Solomon has just dedicated the newly built House for the Name of the Lord (the temple) in 1 Kings 8. And then he prays for the people.
I was struck by the fact that so many of Solomon’s prayers anticipated the people’s need to be forgiven! He even concludes the opening prayer with, “And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.” (1 Kings 8: 30b)
And in verse 46, Solomon says, “If they sin against you – for there is no one who does not sin…” Yep, Solomon expects the people of Israel to sin, so he pretty much runs through a litany of ways that Israel will suffer for her sins – and then asks God to forgive:
- “…forgive the sin of your people and bring them again to the land that you gave to their fathers.” (vs. 24)
- “…forgive the sin of your servants… and grant rain upon your land.” (vs. 36)
- “…hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea [if they repent, vs. 48], and maintain their cause, and forgive your people who have sinned against you…and grant them compassion in the sight of those who carried them captive…” (vs. 59-50)
But my favorite plea is this one:
“…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), that they may fear you all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our fathers.” 1 Kings 8: 39-40
In this part of the prayer, Solomon doesn’t ask God to restore Israel from enemies or drought – to remove her punishment when He forgives. No.
Instead, Solomon asks God to forgive and then to change hearts, to help each individual learn to fear the Lord, to be in awe of Him!
That’s the kind of internal change that the people of Israel received only when the promised Holy Spirit arrived – after the Cross and the resurrection – giving believers hearts of flesh that fear God, want to please Him, and desire to repent, always moving away from sin.
One more thing stood out at me in this passage. Solomon continues to ask God to grant forgiveness in the future when Israel sins.
But he does NOT ask that God forgive the foreigner. For the foreigner, the non-Israelite, Solomon prays:
“Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel,… comes and prays toward this house, 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…” 1 Kings 8: 41-43
Solomon doesn’t mention the foreigner’s sin at all (unlike the prayers for Israel). Maybe foreigners weren’t held accountable to their sins because they weren’t recipients of the law, like Israel was.
But Solomon does want God to answer the foreigners’ prayers so that they, too, will know and fear God.
This is an evangelistic prayer!
So, Solomon knew that God’s people would sin over and over and need forgiveness. And eventually need a new heart. And he didn’t pray about the foreigner’s sin because first they needed to know and fear God.
This is a great passage foreshadowing the New Testament.
Dear Lord: Thanks for showing me this stuff in 1 Kings. That’s one of the things I like about blogging – discovering new things in your Word. Amen.