Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.


I Kings 21:20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord.

21a Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity,

22b For the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.

27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.

28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

29 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 son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.


II Chronicles 33:9 So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.

10 And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.

11 Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.

12 And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,

13 And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.

14 Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah.

15 And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city.

16 And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.

17 Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the LORD their God only.

18 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel.

19 His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sins, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers.


MEMORY VERSE: If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; …. if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember. —Leviticus 26:40-42


CENTRAL THOUGHT: The Bible records the repentance of kings David, Ahab, and Manasseh, with the resulting forgiveness and mercy shown to them by God according to His promise and covenant.




Psalm 51:1 “My transgressions”: David’s adultery, treachery, and murder.

Psalm 51:2 “Iniquity”: perversity; depravity, guilt. “Sin”: an offence and its penalty.

I Kings 21:20 “Thou hast sold thyself to do iniquity”: surrendered thyself wholly.

I Kings 21:27 “Went softly”: gently, in penitence.

II Chronicles 33:11 “Thorns”: hooks, which the Assyrians often put through a prisoner’s lips and nostrils.




David’s transgression of adultery with Bathsheba, his deceptive plan to cover up the deed, and the premeditated murder of her husband, Uriah, is sadly recorded in II Samuel 11. Chapter 12 gives the account of the prophet Nathan visiting David after the son conceived with Bathsheba was born—so about a year after David’s sin. Psalm 32 could possibly describe the spiritual condition of David’s soul during this period of silence—physically, he felt old and heard a roaring in his head; he felt a spiritual drought and God’s hand heavy upon him. Yet, when he confessed and acknowledged his sin; when he quit running and hiding; he found forgiveness and blessing.

David’s age at the time of this sin probably would have been between forty and fifty years of age; this takes into consideration his age at death (seventy), and Solomon, his fourth son by Bathsheba (I Chronicles 3:5), being made king at his death. Solomon’s age at coronation is not recorded, but the circumstances add up to a probable age of twenty.

It is noteworthy that although David repented and obtained God’s pardon and forgiveness for his sins, his life afterward was very hard and sorrowful because of the consequences of his deed (II Samuel 12:10). The first son Bathsheba bore soon died; his sons committed grievous moral sins publicly; his sons Absalom and Adonijah both tried to usurp his throne; and Absalom died a horrible death. Repentance isn’t always a ticket to a trouble-free life, although it puts a person into right standing with God again.

The story of Ahab’s encounter with Elijah happened after he had desired and plotted to obtain a piece of ground—another man’s legal inheritance—resulting in a rigged trial, false witnesses, and the execution of an innocent man. He was gloating over his newly-acquired property when the prophet, summoned by God, suddenly appeared and pronounced God’s condemnation and judgment upon him and his evil wife, Jezebel. When Ahab humbled himself before God, God delayed the judgment and instead brought it to pass in his son’s lifetime.

Manasseh’s sins were worse than those of the heathen nations whom God had destroyed out of the land of Canaan. He was the young son of godly King Hezekiah, born during the period of extended life God gave to his father. Manasseh worshipped the host of heaven, built idolatrous altars in the house of the Lord, burnt his own son as a fiery sacrifice, and used enchantments, wizards and familiar spirits. He “shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another” (II Kings 21:16).

God gave Manasseh a chance first to reform, by sending warning messages to him and the people, which they ignored. Finally, God sent judgment by the hand of the Assyrians, who took Manasseh prisoner and brought him to Babylon. In his affliction he sought the Lord. Not only did he humble himself, pray, and make supplications to God, the scripture says that he “knew that the LORD he was God” (II Chronicles 33:10-13). This is much like the prodigal son, whom Jesus said “came to himself,” or came to wisdom.

Proving that he had truly come to wisdom, Manasseh removed idol worship from the Lord’s holy house, removing all the altars he had built and throwing them outside the city. He repaired the altar of the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings and thanksgiving offerings upon it.

Although the King James Version does not include Manasseh’s prayer of repentance (it is included in the Apocrypha), we can be sure God heard the earnest pleadings of this man’s heart. He reigned fifty-five years; how much of his reign was during the years of his reformation, we do not know. When his grandson, Josiah, became king, he walked in the ways of the Lord and carried on his grandfather’s reformation, continuing to cleanse Judah from idols.

—Angela Gellenbeck




  1. Share the requests David made before God when he repented.
  2. Which prophet was sent to David? To Ahab?
  3. What actions did Ahab take in his repentance?
  1. What treatment did Manasseh receive at the hands of the Assyrians, and what was his response?
  2. How did Manasseh bring forth the “fruits meet for repentance”?




God’s everlasting mercies are so clearly illustrated in the three stories in our lesson. The three kings each showed typical human behavior: David covered up his sin and kept silent for months; Ahab tried to portray the man of God as the “enemy,” and Manasseh had fair warning about his sins but tried to ignore them. God pursued them with His love. He didn’t have to; He would have been justified in cutting them off.

God has surely demonstrated His mercy to each of us. We can learn a lesson from the examples of these three kings; the wages of sin is death and the way of a transgressor is hard. But repentance brings pardon and mercy, as well as grace to endure the reaping of what we have sown.

An important lesson from these examples is the importance of not just praying prayers or saying humble words, but cleaning house. Clear out the idols—the things that have stolen your heart from God. Quit watching, visiting, chatting, listening to, reading, drinking, playing the things that enslave your fleshly desires, take all your time, and rob you of your communion with God. Fill the vacancy with prayer, praise, worship, wholesome family time, and pure, beneficial enjoyments. Has the altar of worship been broken down in your life? Take a lesson from Manasseh and build it again.

—Angela Gellenbeck




“Give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach. Help me chastely to flee it, and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be thine alone.” – A quote from “Valley of Vision.”

The above words aptly describe the attitude of a truly repentant heart. The prophet said, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).

The soul that does not perceive a horror and dread of sin, that has not a willingness to forsake it and flee it, is not truly repentant. Preachers who proclaim that Christians sin more or less every day do not perceive the gospel of repentance.

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of … For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter” (II Corinthians 7:10a, 11).

True repentance motivates restitution: “And Zachaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house …” (Luke 19:8, 9a).

—Harlan Sorrell