Let your eyes be open to the plea of your servant and to the plea of your people Israel, giving ear to them whenever they call to you. For you separated them from among all the peoples of the earth to be your heritage, as you declared through Moses your servant, when you brought our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord God. – 1 Kings 8:52-53 ESV
1 Kings 8:22-53
As Solomon wraps up his prayer or dedication for the temple, he reverently reminds God that it was He who set the people of Israel apart as His chosen possession. God was the one who determined to make out of them a great nation. He is the one who had chosen Abraham and had promised to bless the nations through him. “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3 ESV). God had kept His promise to Abraham, giving him a son in his old age, even though Sarah, his wife, was barren. And while Abraham’s descendants lived in slavery in Egypt, God had blessed them, multiplying them greatly. Then when the time was right, God had delivered them from captivity through the leadership of Moses and brought them to the land of Canaan – the very land He had promised to Abraham years earlier. God had been faithful. He had kept His promises. At the time of Solomon’s prayer, the people of Israel were enjoying the tremendous blessings of God. They were powerful. Their land was peaceful. Their king was wise and merciful. And the newly completed temple would provide them with a place in which to worship their God and receive forgiveness for their sins.
Solomon pleaded with God to continue His track record of mercy, grace and forgiveness. He knew that, as a people, they were completely dependent upon God to provide for and protect them. He was faithful, but they would eventually prove to be unfaithful. And when that time came, Solomon wanted to know that they could cry out to their God and not only be heard, but have their requests for forgiveness and restoration answered. Solomon would have been very familiar with the writings of Moses. He was counting on the fact that God was the one who had established the unique relationship between Himself and the people of Israel. “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8 ESV). In other words, their relationship with God was not based on their merit. It was not because they somehow deserved to be His people. It was because of God’s faithfulness and His willingness to keep the promise He had made to Abraham all those years ago.
Solomon was depending on the consistency of God’s love and faithfulness. He was banking on the fact that God does not change or go back on His word. Moses had written, “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” (Numbers 23:19 NLT). So Solomon’s entire prayer of dedication was based on his understanding of God’s consistent, unchanging, unwavering character. While man will always prove to be unfaithful and unreliable in his relationship with God, our heavenly Father remains the same, now and always. Years later, long after Solomon would prove to be unfaithful and the nation of Israel would be exposed for its ongoing unfaithfulness, the prophet Malachi would write, “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6 ESV). In spite of Israel’s eventual and repeated failure to remain true to God, He would still be keeping His word and maintaining His covenant promises.
God had set Israel apart for Himself. It was He who established their unique status. They had not deserved their position as His possession. They had not sought Him, but He had chosen them from among all the nations of the world. What set them apart from the rest of the world was their one-of-a-kind position as the heritage of God. He had chosen them, multiplied them, blessed them, and given them His name. Now Solomon was asking God to remember them faithfully, no matter what happened in the days ahead. He knew that, as a people, they would prove to be unfaithful. But he also knew that he could count on God – to never leave them or forsake them, to never turn His back on them, to always hear them, and to consistently answer them when they called. For His own name’s sake. “The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease” (Lamentations 3:22 NLT).