Stirring People Up
First Published 2014
Robert Wurtz II
But there was none like unto Ahab, who did give himself over to do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. (1 Kings 21:25)
One of the primary reasons that Ahab was notoriously evil was that he allowed his wife, Jezebel, to stir him up to do unconscionable evil. That fact alone is worth pondering. We should never allow a person that kind of control over us, no matter who they are. Moreover, sometimes we need spiritual discernment to know when people attempt to manipulate us or “stir us up.” If our discernment is broken, we are vulnerable to the enemy.
Jezebel is remembered as perhaps the most wicked woman in history. She reveled in stirring up and controlling her husband and sons. She didn’t provoke them to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24) but incited them to do unconscionable evil against God and his people. Yet her behavior did not go unpunished. Instead, God ordained an extraordinarily violent death for her to express his estimate of her wickedness (2 Kings 9:35).
Scholars say Jezebel was “as incapable of remorse as she was fear.” There was no sign of repentance in her. Even when she knew her reign of terror was over, she “defiantly painted her face one last time as she went to her doom proudly, fulfilling the prophecy of her destruction” (Lockyer P. 76).
The demonic spirit(s) that empowered Jezebel enabled her to vex and influence everyone around her. She entertained hundreds of false prophets at her table, which invited demons in droves. It’s hard to imagine how toxic, dark, and diabolic the environment was. Some, such as the great prophet Elijah, were sorely discouraged and fled to a cave after she threatened him. She killed nearly all the prophets of Jehovah unthwarted, so Elijah must have figured he was no safer than them.
Perhaps God gave Jezebel a space (opportunity) to repent just like he did the woman “Jezebel” in Revelation 2:21. While God showed her mercy and patience, she took advantage of His kindness. She, like Pharaoh before her, was a type of Satan. They both used their energies to threaten and vex God’s people, running roughshod over God’s dealings. But just as God ultimately dramatically destroyed Pharaoh, he also destroyed Jezebel.
Stirring People Up
The Hebrew word for “stirred up” in 1 Kings 21:25 is cuwth (הֵסַתָּה pronounced sooth) and embodies the idea of persuading, prodding, provoking, or enticing a person to do something. Jezebel prodded Ahab to exercise his authority to do her will; thus, she is known as a usurper. We use the word persuade to describe the desire to change a person’s opinion. If a person says things merely to influence others or for effect, whether those things are true or not, we call that pejoratively baloney. It is deceptive talk, such as when one may say, “it’s typical salesman’s baloney.”
Jesus told Paul it was hard for him to kick against the pricks (goads). In ancient times, these were sharp spears used to control farm animals. When you pricked the animal, it moved to avoid pain. Think of how fast you and I have pulled our hands back when poked by a thorn tree or a rose bush. The motion is automatic (involuntary). This is the picture of the use of a goading instrument. It’s what Jezebel did to her husband and others. She controlled them as if she had a goad in her hands.
Goading and Stirring Up Others
Words can goad; volatile information can goad; appealing to a person’s pride can goad. Telling half-truths about people rather than giving the whole story (to deliberately or recklessly cast them in a bad light) can stir others up (goad them) against that person. Other times is the sophomoric behavior we witnessed in Middle School. For example, when someone offends you and the trouble-makers standing by ask you, “Are you going to take that?” What is happening? You are being goaded (stirred up) to react.
Jezebel was like the thorns and briars spoken of in the book of Hebrews. This is a metaphor for people who reject God and persuade others to do likewise. Yet they are rejected and near cursing, whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:8) Jezebel “goaded” Ahab and others to do evil. She “prodded” or “spurred” him to work evil.
I recall, as a child hearing my grandmother tell of wives who would “get their husbands all stirred up.” So she would tell women, “Don’t get your husband all stirred up!” Why did she say that? She was trying to head off confrontations. She knew that if the woman told her husband inflammatory information, it could cause a fight or worse. My grandma had a lot of what Harry S. Truman used to call “horse sense.” We need more women like my grandmother.
Don’t Cross Us
And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. (1 Kings 21:2, 3)
Naboth was a man of principles and conviction. He owned land that Ahab wanted. Naboth wouldn’t sell because it was a family heirloom. Ahab believed Naboth’s heritage could be bought. But this land was a tangible link between his past and his family. Ahab wanted it added to his many possessions; as he admitted, he had better lands than this. What did Ahab do? He went home to pout and make a big show for his wife, Jezebel.
Provoked to Pride
She asked him, “Are you not the king of Israel?” With these words, she provoked the man to consider his pride. It’s like saying, “Don’t cross us if you know what’s good for you.” This attitude is pagan and not of the kingdom of God. In the world, kings get what they want; but it was not so to be in Israel.
Nevertheless, she told him, “Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” So what did she do? She forged a document pretending to be the king and got Naboth set up to be lied against and stoned to death along with his sons. (2 Kings 9:26) The result?
And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead. (1 Kings 21:15)
Jezebel murdered a good man, but she got her way. After all, how dare anyone resist the king’s will? Right? Wrong.
Judgment at the Door
And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it. (1 Kings 21:17, 18) Ahab went down to collect the spoils, but God was watching and waiting. You found me again! And Ahab said to Elijah: ‘Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?’ And he answered: ‘I have found thee; because thou hast given thyself over to do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD. (1 Kings 21:20)
Notice that Ahab refers to Elijah, the man of God, as his enemy. This admission tells us that he had postured himself as the enemy of God. Nevertheless, God did two things. First, he allowed a lying spirit to enter Ahab’s prophets that thought they were speaking by the Spirit of God. They were not. So this lying spirit told Ahab to go up to the battle. But Ahab was suspicious, so he called Micaiah the Prophet and told Ahab there was a lying spirit in their mouth.
Ahab’s Time is Up
Unfortunately for Ahab, he believed the lying spirit. Why? Deluded people believe what they want to believe regardless of the evidence or who is speaking. When the Prophet Micaiah would not endorse his decision to go into battle, he imprisoned him “to be fed the bread of affliction.” Ahab disguised himself and went into the battle. What happened?
But a certain man drew his bow randomly and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. (1 Kings 22:34a) Notice the anonymity and the destiny contained in this verse. It’s useless to wonder if God will set things right. Time was up for Ahab. God prepared an arrow with Ahab’s name on it (so to speak).
God gave him and his evil wife a space to repent. Her judgment will come later, but Ahab’s time had come. We read, But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” (1 Kings 22:34 ESV)
There was the time allotted to repent and a time for judgment. A sobering end to a man that lived to be lied to, so he could dumb himself down into total deception and perdition. We are responsible for what or who we allow to influence us. It reminds me of 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12. In effect, Ahab believed the lie and was judged.
Hebrews 10:24 tells us that we should provoke one another to love and to good works. Jezebel could have been a force for good in Ahab’s life; nevertheless, she chose to influence him to do unconscionable evil. He was gullible and believed lies. If someone crossed her (or him), she would stir him up to take revenge. Before it was over, she murdered most of the prophets, killed Naboth, and persecuted Elijah until he didn’t care if he lived or died.
Jezebel knew she could not be king and tried to be queen by seizing the power behind the throne. She was a usurper. At one point, Ahab received a stinging word from God, feared, and “went softly” (Heb. lit. dejectedly 1 Kings 21:27). Not Jezebel. It was not in her to bow the knee to God or anyone else. So she kept acting out until God mercilessly destroyed her.
Leave a Reply