Tuesday 09 February 2010

Bible Book:
1 Kings

"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built! Have regard to your servant's prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today." (v.27-28)

1 Kings 8:22-30 Tuesday 9 February 2010

Background

King Solomon's prayer of dedication is literally andthematically at the centre of the Temple dedication narrative.Today's passage is the first half of the prayer and is followed bya lengthy and detailed list of situations in which Solomon wishesto seek God's help. The prayer makes many statements about thenature of God, which were particularly pertinent in the setting ofancient Near Eastern culture, but it has much to teach us todaytoo.

Solomon is at pains to state that whilst he and his people havebuilt a house for God, he recognises that God cannot be containedor enthroned locally like the gods of the other tribes. Phraseslike "that your eyes may be open toward this house" are central toSolomon's praise of God as being all powerful andever-present.

What is perhaps most striking however is Solomon's understanding ofhis place before God. He is not only full of praise for God's powerover heaven and earth, but he also demonstrates a thoroughunderstanding of the covenant God has entered into with him. Hepraises God for the care of Israel, he restates the promises Godhas made to God's own people and he asks repeatedly that hisprayers be heard. But this faith and hope is tempered with anunderstanding that Solomon and his people will inevitably sin, andthe second half of the prayer lists comprehensively the sins thatwill be committed and the need for God's forgiveness and love(verses 31-53).

One of the greatest challenges facing the 21st-century Christian isthe need to balance the theology of God as loving parent with theneed to recognise our failings in the light of God's righteousness.Striking this balance in a culture of increasing freedom andinformality will never be easy, but persistently wrestling with itwill enable us to stay close to the essence of the god of grace weseek to serve.

To Ponder

How important is confession in your private andpublic worship?

How comfortable are you with being "careful inall you do" (verse 25)?

Does regular confession of our failings deepenour relationship with God or make God seem more distant andunattainable?

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