“Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel in Samaria. He is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to possess it. Say to him: Thus says the Lord! Have you killed and also taken possession? Thus says the Lord: In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your blood, even yours. And Ahab said to Elijah, Have you found me, O my enemy? And he answered I have found you because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord.
See [says the Lord], I will bring evil on you and utterly sweep away and cut off from Ahab every male bond and free. And I will make your household like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the household of Baasha son of Ahijah; for the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger and made Israel sin. Also, the Lord said of Jezebel: The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. Any belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and any who dies in the fields the birds of the air shall eat. For there was no one who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord as did Ahab, incited by his wife Jezebel. He did very abominably in going after idols, as had the Amorites, whom the Lord cast out before the Israelites.
When Ahab heard those words of Elijah, he tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his flesh, fasted, lay in sackcloth, and went quietly.
And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying; Do you see how Ahab humbles himself before Me? Because he humbles himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his lifetime, but in his son’s day I will bring the evil upon his house.” (I Kings 21:18-29 AMPC)
“Who is a God like You; Who forgives iniquity and passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retains not His anger forever; because He delights in mercy and lovingkindness.” (Micah 7:18 AMPC)
When I read this story from my One Year Bible reading, I had never seen this before! It really spoke to me how much God delights in showing mercy to people no matter how wicked they have been in the past. I know I have been so blessed by His mercy in my life.
King Ahab is most well-known as the husband of his infamous wife Jezebel who was so evil. She was the daughter of a heathen king of Sidonia and was a devotee of Baal and was well-versed in the dark arts of witchcraft and manipulation. Ahab was putty in her hands.
Ahab was already walking in the rebelliousness of sin when he married Jezebel. Her influence incited him to go even further into evil. He went so far as to sell his soul to do evil the Bible says. The idolatry he instituted in the northern kingdom included all sorts of sexual vice as well as sacrifices of children. He made a firm choice in his youth to reject the God of his fathers and worship the Baals and Asherah goddesses.
“And Ahab son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all before him. As if it had been a light thing for Ahab to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took for a wife Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and served Baal and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah [idolatrous symbol of the goddess Asherah]. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel before him.” (I Kings 16:30-33 AMPC“
And yet, not long before his death, God spoke to him through His prophet Elijah and totally reprimanded him. The words were so terrifying to Ahab that he finally lost his will to rebel and he fasted and put on a sackcloth and even laid down before God in the sackcloth. Sackcloth represents repentance and humbling before God. God’s fury abated at his humility and He instantly showed mercy to Ahab. A man who sold his soul to do evil and when he humbled himself in repentance, God’s hand of mercy was there to lift him up. God’s Word still stood over Ahab’s household but in His mercy, He didn’t let Ahab see it in his lifetime.
I’m sure all of us have cringeworthy sins we want God to forgive and show mercy for. I know I do! This story gives me confidence that there is nothing too bad for God to forgive except blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Today, if you are reading this and feel like you have gone too far and even God can’t find you–you are wrong. He is literally a whisper of repentance away and more than willing to show YOU mercy because it is literally His great delight to show mercy and lovingkindness to those who call on His name.
Don’t know Him?