If you’ve ever held a pity party for yourself, you aren’t alone. It is easy to get so wrapped up in our own emotions and our own feelings. Even worse, we can let those emotions hurt others. In 1 Kings 21, we find King Ahab feeling very sorry for himself.
After God rebuked Ahab for letting the enemy king go (see 1 Kings 20), Ahab returned to his palace in Jezreel. To console himself he tried to purchase a plot of land near his palace that belonged to Naboth. But Naboth wouldn’t sell it, saying: “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors” (v. 3).
Ahab “lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat” (v. 4). His wife Jezebel took matters into her own hands. She reminded Ahab that he was king of Israel (v. 7) and promised to get the land for him. She did so by having Naboth killed (v. 9). Why didn’t Ahab just take that land? Although Ahab was king, Israelite kings were not permitted to reign the way other rulers did in the ancient Near East. In Deuteronomy 17:14–20, God declared that Israelite kings were subject to the Mosaic law just like everyone else. This meant they had to respect property rights. “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15) applied to them as well.
Jezebel was not Israelite; she was Sidonian. Jezebel had no hesitations about violating God’s law. So, she had Naboth killed and stole his vineyard. Ahab did not stop her. The prophet Elijah delivered a strong rebuke from the Lord: “I am going to bring disaster on you” (v. 21). And then a curious thing happened. King Ahab repented. After such an ugly sin, it may surprise us that the Lord accepted Ahab’s repentance and delayed the punishment He promised.
>> This shocking story teaches us about God. We see His power, His sovereignty, His knowledge, and His mercy. As wicked as Ahab was, his repentance was accepted by God. What do we need to repent of today?
If You can forgive a man like Ahab when he truly repents, You can forgive us. Father, we humbly confess our sins today. Forgive us and bless our efforts to obey You as we move forward.