1 Kings 21: Deception – Part II
Oh what tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive!
My mother’s quoting of Walter Scott’s words peppered our growing-up years. Her use of Scott’s poetic words was her method of teaching the lesson of Ahab and his temper tantrum.
Ahab wants something which someone else cherishes and does not wish to give up. Ahab goes home, puts his face to the wall and refuses to eat. His unfortunate wife, Jezebel, colludes with him to get the coveted vineyard from their neighbor, and if we read the entire story, we see what kind of an end these two come to. They both pay a heavy price for their egregious crimes of trumping up false charges, conniving, lying, stealing, inciting a crowd to stone to death an innocent man. Naboth’s mistake or error is merely the cherishing of something that someone else wants.
We hear Yahweh’s words through the prophet Elijah in verse 20: You have given up yourself to do evil in the Lord’s sight.
Since my childhood, and because of the wisdom of my mother, my family has not worried about belonging to a particular group. When my family opens our home party, all are welcome. Universal hospitality, bridge building to fringe groups, invitations to include all at the table have grown out of my mother’s teaching about Naboth, Ahab and Jezebel.
In this year of presidential politics in the U.S., we have become aware of many Naboths, many Ahabs and many Jezebels in the public eye. As we take in the daily news, we recall more words Mother and Dad recited from scripture: The measure that you measure with is measured out to you. Ostracizing others says more about you than it does about the others. There is really nothing that can be kept secret. The truth always comes out in the end. I hope you can stand it when it hits you in the face.
What a wonderful gift we are given in the friends and neighbors God sends to us. What a wonderful treasure is the vocation of building community to which we are called. What a blessing to work, play and live beside people with whom we hold things in common, and people with whom we hold little in common. We learn more from our enemies than we do from the people with whom we feel most comfortable. We are all God’s creatures, made in God’s image. What do our daily actions say about the relationship we have with our Creator? Do we turn away in anger when we covet something someone else has? When we open our hearts and homes, are all welcome? Do we extend invitations with ulterior motives? Do we interact with only a select few and bully others to bow to our wants? And when God asks us to invite the faithful to the table, whom are we willing to invite?
From a reflection written on June 1, 2008.