God the Promise Keeper
1 Kings 8:41-51
41 “Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake
42 (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house,
43 hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.
44 “If your people go out to battle against their enemy, by whatever way you shall send them, and they pray to the Lord toward the city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name,
45 then hear in heaven their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause.
46 “If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near,
47 yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors, saying, ‘We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,’
48 if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart in the land of their enemies, who carried them captive, and pray to you toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen, and the house that I have built for your name,
49 then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause
50 and forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions that they have committed against you, and grant them compassion in the sight of those who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them
51 (for they are your people, and your heritage, which you brought out of Egypt, from the midst of the iron furnace).
In 1 Kings 8:31-53, Solomon makes 7 very specific requests of God as he utters the first prayer in the new Temple. I’ve included an overview of this passage from The Expositor’s Bible Commentary.
The background to most of the various calamities described in the following verses is found in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28–30. Both passages begin with the description of the blessing that will be Israel’s portion if she walks in God’s ways. The bulk of the material describes the curses in the form of various calamities that will befall the people if they do not obey God. Leviticus 26 particularly describes an escalating intensity or seriousness of difficulties, an ever-worsening series of events that will come on a disobedient people. Each calamity is designed to bring them to repentance; but if they still will not repent, then worse will come. In both passages the final blow is exile from the Land of Promise. God promises that when they are cast out of the land, if they will then take to heart what has befallen them and repent, that God will listen to their prayer and restore them to the land. In asking that God should hear the prayers of a repentant people, whatever may have befallen them, Solomon was once again basing his request on the word of God himself. Thus Solomon was once again basing his request on the word of God himself. Thus Solomon could pray with assurance and expectancy.*
Solomon continues to flesh out the consequences of disobedience for God’s people. And in the moment, I am certain that they believed they would never fall prey to the ravages of their sinfulness. I’ll bet the intention of their heart was to remain faithful to the God who had given them so much. But we know how that story turns out. They fail, miserably, over and over. The temptation to worship other gods is more than they can stand up against and their hearts turn cold toward the God who loves them. Finally, God fulfills his promise for punishment and they are exiled all over the region, sold into slavery because of their idolatry. God always keeps His promises.
Every day, we get up in the morning with the intention in our hearts to have a good day with God. A part of us wants to live as He calls. But inevitably, we fail miserably, just like our very early forefather. But God also promised to send a Savior, and He keeps that promise as well. Jesus was punished for our idolatry and because of that, we are restored! Every day is a new do-over. Every day is a fresh start in God’s kingdom. In fact, it is more detailed that just daily. We can have a fresh start every moment! In repentance is instant acceptance and restoration! That’s because our God is a promise keeper!
* Patterson, R. D., & Austel, H. J. (1988). 1, 2 Kings. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 4: 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (87). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.