1 Kings 21:29
See you how Ahab humbles himself before me? because he humbles himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil on his house.
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(29) How Ahab humbleth himself.—As there is something entirely characteristic of Ahab’s impressible nature in this burst of penitence; so in the acceptance of it there is a remarkable illustration of the Divine mercy. The repentance might seem not only to come too late, but to be the mere offspring of fear—more sensible of the shame of discovery than of the shamefulness of sin. Man’s judgment would despise it; God sees in its imperfection some germs of promise, and His partial remission of penalty shows it to be not disregarded in His sight. Ahab himself is still to suffer the predicted doom; but he is to die in honour, and the utter destruction waits, till Jehoram shall fill up the measure of iniquity.

1 Kings 21:29. Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? — His humiliation was real, though not lasting, and accordingly pleasing to God. This discovers the great goodness of God, and his readiness to show mercy: it teaches us to take notice of that which is good, even in the worst of men: it gives a reason why wicked persons often prosper; God rewards the little good which is in them: and it encourages true penitents. If even Ahab goes to his house reprieved, doubtless they shall go to their houses justified. 21:17-29 Blessed Paul complains that he was sold under sin, Ro 7:14, as a poor captive against his will; but Ahab was willing, he sold himself to sin; of choice, and as his own act and deed, he loved the dominion of sin. Jezebel his wife stirred him up to do wickedly. Ahab is reproved, and his sin set before his eyes, by Elijah. That man's condition is very miserable, who has made the word of God his enemy; and very desperate, who reckons the ministers of that word his enemies, because they tell him the truth. Ahab put on the garb and guise of a penitent, yet his heart was unhumbled and unchanged. Ahab's repentance was only what might be seen of men; it was outward only. Let this encourage all that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe the holy gospel, that if a pretending partial penitent shall go to his house reprieved, doubtless, a sincere believing penitent shall go to his house justified.The evil - i. e., the main evil. See 1 Kings 21:19 note; and compare 1 Kings 22:38 with marginal reference. 27-29. Ahab … rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly—He was not obdurate, like Jezebel. This terrible announcement made a deep impression on the king's heart, and led, for a while, to sincere repentance. Going softly, that is, barefoot, and with a pensive manner, within doors. He manifested all the external signs, conventional and natural, of the deepest sorrow. He was wretched, and so great is the mercy of God, that, in consequence of his humiliation, the threatened punishment was deferred. Before me, i.e. in my presence, and upon my threatening. But this humiliation or repentance of Ahab’s was only external and superficial, arising from the terror of God’s judgments; and not sincere and serious, proceeding from the love of God, or a true sense of his sin, or a solemn purpose of amendment of his life, as appears, because all the particulars of his repentance here, 1 Kings 21:27, are external and ritual only; nor is there the least intimation of any one sign or fruit of his true repentance, as that he restored Naboth’s land, or reproved his infamous wife; but in the very next chapter you find him returning to his former vomit, hating and threatening the Lord’s prophets, &c.

The evil, i.e. the judgment threatened, both that 1 Kings 21:19, which was not inflicted upon Ahab with so much ignominy, and with that particular signature of God’s vengeance, that it was to be done in the same place, as it was upon his son Joram; and especially that 1 Kings 21:21,22, which was wholly suspended until his son’s days. Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me?.... Which yet was but an external humiliation, to be seen only with bodily eyes, as were all his actions and postures, before observed. Some Jewish writers (i) think his repentance was true and perfect, and his conversion thorough and real: they tell us (k), that he was in fasting and prayer morning and evening before the Lord, and was studying in the law all his days, and returned not to his evil works any more, and his repentance was accepted: but the contrary appears manifest; we never read that he reproved Jezebel for the murder of Naboth, nor restored the vineyard to his family, which he would have done had he been a true penitent; nor did he leave his idols; we quickly hear of his consulting with the four hundred prophets of the groves, and expressing his hatred of a true prophet of the Lord, 1 Kings 22:6, his humiliation arose from dread of punishment, and not from the true fear of God; however, it was such as was never seen in any of his wicked predecessors, and is taken notice of by the Lord. Luther (l) from these words concluded, and was persuaded, that he was saved:

because he humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house; this was not a pardon, only a reprieve; the sentence pronounced on him and his family was not taken off, nor countermanded, only the execution of it prolonged; it is promised that the destruction of his family should not be in his lifetime, but after his death, in his son's days, otherwise he himself died a violent death, and the dogs licked his blood, as were foretold; however, this may be an encouragement to those who are truly humbled for their sins, and really repent of them, that they shall receive forgiveness at the hand of God, since he showed so much regard to an outward humiliation and repentance.

