Guests: Beverly Beem and Zdravko Stefanovic
Relevant Passages: 1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 6
When the first Temple in Jerusalem was built a service of consecration was held at which King Solomon contributed a major prayer. In the ancient Middle East the king was seen as the highest religious figure of the nation. Solomon had served as the patron of the construction of the project, using his authority to collect the resources needed for the project. Actually his father had started the project. But God did not allow him to oversee the building of the Temple.
Now at the service of dedication Solomon speaks first to the crowd relating the history of the project starting with the desire of his father David to build a house for the Lord. Then he prays to God on behalf of his people. Solomon acknowledges to God that he cannot be contained in the Temple, but asks that God will hear the requests of his people that are made at the Temple. He speaks for the individual Jewish worshiper seeking forgiveness, for the non-Jew who worships at the Temple, and for the nation seeking restoration after receiving one of God’s judgments for committing apostasy. The longest part of the prayer deals with Solomon’s hope for restoration after his people are taken into captivity in a foreign country..
For Reflection and Discussion:
- Did God need Solomon’s intercession for the nation’s sins in advance?
- What good did Solomon’s prayer accomplish?
- Why did Solomon offer this prayer instead of a member of the priesthood?
- Are droughts, plagues and famines the result of human sin? Sometimes? Always? Never?
- Solomon acknowledges that everyone sins and that God will then send the nation into captivity. Does this mean that the captivity was inevitable?
- Solomon points out that all of heaven and earth cannot contain God, much less a building made by human hands. If God is not restricted to temples and churches, then what is the purpose of sacred places
- If God can be reached anywhere in the universe, why did he command his people to go to a temple to meet him there?