The Sin of Stirring Up (The Sin of Jezebel)
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)
No people have the power to “stir a man up” quite like his wife, his daughter, or his mother. In the case of Jezebel, she was a legend at controlling her husband and sons. She would ” stir her husband up ” to do evil against God and his people, until the man was finally killed. She was a one-woman mob — inciting her husband and sons to violence and death. Some commentators have said that she was “as incapable of remorse as she was fear.” There was no sign of repentance in her. In fact, in the end she defiantly painted her face one last time, as she went to her doom proudly, fulfilling the prophecy of her destruction. (Lockyer P. 76) She possessed a dreadful power that few understand. She had an almost supernatural ability of controlling her husband by “stirring him up.”
The Hebrew word for “stirred up” in 1 Kings 21:25 is cuwth (pronounced sooth) and comes from the idea of persuading, prodding, provoking, or enticing a person to do something. Jezebel used her influence on Ahab to exercise his authority to do her own will; thus, she is known as a usurper. You will recall how Jesus told Paul that it was hard for him to kick against the pricks (goads). These were sharp sticks used to control farm animals. When you pricked the animal it would generally go in a direction away from the pain. Think of how fast you have pulled your hand back when poked by a thorn tree or a rose bush. The motion is automatic. This is the picture behind the use of a goading instrument. Words can goad; volatile information can goad; appealing to a person’s pride can goad. For example, when someone asks you, “Are you going to take that?!” You are being goaded (stirred up).
Jezebel was as the thorns and briars spoken of in the book of Hebrews, who were rejected and nigh unto cursing whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:8) Or in the words of the Revelation, Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. (Revelation 2:22) Jezebel “goaded” Ahab and others to do evil. We might say she “prodded” or “spurred” him to work evil. I recall as a child hearing my grandmother tell of women who would “get their husbands all stirred up.” She would even tell women, “Don’t go getting 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. She had a lot of what Harry S. Truman used to call “horse sense.” We need more women like my grandmother.
The lesson of Naboth
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 principals and conviction. His property had been handed down as an inheritance, but Ahab believed the man’s heritage could be monetized. The tangible link with his past and family was this property. Ahab wanted it to add to his host of 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. She asked him, “Are you not the king of Israel?” With these words she provoked the man to consider his pride. 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.”
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) It was all a wonderful plan. It seemed to have worked! Jezebel conspired to kill a good man, but at least she got Ahab his vineyard. After all, how dare anyone resist the will of the king, right? Wrong. 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 had gone down to collect the spoils; but he was not banking on one important factor; God was watching this whole thing play out.
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 Himself. Nevertheless, God did two things. 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 he told Ahab there was a lying spirit in their mouth. Ahab believed the lying spirit. Why? He was delusioned with sin and wanted to believe what he wanted to believe. When the Prophet Micaiah would not endorse his decision he had him imprisoned to be fed the bread of affliction.
Ahab disguised himself and he went into the battle. What happened? But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. (1 Kings 22:34a ESV) Notice the anonymity and the destiny contained in this verse. I recall a minister say many years ago that had this nameless man shot left the arrow would have turned around like a patriot missile and hit Ahab right where God had said. No need to sit around biting fingernails wondering when God will set things right. He already had an arrow with Ahab’s name on it. God gave him and his evil wife a space to repent. Yet 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 a space to repent and there was a space for God’s final judgment. A sobering end to a man that lived to be lied to, so he could dumb himself down into total deception and perdition.
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. She incited him to avenge her offenses. If someone crossed her, she would stir him up to take revenge. Before it was over she had killed 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; but this did not stop her from working to seize the power behind the throne. At one point in his life Ahab received a word from God, feared, and “went softly.” (dejectedly 1 Kings 21:27) Not Jezebel. It was not in her to bow the knee to God or anyone else. She simply kept acting out until she was finally destroyed.