1 Kings 8:31-53: Praying about sin
Ps. 103:8-14, ‘The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.’ This is the nature of God’s covenant love towards us. There is hardly a more tender and encouraging portion of scripture in the bible as we think about our sinfulness. On the other hand God is also holy, He judges sin with Hell, and the only payment that will satisfy His violated law is the death of the God-man Christ in our place as both priest and sacrifice. It can be hard to hold these two truths in tension. Some people err on the side of holiness and as a result think of God and present a God to others who is harsh and judgemental and who will punish at the drop of a hat. Some err on the side of grace making sin a smaller thing than it is painting a picture of God who is not just or holy. Both are errors. When we approach God in prayer we need to remember both of these truths His grace and His holiness. As we continue looking at the prayer of Solomon we will see that Solomon has a clear sight of both.
We are entering into the main body of Solomon’s prayer v31-53. It is made up of seven requests for future grace from God. 7 requests for God to be a prayer answering God whenever anyone turns to God by praying at/towards the temple. Solomon prays with reality recognising the many potential sins in Israel’s future, but with hope because he is expectant that God will forgive those many sins. He prays honouring the holiness of God recognising the seriousness of sin and God’s judgement against them. But He also prays remembering the grace of God asking that whenever there is repentance that there would be a reconciliation and restoration of blessing. We will look at each of the seven petitions in turn.