Paid in His Own Coin
Naboth was struck down with stones and dogs licked up his blood, but God was watching in displeasure. He took a hand in the matter and paid the instigator of the crime and all who were connected with him, in their own coin. 1 Kings 21:19 reads: “In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood.” That was God’s promise to pay. Needless to say it was fulfilled to the letter. In a word, Naboth refused to give up his inherited vineyard to Ahab. Jezebel had Naboth stoned on a charge of blasphemy, so Ahab got what he wanted.
There are various kinds of dog stories. Some are heart-touching because of fidelity toward their masters and the really heroic deeds which the dogs do. Some dog stories are amusing. This one is sordid, sickening. It is crowded with snarls and snappings, with fangs and with frenzy, with nondescript curs crusted with ashes from the fires in the open at which they had been sleeping, bespattered with the blood of their prey. The barkless scavengers of the East.
This story is a drab tale with an unhappy ending. It has only to do with sin, and sin stories always end unhappily, even though the end is not seen in this life. Unhappy endings in novels are not on the list of “best sellers,” but unhappy endings of requital for sin are the wretched close to all stories that begin with sin. Sin may be pleasant to begin with, but the inevitable retribution which follows is bitter. Not only does sin bring an unhappy ending to the principals, but it effects others. The sinner is like one with a contagious disease, infecting every one with whom he comes in contact.
A certain mining town is built over vast beds of hard coal. Shafts and tunnels run into the deposits. The Earth at the sides and over the tunnels is held up by timbers. At one time so many of the abandoned workings were robbed of their lumber for use in new tunnels that a part of the town caved in and many innocent lives were lost, and much property destroyed. Just so with the sinner. He affects other lives and brings down others with him in his fall.
Ahab’s summer home was at Jezreel. His ivory palace occupied an ideal spot on a mountain ridge. Naboth’s plot of ground was hard by the palace grounds. Ahab enters the garden of Naboth to take possession. He is full of plans for the development of this rich place for which he had given his most precious possession—his soul. He was dreaming of the bright paradise he was to make for his fair Jezebel. A cloud arises upon the horizon. It is a man clothed in skins, weather-beaten by years of wandering in the open. The cloud is Elijah. He is to talk about the hard matter of fact of retribution for sin at the hands of an offended God.
Elijah was the leader of several notable prophets living at the time. There was Elisha, his pupil, and Micaiah the bold, among others. God has always a few bold spirits to give the lie to those who deny Him and His Word. Elijah was not afraid to face the King with the truth. Ahab’s skies lost their glow and the plot of ground became bare and drear after hearing his sentence of doom. “In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood.” This was God’s word and he knew that God was able to make it good.
A Retrospective View
Looking back, the inception of sin is seen in discontent. There would have been no wretched dog story at all in these chapters if Ahab had not harbored covetousness in his heart to begin with. Ahab felt that he must have the garden. Without it life to him would be empty. After Naboth’s refusal, Ahab went away into the secret recesses of his bed-chamber in his ivory palace and threw himself upon an ivory couch covered with down, to grieve for something he did not have. That was bad business. The palace to him had lost some of its attraction. The bed was no longer luxurious, for discontent was eating away at his vitals. Blessed is the man who is content with such things as he may have. Who is equally obliged to God when suffering need or enjoying abundance of good things.
Jezebel enters to inquire about his fasting. She is made of sterner stuff. He is fit for vain desires and then to revel in what comes his way easily. Not only does she desire, but she is ready to take a chance, to make a strike for the coveted thing. Scornfully she asks him in substance: “Are you the king, or is Naboth the ruler!” She was well able to show Ahab the way to obtain his desires, and she proceeded at once to do it.
Satan sees to it that there is always somebody at hand to show the way into sin, the way out of virtue and integrity. At the stock yards decoy sheep inured to sounds, sights and smell of blood are on hand to lure the country sheep to the shambles. At the crisis time in her life, beset by some tempter, Satan has a jewel-bedecked harlot to flash before the poor girl’s eyes. The harlot is riding in a limousine, and giving the lie to God, proclaiming that sin is pleasant and that it does pay. The girl has been sweating at her work, and saving to get another pair to replace the broken paper soles, down-at-the-heel shoes. She goes the way of so many other poor girls. She calls for pity and prayerful help. Save your indignation for some other object.
