Did you know Adam and Eve weren't the first ones to ask forgiveness from God?

Say what?

I’m so conditioned to the story of Adam and Eve from my Sunday school days that I might have missed this little nugget if it weren’t for my husband, Marc. We were in our weekly small group Bible Study when he humbly pointed out this fact found in Genesis 3 about Adam and Eve.

I was floored.

Yes, Adam and Eve were the first ones to eat the apple, sin, and forced out of the garden for good--yet instead of telling God they had sinned and/or asking for His forgiveness, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:12-13). The Bible does not record them repenting of their sin.

I couldn’t believe all my thirty years of learning about sin, forgiveness, and the story of Adam and Eve that I had missed a significant biblical truth. At the time, my pastor was going through the book of Genesis. So I emailed him, asking, who, then, was the first person to ask God for His forgiveness? Before I hit “Send” I guessed if it was King David.

I.
Was.
Wrong.

The first person recorded in the Bible who admitted his sin and asked for forgiveness was Pharaoh.

Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he said to them. “The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to the Lord, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t have to stay any longer” (Exodus 9:27-28, NIV).

I had assumed it was David because the story of he and Bathsheba is so well known (see 2 Samuel 11) . He not only received God’s forgiveness after his affair with her and the murder of her husband, Uriah, but he also didn’t die because of his sin. He was the first person to show the fruit of repentance, not simply giving lip service to God.

So, what significance is there in Pharaoh’s story? God had hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that He could show His glory through each plague. God sent the plague of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and the plague on the firstborn. Though Pharaoh asked for forgiveness, he was not truly repentant and therefore God punished him and the rest of the Egyptians.

There were actually a few others ahead of David who also asked God for His forgiveness, but, like Pharaoh, their repentance was not true. The first was Balaam (Numbers 22:34), then Achan (Joshua 7:20), and finally Saul (1 Samuel 15:24-26). My pastor pointed out that Balaam later went back on his word, Achan and his family were stoned to death, and God rejected Saul as king over Israel.

Yikes! What about David?

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die” (2 Samuel 12:13-14, NIV).

Maybe the reason why I jumped from Adam and Eve right to David is because David didn’t try to deny or blame others.

God forgave David.

Not only did God pardon David’s sin--and boy was it a dozy--he didn’t not go back on his word like Pharaoh, Balaam, Achan, and Saul. My pastor said in his email it was David who demonstrated the fruit of repentance, and therefore is called a man after God’s own heart.