We’re Gonna Mess This Up, God

1 Kings 8:31-40
31 “If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath and comes and swears his oath before Your altar in this house,
32 then hear in heaven and act and judge Your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing his conduct on his own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding him according to his righteousness.
33 “When Your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against You and if they turn again to You and acknowledge Your name and pray and plead with You in this house,
34 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel and bring them again to the land that You gave to their fathers.
35 “When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, if they pray toward this place and acknowledge Your name and turn from their sin, when You afflict them,
36 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, when You teach them the good way in which they should walk, and grant rain upon Your land, which You have given to Your people as an inheritance.
37 “If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence or blight or mildew or locust or caterpillar, if their enemy besieges them in the land at their gates, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is,
38 whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all Your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart and stretching out his hands toward this house,
39 then hear in heaven Your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart You know, according to all his ways (for You, You only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind),
40 that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land that You gave to our fathers.

One of the toughest things we do is to stand before a holy God and realize honestly that we are sinners. Our pride, birthed and nurtured by the first humans, Adam and Eve, rails against such admissions. Satan would love nothing more than to see us deny our sin and thus ignore our need for salvation; his goal is accomplished in that moment. But Solomon is keenly aware of the holy God / sinful human relationship that exist between God and man. And during his first prayer in the new Temple, Solomon asks God to remember mercy when we come to Him in repentance. Not only does he ask God to remember mercy and forgive, he freely admits that we’re going to mess up – all the time.

It can be deeply frustrating to recognize that we are not just occasional sinners, but constant (and probably consistent) ones. If ever you set yourself the goal of living sinless for a just a day, you will fail. It might be a noble goal, but it is impossible. Your flesh, the world, and Satan himself will rise up against such an idea and there will be failure. Remember, God cannot tolerate even impure thoughts not to mention you actions and words. So Solomon rightfully recognizes we cannot succeed in that state of perfection and asks God to grant forgiveness to anyone who turns back to Him and repents. Solomon knows that he is asking God for something He has already done numerous times and will have to do thousands of times again. Any student of the Old Testament will tell you that God’s people turned their backs on Him almost too many times to count. And we cannot look down our noses at this group of people for we are no different. Daily, maybe even hourly, we sin and need to turn back to God, seeking forgiveness and restoration. And He grants it every time! The blood of Jesus, which the Children of Israel were counting on and we have the privilege of knowing about, covers those sins and grants restoration every single time we fail. Solomon was being realistic. We can rejoice.