If you know the story of King Solomon, there’s something foreboding as you read the 1Kings account of his early days of success on the throne. The throne promised to David. The throne reserved for the heirs of the man after God’s own heart. The throne forever available for those who, like their father David, would walk faithfully with God with all their heart. Solomon knew this well.
When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the LORD your God, . . . that the LORD may establish His word that He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.'”
(1Kings 2:1-4 ESV)
Wholeheartedness would be the X-factor. It was the identified secret sauce to spiritual success, longevity, and finishing the race. Solomon was taught it from the beginning. That’s why, if you know the story of Solomon, you dread coming to the part later in his story where it says, “When Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God” (1Ki. 11:4). Heavy sigh!
But, this morning, I’m reading in 1Kings 8 and Solomon’s dedication of the temple. The magnificent structure he had built. The place where the ark would settle. The place where the glory would reside. The place, Solomon prayed, where heaven’s portal would be open so that God might hear the prayers of His people. And as Solomon cries out to God for Him to hear from heaven, prophetically almost, he acknowledges the battle for the heart.
“The LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Him, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His rules, which He commanded our fathers.”
(1Kings 8:57-58 ESV)
Rather than resolve in his own strength to be wholehearted, Solomon knows the battle for the heart is only won when we ask God to incline the heart.
Put on my radar this morning in 1Kings 8. Reinforced by the Spirit when I moved on to my reading in Psalm 119.
Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes;
and I will keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep Your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of Your commandments,
for I delight in it.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
(Psalm 119:33-36 ESV)
Incline my heart. Stretch it out. Work it like dough that it might be malleable and receptive. Bend it as it needs to be bent. Turn it towards where it needs to be turned. Extend it. Influence it. Incline my heart, O LORD!
Solomon, whose heart would eventually be compromised as he played loose with the world’s pleasures, acknowledged the need for God’s gracious heart work. So does the psalmist as he asks the LORD to teach him, to give him understanding, to lead him in divine paths. Pleading, as did Solomon, that God would incline his heart.
I’m taken this morning with the absolute necessity for a whole heart toward God and yet the absolute dependency on God’s gracious provision to keep the heart whole.
And I’m thankful this morning that, in keeping His promise to never to leave us nor forsake us, God has given us the seal of that promise in the indwelling Holy Spirit (Col. 1:22). The resident Warrior ready to battle daily and engage the flesh (Gal. 5:16-17). The ever-present Power allowing us to partake in the divine nature (2Pet. 1:3-4). The always shining Beacon leading us through divine illumination into all truth (Jn. 16:13).
The One who, if I will ask Him and submit to Him, will be the Incliner of my heart.
Oh, praise God for His wondrous provision through His blessed Spirit.
Incline my heart, O LORD!
By Your grace. For Your glory.