Just when he is on his way to the bank to deposit his employer’s money, Satan produces a fat gambler to show the boy that honesty is a back number. The sport fashionably dressed flashes a big roll of money before a companion. The boy thinks that a few fortunate bets on the horses and fortune will be captured. Satan is a liar. He does not show the striped clothes and the potter’s field of retribution.
Payment in Kind
The retribution for their sin was in kind. That is to say, as dogs licked Naboth’s blood and gnawed at his bones, so dogs licked Ahab’s blood and Jezebel’s bones were fought over by filthy curs. Ahab never enjoyed that garden. It was always a load upon his heart, until he was slain in battle and his chariot and armor brought from the field of battle was washed of his clotted blood in the pool of Samaria. Servants splashed water on armor and chariot to cleanse away the red stains, while dogs gathered around and lapped up the blood.
This is according to 1 Kings 22:38. “Dogs licked up his blood.” It was payment in kind. Joram, his son, inherited part of the debt. After being killed his body was dragged to the coveted garden to be devoured. “I will requite thee in this plat, saith the Lord”—2 Kings 9:26. What an object lesson is shown on “this plat!”
God demands full payment. Jezebel had to meet a part of it. She had to fill up the measure. She looked out of the window of her castle with painted face and tired hair, to rail on the avenger sent by God. He shouted: “Who is on my side?” and eunuchs standing near seized this royal daughter of a line of kings and threw her to the court below, to be trodden under feet of horses like carrion. The avengers entered the castle to refresh themselves after their hard ride. Inside they were slaking their thirst with the rich wines and feeding their bodies with the best the land afforded amid luxurious surroundings, while outside lay the body of the queen.
The curs were attracted by the smell of blood. They slaked their thirst and fed themselves, snarling and snapping in their rage over choice bits from the body of this pampered, harlot-hearted woman. This is according to 2 Kings 9:36. “In Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel.” What a burial for the daughter of nobility! What a grave in a dog’s belly! Contrast the usual manner in which kings and nobility of Earth are laid away in all pomp and ceremony of Earth, attended by the great and mighty ones.
What is sin? It all depends upon who gives the definition. Generally taken, sin means to the world rare brutality, debauchery, horrible crime. On the other hand and now-a-days brutal deeds and awful crimes are regarded in certain circles as a joke.
In a European country a stock joke runs its course regularly through the comic papers. It is generally illustrated, and enlightening captions reveal how a smart woman outwits and betrays her husband. This must be a sure fire hit and brings increased subscription as well as hearty applause from the subscribers, else it would not remain in stock.
In one of our own publications recently, a series of stories set forth now a “confidence” man put across big robberies of various kinds by “blue sky” propositions of the worthless stock variety. The stories were dramatized. The swindler’s name became a household word as a side-splitting joker, that is to say, he was so regarded in some homes. Thank God! There are still homes where sin is known and detested.
In one of our papers you may read almost any day a very laughable farce of this nature. Perhaps some stupid citizen has been beaten on the head with a chunk of lead pipe and relieved of his money, or some woman seized and thrown into an auto, after which she is robbed of her jewels and fur coat, and thrown from the moving machine, or some belated traveler making a frantic effort to reach his home is held up and robbed of his valuables, including his clothing. This last paragraph seems to make the reporter hold his sides as he writes. It is so funny. This belated citizen flees for shelter of home in his stocking feet.
Sin is made attractive in the theaters, and the movie shows. Then again it is regarded as something ordinary, matter of course; impossible to do without; to be taken for granted. And even among church members there are some who slur it over, and would not discipline it for anything. There is need for a revival in our churches, and a new definition given to both sin and righteousness.
Denying Claims of Christ
What is sin? It is brutality. It is cruel crime. It is vile debauchery. It is all of these things, but it is more than any of them. In its highest form it is the awful ignoring of, and the heartless denial of the claims of Christ. In its highest form it is the sinner’s refusal to become a saint. He will not take Christ. Requital for sin is certain. Sometimes the punishment comes very quickly. In other cases it is long deferred. Sometimes we see quick payment on park benches, bedraggled men and women seizing a few minutes respite before taking up their interminable tramp under the lash of the taskmaster to whom they have sold themselves. It is often seen in asylums. In pitiable wrecks of humanity behind prison bars paying part of the price in this life.
