Two kings who repented
Judah had many kings, some good and some evil. The worst of them was Manasseh.
Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.
2 Chronicles 33:9
As a result of his sins God allowed the Assyrians to capture him and take him to Babylon. While he was imprisoned there he repented and was restored to his kingdom.
When he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.
2 Chronicles 33:12-13
He was the worst king of Judah and he was also the only one who repented of his sins.
Because Solomon turned to other gods when he was old God allowed 10 of the tribes to rebel against him and form the nation of Israel. All of its kings did what was evil in God’s sight but Ahab was the worst.
There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD cast out before the people of Israel.
1 Kings 21:25-26
Like Manasseh he was a worse king than any of his predecessors, but like Manasseh he repented of his sins.
And when Ahab heard those 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
Because he repented, the disaster God had foretold would not come in his lifetime but in that of his sons.
Each of these kings was the worst his nation had ever had and each repented, but the resemblance ends there.
After Manasseh was restored to his kingdom he turned from his worship of idols and attempted to bring his people back to worshiping the true God.
He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built on the mountain of the house of the LORD and in Jerusalem, and he threw them outside of the city. He also restored the altar of the LORD and offered on it sacrifices of peace offerings and of thanksgiving, and he commanded Judah to serve the LORD, the God of Israel.
2 Chronicles 33:15-16
The Bible only records one event in the life of Ahab after his repentance, his final battle against Syria that resulted in his death. He invited Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, to go with him. At first it appeared that Ahab’s life had changed.
And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the LORD.” Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?”
And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.”
1 Kings 22:5-6
But for some reason Jehoshaphat wasn’t satisfied with this prophecy.
But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire?”
And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.”
And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.”
Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah.”
1 Kings 22:7-9
Ahab’s dislike of Micaiah wasn’t based on a belief that he wasn’t a true prophet but on the fact that he prophesied evil. Micaiah was called and told Ahab he would die in battle against the Syrians and his prophesy was fulfilled. You can read the complete account in 1 Kings 22:1-40.
Was Ahab’s repentance genuine? It must have been because God postponed judgment on his house because of it. He completely forsook the worship of Baal and was now serving God. The problem was that he chose to listen to prophets whose messages made him feel good rather than to those who faithfully proclaimed the truth of God. He resembled those spoken of by Paul.
The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
He was like someone who is genuinely converted but then begins listening to preachers like Joel Osteen rather than to preachers who are faithful to the Bible. Jehoshaphat realized there was something wrong with the message of the first prophets. Perhaps his lifelong service to God had made him sensitive to false teaching.