In 1 Samuel 8, before Israel had a king, the last Judge, Samuel, issues a warning. Part of Samuel’s warning to Israel was that a king will conscript sons and daughters, they will take part of the harvest, and “He will take the best of your fields and vineyards…” (1 Sam 8:14). And yet, “The people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, ‘No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations’” (8:19–20). Although they had been warned, God’s people reaped the consequences of their sin. Likewise, they probably never counted on a king like Ahab.
King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, has become one of the most notorious people in the Bible. Today’s passage illustrates her character and power over the malleable Ahab. Ahab desired Naboth’s vineyard, and when Naboth refused to sell, Ahab seemed to accept his answer. However, after moping around for a while, Jezebel took matters into her own hands and had Naboth killed. While it seems unlikely that Ahab would have killed Naboth without Jezebel’s intervention, he had no qualm taking advantage of Naboth’s death.
Elijah brought a message from the Lord to Naboth warning him that his actions will lead to a terrible death. Likewise, the fate of Jezebel had been sealed. Then something unexpected happens, “When Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.” (27–29)
While Ahab did not come to saving faith, the Lord relented the calamity that would befall him because he humbled himself at the Lord’s warning. In the next chapter, Ahab will meet his ignominious end and the dogs will lick up pools of his blood, but his lineage will not yet be cut off.
As I consider this passage, several things stick out. First, the person you marry has an enormous effect of your life. Proverbs 12:4 says, “A noble wife is the crown of her husband, but the wife who acts shamefully is like rottenness in his bones.” (NET) Jezebel’s actions (and Ahab’s approval) brought the wrath of the Lord. Ahab was not a “good guy,” but it’s clear that Jezebel led him into greater sin than he would have achieved on his own.
Secondly, we can never overstate the importance of repentance and humility before the Lord. Although, Ahab’s actions were not salvific, they seem to have spared him from a greater calamity than he experienced. How much calamity do we see in our lives and in the lives of others who fail to humble themselves before the Lord? Just pick up a tabloid! True humility is recognizing who we are in light of who God is. When we truly understand our fallenness and the corruption of our nature, we understand that we need a Savior to bring us into a relationship with the Lord and make us new. Repentance and humility are great, but repentance and humility outside of a relationship with Christ cannot save. We need a relationship with Christ and a new nature (2 Cor 5:17) so that repentance and humility can have it’s full effect.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate