1 Kings 21 opens in the days after King Ahab had received a scathing rebuke from a prophet, who had said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Since you have let go from your hand the man I had designated for destruction, your life shall be forfeited in place of his life, and your people in place of his people.’”
Ahab's response? He became sullen
Shortly thereafter, his sour mood shifted, seeking resolution in consumerism. Approaching his next door neighbor Naboth in a bid to purchase his property wasn't simply a friendly overture. Rather, it was fueled by Ahab's seething anger regarding the prophetic pronouncement over his misplaced alignment with the enemy. Instead of repenting, he used retail therapy as a veiled attempt to find refuge for his emotive state. How generous, it would seem, that he was willing to pay Naboth for the plot adjoining the royal household. Who could refuse a real estate deal from the king?
Naboth, however, held a great treasure: legacy. His integrity held him to the principle of land ownership and inheritance his forefathers had instilled in him through the Mosaic law. He understood his role as inheritor and steward over his father's household, now his own to govern and expand for future generations.
As Naboth's honored the covenantal way of life, through a refusal to sell his inheritance, Ahab multiplied the intensity of his foul mood: The master manipulator lay down on his bed, turned away his face, and ate no food.
Completely focused inward, silence arrived as perverted worship, focused on self.
The sound of silence, born of internal brooding, rooted in the works of the flesh holds no glory for the King. Each flesh-led action, describing a measured behavior, emits a sound. These soundings, or measurements, sow toward an inheritance of corruption. The inheritance of corruption will find no place in the Kingdom of God.
Silence used to demonstrate displeasure; designed to produce a response or desired result, is perversion of an attribute reserved for the worship of the King. Ahab's sulk is but one manifestation of silence used on the wrong side. Esau wept bitterly, then mulled over his rage, seeking revenge. King Hezekiah sulked as he lamented his fate. Other subtle uses exist:
Employing the 'cold shoulder' as an interpersonal behavior pattern to send a message of disdain or disregard.
Refusal to let your 'yes be yes' and your 'no be no' in order to gain an upper hand in a matter of conflict.
Utilizing procrastination until there is no more time left to make a wise decision, creating a default choice in a critical moment.
The sound of silence depicted in these ways measures ambiguous devaluing of another's personhood. Selfishness. The objective? To covetously gain what another has or demand one's own way, creating an outcome of personal benefit at the sacrifice of another's well-being or advancement.
When silence is considered as worship, and thereby a derivative of faith-producing-righteousness, it becomes clear that the manipulative form of silence does not bring forth glory to the King of Kings, nor does it represent Kingdom Culture.