The Pouty Potentate
It is a beautiful day in Samaria, but a thunderstorm might as well be brewing. Word is spreading quickly within the thick walls of the palace that King Ahab is in a very bad mood. A very bad mood indeed. The court jesters are on their way and everyone is hoping, from the cook to the chief advisor, that the jesters can cheer up the king. Oh, here they come now.
The jesters halt at the door to get clearance from the guard before entering the king’s bed chamber. Inside, they timidly approach the royal bed. King Ahab raises up on one elbow, glares at the two quivering clowns, and shouts, “Out, OUT!! GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!”
The jesters step backward quickly with backs bent and heads bowed. The door quietly shuts and King Ahab falls back on his bed. He is facing the wall, his knees pulled into a fetal position, his thumb caressing his lips. (It isn’t proper for a king to suck his thumb, but that is just what this king is doing.)
Throughout the palace the staff is wondering what has put the king in such a bad mood. They are all shaking with fear. When the king gets this way you never know whose head will be on the chopping block.
What is the rumor going around now? Queen Jezebel is going to see the king. She passes several guards on her way to the king’s bedchamber. She walks briskly, looks straight ahead, acknowledgies no one, her jaw set in determination. The guard at the king’s door steps silently aside as the queen approaches, and quickly opens the door. Queen Jezebel sails through the door with nary a nod.
“Ahab, what is the matter with you? They tell me you are refusing to eat.”
King Ahab turns slowly on his bed to face his wife. His lower lip protrudes as he snivels and sullenly replies: “I wanted the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezreel, for a vegetable garden. It is near the palace and so convenient. I told him I’d pay him, but he refused me. His father gave it to him and” (these last words are barely audible as the king pushes them out through his pinched lips) “he won’t sell it.”
The queen haughtily shakes her head, straightens to her full height. “Is this how you, the king of Israel, act? You can have ANYTHING you want, do WHATEVER pleases you. Well, Sweetie, cheer up, take a little nourishment, I’ll get that vineyard for you!” Queen Jezebel turns abruptly and marches out of the king’s bedchamber. The queen is on a mission.
Queen Jezebel strides quickly to the king’s official chamber. The guard at the door has strict instructions to allow no one, NO ONE, into the chamber except the king. But Queen Jezebel is not to be tangled with. He watches her approach, steps quickly aside, opens the door soundlessly for her as she passes without a glimpse in his direction.
The queen goes to her husband’s desk, sits in his chair, and reaches for his pen. “Where is the ink?” she asks of no one. “Ahhh, here it is.” Her hand is steady as she writes. With the final period jabbed onto the paper and without a moment’s hesitation Queen Jezebel signs her husband’s name and seals it with his signet ring, yanks open the chamber door, thrusts the message into the hand of the guard and commands, “See that this is delivered.” Her lips are curled into a hateful grin.
In keeping with instructions the Queen has issued, a fast is proclaimed with Naboth as an honored guest. Seated across from him are two scoundrels, men who care nothing for truth or integrity or rightness. Innocent Naboth is enjoying the event as the scoundrels shout their lying accusations: “Naboth has cursed our God and our king, too. He should die.”
Naboth, bewildered and terrified, is dragged through the city gate. The stones hit their target in searing accuracy. Naboth is dead.
A happy king strolls quickly to the neighboring land. His face crinkles in an expansive smile as he envisions his beautiful vegetable garden. Queen Jezebel is watching his every move with smug satisfaction. Enjoy, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Pay day for your wicked deeds will arrive soon, and your smiles will be wiped from your faces.
Author’s note: A true story with embellishment from I Kings 21
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