Introduction: This week we bring King Ahab back to life! Seriously,
the last we saw of Ahab was when he asked King Jehosophat of Judah to
be his ally in the Ramoth Gilead battle. Ahab alertly suggested that
Jehosophat should wear a bulls-eye while Ahab went disguised as a
regular soldier. (See 2 Chronicles 18:29) Jehosophat, revealing
something unsettling about his intelligence, agreed. Thanks to God’s
grace he survived, but Ahab died in battle. This week turn back the
pages on Ahab’s life to see what we can learn from his earlier days.
Let’s dive in!

  1. Ahab, the Sulky Gardener

    1. Read 1 Kings 21:1-2. What do you think about the business
      proposal that King Ahab made to Naboth? (I’m not a farmer,
      but it seems unusual to me to turn a vineyard into a
      garden. My understanding is that a vineyard is like an
      apple orchard. It takes years of growing and maintenance
      to get the proper product.)

    2. Read 1 Kings 21:3. What do you think about Naboth’s
      response? Is it reasonable? (It is a sentimental response
      instead of a business response. The King is offering him
      a better vineyard or money. Naboth says, “It’s been in my
      family for years.” Naboth may also have objected for
      religious reasons. See Numbers 36:5-9)

      1. What does it say about Ahab that Naboth was willing
        to give this reply? (It could be Ahab does not have a
        “killer” reputation among his people. Naboth feels
        free to turn down his reasonable business offer. On
        the other hand, if Naboth is motivated by religious
        conviction, he might not care.)

    3. Read 1 Kings 21:4. What insight does this give us into
      Ahab’s character? (He was very immature and selfish.)

  2. Jezebel, the Cunning Wife

    1. Read 1 Kings 21:5-7. Isn’t it nice to have a loving and
      helpful wife? One that cheers you up when you are down?
      One who helps you when you are having trouble?

      1. When Ahab reported Naboth’s response to his business
        offer, did he tell Jezebel the entire truth? (No. He
        just said that Naboth refused, without giving his

    2. Read 1 Kings 21:8-10. Do you let your wife sign your

      1. The text is clearly telling us Ahab was not part of
        this scheme. Why did Jezebel do this on her own? Why
        not say to Ahab, “I’ll get you the vineyard, here is
        my plan?”

      2. Why did Jezebel come up with this plan? Since the
        vineyard was close by, why not send a soldier in the
        night to cut Naboth’s throat? Why involve all of
        these other people in an obvious injustice? Why not a
        simple, direct plan?

      3. Who was supposed to be mislead by this plan? (Not too
        long ago we studied the book of Amos. Chapters 4 and
        5 of that book describe how the rich and powerful
        corrupted the judicial system to oppress and steal
        from the poor. Perhaps Jezebel thought it important
        to have this appearance of propriety.)

      4. How about you? Are you more concerned with how things
        look than with how they really are?

    3. Let’s look more closely at this letter.

      1. Why did Jezebel tell the leaders to proclaim a
        fast?(She wanted it to appear that some judgment was
        threatened on that town. They could avoid judgment by
        fasting. Fasting was generally coupled with
        confessing sin. (See 1 Samuel 7:6) If the people were
        concerned about God, they would be lead to think that
        getting rid of Naboth was important to eliminate any
        judgment on their town because of his sin. If they
        were not concerned about God, they would be glad to
        get rid of Naboth so they could start eating again.)

      2. Is there any truth to these charges against Naboth?
        ( 1 Kings 21:7 reveals Jezebel thought that Naboth was
        dishonoring the King by refusing his offer.)

    4. Isn’t there a flaw in Jezebel’s plan? Naboth did not want
      to sell because the land had been owned by his family.
      This suggests that he had sons that would inherit his
      land. Just because Naboth is dead doesn’t mean that Ahab
      gets the vineyard! Right? (Now we see what is probably the
      primary reason for the trial. If you read 2 Kings 9:26 you
      will see that Naboth’s sons were also executed at the same
      time. Deuteronomy 13:6-18 suggests that the penalty for
      blasphemy is not only death, but the loss of your
      property. This explains the reason to charge Naboth with
      treason AND blasphemy. Note that Deuteronomy does not say
      the king (or anyone else) has a right to the property of
      the blasphemer. Instead, it should be burned. Since the
      justice system was so perverted, I doubt that detail
      stopped Jezebel.)

    5. Read 1 Kings 21:11-14. What does this plan tell us about
      the elders and nobles of this town? (They are corrupt

    6. Read 1 Kings 21:15-16. Why doesn’t Ahab ask any questions?
      Naboth was a healthy man just a little bit ago, and now he
      is dead. (Ahab understood the ways of his wife.)

