“Have you murdered and also taken possession?” This is the question Elijah asked King Ahab in I Kings 21:19, after Ahab had killed Naboth and stolen his vineyard. The prophet also foretold the disaster that was come upon Ahab because of his sin. It might occur to one that the sentence of Elijah could have applied, word for word, to King David. What was the difference?
King David did commit a similar sin to Ahab’s in his adultery with Bathsheba (except he took possession and THEN murdered!) What made the difference in their punishment from God? One might suggest that it was the attitude of repentance of repentance with which David responded when confronted with his sin: “I have sinned against YHWH.” There was no such response from Ahab, only derision for Elijah, God’s messenger.
It also appears that David — even with his sin — was still a man after God’s own heart. His immediate repentance when confronted seems to be a fruit of that. David still suffered much as a result — demonstrating to us that you do not sin and get away with it, even when you can count on God’s grace.
There seems to be a real heart difference between David and Ahab. David was a man after God’s heart, while verse 25 says of Ahab, “surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of YHWH …”.
There was a basic heart difference in these two men, even when the same (or similar) sins are committed. The most important question that can be asked of a person is: is the heart of that person basically inclined after God, or not?
That’s a good question for each of us to ask ourselves: Is MINE?