There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord cast out before the people of Israel.1 Kings 21:25-26
This statement about Ahab that we read in 1 Kings 21 is fairly straight forward. Ahab was not a great and God-fearing king of Israel. He was continually in violation of God’s laws and repeatedly seeking after idols. His evil leadership continually led the Israelites into sin. The choices he made as king could only lead to disaster and destruction. This chapter of 1 Kings provides us simply with one incident that illuminates the heart of Ahab. He so desperately wants what is not his own, Naboth’s vineyard, that he allows himself to sulk in anger as he whines to his wife Jezebel. When Jezebel arranges the illegal trial and murder of Naboth, Ahab is more than happy to jump right in and take over the vineyard that he had been coveting. This one instance of injustice and misuse of royal position and power is a turning point. Ahab had angered the Lord yet again with his evil behavior and poor choices, leading to the prophecy of Ahab and Jezebel’s destruction. Elijah didn’t try to sugar coat the words of the Lord, he spoke them directly as God had commanded. This prophecy shook Ahab to the core, and he responded with repentance and humility. The Lord took note of Ahab’s response and told Elijah that He would have mercy on Ahab and the destruction would befall his sons after his death.
Ahab certainly deserved the destruction that was headed his way. God is holy and just. He cannot simply turn a blind eye to the sins of His people. However, God is also gracious and merciful. This is one of many situations throughout His unbroken story where He shows grace and mercy to men who are sinful and yet repentant. They deserve instantaneous separation from Him, and yet, He is merciful in His responses. In Ahab’s case, the judgement would indeed come upon his family, but Ahab would be spared the disaster in his own time. The God we serve is simultaneously just, holy, merciful, and gracious. Our sinful choices, no matter how small, are not pleasing in His sight. Our punishment should be death separated from Him in eternity. Oh how thankful I am that He was gracious enough to provide a solution to our sin problem if only we will humble ourselves before Him. When we consider the folly of Ahab, may we be reminded of who God is. May we humble ourselves and search our own hearts that we may enjoy God’s abundant grace and mercy. May we understand the impact of our sinful choices and choose instead to flee temptation and cling to our Father.