As for you, if you will walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and uprightness . . . then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever . . . (1 Kings 9:4-5).
Sometimes God confuses me. Like in this text, for example. As I read it, my memory took me back to the 11th chapter of 2 Samuel which records David’s adultery with Bathsheba, and his murder of her husband Uriah.
That’s why God’s message to Solomon here in First Kings is confusing. And – now that I think about it more carefully – maybe also comforting.
It’s confusing because although God gave David great wealth, power, and authority – and David repaid God by choosing to follow his own lusts instead of obeying God – the Lord nonetheless called David a man of integrity and uprightness.
God’s comment can also be comforting because it reveals the incomprehensible willingness of God to forgive everyone who confesses and repents of his or her sins. Regardless of the enormity of those sins.
Here is part of David’s confession after the Bathsheba and Uriah incident:
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge . . . Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me (Psalm 51:1-11).
It is true that David suffered temporal punishment for his sins. You can read about it in the next several chapters of 2 Samuel. But because of his repentance, God removed from David the eternal consequences of his sin -- which would have been unimaginably worse.
What better comfort could there be for those of us who want to do right but so often do wrong, who think we’re beyond hope for forgiveness from a holy God? Temporal discipline in this life? Yes. Forgiveness, reconciliation and eternal life with our holy God? Of course.
The good news in this text is God doesn’t define “integrity of heart and uprightness” as sinless perfection, but rather as a willingness to repent, turn from sin and throw ourselves on God’s mercy.
And so, God says to us through the length and breadth of Scripture, Come now, and let us reason together. . . Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow . . . (Isaiah 1:18); and, If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).