King Ahab was a uniquely wicked man (1 Kin. 21:25) whose wickedness so provoked God that He pronounced fierce judgment upon him and his entire house (1 Kin. 21:21-22). Ahab responded to the message of his impending doom in a remarkably humble way that elicited a response from God that highlights His wondrous mercy!
The Unique Wickedness of Ahab
When Ahab murdered Naboth and took possession of his vineyard (1 Kin. 21:1-16), God commanded Elijah to go and confront him with his sinfulness (1 Kin. 21:17-18). The Lord instructed Elijah about what he was to say to the king:
1Ki 21:19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.
Because Ahab wickedly had Naboth killed, God sentenced him to experience the same fate that Naboth had experienced—the dogs would lick his blood in the very place where they had licked Naboth’s blood.
Ahab responded to Elijah with a question that revealed that he viewed Elijah as his enemy: And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? (1 Kin. 21:20a). Elijah answered him by declaring further the fierce judgment that he and his entire household would experience because of his wickedness and the wickedness of his wife Jezebel:
20 And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.
21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,
22 And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.
23 And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.
24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.
The writer of First Kings then adds two statements that declare the unique wickedness of Ahab:
25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.
26 And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.
Ahab had sold himself to do wickedness in a unique way, including his murdering Naboth and his being an exceedingly abominable idolater in the sight of the Lord.
The Remarkably Humble Response of Ahab to God’s Pronouncement of His Doom
Hearing of the fierce judgment that God had pronounced upon him for his wickedness, Ahab responded by remarkably humbling himself publicly before God:
1Ki 21:27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.
This statement shows that Ahab’s response was not just a momentary response—he abased himself openly for an extended period.
The Wondrously Merciful Response of God to Ahab’s Humbling Himself
When Ahab responded in such a remarkably humble way, God underscored to Elijah his humility and made known that He would have mercy on him:
1Ki 21:28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.
God declared that he would not bring His judgment upon Ahab in his days. Ahab’s house, however, eventually would be judged because they would end up not humbling themselves before God, as Ahab did.
Even though Ahab had been so horrifically wicked before God, God bestowed mercy upon him when he humbled himself before Him!
No matter what evil you may have done in your life, you can still receive wondrous mercy from God by truly repenting of your sins and humbling yourself openly before Him (cf. Isa. 55:6-7)! Our God is a God who delights in mercy (Micah 7:18). He has provided the account of His having mercy on Ahab so that you might behold His wondrous mercy and flee from His wrath that is coming on all sinners who do not repent toward Him and believe in His Son Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).
Behold the wondrous mercy of our God!