What can be more self-centered and illogical than rebelling the Creator and sustainer of our existence? And yet ever since the fall people have fallen to the selfishness and foolishness of the sinful flesh. But here’s the thing: not only does our narcissism and irrationality lead us into sin; once we are walking in sin we become even more arroogant and stupid. There are so many illustrations of this principle in scripture, but none says it better than the case of Ahab.
First off, Ahab was spiritually nutless. He married a pagan woman and then allowed her to influence his life, leading to a downward spiral into the toilet both for himself and the nation. He had plenty of revelation provided through the ministry of Elijah and a few other prophets. Three dry years followed by the contest on Mount Carmel. The victories over Ben Hadad, king of Aram.
Ahab’s problem was that he wanted to be everyone’s buddy. His marriage to Jezebel was probably more about diplomacy than romance. He was supposed to kill Ben Hadad but instead took him into his chariot and cut a treaty with him. These were totally irrational things to do: not only were they stupid moves from a tactical perspective; they were in violation of God’s word. Then when the prophet pronounced judgment on him and his posterity, he whined and pouted like a big baby. Sheer irrational narcissism–it was all about him. Crocodile Grary Ridgway tears. The sorrow of this world leads to death, unlike the godly variety which leads to genuine repentance.
Over the years I have talked to so many men who have totally messed up their lives and marriages just to satisfy their blind selfish cravings of the moment. Then later they would weep and blubber about how badly they felt, with no empathy whatever for those whose lives they had shattered. Fools.
Such a fool was Ahab.
But the height of his narcissism and irrationality is seen in his treatment of Naboth in 1 Kings 21. Naboth owned a field adjacent to Ahab’s palace in Jezreel, and the king wanted that field for a herb garden (possibly to be used in Baal worship). He tried to get Naboth to sell it or trade for another plot of land. But Naboth knew that Leviticus 25 forbade him from permanently selling land had been in his clan, of the tribe of Issachar, from day one. Ahab should have understood this as well, but he was so far gone spiritually all he could do in response to Naboth’s refusal was to turn his face to the wall, pout, and refuse food, hoping for the attention of his wife. She basically told him not to worry: she would take care of it. Through an act of forgery and false witness she got Naboth stoned to death for blasphemy–a capital offense in ancient Israel. But when Ahab went to take possession of the stolen parcel he was rebuked by Elijah.
Narcissistic for sure; but irrational in the extreme. Stop and think about something for a moment. God had given the pagan Aramean king Ben Hadad into his hand and with him a chance to regain the city of Ramoth Gilead. But Ahab didn’t have the stomach to kill his enemy, but instead let him go Scott free. Then he does to one of his own countrymen what he refused to do to the pagan. How selfish and stupid can you be?
Jim G. wrote a comment to my last post about trying to straddle the fence. There is a little of that in all of us, unfortunately. Ahab’s bad example shows us just where it gets us.
Sometimes I am blown away by the utter narcissism and irrationality of my sinful flesh. I tell you, when you opt to walk in sin your IQ immediately plummets a good thirty points.
Let us pray for that true godly wisdom and knowledge that is pure and reasonable.