1 Kings 8:49–50 (ESV)

49 then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause

In 1 Kings 8:49, Solomon asks for the Lord to hear his people’s prayer of repentance, and that he might maintain their cause. There are several things that could be mentioned about this verse. First, it shows that repentance does not automatically bring forgiveness. The prayer of repentance asks the Lord for his favour but he is under no obligation to give that favour. This is an important point, because it reminds us that when we pray for the forgiveness of our sins, we ought to pray with great fervency. God owes us nothing, and our repentance does not place an obligation upon him.

This does not mean that we are not to pray in faith, for the word of God gives us great reason to suppose that if our prayer is from the heart, then God will indeed hear and answer us.

The entreaty to maintain Israel’s cause is also important. In terms of the vertical relationship involved in this situation of Israel’s sin, the causes are between God and sinful Israel. When the horizontal aspect of this situation is taken into consideration, then Israel’s cause is contrasted not with the Lord’s but with their enemies. The prophets make it clear that though God uses other nations to execute his judgment upon his wayward people, that doesn’t mean that they are free from moral guilt in the manner in which they executed the judgment. Therefore, God warns them through his prophets that he will bring judgment upon those violent nations, and here Solomon showed that he was aware of that fact.

Part of the plea to maintain Israel’s cause is a plea that they might find favour and compassion from those who have taken them captive. An example of such treatment in the book of Daniel is the case of him and his three colleagues. Though they were captives, they were elevated to places of authority within the Babylonian empire and later the Medo-Persian empire.