(i) Bereshit Rabba in Abarbinel in loc. (k) Pirke Eliezer, c. 43. (l) Mensal. Colloqu. c. 32. p. 360.

Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his {l} son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.

(l) Meaning, in Joram's time, 2Ki 9:26.

29. because he humbleth himself before me] These words are left out by the LXX., as are also ‘upon his house’ at the close of the verse.

I will not bring the evil in his days] That is, the whole penalty shall not be inflicted on him. A portion of it was, as we are told in 1 Kings 22:37-38. The Jews explain the word נשׂא which is rendered ‘forgiving’ iniquity (Exodus 34:7; Numbers 14:18; &c.) by reference to its original meaning which is ‘to lift up’. God, say they, raises the load, so that it does not press all at once, or men would perish under it, but the lifted burden is divided into parts, and men feel it in consequence for a long time to come. In every punishment of Israel, there is mixed up an ounce of the golden calf.

but in his son’s days] Fulfilled in the death of Jehoram, Ahab’s son. 2 Kings 9:25.Verse 29. - Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? [The repentance, if it was not profound, or enduring, was nevertheless, while it lasted, sincere. The Searcher of hearts saw in it a genuine self-abasement. And "He will not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax;" Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20.] Because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil [There is a manifest reference to ver. 21, where the same words are used] in his days; but in his son's days [There is no injustice here - no threat of punishment against the innocent instead of the guilty - as might at first sight appear. For in the first place, God knew well what the son would be, and in the second place, if the son had departed from his father's sins he would have been spared (Ezekiel 18:14 sqq.); the sentence would have been revoked. Judgment was deferred to give the house of Ahab another chance. When Ahab lapsed into sin, he suffered in his own person: when his sons persisted in sin, excision befell the family] will I bring the evil [ver. 19] upon his house [ver. 22],

Ahab answered, "Hast thou found me (met with me), O mine enemy?" (not, hast thou ever found me thine enemy? - Vulg., Luth.) i.e., dost thou come to meet me again, mine enemy? He calls Elijah his enemy, to take the sting from the prophet's threat as an utterance caused by personal enmity. But Elijah fearlessly replied, "I have found (thee), because thou sellest thyself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord." He then announced to him, in 1 Kings 21:21, 1 Kings 21:22, the extermination of his house, and to Jezebel, as the principal sinner, the most ignominious end (1 Kings 21:23). הרע לעשׂות חתמכּר to sell one's self to do evil, i.e., to give one's self to evil so as to have no will of one's own, to make one's self the slave of evil (cf. 1 Kings 21:25, 2 Kings 17:17). The consequence of this is πεπρᾶσθαι ὑπὸ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν (Romans 7:14), sin exercising unlimited power over the man who gives himself up to it as a slave. For 1 Kings 21:21, 1 Kings 21:22, see 1 Kings 14:10-11; 1 Kings 15:29-30; 1 Kings 16:3, 1 Kings 16:12-13. The threat concerning Jezebel (1 Kings 21:23) was literally fulfilled, according to 2 Kings 9:30. חל, written defectively for חיל, as in 2 Samuel 20:15, is properly the open space by the town-wall, pomoerium. Instead of בּחל we have בּחלק in the repetition of this threat in 2 Kings 9:10, 2 Kings 9:36-37, and consequently Thenius and others propose to alter the חל here. But there is no necessity for this, as בּחלק, on the portion, i.e., the town-land, of Jezreel (not, in the field at Jezreel), is only a more general epithet denoting the locality, and חל is proved to be the original word by the lxx.
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