“And when Ahab heard these 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.'”
-1 Kings 21:27–29
What a picture. You read First Kings and you see all the evil things Ahab did. All the ways he defied God and led the people into idolatry and the worship of all kinds of gods. And yet in these verses we hear about how Ahab tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and went about dejectedly, humbling himself before God.
This is what God says to Elijah, “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.” I read this and I think, Ahab after all that he did, he doesn’t deserve this kind of mercy. And then I realize neither do I and neither do you. This is the beauty of mercy. It’s totally undeserved. And isn’t an awesome thought that you and I deserve the just judgment of God, just as Ahab and every other person in the world has, we have defied God, we have worshiped other gods instead of the one true God. We have done evil, we have rebelled against God. And yet God has chosen to show us mercy. When we humble ourselves before him, when we confess our sin in the humility of our hearts and turn, repent of it.
Oh God, we praise you for your mercy in our lives. God, I praise you for your mercy and my life. Who am I to even be communing with you in prayer right now, to be leading others in prayer, to be reading your word, to be talking about your mercy. God, I don’t deserve this. You know me, you know me better than anybody else. And you know I don’t deserve your mercy. And I feel like Paul, like the least deserving of your mercy. God, my sin against you, my evil before you, God, I praise you for your mercy. God, I praise you for your mercy in others lives who are listening right now. May they feel the wonder of your mercy in a fresh way right now, may they feel how they don’t deserve this mercy that you have poured out on them. God, we praise you for your grace in our lives and we humble ourselves before you.
God, we pray that you’d help us to live in continual repentance. God, continually turning from sin in our lives. Continually humbling ourselves before you. You continually forming our hearts in line with yours. God, we pray that we would live lives humbled before you all day long, every day as we praise you Jesus in a fresh way every day for paying the price for our sins, for rising from the dead in victory over sin and for the grace by which we have been saved through faith, not of ourselves. This is a gift, not that we boast in. Our boast is in the cross of Jesus Christ and we praise you for the mercy we have found there. And God, we pray that you would help us to make this mercy known in others’ lives here and among the nations. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.