Kingly Faithfulness: 1 Kings 9:6-7
Faithfulness can be defined as loyalty to God, demonstrated through heartfelt trust and obedience. Faithfulness involves believing that God is who he says he is, loyally serving him and no other gods, and rendering him loving obedience.
As we did with justice and mercy, we’ll consider two ways the king was obligated to promote faithfulness, beginning with the international arena. The kings of Israel were to lead God’s people toward fidelity to God in such a way that the surrounding nations would repent of their idolatry and sin, and begin to serve God. Kings fulfilled this role especially by establishing faithful worship in the nation of Israel, as we see in Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple in 1 Kings 8:41-43. This global mandate to disciple and discipline the nations is also indicated in passages like Psalm 72:8-11, and Zechariah 8:20-23.
Besides promoting faithfulness to God internationally, the king was also to encourage faithfulness on a national level. The king was to promote faithfulness within the nation of Israel especially by ensuring and providing for purity in worship. Good kings provided resources and plans for worship, organized the personnel, dictated policies for the maintenance of the temple, and often played important roles in the public celebrations of worship. For example, David did these things in 1 Chronicles 15, 16, and 23–28.
The king’s commitment to promoting Israel’s faithfulness affected the nation in profound ways. Because he was the nation’s representative before God, the people often experienced heightened blessings under the leadership of faithful kings, and heightened judgments under faithless kings. God blessed faithful kings with prosperity in Israel and the physical expansion of Israel’s borders. Unfaithful kings would be punished as well. In fact, the book of Kings partially blames the exile of Judah on the disobedience of Israel’s kings.
Sadly, not every king of Israel and Judah was faithful to God, and the people often suffered as a result. But even when the temple had been neglected or the people had fallen into idolatry, faithful kings were often able to reform and restore the nation’s worship. We see this with Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:1-8, and with Josiah in 2 Kings 22:1–23:25. Their reform efforts encouraged and even produced faithfulness among God’s people, and thereby encouraged God to bless the nation during their reigns.