“And they carried him (Naboth) forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died … Arise, take possession of the vineyard…” 1 Kings 21:13,15 KJV
“So they took him (Naboth) outside the city and stoned him to death with stones… Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth…” 1Kings 21: 13,15 NASB
Among the incidents in the life of Elijah the prophet is the seeming tragic account concerning Naboth and his vineyard. One of the few faithful Israelites in the north, Naboth refused to sell the inheritance of his fathers to wicked King Ahab. Undeterred by legal formalities, Jezebel arranged the stoning of Naboth and the seizing of his vineyard.
The deed is carried out and heaven appears silent. An innocent and faithful man was killed at the direction of a scheming malicious woman and evil appears to triumph. But the triumphing is short, as Elijah is sent to rebuke Ahab and pronounce God’s condemnation on him and his house.
But what of Naboth? What compensation or honor does he receive for his faithfulness? Men would label him a “loser” for his principled stand. Perhaps honorable mention is given to him, although not named, when in the list of faith’s heroes in Hebrews 11, we read of some who were stoned (Heb 11:37), and of whom, we are told, that “the world was not worthy.”
But a higher honor is accorded him, an honor which we may not always link with his name. Consider the events and then notice the links: he was faithful to God; as a result of that faithfulness, he became the object of hatred by those in power. He was falsely accused; he was accused of blasphemy against God; false witnesses were called against him. He was wrongly judged, condemned, and put to death. He was, literally, cast out of the vineyard which was his; and those who cast him out had divine judgment pronounced against them.
Naboth had the honor of prefiguring the Lord Jesus almost one millennia prior to His coming. The Lord Jesus, faithful and true, would also be falsely accused of blasphemy against God (Mark 14:64). Unjustly condemned, He was put to death under a cloud of supposed guilt. He was cast out of the vineyard (Matt 21:33-41). As in the case of Naboth, heaven appeared silent and there was no immediate vindication. But just as God has honored Naboth and will honor him in a future day, so God will vindicate His Son and give Him the vineyard, and beyond the vineyard, all the earth over which to have dominion.
How wonderful that even in the centuries before the coming of Christ, the Spirit of God was molding men into His image and affording us glimpses and insights of what was to come.
- Can you think of any other way in which Naboth is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ?
- What other Old Testament characters can you think of who suffered for righteousness’ sake and were not vindicated by God during their lives? Note how each resembles Christ in a unique way.