6 Things to know about Ahab in the Bible
- Clarence L. Haynes Jr. Contributing Writer
- Published Feb 01, 2022
When you consider the kings of Israel and the evil they did in the eyes of the Lord, perhaps no one is more famous or infamous than King Ahab. Ahab was the son of Omri, and he ruled in Israel for twenty-two years. What was said of him in 1 Kings 16 is he did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of the kings who came before him. By the way, this was no easy task because the kings before him were pretty sinful in their own right. However wicked and evil a king he was there are things we know about Ahab in the Bible that let us know he was fully aware of the sinfulness of his ways.
1. Ahab had a very nonchalant attitude towards his sin and the sins of others.
“Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.” – 1 Kings 16:30-33
The dominant sin in Ahab’s life was idolatry. He continued in this sin, which is one of the things it means when the Bible mentions the sins of Jeroboam. He not only continued in idolatry, but he also didn’t care if others did as well which simply means he encouraged it. What made this worse is that he knew better yet he decided to continue in this sin anyway. Ahab did this to a degree greater than any king before him and his willfulness in committing idolatry is what angered God.
2. Ahab married a woman that was more wicked than he was.
“There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.” – 1 Kings 21:25-26
It is safe to say the greatest influence towards wickedness in Ahab’s life was his wife Jezebel. One of the things we know about Ahab is that while he was idolatrous, he didn’t appear to be ruthless. This however was not true of his wife Jezebel. When Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel eventually killing all of them and proving there was one true God, it was Jezebel that threatened Elijah and made him afraid. In another instance, Ahab requested that Naboth give him his vineyard that was close to the palace so he could use it for his vegetable garden. Naboth refused and Ahab went home angry until Jezebel got involved. Long story short she schemed to have Naboth killed just so Ahab could take his land. This was the type of evil influence that Ahab was married to, and she spurred him on to do more evil.
3. Ahab was at odds with Elijah the Prophet.
A good portion of Ahab’s life is connected to Elijah. One of the first things we know about Ahab in the Bible concerning his introduction to Elijah is it wasn’t on good terms. In the first recorded conversation between Elijah and Ahab, Elijah was delivering bad news to Ahab.
“Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.’” – 1 Kings 17:1
This conversation may seem out of the blue until you recognize that as we mentioned earlier, he was an evil king. Ahab despised Elijah so much that after Elijah declared the drought, Ahab scoured the surrounding nations looking for him. I believe the thing that Elijah represented in Ahab’s life was the reality that no matter what he did, God was watching, and Elijah reminded him of this.
4. Ahab was surrounded by godly influence but chose not to listen to them.
Of the things to know about Ahab perhaps this one is the most surprising. Ahab had people around him who served God but for some reason their influence in his life was not great enough to cause him to change his behavior. One of those men was Obadiah.
“…and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord.” – 1 Kings 18:3
Clearly, Obadiah had an important role in Ahab’s administration which means he had an opportunity to talk to and was a voice in the king’s ear. However, there appears to be no evidence that Ahab was truly swayed by Obadiah’s devotion to the Lord.
5. Ahab experienced God’s mercy but chose to reject it.
There were two incidents where Ahab experienced the power and mercy of God. On Mount Carmel when the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal occurred, it was demonstrated again for Ahab who was the true God. This was a moment for Ahab to repent, which did not happen. The other incident happened after Naboth was killed. God pronounced judgment on Ahab because he had taken an innocent man’s life just to get his garden. The judgment God pronounced was fierce.
“He says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin.’ And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’ 'Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country.'” – 1 Kings 21:21-24
When Ahab heard these words, this is how he responded.
“When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.” – 1 Kings 21:27
Judgment was coming to his house and upon his recognition of this, he humbled himself, for a moment. God even decided not to bring this judgment while Ahab was alive. This is further evidence that Ahab knew the right thing to do but simply chose not to do it. Ultimately even the reality of judgment did not change his heart and he never repented, nor did he turn fully to the Lord.
6. Ahab played the blame game.
“So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” – 1 Kings 18:16-17
Ahab did what so many people do. They blame their own misfortune on someone else. In Ahab’s eyes he was not the problem, Elijah was. Ahab failed to recognize it was his own sin, his own choices, and his own actions that created the problem in Israel. Perhaps this is why he never fully repented because to truly repent a person must come to the place of acknowledging they are wrong. Clearly this was not part of Ahab’s agenda.
Summing up the story of Ahab
When I look at the different things we know about Ahab, perhaps one of the greatest lessons is to be careful who you surround yourself with. This can be in leadership or especially in your home. We see that Ahab was greatly influenced by his wife Jezebel which lets us know that who you marry and who you keep close to you are extremely important. It is true that Ahab’s heart was not going after God, and it was his desire to do evil. However, he compounded that by surrounding himself with people who would encourage his evil behavior. He looked past people like Elijah and Obadiah because he would rather continue in his evil ways. This is the summary and tragedy of Ahab.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Tomertu
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.