1 Kings 8:54-61
SS Lesson for 01/26/2020
Devotional Scripture: Ps 136:1-16
The narrative of 1 Kings 8 is devoted to the greatest moment of Solomon's reign: the dedication of the temple (about 960 BC). By that time Solomon was about 10 years into his 40-year reign. His fame had spread far and wide during that time (1 Kings 4:29-34). But the focus of the 10-year period was the construction of the temple. The required materials and manpower stagger the imagination (see 1 Kings 5:13-18; 2 Chronicles 2:1, 2, 17, 18). The lesson text for this week comprises the final words of King Solomon's dedicatory address. A parallel account is found in 2 Chronicles 5-7. The dedication ceremony closed with a 14-day celebration, an expansion of the great annual harvest festival known as the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34; 1 Kings 8:2, 65). Solomon's opening and closing remarks demonstrate similarities that make them fitting bookends for his prayer. The narration of the transporting of the Ark of the Covenant to the temple (1 Kings 8:1-11) prefaced Solomon's first oration (8:12-21) as the narration of the offering of dedicatory sacrifices (8:62-64) followed his final words. Solomon's final blessing (8:55-61) focused broadly on Israel in a fashion similar to his opening blessing, which focused on David and Solomon himself (8:15-21, lesson 7).
57 May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us nor forsake us, 58 that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, which He commanded our fathers.
8:22-24. Solomon stood and then kneeled (v. 54) on a special bronze platform that had been built in the temple courtyard for the dedication service (2 Chron. 6:13). Solomon began his prayer with worship and praise to God for His uniqueness and His faithfulness in keeping His promises. Love translates ḥesed̠, meaning loyal love (cf. 1 Kings 10:9). The king then proceeded to petition God and to intercede for His people. Nine requests may be noted in this prayer:
8:25-30. Solomon called on God to continue to be faithful to His promises to David (vv. 25-26; cf. 2:4) and to continue to hear the prayers of His people (8:28-30; hear occurs five times in these three verses). Of course no temple or even the heavens could contain the omnipresent God (v. 27). Heaven itself is His dwelling place (cf. vv. 39, 49; Ps. 11:4; Hab. 2:20). Yet in His majesty He is interested in His people’s prayers.
8:31-32. Solomon asked God to judge righteously in interpersonal disputes among the Israelites.
8:33-34. The king asked the Lord to forgive His people when they confessed their sins that caused defeat in combat
8:37-40. Famine... plague... blight... mildew, locusts... grasshoppers, enemies, disaster, and disease were all instruments God used to chasten His sinning people. Again the king asked God to forgive those who repented of sin that led to these calamities. Solomon affirmed God’s knowledge of people’s motives (hearts).
8:41-43. Solomon interceded on behalf of non-Israelites who would trust Yahweh and pray to Him. By hearing them, God’s fame would spread worldwide.
8:44-45. Solomon asked God to uphold His people when they prayed to Him in times of physical distress in combat.
8:46-51. The king seemed to have prophetic insight into the fate of God’s people. They did indeed go into captivity because of their sins against God; they called on Him for forgiveness, and they experienced restoration to their land. Centuries later Daniel prayed toward the land when he was in Babylon (Dan. 6:10).
8:52-53. Solomon summarized his petitions by calling on God to hear His people whenever they cry out in prayer. These calamities were all listed in Deuteronomy as curses on Israel for her breaking the covenant (Deut. 28:22, 25, 38, 42, 59; 31:17, 29; 32:24).
In this whole prayer (1 Kings 8:23-53) Solomon called on God, who had been faithful to His promises in the past, to continue to be faithful and to show mercy to His people (His chosen inheritance, vv. 36, 51, 53) in the future. Confession and forsaking of sin would result in God’s hearing His people’s prayers (“hear” occurs 13 times in this prayer, and in the first eight of the nine petitions) and God’s forgiving them (“forgive” occurs 6 times).
8:54-55. Solomon... had been kneeling in prayer with his hands spread out toward heaven in a posture of supplication. Then he arose to pronounce a benediction on the people.
8:56-61. God had given rest (peace) to His people and had kept all the good promises He Had given through... Moses. Solomon reminded the people of this. Then he expressed his desire for three things: That the Lord would be with Solomon’s generation as He had been with his forefathers, that God would give His people the will to walk in all His ways, and that the requests Solomon had made in his prayer would remain close to the heart of God day by day. Solomon ultimately desired that all the peoples of the earth (cf. v. 43) might know that Yahweh is the only true God (cf. 18:39). In order for all this to take place Solomon reminded the people that they must be fully committed to the Lord and obedient to His Word. Solomon himself eventually failed to do this. As the king finished speaking, “fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple” (2 Chron. 7:1) as it had earlier filled the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34-35; Lev. 9:23-24).
8:62-63. The number of animals sacrificed (22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats) seems incredibly large. But records of other sacrifices that involved thousands of animals are extant. One must remember that thousands of priests sacrificed on many auxiliary altars, and the celebration lasted for two weeks.
