times have brought me closer to my husband and to the Lord. These situations, though difficult times to be patient, these times are when I received increased respect and honor from my husband.
Which King’s Wife do you want to be? It’s an everyday decison. Somedays it may be Jezebel. Hopefully, with God’s help, most days we can be like the Proverbs 31 wife, who husband’s heart safely trusts in her.