Kings are so obsessed with power that they understand everything in terms of adversaries and opponents. It is evident that the Lord’s favor is on the side of the vulnerable and against the abusers. The prophets act and express themselves in this logic.
King Ahab had gotten away with his whim. Using the control he had over the judges, he had achieved Naboth’s conviction. He had not only gotten rid of the legitimate owner of the vineyard that he wanted, but, relying on some scoundrels, he had presented him as a convicted criminal. Confiscations were totally prohibited in Israel, but if a person was classified as a criminal, the king could exercise the prerogative to confiscate his property. The plan had been cunning, but cruel and malevolent. While this was happening, the Lord watched everything and not to sit idly by.
The king went to take possession of the vineyard that he had coveted so much. But just at that moment the Lord spoke to his servant, the prophet Elijah. He had to deliver a damning and very harsh message to the king: «Thus says the Lord. Haven’t you murdered a man, and taken his property on top of it? In the same place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth, they will also lick your own blood!”
The times that were lived were difficult for those who remained faithful to the Lord. The worship of God was being displaced by that of Baal and the people found themselves confused without knowing who the true God was. The king had unleashed a campaign of extermination against the prophets of the Lord and the few who had escaped were hiding in caves. Elias himself had received death threats directly from the queen; but now the Lord commanded him to go before the king with a forceful message of condemnation. It was never easy to be a prophet of the Lord. Courage is required to be loyal to God rather than to men. A deeply committed spirituality is needed, one that is not worried about being branded as rebellious or political. A spirituality that recovers the transforming force of faith in its prophetic and claiming dimension of human dignity, justice and peace.
When the king heard the severe words of the prophet Elijah, he replied: “My enemy!” How wrong was the king! He was not able to understand that Elijah’s motivations had nothing to do with any enmity. Kings are so obsessed with power that they understand everything in terms of adversaries and opponents. But in the words of the prophet there was nothing personal, but the conviction and ethical need to defend the dignity of the little ones. It was about a committed spirituality that fought, without partisanship, to eradicate corruption, cruelty and the murder of innocents. A faith that refused to remain hidden and individualistic, but strove for a clear commitment to the demands of love and truth.
«—Yes —answered Elias—, I have found you because you have sold yourself to do what offends the Lord, who now tells you: “I am going to send you misfortune. I will put an end to you, and of your descendants in Israel I will exterminate every last male, slave or free. Also, your relatives who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the country will be eaten by the birds of the sky. God would return to the king what he had done: in the way in which he had despised the life of an innocent, he and his descendants would be despised. The condemnation also reached her wife: «As for Jezebel, the Lord says:“ The dogs will eat her by the wall of Jezrel ”».
It is evident that the Lord’s favor is on the side of the vulnerable and against the abusers. The prophets act and express themselves in this logic. There are not many of those whom God uses to speak with such force and severity. But to the few that you have, you have to listen more carefully. His words, although dissonant to the world, are true light and encouragement. Light for spiritual discernment and encouragement to build a spirituality integrated into the Christian commitment to equality and justice. Without them, faith would be nothing more than an imposture or a sovereign cowardice. The prophetic word is capable of producing the most unusual results. This would soon be seen in the experience of King Ahab.
General Pastor of the Elim Christian Mission.