Regular nibbles from the Bible. . .come for a bite, leave with an appetite

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. (Psalm 19:14, MSG)

Monday, May 6, 2013


I occasionally ask myself, would Judas Iscariot have been forgiven if he had asked? He wasn't the only one who denied Jesus that night; but Peter repented and received forgiveness.

Today, I am asking myself a similar question about King Ahab, comparing him to King David.

Of course, Ahab made no pretense of worshipping Jehovah. Back in chapter 17, he's descibed as the "new champion of evil."  He came into his kingdom with the idolatry already established at the golden calves. His father led a military coup. And then his wife . . . Jezebel was a strong-willed women, introducing Baal worship to all of Israel, bringing in hundreds of priests and prophets, and manipulating Ahab to do anything she wanted.

But like David, Ahab did one thing so heinous, that God sent a specific warning.

David committed adultery and killed a man.

Ahab lusted after a vineyard, had its owner killed (well, Jezebel arranged it)--and then took the vineyard.

We already know the rest of David's story. He repented, the baby died, and trouble brewed in David's family for the rest of his life. Even so, God established David's kingdom forever.

God's judgment is gruesomely descriptive, from dogs lapping up Ahab's blood and eating Jezebel and making mincemeat of their descendants.

After the prophet finished announcing Ahab's doom, the writer repeated Ahab's record of evil, underscoring just how bad he was.

But . . . he repented. Much like the people of Nineveh during Jonah's time. The awful, evil, idolatrous king repented. He fasted. He slept in burlap pajamas (ouch!) and wore burlap clothes. He crept around.

God took note; the prophesied disaster happened to his son and not to Ahab. No kingship to his descendants, however.

Let me get this right. David slept with Uriah's wife, got her pregnant and had him killed. He's promised an everlasting dynasty.

Ahab longed for Naboth's vineyard. His wife took care of the obstacle, and all Ahab did was to take advantage of her actions. He's promised a normal death, but his descendants will be hunted to extinction.

Why the difference?

Perhaps as simple as we have to live with the consequences of our actions. Ahab's repentance gained his forgiveness, but didn't earn him a reward.

Perhaps Ahab was sorry his sin was uncovered more than he was sorry for the sin. He cared about the consequences of his sins, but not about his relationship with God. That is only speculation on my part, but one that is in character.

(David, of course, said, "Against you I have sinned. Create in me a new heart.")

It is because of Your mercies that I am not consumed.
Of course, God did give Ahab a better ending than he deserved. He died in battle, a hero's death. Jehovah is a merciful and compassionate God.

God wants, longs, for us to repent. He delights in nothing more than forgiving us and reconciling us to Himself.

And that is worth the price of repentance.