Whether punishment for sin be deferred or not, it is always paid and paid in full, if not in time, then certainly throughout eternity. Punishment does not always come as quickly as to the boy twenty-two years of age, who was being sent home by an army surgeon, because of having contracted a vile disease which rendered him unfit for government service. He boarded the steamer but could not stand the thought of facing his friends at home, so he flung himself into the water of the French harbor, a broken suicide, paying in part for his sin.
Robespierre sent a great many to be “shaved” by the guillotine, and even the king of France himself had to “cough into the sack,” but the mills of God were grinding and Robespierre was being drawn toward the upper and nether stones. At last his own olive-hued face paled under the roars of the enraged mob, and his own head was dropped into that same sack which had received so many heads dropped there by his orders.
Jesus Paid It All
Sin has got to be paid for. Retribution is certain. Requital, or full payment, has got to be made by the sinner or by some substitute. Thank God for the full atonement made for sin, for ours and the sin of all the world, in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Jesus was torn by dogs. “For dogs have compassed me.” “My darling from the power of the dog.” Psalm 22:16, 20. Not torn by ordinary dogs, but his body was brutally maltreated by beasts in human form under the leadership of the arch dog himself, which is the devil. Dogs were unclean by law. To the Jews they were objects of scorn. Dogs were only tolerated. Dogs were scavengers. It is hard to imagine a dainty Hebrew woman pressing one to her perfumed bosom, inhaling its fetid breath, and imprinting a fervent kiss on its cold nose. Modern women in our alleged civilized lands do not raise dogs in the same way. For verification of this, stroll down any boulevard in any of our great cities on any lovely spring day afternoon.
Christ was torn by dogs for us. He took our punishment. He bore our pain. “He was wounded for our transgressions,” Isaiah 53:5; and “He was made sin for us who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
The Story of Naboth Typically
Going back to our story and looking at it typically, Ahab may be taken to represent Satan. Christ is represented by Naboth. The charge against Christ was blasphemy, the same charge that was laid at Naboth’s door. Witnesses were brought to prove that Naboth was a blasphemer, and witnesses said Christ was a blasphemer in trying to make himself equal with God.
Following out this thought, the vineyard is the Earth. The fight is on for the Earth. Naboth lost his part of the Earth and never got it back again. With Christ it is different. He died for sin. The Earth has been in the hands of the “god of this world,” and the whole creation has been groaning and travailing together in pain under the curse even until now. But thank God! when Jesus comes again creation will be delivered from bondage, and in all the universe of God wherever the course of sin has been it will be removed. Christ will take possession of His own Earth, and in person with His bride will enjoy the beauties of his renewed garden. This is all in type. The vineyard, as far as we are concerned, is anything which God has declared to be unlawful.
Free and Full Atonement
At this moment you can be forgiven and your sins remitted because of the blood of Jesus Christ, if you will take God’s way, which is taking Christ into your heart by faith. If you will give your new life to Him and walk in obedience, you can enter into all the riches of enjoyment, into all the possessions purchased for you by Christ.
Righteousness is not only imputed unto you by the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, but righteousness is a very practical matter. If you have defrauded, you must restore. If you have committed sins which can by any possibility be made right by you, then you have got to do your part in making right. Righteousness means the power of the spirit for godly living day by day.
Ahab stood in a heavenly garden on Earth, looking over the scene, planning in his mind how he was going to beautify it to make it pander to the gratification of self, when Nemesis confronted him. Elijah charged him with his sin. His heart sank under conviction. The light left and the surroundings became as dark as night. Standing there, Ahab tasted hell in that garden of delight and went to his doom. He had to meet the growling curs which greedily lapped his blood. For him there was no deliverer. He went down in unconfessed sin with all the guilt of it upon his own shoulders. But for us there is deliverance. We have been delivered out of the jaws of retribution. It all depends now upon our will. If we will. “Ye will not come,” saith the Lord. But again, “Whosoever will.” Sin has no terrors for one who gives no place to covetous longings, for one content with God’s plan and provision for life. It is dangerous to harbor even the beginning of sin.