The Sound of Silence

April 20, 2012 - 5:00 am

“Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says:  Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says:  In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’ Ahab said to Elijah, ‘So you have found me, my enemy!’ ‘I have found you,’ he answered, ‘because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord’.” — 1 Kings 21:19–20

King Ahab was not a good person. The Scripture tells us that “Ahab . . . did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him” (1 Kings 16:33). There are two specific deeds that got him into real trouble with God. The first was his failure to execute Ben-Hadad, King of Aram, as he had been commanded to do. The other was the murder of an Israelite man named Naboth.

To this second deed Ahab pleads “not guilty.” In a way, he is right. He did not lay a finger on Naboth. So why does Elijah the prophet promise Ahab that he will die an early and dishonourable death because of Naboth’s murder? Let’s back up and understand the context.

Ahab had his eye on Naboth’s vineyard. He offered to buy it from him or give him a better one in exchange. Naboth refused the offer. This got Ahab so angry, he went home to sulk in bed and refused to eat.

When his wife Jezebel got wind of this, she wouldn’t stand for any of it. How dare anyone defy her husband! She wrote letters in her husband’s name commanding the elders of Naboth’s town to set him up and make it look like he cursed God and the King. Her plan was carried to fruition when Naboth was framed and then stoned to death for his alleged crime. His vineyard was then free for the taking. Ahab had gone to the vineyard to claim it as his own when Elijah finds him there.

Elijah conveys the following message from the Lord:  “In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood.” Ahab responds cryptically, “So you have found me, my enemy!” Translated: “you are biased and only find me guilty because we are enemies – the truth is I didn’t do it!”  To which Elijah replies, “I have found you . . . because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord.”

Elijah told Ahab what Edmund Burke would famously express thousands of years later:  “The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.” To be silent is to concede. Ahab knew about Jezebel’s evil plans, and yet he allowed her to carry them out. Even though he did not touch even so much as a single hair on Naboth, he was completely responsible for his murder.

We are living in times when evil has reared its ugly head once again. Overseas and in our own backyards, there is no shortage of injustice. We must speak up. We dare not remain silent, lest we be held responsible.


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