And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “See how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the calamity in his days. In the days of his son I will bring the calamity on his house.” 1 Kin 21:28-29
The testimony of Scripture is that there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the LORD, because of the influence of Jezebel his wife (1 Kin 21:25). This chapter opens with the murder of Naboth and theft of his vineyard! Even though it was Jezebel who did it without his knowledge, the LORD charged the crime to Ahab (1 Kin 21:19), probably because a man is responsible for his household.
And yet, even so wicked a man as Ahab, when he humbled himself before the LORD, called forth the LORD’s mercy on his head. “Humbled” is kana, Strong’s H3665, and is the same root that the name “Canaan” comes from. We have seen this root before! This root paints the picture of the going down of the eye, to bow the knee, to humble oneself or to bring into subjection.
When Ahab heard the word of the LORD, he bowed his knee and lowered his eyes before the LORD and His word. He brought himself into subjection to the word of the LORD. And the LORD extended mercy to him.
This is not the first time we have seen the LORD extend mercy when wickedness has called forth judgment, when the sinner has humbled himself before the LORD. When Rehoboam forsook the LORD, and the LORD brought Pharaoh Shishak against Jerusalem, Rehoboam humbled himself before the LORD, and the LORD did not allow Shishak to utterly destroy Jerusalem (2 Chr 12:5-12). Repetition is a teaching tool of Scripture! The Scripture is preaching the gospel of salvation by grace through faith, not by works lest any man should boast, here from the pages of Kings and Chronicles!
The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Psa 34:18
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise. Psa 51:17
For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the humble with salvation. Psa 149:4
Surely He scorns the scornful,
But gives grace to the humble. Pro 3:34
For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isa 57:15
“But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word. Isa 66:2
Even for someone like Ahab! How much more for you and me!