Thoughts for the Day

Tuesday, 18th June 2024: Elijah 7 - Retribution

Atonement Confession Ahab Elijah 1 Kings 21 Retribution Judgement

Reading : Verses from 1 Kings, Chapter 21

Ahab repents

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying: Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria; he is now in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. You shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Have you killed, and also taken possession?’ You shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, dogs will also lick up your blood.’

Ahab said to Elijah, ‘Have you found me, O my enemy?’ He answered, ‘I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel; and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin. Also concerning Jezebel the Lord said, “The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.” Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat.’

When Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth over his bare flesh; he fasted, lay in the sackcloth, and went about dejectedly. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: ‘Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster on his house.’

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


King Ahab has succeeded in getting a vineyard he wanted by murdering the owner, Naboth, and Elijah responds to God's direction. Notice how every movement in this book is carefully written. God comes to Elijah, not just any old Elijab, but the one born in Tishbe in Jordan, His prophet Elijah. He is to "Go down", for although King Ahab rules Israel and his base is in Samaria (412 metres above sea level), he is at present in Jezreel (only 115 metres above sea level). The prophet, as representative of God's justice, comes to reclaim the vineyard for its rightful owner and achieve justice for the victim. For the King and Queen had broken two Commandments: "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20.12) and "You shall not covet...anything that belongs to your neighbour." (Exodus 20.17).

When Moses speaks the words of retribution he speaks in the first person, eg "I will bring disaster upon you". This is very unusual, and may well have added to the terror Ahab felt, and cause what seems to be genuine repentance as he shows all the signs of mourning - he tore his clothes, wore sackcloth, fasted, and humbled himself before God. We see this later in the story of Jonah in Nineveh (Jonah 3) and here too God restrained his hand.

When we break God's laws, also when we forget to love others, we too deserve retribution and there will be a time of judgement one day when we will have to answer for our sins. The difference is that we know that Jesus accepted our punishment for us and paid the price by dying on a cross. Our response should be one of acceptance of our faults; the determination not to commit them again; and total love for Him who has rescued us.


Lord Jesus Christ,
may we truly acknowledge our sin,
and not sweep it under the carpet
as nothing important.
May we repent of all our mistakes,
especially those that were deliberate.
Help us to give serious consideration
as to how we can change in future,
and may we never forget
how You suffered for us.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to read this article on the The forgiveness of sin':

Or play this by Sunday 7pm choir:

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