Daily Reflection
June 19th, 2000
Tamora Whitney
English Department
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1 Kings 21:1-16
Psalms 5:2-3, 5-7
Matthew 5:38-42

When I first read today’s readings, I got worried.  I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to say anything interesting about them because they seemed so antithetical to me.  The first reading from First Kings talks about poor Naboth who is only trying to hold on to his heritage.  Ahab the king wants to buy the land or replace it, and he wants it for selfish reasons.  Naboth’s land is near land that Ahab already owns, so it would be easier for him.  But Naboth says this land was his father’s and his father’s before him.  It’s part of Naboth’s heritage and inheritance and worth more to him than money.  He won’t sell because it is part of his family heritage.  Then Jezebel forges Ahab’s seal, gives instructions to have Naboth killed, then tells Ahab that since Naboth is dead, he may as well go in and take the land he wants.  This is a pretty easy ending, but not a very moral one.  Then the psalm asks the Lord to hear the cries of the oppressed and to relieve their suffering.  Then the gospel says to turn the other cheek:  to give to your enemies even more than they’ve demanded, whether they’re in the right or not. 

At first glance I thought, so Naboth should have given up his heritage and his land that had belonged to his father and his father’s father just to avoid a confrontation with Ahab.  Maybe Naboth should have just given in, taken the money or the other land and started over.  It would have been better for him.  He paid for the land with his life, and after death then did not have the land, could not enjoy it or then pass it on to his own son.  He lost in the end what he was trying to protect after all.  The petitioner in the psalm is begging God for relief, but in the psalm it doesn’t say whether he gets any.  Naboth certainly got no relief from his suffering.  He was killed, and Ahab, who was morally in the wrong, ended up on top.  Jesus said, “offer no resistance to injury.”  Then added, “If anyone wants to go to law over your shirt, hand him your coat as well.”  It’s easier to give in than to fight for your rights. 

I was feeling a little depressed about the whole situation.  But then I decided to see what came next in the story of Naboth.  I didn’t think it seemed right that Naboth should die in vain for trying to protect what was his by all rights, or that Ahab, even though he was king, should be able to take Naboth’s family land with no repercussions.  What comes next after the reading restores my faith and answers the prayers in the psalm.  After Ahab goes to take possession of the land, the Lord speaks to Elijah and gives him a message for Ahab.  Elijah meets Ahab at Naboth’s land and tells him that the Lord is aware of his abominations.  The Lord says He will take away Ahab’s prosperity and power because he has sinned in the sight of the Lord.  The psalm reiterates that the Lord hates evil doers and those who speak falsehoods.  The implication is that they will be punished.  Ahab has done evil against Naboth and his family.  Jezebel has spoken falsely and was bloodthirsty.  It seems from where the reading stops today that the evil doers are not punished, but the rest of the story shows their punishment.  They and their children shall die and they shall be eaten by dogs and vultures.  But when Ahab hears the message from the Lord he repents and humbles himself before the Lord, so he is spared.  The evil will not come during his days but in his son’s days the Lord will bring evil down upon his house. 
The rest of the story shows that the Lord will take care of the evil doers and the falsifiers and will answer the pleas from the psalm.  And that then changes my first view of the Gospel, which had always been a favorite of mine but seemed to take on different connotations when compared to the first reading.  Now instead of seeming to say that Naboth should have given up his birthright, should not have stood up for himself and for what he knew was right, it seems to me now to say that the people here on earth should not hold grudges or should not try to force justice here, because God will take care of things, and the just would have their rewards, and the unjust would get what they deserve.

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