Hi, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me.”
Today we look at Israel’s third king, Solomon, who built a temple for God. The temple was about the size of a basketball court, and about 4 or 5 stories high. It was not large by modern standards, but it was very ornate with lots of gold and silver and brass. It had impressive cedar paneling and detailed sculptures of angels and palm trees and flowers and pomegranates. It took seven years to build.
When it was complete, Solomon held a big ceremony to commission the temple. He sacrificed thousands of sheep and goats and cattle. God showed up at the ceremony – his special glory came like a cloud and filled the temple. Then Solomon prayed one of the Bible’s longest prayers, a prayer suitable to the importance of the occasion. Let’s look at his prayer.
First, he gave God credit for being big and powerful, for keeping his promises and making good things happen. Solomon said, “There is no God like you in heaven above or earth below” (v. 23). “You have kept your promise to your servant David, my father” (v. 24).
Second, with a nice touch of irony, Solomon points out that the temple is too small for God. He says, “Will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (v. 27).
The prayer’s longest section catalogs the sins Israel will commit and the punishments God will send. Solomon asks God to forgive the people every time after they forget God, get into trouble and then change their mind and decide it was a bad idea to sin. It seems odd that on this triumphant day of temple dedication, Solomon prays through a catalog of defeats. He says:
- People will do wrong to their neighbours. When they do, God, punish the guilty and vindicate the innocent.
- Israel will experience devastating climate change — rains will stop and crops will fail and famines will come. But when the people turn away from their sin and pray to you, send the rain and save them.
- Israel’s enemies will defeat them and take them captive because of their sin. But when they have a change of heart, hear and forgive, make their captors merciful and bring the people home.
Solomon ends the prayer with a reminder to God: “You brought us out of Egypt and made us your people. Whenever we sin our way into disaster and start praying again, forgive us and keep bringing us out of captivity.”
Here are some observations:
1. In the most wonderful moments of our spiritual life, when the glory of God descends on the temple and all seems right with the world, we are probably not as spiritual as we feel. Sin is always lurking at the door.
2. Second, how ironic it is that Solomon reminded God of the great deliverance from Egypt, but he married the daughter of an Egyptian Pharaoh. Somehow he missed the connection between God’s past deliverance, and Israel’s current political situation. What was he thinking? That Egypt had changed? Learn from Solomon: it’s not a good idea to make alliances with things that have tempted or enslaved us.
3. Third, Solomon sees that Israel’s relationship with God does not move the people steadily toward goodness and life. Instead, he sees a merry-go-round where Israel serves God, then they turn from him and suffer consequences, then they repent and go back to God. Each time round the circuit, the people need new forgiveness and a new saving relationship with God.
Our father, Paul taught that we are the temples of God. Fill us with your glory. Help us journey faithfully round the circle of sin and consequences and forgiveness. May each circuit erode our love of sin and deepen our love for you.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.