It’s Narcissist Friday!
From time to time someone challenges me that I don’t use enough Scripture on Narcissist Fridays. So the next couple of posts ought to help with that.
Are there narcissists in the Bible? Not just bad people, but people who actually exhibit the characteristics of narcissism? We might be tempted to think that anyone who stood against the Lord was narcissistic, but some were just misguided or compromised. A man like Judas, for example, might have been narcissistic, but we are told only that he was a zealot, someone with political ideas contrary to the mission of Jesus.
Of course, the Bible shows us legalists who care little about the Lord and lots about the Law. But legalism and narcissism are not the same. What I have said in the past is that legalism creates a haven, a pleasant work environment, for narcissists. Certainly some of the Pharisees exhibited narcissistic characteristics and so did the Judaizers later in the New Testament. Yet finding a narcissist in the Bible is not so easy.
I think I have found a couple. The first one I want to look at is the woman named Jezebel, from the kingdom of Israel during the time of Elijah. You find her story beginning in 1 Kings 18. One nasty lady!
Jezebel is an example of a narcissist who has no way to her own power so she overtakes and overwhelms someone who has power. She was the daughter of a minor king who was married to Ahab of Israel, almost certainly a political marriage. Ahab was not the sharpest tack on the board, if you know what I mean. He was powerful and wealthy and could be manipulated. Jezebel had everything she wanted.
Ahab followed her gods and moved the people to follow her gods. So much was she in charge that we are told that 950 of the false prophets of her gods “ate at her table,” and that was a time of famine. She appears to be almost completely in charge of the decisions of Ahab, her husband. The Bible says that Ahab was particularly wicked because Jezebel “stirred him up,”
In one story, Ahab wants to buy a vineyard from someone so he could have more room for a vegetable garden. Well, vineyards take many years to grow strong and were passed through family generations. The man didn’t want to sell. So Ahab pouted. When Jezebel heard the story, she scolded Ahab and ordered people to lie about the owner of the vineyard so he could be killed. After his death, she presented the property to Ahab. She was ruthless, willing to lie without hesitation, and saw the rights and value of others as things that got in her way.
This evil woman continued her influence after her husband’s death through her children. Her son Ahaziah became king when Ahab died and, we are told, he walked in the ways of his father and his mother. Rarely is the mother’s influence mentioned in Scripture, but Jezebel’s influence was not normal. When Ahaziah died, his brother Jehoram became king. We know little about these people except that they continued to do what Jezebel told them.
Even the daughter of Jezebel got into the act. She married Joram, the king of Judah, and led Judah to walk in the ways of her mother. Talk about a dysfunctional family! And behind all of it was Jezebel. Even after she died, Jezebel continued to have influence through another young man named Ahaziah, her son-in-law. In fact, Scripture refers to the considerable wicked influence of the “house of Ahab,” meaning that Ahab was held accountable, but Jezebel was behind the evil.
Finally, a man named Jehu was appointed by God to kill the house of Ahab in both kingdoms. Jezebel defied him to the last minute. Her particular fate was to become a meal for the dogs. Nothing was left of her except her hands and feet. And the Bible says that this happened so that Jezebel wouldn’t have a monument in her memory. What narcissist could bear such a fate? Not even a monument!
But forever after, the name Jezebel is a name that speaks of betrayal, cruelty, and the deepest evil.
Looks like narcissism to me.