|Naboth's Vineyard - Artist unknown|
TO CHEW ON: "So Ahab went to his house sullen and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he had said, 'I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.' And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food." - 1 Kings 21:4
Covetousness is what Ahab felt when he looked out his window and saw Naboth's garden—so lush, so well-cared-for, so close. It would make the perfect vegetable garden for him.
But when he offered Naboth to exchange the garden for another, or buy it outright, Naboth turned him down. He put more value in hanging onto his inheritance than pleasing the king. This must have galled the king doubly. For not only could he not legitimately take the garden but he had been spurned by one of his subjects.
[What does it mean to covet? To desire, eagerly, long for, especially to desire something belonging to another, long or lust.]
Covetousness is common and seems, on the surface, almost harmless. But it is serious. "You shall not covet … anything that is your neighbor's" is one of the Ten Commandments. Here are some examples of covetousness and its results from the Bible:
- Achan coveted coins and a beautiful Babylonian garment when the Israelites conquered Jericho. He took and hid them, though God had clearly said that all the Jericho spoil was to be destroyed. Achan's act led to his destruction and that of his family - Joshua 7:21-25.
- Coveting and threatening to take Israel's riches were of the threat of Syrian king Ben-Hadad - 1 Kings 20:2,3,6.
- Gehazi's coveting of the lovely things Naaman offered Elijah led to lying and deceitful behaviour. When found out, he was stricken with leprosy - 2 Kings 5:20-24.
- The Pharisees' love of money caused them to scoff at Jesus' counter-culture view of it - Luke 16:13,14.
Though covetousness is wrong, who of us hasn't indulged in it from time to time? What is its antidote?
I'd say CONTENTMENT.
Let's consider and put into practice Bible advice like this:
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" Hebrews 13:5.
"Now godliness with contentment is great gain … And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content" - 1 Timothy 6:6,8
PRAYER: Dear God, please make me aware of places where covetousness has entered my life in various areas: coveting others' physical things, success, status, security… Help me to be able to truly say, "I have learned in whatever state I am to be content" - Philippians 4:11. Amen.
The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.