King David was a man after God’s own heart. King Ahab was anything but that. And yet, both men did a similar thing…killed to get something that wasn’t theirs.
King David committed adultery with one of his soldier’s wives, Bathsheba, while that soldier was at war on behalf of David. When the woman became pregnant, David called the man, Uriah, back home hoping he would sleep with his wife and cover up David’s sin. However, Uriah was a man of integrity and would not take advantage of being home while his brothers-in-arms were still fighting. Since Uriah wouldn’t do his part, David sent a message that Uriah be put in the front of the fiercest battle and have the other troops withdrawn. Uriah was killed and David took Bathsheba as his wife. (2 Samuel 11-12)
King Ahab desired Nabob’s vineyard. When Nabob wouldn’t trade it or sell it, Ahab pouted. Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, took matters in her own hands, had Nabob accused of blasphemy and treason, and had him stoned to death. So Ahab got the vineyard. (1 Kings 21)
God sent prophets to both David (Nathan) and Ahab (Elijah) to bring to light their secret sins and to bring the Lord’s judgment upon them. What’s interesting is that both men repented. In fact, this is what is recorded about Ahab…
1 Kings 21:27-29 (HCSB) 27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put sackcloth over his body, and fasted. He lay down in sackcloth and walked around subdued. 28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? I will not bring the disaster during his lifetime, because he has humbled himself before Me. I will bring the disaster on his house during his son’s lifetime.”
So why is David still revered as the great king through whom our Lord Jesus Christ descended while Ahab is considered the worst king in both the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel? Look at 2 Samuel 12:13-14…
2 Samuel 12:13-14 (HCSB) 13 David responded to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Then Nathan replied to David, “The Lord has taken away your sin; you will not die. 14 However, because you treated the Lord with such contempt in this matter, the son born to you will die.”
Ahab recognized that he had sinned and that the Lord’s judgment was coming against him. He was sorry for his sin, but there is no sense of repentance at all. In fact, read the verses before Ahab’s recognition of sin…
1 Kings 21:25-26 (HCSB) 25 Still, there was no one like Ahab, who devoted himself to do what was evil in the Lord’s sight, because his wife Jezebel incited him. 26 He committed the most detestable acts by going after idols as the Amorites had, whom the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites.
Ahab’s heart never changed. His actions were outward, but empty for those actions didn’t come from a repentant heart.
David’s heart was repentant. He saw himself a sinner who had sinned against Yahweh and knew his only hope was the grace and mercy of Yahweh. A truly repentant heart knows we bring only our sin and guilt to the Lord. But in that confession and repentance, we find forgiveness. David, when his sin was exposed, ran to God. Ahab never did.
Let David’s words remind you of the God who calls us to repentance. And may those words remind us that when we come to Him, He will not cast us out.
Psalm 51:1-19 (HCSB) 1 Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. 2 Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against You—You alone—I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight. So You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge. 5 Indeed, I was guilty ⌊when I⌋ was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.
6 Surely You desire integrity in the inner self, and You teach me wisdom deep within. 7 Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice. 9 Turn Your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt.
10 God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.
14 Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness. 15 Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise. 16 You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.
18 In Your good pleasure, cause Zion to prosper; build the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Your altar.