    7. How safe was the property and life of the “little guy”
      under the reign of Ahab and Jezebel?

      1. What could be done about this if you were a “little
        guy” living then?

  3. Enter Elijah

    1. Read 1 Kings 21:17-19. Friend, are you glad for a God that
      sticks up for the “little guy?”

    2. Read 1 Kings 21:20 the first part. Ahab has been caught
      red-handed with the stolen property. God’s prophet nails
      him with the proper characterization of what has happened.
      What kind of response does Ahab give? (He calls Elijah “my
      enemy.” This does two things that the popular press does
      today to Christians. First, it responds to logic with
      name-calling. Second, the name-calling suggests that this
      is all Elijah’s fault — these charges are only leveled
      against Ahab because Elijah doesn’t like him! Today they
      would say, “You found me, you agent of the religious

    3. Read 1 Kings 21:20 the second part. Is Elijah silenced by
      Ahab’s name-calling? Is there a message in this for us

    4. Read 1 Kings 21:21-23. God says (v.22) He has gotten angry
      because of Jezebel’s scheme. How do you react to this?
      Are you glad that someone in a position of power is going
      to make this right? Are you glad God gets angry about
      injustice? Are you equally glad when God gets angry about
      your sins?

      1. Is it possible that only the sins of “other people”
        get God exercised?

    5. Read 1 Kings 21:27. Consider the reaction of Ahab to
      those intolerant, judgmental words of Elijah!

      1. Discuss whether we have gone too far today in
        promoting the picture of a God who is always loving,
        never angry, and of course, completely spineless and
        non-judgmental when it comes to evil-doing.

      2. Perhaps the reason why so few people “fear God” today
        is because He is more commonly portrayed as a loving,
        comforting puppy, rather than a Judge of sin and

      3. Shouldn’t Elijah be troubled by the fact that his job
        is to “tell others how to live?”

      4. Read 1 Kings 21:28-29. What does this say about God?
        (That He is in fact forgiving!)

    6. I must confess something here. One of the main reasons I
      like to study and teach the Bible is that God’s plan makes
      so much logical sense to me. I can see why following God’s
      commandments are in my best interests. It is not hard for
      me to understand how adultery is harmful to my wife, my
      children and (not least of all!)me. The problem with this
      thinking is that you look at every moral decision on the
      basis of how it will affect your life. Ahab could have
      employed this approach and decided there was no harm to
      him in eliminating Naboth. We need to be more mindful of
      what God will think about our daily decisions.

  4. Jehu

    1. 2 Kings 9 tells us that Elisha, at God’s instruction,
      anointed Jehu King of Israel. The problem was that Israel
      already had a king. That king’s name was Joram, who was
      the son of the late King Ahab. Jehu then gathers an army
      and marches on the palace of King Joram. Read 2 Kings
      9:19-20. Joram sends out a messenger and the messenger
      joins Jehu’s cause. Why would you guess this is happening?

      1. My wife says riding with me in the car is a religious
        experience. How was Jehu’s driving? (Apparently, just
        like mine! :))

    2. Read 2 Kings 9:21-22. What prevents the two from having
      peace? (Joram’s unfaithfulness to God.)

      1. Is there a kind of peace in your church that is not
        worth having?

      2. How do you distinguish improper controversies from
        controversies that matter?

    3. Read 2 Kings 9:23-26. Our buddy, Naboth, posthumously
      enters the picture. Why? (God’s prophecy in 1 Kings 21:28
      has come true.)

      1. What is the lesson to be learned here? God spares
        Ahab, but punishes his son? How is that fair? (I
        don’t think Jerom died because of Naboth. 1 Kings
        21:28 shows God’s mercy towards Ahab when he repented
        of that sin. 2 Kings 9:22 reveals that Joram died for
        his own sin of following in the steps of his mother
        in idolatry and witchcraft.)

      2. This lesson may improperly encourage trouble-makers
        in the church to make more trouble! What does 2 Kings
        9:25-26 teach us about when we should and should not
        stand up and fight? (You need a clear statement from
        the Lord. Unless God has clearly commanded
        something, you should seek peace and not controversy
        within the church.)

    4. Friend, we see in this lesson that God both executes
      judgment and shows mercy. When you convey a picture of
      God to others, do you show both sides of God? Or, do you
      paint an unfair picture that shows only love or only

  5. Next Week: The Last Days of the Northern Kingdom.