“Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days” (1 Kings 21:29).
Today, I am astonished again by God’s grace to the repentant. King Ahab gets my vote as the most evil king in the whole history of Israel (Manasseh is a close second and has a similar story; see 2 Chronicles 33). He followed idols and caused the nation of Israel to do the same. He attempted to kill all God’s prophets and anyone else who spoke against him. King Ahab even had his neighbor murdered because he had refused to sell him his vineyard.
Time and again, God sent King Ahab signs that He alone is God. He sent a drought to demonstrate that He, not idols, controlled the weather (1 Kings 17). In a dramatic showdown on Mount Carmel, God demonstrated His power over the idols by raining fire from heaven (1 Kings 18). And God gave King Ahab two miraculous victories in battle (1 Kings 20).
Still, Ahab did not honor Him as God, nor was he thankful. He continued to worship and serve the created rather than the Creator. In fact, the Scripture says, “there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord” (21:25).
However, when the word of the Lord came to Ahab through Elijah, foretelling the calamity that would befall Ahab and his house because of his sins, the most astonishing thing happened: “He tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted, and he lay in sackcloth and went about despondently” (v. 27).
Faced with his sin and God’s just judgment, King Ahab humbled himself before God, and God had mercy on him.
I was touched by God’s response to this king’s repentance. Even though God knew Ahab would revert to his wicked ways after repenting, He still responded with mercy. Don’t worry. King Ahab did not get off without punishment for all the evil he did. But God did delay His judgment — because he repented.
Look how God’s heart is moved by repentance. The evilest person in the world will find mercy — if they repent. I find that astonishing!
I wanted to share God’s astonishing grace, so I began to write a devotion. Halfway through I remembered that I had already written one on this topic. I looked back to find that I even quoted the same verse! Clearly, I am astonished by God’s amazing grace every time I read this story.
Whatever you have done, it cannot be as evil as what King Ahab did. So repent! There is no need for sackcloth and ashes. Just give your heart to God. You, too, will be astonished at the amazing grace God will shower upon you.