1 Kings 21:20
And Ahab said to Elijah, Have you found me, O my enemy? And he answered, I have found you…
The robbery and murder of Naboth form one of the darkest episodes in the story of Ahab's life. We see that idolatry and persecution were not the only crimes into which Jezebel seduced him. Indeed, such iniquities never stand alone. They would naturally be the parents of many more. He was probably guilty of many such acts of cruel wrong during his wicked career. This is related to show how completely he had "sold himself to work evil in the sight of the Lord." Let us think of
(1) his sin,
(2) his punishment,
(3) his remorse.
I. His SIN. It had many elements of moral wrong in it, and is not to be characterized by any one particular designation.
1. Avarice. Large and rich as his royal domain was, he envied Naboth the possession of his little vineyard.
2. Oppression. It was a wicked abuse of power. "Might" to him was "right."
3. Impiety. Ahab must have known that he was tempting Naboth to the violation of an express Divine command (Numbers 36:7).
4. Abject moral weakness. This is seen in his childish petulance (ver. 4) and in his mean subserviency to the imperious will of Jezebel.
5. Base hypocrisy, in subjecting the injured man to the decision of a mock tribunal. Crimes like this generally present various phases of evil thought and feeling; and when they attempt to cover themselves with a false veil of rectitude, it only tends to deepen immeasurably our sense of their iniquity.
II. HIS PUNISHMENT. The prophet was assuming his true function in pronouncing this swift judgment on the cruel wrong that had been committed. His calling was to proclaim and enforce the laws of eternal righteousness, to vindicate the oppressed, to rebuke injustice, and that not least, but rather most of all, when it sat enthroned on the seats of authority and power. Note respecting this punishment.
1. Its certainty. Ahab could not really be surprised that his "enemy had found" him, for that "enemy" was but the instrument of a God to whom "all things are naked and opened." "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good," and the transgressor can never escape His righteous judgment. "Be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23).
2. Its correspondence with the crime. "In the place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth," etc. (ver. 19). The principle involved in this has often been a marked feature of the Divine retributions. "Whatsoever a man soweth," etc. (Galatians 6:7, 8). "They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:7).
3. Its delay. The sentence was fully executed only in the person of his son Joram (2 Kings 9:25, 26); but this in no way alters the character or lessens the terribleness of it as a punishment upon him. Especially when we remember what an instalment of the full penalty was given in the violence of his own death (1 Kings 22:34-37). "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11). But when, space being thus given them for repentance, they abuse it, they do but "treasure up wrath for themselves against the day of wrath," and, falling under the righteous vengeance of God, they do not escape "till they have paid the uttermost farthing." Thus did Ahab inherit the woe pronounced on him who thinks to secure any good for himself by iniquity and blood (Habakkuk 2:12). Ill-gotten gain always brings with it a curse.
III. HIS REMORSE (ver. 27). It can scarcely be called repentance. It may have been sincere enough so far as it went, and for this reason God delayed the threatened punishment; but it was wanting in the elements of a true repentance. It was the compunction of a guilty conscience, but not the sacred agony of a renewed heart. It sprang from sudden alarm at the inevitable consequences of his sin, but not from a true hatred of the sin itself. It soon passed away, and left him still more a slave to the evil to which he had "sold himself" than he was before. "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death" (2 Corinthians 7:10). - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.