1 Kings 8 has one of my favorite verses in all of the Bible. It’s in the middle of Solomon’s dedication of the temple, and the whole passage is full of grand and lofty language praising Israel’s covenant God.
Solomon first blesses the people of Israel, then turns to kneel and prays a magnificent prayer to God. After rising from his prayer, he turns back to the people and once again blesses them, using language that is woven throughout the Torah. In verse 56 of this chapter, Solomon echos Joshua’s parting words (cf. Joshua 21:45):
“Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.”
God promised them life if they followed him (Deuteronomy 30:19). He promised to be their God. He promised to give them this land – in spite of their unfaithfulness (Numbers 14:24, 20).
His glory was now descending on the temple, in the very land where, not a few generations before, everyone did what was right in his own eyes. I don’t know what happened on the temple mount, but if it were anything like the rest of the things that happened during the time of the judges, this wasn’t really built on sacred ground.
Yet here God was, being faithful to every single word of His promise to Moses. Not one word failed.
One of the most central theological truths to Christianity is that this personal, loving God described in the Bible does not change (Malachi 3:16; James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8). The God seen in the Old Testament is the same God who became flesh in the New. The God who promised to circumcise His people’s hearts in the desert (Deuteronomy 30:6) is the same God who allows Gentiles to be part of the promises to Israel through the circumcision of the Spirit (Romans 2:29).
God does not change. Yet I live like He does.
It is altogether too easy for me to look at the story of Israel in the Bible and declare God’s faithfulness. But because I default to brokenness and rebellion, I don’t believe it’s true for me.
After awhile, my unbelief kicks in.
‘God doesn’t withold good‘ I think, ‘except for this.’
‘He doesn’t care that I need this – so I should run after it.’
‘He has left me all alone in this. He is not present, He doesn’t hear.’
‘I’ve been waiting forever. I don’t think He can or will meet this need.’
‘He won’t be faithful to me now. He can’t be faithful to me now after this.’
‘I don’t have enough – God hasn’t given me enough – in order to give to others.’
“Yeah, God has defeated that sin in them, but this sin? This dark corner? He can’t bring life to this.’
‘God has had compassion on so many others, but what about me? What about this area? He is not like a father. He is not gracious. He is not compassionate. If He were, I wouldn’t be here.”
I do not deny that there are areas in your life and mine that are broken.
There are financial crises, and plans that fall through.
There are broken hearts for relationships that have failed and lonely hearts for relationships that have not happened.
There are friends who have wounded us, and families that have no peace.
There are uncertain days ahead and persistent sins that seem to knock us down.
Whatever your this is, it is difficult.
And yet in the midst of my unbelief and my doubt, in the middle of the nights where my heart is aching and tired of dreaming, in the moments when I just want to give up, truth comes in a sweet but overwhelming refrain.
Not one word.
Not one word.
Not one word.
I may not understand how, and I may not understand why, but His faithfulness does not change. And if not one word fails, that means it doesn’t fail even in this.
God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
If He says He is not witholding good, you can have confidence that working the mundane and unfulfilling job you have is good. If He says that He knows your needs, you don’t have to come undone by your lonely heart and singleness. If He says He can give life to your mortal body, you can trust that He has not abandoned you to that sin. If He says He will guide you continually, you don’t have to fear the future.
Oh friend, do not fall to unbelief.
(Dear heart, do not give up hope.)
Let us remember His good promises.
They are always and ever true – He is always and ever faithful. And as we trust, I believe that we will find we’re able to say with Solomon “Not one word of His promises has failed.”
Not one word.