3 June 20161 Kings 8:22-30
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this temple that I have built!” (v. 27)
Psalm: Psalm 95
Having completed the temple and addressed the gathered people (1 Kings 8:5-21) Solomon now turns towards the altar and raises his arms towards heaven in order to speak to God (verse 22). His prayer follows a similar pattern to other times he has spoken with God. He begins by speaking of the covenant and promises God has kept with his people and with David connected to the temple (verses 23-24, cf 1 King 3:6). He then asks God to remember the promise that he made to David connected to who would sit on the throne (verses 25-26).
It may be that in asking God to fulfil the promise given to David, Solomon was already aware that some of his choices were not in line with God's way. The temple had been built as requested but the methods used brought back memories of the slavery the Israelites suffered in Egypt (1 Kings 5:14). We also know Solomon began to worship other gods during his life (1 Kings 11:5-6) and this was not the way of his Father David.
Solomon's prayer is also a prayer of penitence for himself and the people, he asks for God to show mercy (verse 28) and to forgive (verse 30) those who pray towards the temple. It is a prayer for a nation and a king who will wander from the way of the Lord and in time will find themselves in exile. It is a prayer that is also honoured by God in later times as the likes of Nehemiah turn to God again and seek to restore Israel (Nehemiah 1:4-10).
In verse 27 Solomon asks a much bigger question: will God really dwell on earth? The question here may be rhetorical. Although Solomon answers it in his next breath, in the grander scheme the answer may be different. Will God really dwell on earth? - as Christians our answer is yes, because this is what the incarnation declares (John 1:14) and our future hope offers (Revelation 21:3).
- Does God really dwell on earth? How would you answer the question Solomon asks?
- People sometimes talk about the church building as the 'house of God'. What image does this bring to mind for you?