Now the word of the Lord came to Solomon, “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel.”
1 Kings 6:11-13
This episode has always intrigued me as a unique opportunity in the life of Solomon. God was making a conditional covenant with the king. It is a covenant with bits of the Davidic covenant implied, but much like the Mosaic covenant, it is tied to an enormously difficult set of conditions. Solomon must obey the Law to its fullest. But if he was careful to seek God and do so with integrity according to the Law, God promised to abide with His people Israel in the new temple that king Solomon was building.
Of course, it did not take Solomon long to fail at the terms. By the time the temple was complete, he was already preoccupied with fame, wealth, sex, and idolatry. And so I have often wondered if God made this small covenant with Solomon as a way to warn the king. God was certainly within this covenantal frame when He so quickly judged the nation after Solomon's death. We have the clear understanding by reading the text... just so we could know that God was justified, even when His people were unfaithful.
Solomon (and the nation under him) failed at keeping this temple covenant. Yes, it was really a subset of the David and Mosaic covenants, but God was faithful the entire time, even as His people were not. By rights, He could have judged the nation with division during the latter part of Solomon's reign. Yet grace kept Him from doing so, even as Solomon and the nation became more tolerant and enamored with the worship of false gods. So this really is a lesson in the faithfulness and truthfulness of God to His Word and His grace.