1 Kings 11:4-13
For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon followed Astarte the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not completely follow the Lord, as his father David had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who offered incense and sacrificed to their gods.
Then the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this matter, that he should not follow other gods; but he did not observe what the Lord commanded. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of your father David I will not do it in your lifetime; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. I will not, however, tear away the entire kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”
Happy are those who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times.
Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people;
help me when you deliver them;
but they mingled with the nations
and learned to do as they did.
They served their idols,
which became a snare to them.
They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to the demons;
Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people,
and he abhorred his heritage;
From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
The Lord promised to King David that as long as he and his descendants remained faithful to God, his line would always rule over Israel. What we see in our first reading is that Solomon, David’s own son, has already broken faith with God. We did not have to wait several generations for ardor for the Lord to wane. Within one generation, David’s own son, who finished the great temple in Jerusalem, was building temples to honor false deities. However, what we also see, in the face of Solomon’s infidelity, is the greatness of God’s fidelity. While Solomon pretty immediately breaks faith with God, God does not immediately break faith with him. The Davidic rule will dissolve, and sovereignty over Israel will be given to foreign kings, but not in Solomon’s lifetime. God continues to honor his relationship to David by showing mercy to his son.
In our Gospel, we see a daughter from one of those provinces that had been taken from the original Davidic kingdom. She approaches Jesus, pleading for mercy on her child. She is not of the people Jesus came to proclaim the kingdom of God. Yet she comes before the Lord and adores him. She acknowledges him as Lord, showing the fidelity that Solomon owed. And she is shown mercy. When God enters into covenant with his people, he is faithful even when they are unfaithful. And when God does not enter into covenant with a people, he honors their fidelity with his own. God is always looking for any excuse to show mercy.
If God is so merciful to Solomon who broke faith, and so merciful to the Syrophoenician to whom he had never made any promise, then how merciful will he be to us when we call out to him? God has demonstrated time and again that he has a vested interest in showing mercy and bringing us to salvation. When we acknowledge him as Lord and acknowledge our need for his mercy, he is happy to reach out to us. He will provide for our needs because he knows them better than we understand them ourselves. Our first and greatest need is to be in communion with God. Before he addresses anything else, he gives us the gift of himself. With his presence, he will provide us the strength and inspiration to make it through even our darkest hours and most intense challenges. It is in God’s nature to respond in mercy to our need. Cry out to God today for his mercy, and trust in His nature to give it.