The Makings and Menace of Vexed and Sullen

“And [the prophet] said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.”’ And the king of Israel went to his house vexed and sullen and came to Samaria.

“Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab. And after this Ahab said to Naboth, ‘Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.’ But Naboth said to Ahab, ‘The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.’ And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because Naboth… had said, ‘I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.’ He lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food.

“But Jezebel his wife came to him and said, ‘Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?’ He said, ‘Because I spoke to Naboth.., “Give me your vineyard…” And he answered, “I will not…”’ Jezebel said to him, ‘Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth.’

“So she wrote letters.., ‘Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people. And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.’” 1 Kings 20:42-21:7,9-10,25-26

Ahab had no moral or spiritual compass. He swung to and fro on cocky and caprice, whim and greed, fancy and feeling. So when he got chastised and met with rightful judgment, his plans were disrupted, or things didn’t go his way, he grew sullen and vexed. Self-focus and ‘I’m first’ living often lead there, and make for widespread misery. (1 Kings 18:17; 20:34)

Sadly, Ahab’s brooding set in motion the destruction of innocents. His conniving wife took it and ran with its fuel to plot against the only God-fearing man in the story. Sullen and vexed twisted to manipulation and evil, resulting in the cruel death of Naboth. Imagine the horror and grief of his family, at the hand of their national sovereign. (1 Kings 21:12-16).

But, for the perpetrator, indulgence of self, feelings, and power does not happy endings make. Ahab got his immediate wanted result, but imaginably little happiness, and judgment in the end. (1 Kings 21:17-24)

Perhaps we are experiencing misery from past, or long-established present actions? Have we allowed the selfishness of sullen to take root, and used our vexation to manipulate others to meet our ends, only to find ourselves empty, dissatisfied, or alone? It’s hard to stop moody when ‘me’ is indulged. Opening up in genuine confession for Christ’s cleansing will free us from the tyranny of egotistical living to enjoy His abundance. (Psalm 51:1-12; John 10:10; Hebrews 12:15)

Good Father, uproot anything that is making for vexed and sullen in me. Empty me of self, and fill me to walk in step with Your Spirit, for Your name’s sake. (Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 5:18)

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