8:64-66. The same day Solomon dedicated the temple he also consecrated... the courtyard in front of the temple with his offerings. This dedication took place at the beginning of the festival of Tabernacles which normally lasted one week, but was extended to two weeks on this special occasion. The Feast of Tabernacles commemorated Israel’s years of wandering in the wilderness (Lev. 23:33, 41-43). It was fitting that the temple should be dedicated at this feast since that permanent sanctuary now symbolized the end of Israel’s wanderings. People from as far away as Lebo Hamath in northern Israel toward the Euphrates River and the Wadi of Egypt (modern Wadi el-Arish) far to the south attended the festivities; all Israel participated. The people returned home at the end of the feast joyful and thankful to God for His goodness to them.
54 And so it was, when Solomon had finished praying all this prayer and supplication to the Lord, that he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.
55 Then he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying:
56 "Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.
23 "Tell Aaron and his sons, 'This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 24 "'"The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." '
18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty.
14 While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them. 15 Then he said: "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his own hand has fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth to my father David. For he said,
7 And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater.
44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord handed all their enemies over to them.
9 There remains, then, a Sabbath — rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
9 "This, then, is how you should pray: "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
18 Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds.
9 He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever — holy and awesome is his name.
3 And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."
11 "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
57 May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us nor forsake us,
58 that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, which He commanded our fathers.
59 And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near the Lord our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day may require,
60 that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.
61 Let your heart therefore be loyal to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day."
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
14 The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
15 Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.
11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues.
15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.
5 The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.
2 Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.
46 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
4 Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.
26 Help me, O Lord my God; save me in accordance with your love.
13 For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
19 Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you." 21 But the people said to Joshua, "No! We will serve the Lord." 22 Then Joshua said, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord." "Yes, we are witnesses," they replied.
31 The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes." 33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. 34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?" 36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;
9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars — I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
There is little doubt that the building of the temple is viewed as one of Solomon’s greatest contributions. More space is devoted to the building of the temple than any other aspect of his life. Solomon’s prayer of dedication is certainly one of the high points of his spiritual life. His prayer does demonstrate Solomon’s grasp of the law and of the role of the temple. Whether he received this primarily from his father, or came from his own meditation on the law, is debatable. I am inclined to think that Solomon learned most of his spiritual insights from his father. Allow me to make several observations concerning Solomon’s prayer of dedication.
First, this dedication of the temple is a predominantly Solomon’s prayer that is addressed to God, who has taken up residence in the temple (8:10-11, 23ff.). This is not a speech that Solomon makes to the crowd that is gathered, but a petition to the God whose temple it is.
Second, there is a very close link between this dedicatory prayer and the Mosaic Covenant. Solomon anticipates certain events in the future, which should prompt the people of God to turn toward the temple and pray. These include:
All of these things are anticipated in Deuteronomy. Solomon’s prayer is, therefore, shaped and guided by the Mosaic Covenant.
Third, this dedication is not only a prayer, it is about prayer. The word “pray” or “prayer” occurs 17 times in 1 Kings 8. The temple was intended to encourage and facilitate the prayers of God’s people. Those who could pray included both Jews and Gentiles:
41 “Foreigners, who do not belong to your people Israel, will come from a distant land because of your reputation. 42 When they hear about your great reputation and your ability to accomplish mighty deeds, they will come and direct their prayers toward this temple. 43 Then listen from your heavenly dwelling place and answer all the prayers of the foreigners. Then all the nations of the earth will acknowledge your reputation, obey you like your people Israel do, and recognize that this temple I built belongs to you” (1 Kings 8:41-43).
This certainly helps us to understand why our Lord was so upset when some of the Jews occupied the temple court and turned it into a business plaza, rather than a place of prayer:
Then he began to teach them and said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have turned it into a den of robbers!” (Mark 11:17)
Fourth, there is a strong emphasis on the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises in this prayer. Among other things, Solomon is praising God for this temple as the fulfillment of His promises. On the one hand there is thanksgiving and praise for the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abram and to Moses:
“The Lord is worthy of praise because he has made Israel his people secure just as he promised. Not one of all the faithful promises he made through his servant Moses is left unfulfilled” (1 Kings 8:56, emphasis mine).
20 The Lord has kept the promise he made. I have taken my father David’s place and have occupied the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised. I have built this temple for the honor of the Lord God of Israel 21 and set up in it a place for the ark containing the covenant the Lord made with our ancestors when he brought them out of the land of Egypt” (1 Kings 8:20-21, emphasis mine).
We see fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant in the number of Israelites, in Israel’s geographical boundaries under Solomon, and in the blessings that have come to the Gentiles:
1 Now the Lord said to Abram,
“Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household
to the land that I will show you.
2 Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you,
and I will make your name great,
in order that you might be a prime example of divine blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
but the one who treats you lightly I must curse,
and all the families of the earth will pronounce
blessings on one another using your name”
(Genesis 12:1-3, emphasis mine; compare 1 Kings 8:41-43, cited above).
