2 Chronicles 6:28-31

2 Chronicles 6:28-31

28 “When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when enemies besiege them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 29 and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among Your people Israel being aware of their afflictions and pains, and spreading out their —hands toward this temple— 30 then hear from heaven, Your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with everyone according to all they do, since You know their hearts (for You alone know the human heart), 31 so that they will fear You and walk in obedience to You all the time they live in the land You gave our ancestors.
2 Chronicles 6:28-31

The verses above are from Solomon’s prayer of dedication before the assembly of Israel to the Lord God of Israel beginning in verse fourteen and ending in verse forty-two. Throughout prayer of twenty-nine verses, Solomon continually asks God to hear the prayers of His people, that His people would always pray towards His temple no matter where they were because that is where His presence, His dwelling place on earth would be. If His people would do that, then Solomon is asking the Lord God of Israel to answer their prayers of repentance no matter the circumstances.

Even though Solomon is praying to God, he is making sure the assembly of Israel in the hearing range of his voice would know God knows their hearts when he said for You alone know the human heart. This was clearly a message for all of Israel as he followed it with so that they will fear You and walk in obedience to You. In other words, knowing God knows your heart – no matter how much you try to hide the truth of your real motivations and thoughts from others or even yourself – God knows and that alone should cause them to fear You and walk in obedience to You. Oddly he adds the qualifier all the time they live in the land You gave our ancestors as if it no longer applies if they are living outside the land. That is clearly not the message though. Instead, this is simply to make the point Israel – their country – was and remains a gift from the Lord their God. This is made clear when near the end of his prayer Solomon speaks of their exile from Israel.

36 “When they sin against You—for there is no one who does not sin—and You become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; 37 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with You in the land of their captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; 38 and if they turn back to You with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken and pray toward the land You gave their ancestors, toward the city You have chosen and toward the temple I have built for Your Name; 39 then from heaven, Your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive Your people, who have sinned against You.
2 Chronicles 6:36-39

Solomon knew the people of Israel would sin against God individually and as a group, so he pointed out the solution was always for them to turn from their sins.

26 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because Your people have sinned against You, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to Your Name and turn from their sin because You have afflicted them, 27 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land You gave your people for an inheritance.
2 Chronicles 6:26-27

Jesus provided some very different instructions or directives to be forgiven of our sins.

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Mark 11:25-26

Anything against anyone! “The forgiven heart will forgive others. If we have hard, unforgiving hearts, it calls into question if we have ever received or appreciated the forgiveness God offers us” (Guzik).