I read the story in 1 Kings 21.1-21 as my heart sank down in my chest because the terror is devastating when King Ahab creates a scheme for taking Naboth's vineyard. Naboth is King Ahab's neighbor, and the king leans over one afternoon and looks into Naboth's yard, and he decides that he wants to turn Naboth's vineyard into his own personal vegetable garden. The king had other vineyards and other lands, but I guess, he did not want to walk far for his squash or okra.
The king knocks on Naboth's door and offers him a reasonable deal at first. The king offered to give Naboth a better vineyard in exchange for Naboth's land, or he would simply pay Naboth the market value in cash. Despite Ahab being the king, Naboth declines the offer, and the king storms away in utter resentment. Later Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, create a scheme of manipulation and deceit in order to take Naboth's vineyard away from him.
Jezebel forges letters in the name of the king, calling for the nobles and the elders to declare a fast, or a heightened time of reverence. Then two scoundrels were persuaded to accuse Naboth of cursing God and the king, accusing him of somehow desecrating this time of reverence. The people would then be forced to stone Naboth to death. All the while, the king would sit at a distance, seemingly innocent, but complicit in the entire scheme.
The king would stop at nothing to have Naboth's vineyard, making it into his vegetable garden. The drama is upsetting, as the king chooses a vegetable garden over his neighbor. It is the shadow side of narrow-sighted determination, which can coalesce into greed. The downfall of the story is rooted in the three words, "I want it!"
The hillside is slippery and dangerous alongside those words, "I want it!" On that hillside, we must walk slowly and cautiously. Instead of those words that can become a knee-jerk reaction of envy, we must learn three other words. They are the three words we must learn to say for the sake of our neighbors. Oddly enough, they bind us to our neighbors.
Initially we might assume that those other three words that bind us to our neighbors are "I love you!" Those are certainly crucial words that bind us to our neighbors, but there are three other words that we must learn as well. The three words that we must learn for the sake of our neighbors are "I have enough!" If we are able to remove the distractions of the words, "I want it!," from in front of us, we are better able to notice our neighbors and the people around us.
When we start to say the words, "I have enough!," we are then able to see how they bind us to our neighbors. We can start to see the gift of people before we see anything else. We can notice the opportunities and blessings of embracing others, sharing in each day, and hoping for what is good for all people, instead of the desires of our wants.
Actually the words, "I have enough!," are simply another way of saying, "I love you!" When we are able to say, "I have enough!," we make ourselves more available to the people around us, and we are then able to live fully into those other words, "I love you!"
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