18 That day the Lord made a covenant with Abram: “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates River— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites” (Genesis 15:18-21; see also Deuteronomy 11:24; Joshua 1:4).
Solomon ruled all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. These kingdoms paid tribute as Solomon’s subjects throughout his lifetime (1 Kings 4:21).
More than anything, Solomon views the completion of the temple in terms of the covenant God made with his father David:
15 He said, “The Lord God of Israel is worthy of praise because he has fulfilled what he promised my father David. 16 He told David, ‘Since the day I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city from all the tribes of Israel to build a temple in which to live. But I have chosen David to lead my people Israel.’ 17 Now my father David had a strong desire to build a temple to honor the Lord God of Israel. 18 The Lord told my father David, ‘It is right for you to have a strong desire to build a temple to honor me. 19 But you will not build the temple; your very own son will build the temple for my honor.’ 20 The Lord has kept the promise he made. I have taken my father David’s place and have occupied the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised. I have built this temple for the honor of the Lord God of Israel 21 and set up in it a place for the ark containing the covenant the Lord made with our ancestors when he brought them out of the land of Egypt” (1 Kings 8:15-21).
Fifth, there is a strong sense of expectation in this prayer of dedication that God will completely fulfill His covenant with David:
24 You have kept your word to your servant, my father David; this very day you have fulfilled what you promised. 25 Now, O Lord, God of Israel, keep the promise you made to your servant, my father David, when you said, ‘You will never fail to have a successor ruling before me on the throne of Israel, provided that your descendants watch their step and serve me as you have done.’ 26 Now, O God of Israel, may the promise you made to your servant, my father David, be realized” (1 Kings 8:24-26, emphasis mine).
When these words of Solomon are compared with Psalm 72, one gets the distinct feeling that Solomon hopes his reign might be the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant. When you stop to think about it, Solomon and others had some basis for thinking along these lines. After all, Solomon’s kingdom could appear to be the fulfillment of the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants. The descendants of Abraham are as numerous as the sand of the sea (1 Kings 4:20). Israel is living in the Promised Land, they dominate the surrounding nations, and they are living in great prosperity. If all these promises were fulfilled, then why not the promise God made to David, and why not through his son, Solomon?
Sixth, Solomon’s words reveal that he rightly understands God’s presence cannot, and will not, be limited to a temple:
12 Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he lives in thick darkness. 13 O Lord, truly I have built a lofty temple for you, a place where you can live permanently.” … 27 “God does not really live on the earth! Look, if the sky and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this temple I have built!” (1 Kings 8:12-13, 27).
This is a point Stephen will take up many years later when he is accused of speaking against the temple (Acts 7:45-50).
(Adapted from URL:https://bible.org/seriespage/20-reign-solomon-1-kings-1-11)
The dedication of the temple was a time to remember the past, to celebrate the present, and to anticipate the future work of God for and with His people. The Lord had done great things for Israel, and He could be trusted to bless the nation in the future. These blessings would turn out for good—not only for Israel but also for those who came to know the Lord as the only true God. Given God's past faithfulness and given the anticipation of His future faithfulness, Israel was reasonably called to have unswerving devotion to God. The words of Solomon during the dedication of the temple highlight the loyalty God had demonstrated to His covenant people. Prayerful consideration of what God has already done for us in Christ, is doing for us in the present, and will do for us in the future likewise is to motivate us to lead holy, godly lives.
When King Solomon delivered his historic speech at the temple in Jerusalem before the nation of Israel, he praised God for fulfilling His promises to them and admonished the people to faithfully obey all the statutes of the Lord. Such an extraordinary covenant between God and the Hebrews would show the world that there is no other God than their Lord God. And like the ancient Israelites, we, too, are entrusted with a great purpose, and that is, to draw others to our awesome God.
God Promised Rest - Solomon rose from his knees after his prayers and made a final plea to the Lord, a benediction, in a loud voice. Solomon prayed for his people to continue a total, heartfelt loyalty to the Lord, constantly drawing closer to Him. Solomon recalled Israel's history, all the way back to Egypt under the leadership of Moses, when God promised His people rest in the promised land. God had kept all His promises to that time. Solomon also realized God's blessing depended on their obedience. So, the king prayed for God to work in the hearts of the people. He asked that their hearts would be turned to the Lord so that they would always keep His ways, commandments, and statutes.
The People's Obedience - Solomon prayed for the people to continue to be serious and sincere, willing to obey. They were not to be divided between several gods. Then he once again reminded God of His promises to this nation. The Lord had committed Himself to the forefathers of Israel and pledged to take care of their future generations. This was not just about Israel, but God intended to bless the entire world through this nation.
Our Response - We too should pray to be close to the Lord at all times and obedient: "Lord, let us pray to be near to You always, 24/7. Step into our situations, and show us now to deal with others fairly and rightly. We thank You for Your faithfulness. May we remember that no one, no god, nothing compares to You. In Jesus' name we pray, amen."