These are the concluding words of Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the Temple:
“If Your people go out where You send them to fight their enemies, and if they pray to the Lord by turning toward this city You have chosen and toward this Temple I have built to honor Your Name, then hear their prayers from heaven and uphold their cause.
If they sin against You – and who has never sinned? – You might become angry with them and let their enemies conquer them and take them captive to their land far away or near. But in that land of exile, they might turn to You in repentance and pray, ‘We have sinned, done evil, and acted wickedly.’ If they turn to You with their whole heart and soul in the land of their enemies and pray toward the land You gave to their ancestors – toward this city You have chosen, and toward this Temple I have built to honor Your Name – then hear their prayers and their petition from heaven where You live, and uphold their cause. Forgive Your people who have sinned against You. Forgive all the offenses they have committed against You. Make their captors merciful to them, for they are Your people – Your special possession – whom You brought out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt.
May Your eyes be open to my requests and to the requests of Your people Israel. May You hear and answer them whenever they cry out to You. For when You brought our ancestors out of Egypt, O Sovereign Lord, You told Your servant Moses that You had set Israel apart from all the nations of the earth to be Your own special possession” (I Kings 8:44-53, NLT).
There are four “ifs” in this final portion of Solomon’s prayer: (1) “If your people go out where You send them to fight…” (2) “If they pray to the Lord…” (3) “If they sin against You…” And (4) “If they turn to You with their whole heart and soul…”
What do we see in these four “ifs?” Choices. Look at the first “if.” It concerned God’s people going out to battle. Where? “Where You send them.” Not wherever they chose to go, but where God sent them. Likewise with us. Ephesians 6:11 wouldn’t warn us to “Put on all of God’s armor” unless we needed it. God Himself as our Commander-in-Chief sends us out to battle the enemy. It’s up to each of us whether or not we’re obedient to that call.
Secondly, Solomon said, “If they pray to the Lord…, then hear their prayers and uphold their cause.” IF God’s people are going where He sends them doing what He sent them to do, then He will indeed “uphold their cause.” Or, as the ISV words it, He will “fight for their cause.” When we’re focused on God, we’re seeking His will and doing battle to expand His Kingdom.
Thirdly, Solomon says, “If they sin against You – and who has never sinned?” He knew that man’s nature was and is sinful. We’re going to mess up. We’re going to do wrong. But a born-again believer is miserable whenever he does. Thankfully, we New Testament believers “have an Advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (I John 2:1b, NIV), who indwells us in the form of His Holy Spirit. He convicts us of our sin and intercedes on our behalves whenever we ask for forgiveness.
And Solomon’s fourth “if” in this section is: “If they turn to You with their whole heart and soul… and pray… then hear their prayers and their petition from heaven where You live, and uphold their cause. Forgive Your people who have sinned against You. Forgive all the offenses they have committed against You.”
“With their whole heart and soul…” As we looked at a couple of days ago, there is no such thing as halfway repenting. If we want God’s best, we must give our best; and that means living each day ‘fessed up and in complete obedience to God’s leading.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates