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Selfish characters are lessons in how not to be

All through history, many a jealous and wicked scheme has been devised out of selfishness.

The sad truth is that actions reflect more of the state of the heart rather than just the situation. Several years ago I read a pathetic account about the actions of two grown women.

The incident involved one woman in the checkout line 4 at a grocery store standing with an immense basket packed with food. A woman with only a bottle of catsup walked up behind her. Seeing the woman’s full basket, the woman with the catsup gently tapped the woman in front of her and politely asked if she might go ahead. She explained that her children were in the car and since she just had one item, it would only a second to check out.

Expecting to go ahead, the woman with the catsup was shocked when the woman in front turned and answered her request coldly: “Certainly not. I was here first!”

Her answer made the woman with the catsup furious so she took her ketchup bottle and hit the woman in front over the head with it. Catsup gushed out and ran down the woman’s face while broken glass hit the floor. So the woman with the big basket full of groceries whirled around and socked the woman behind her. Right in the grocery store at check out aisle 4, a free-for-all ensued.

Other customers stood in disbelief and children watched in amazement. The whole incident ended with the two women arrested and booked in the city jail. Both women were furious because they could not have their way.

An incident in the Bible details an account of a man who pouted because he couldn’t have his way. But his actions involved more than a ketchup bottle and the consequence was murder. The man’s name was Ahab, King of Israel. The writer of 1 Kings mentions the type man Ahab was: “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.” What a legacy. (16:30)

Ahab conceived evil and carried it out on every hand. His wife Jezebel was a partner in his nefarious schemes, devising much on her own. The most notorious incident had to do with Naboth, a commoner and good man, who had property close to Ahab’s palace.

Ahab decided one day on a whim that he wanted Naboth’s property for a garden. Therefore, he made an offer to Naboth to either buy his property or exchange some other property for it.

Naboth refused and with good reason. His property had been in the family for years and meant much to him. When the deal fell through, Ahab went home sullen and angry, went to bed and refused to eat. He pouted with a silent tantrum just like a little child. Jezebel came in the bedroom and saw Ahab in bed, face next to the wall, sulking. She asked him: “Why are you so upset? Why won’t you eat?”

Ahab’s pitiful reply was “Because I want Naboth’s vineyard and he won’t sell it to me!”

Jezebel asked, “Is this how you act when you are king of Israel? Get up and cheer up! I will give you the vineyard!”

The wheels of evil and scheming started rolling in Jezebel’s mind. She wrote letters in Ahab’s name, put his official seal on the letters and sent them to all the powerful men that lived in the city. She instructed them to proclaim a day of feasting. Naboth was to be at the most prominent place in the feast.

The scheme involved hiring two imposters to sit next to Naboth. They would fabricate a story and testify that Naboth had cursed God and the king and then they would execute Naboth for the manufactured crime!

It is puzzling but the powerful and prominent people who received Jezebel’s letter did as she requested. The dinner started, Naboth was put in the right place and then set up by the imposters. He was accused, taken outside the city and stoned to death. Then they sent word to Jezebel that the mission was accomplished.

As soon as she heard the news, Jezebel told Ahab to get up out of bed (he had been pouting there), get his clothes on and take possession of Naboth’s property.

How wicked can two people be? But justice would follow. Later, while Ahab was in Naboth’s vineyard, Elijah the Prophet was sent by God to meet him. Elijah’s warning to Ahab was “You have sold yourself to do evil in eyes of the Lord. God says He will bring disaster on you!” (! Kings 21)

Disaster did come to both Ahab and Jezebel.

The likes of Ahab are echoed today throughout the world. Yet, there is a reckoning day someday.

The ladies in the store may not have been as mean but they had one thing in common with King Ahab: their motives were selfish and their actions were wrong. Let’s hope we learn from all these characters how not to be.

Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at:

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