David Guzik :: Study Guide for 1 Kings 8
Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O LORD my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, 'My name shall be there,' that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place.
And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive. We are glad that Solomon said this. From his statement in 1 Kings we might have thought that he drifted towards a superstitious idea that God actually lived in the temple to the exclusion of other places. It was important to recognize that though God had a special presence in the temple, He was far too great to be restricted to the temple. May You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place : Solomon asked God to incline His ear towards the king and the people when they prayed from the temple.
For this reason, many observant Jews still pray facing the direction of the site of the temple in Jerusalem. When You hear, forgive : Solomon knew that the most important thing Israel needed was forgiveness. This was the greatest answer to prayer Israel could expect from God.
And comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this temple : The temple grounds were used as a place to verify and authorize oaths. When a dispute came down to one word against another, Solomon asked that the temple would be a place to properly swear by. Hear in heaven, and act, and judge Your servants : Solomon asked the God who can see what man can't-who knows the hidden heart of man-and to enforce from heaven the oaths made at the temple.
When Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy : Many times in their history, Israel suffered defeat and could only cry out to God. When they turn back to You and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication to You in the temple, then hear in heaven : Solomon asked God to hear the prayers of a defeated, yet humble and penitent Israel.
Pray Like the King: Lessons from the Prayers of Israel's Kings - eBook
God answered this prayer of Solomon, and He forgives and restores His defeated people when they come in humble repentance. When there is famine in the land, pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers; when their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities; whatever plague or whatever sickness there is ; whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows the plague of his own heart, and spreads out his hands toward this temple: then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men , that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You gave to our fathers.
When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain : Drought was a constant threat for the agriculturally based economy of Israel. If there was no rain, there was no food. When they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, then hear in heaven : Solomon doesn't take it for granted that God would forgive and hear His repentant people.
God's good response to our repentance comes from His grace , not from justice. When each one knows the plague of his own heart : Solomon recognized that some plagues are easily seen, but other plagues come from our own heart. Many are cursed by a plague that no one else can see, but lives in their own heart. Solomon asks God to answer such a plague-stricken man when he humbly pleads at the temple.
A man did not have to be sinless or righteous to have his prayer answered at the temple. He could be a guilty man, stricken by the plague of his own heart -and still find a gracious God when He came in humble repentance. I pray you let the scandals of the hour alone, and think of your own evils. Moreover, concerning a foreigner : The temple was in Israel but it was always intended to be a house of prayer for all nations Isaiah God wanted the court of the Gentiles to be a place where the nations could come and pray.
The violation of this principle made Jesus angry. When He came to the temple and found the outer courts-the only place where the Gentile nations could come a pray-more like a swap meet than a house of prayer, He drove out the moneychangers and the merchants Matthew Hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You : Solomon asked God to hear the prayer of the foreigner out of a missionary impulse.
He knew that when God mercifully answered the prayers of foreigners, it drew those from other nations to the God of all nations. When Your people go out to battle against their enemy, wherever You send them : Solomon prayed with the idea that God should answer the prayers for victory made in foreign lands towards the temple, but only when they battle as God sent them. This was not a blanket request for blessing on every military adventure. When they sin against You for there is no one who does not sin : This is a succinct Old Testament statement of the principle most clearly stated in Romans : for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
When they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive : Solomon also asked God to hear Israel's prayer from captivity in a foreign land. This recognized that the God of the Temple could answer prayers made away from the temple. 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.
Enduring Word Bible Commentary 1 Kings Chapter 9
Then he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying: "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. May He not leave us nor forsake us, 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. He arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven : 1 Kings tells us that Solomon began this prayer standing, but some time before he finished, he fell to his knees in reverence to God.
Ezra prayed on his knees Ezra , the Psalmist called us to kneel Psalm , Daniel prayed on his knees Daniel , people came to Jesus kneeling Matthew , Matthew , Mark , Stephen prayed on his knees Acts , Peter prayed on his knees Acts , Paul prayed on his knees Acts , Ephesians , and other early Christians prayed on their knees Acts Most importantly, Jesus prayed on His knees Luke The Bible has enough prayer not on the knees to show us that it isn't required, but it also has enough prayer on the knees to show us that it is good. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses : Since Solomon prayed often appealing to God's promises, it makes sense that he praised God for the past fulfillment of His promises.
Knowing this gave Solomon confidence in prayer. He comes pleading the promises of God. Blessing to Israel wasn't meant to end with Israel; God wanted to bless the world through Israel. And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the LORD, twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep.
On the same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was in front of the house of the LORD; for there he offered burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar that was before the LORD was too small to receive the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.
At that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of Egypt, before the LORD our God, seven days and seven more days; fourteen days. On the eighth day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king, and went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the good that the LORD had done for His servant David, and for Israel His people.
He offered to the LORD, twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep : This is a staggering-almost grotesque-amount of sacrifice. Each animal was ritually sacrificed and a portion was dedicated to the LORD, and a portion given to the priests and the people.
It was enough to feed a vast multitude for two weeks. It was such a great amount of sacrifice that they specially consecrated the area in front of the temple to receive sacrifices, because the bronze altar that was before the LORD was too small to receive the burnt offerings. At that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him : From the time of year and the length of this feast , we understand that this was the Feast of Tabernacles, extended beyond its normal seven days on this special occasion.
The dedication of the temple made this occasion all the more joyful and memorable, and the time of the celebration was suitably extended. For all the good that the LORD had done for His servant David, and for Israel His people : This account of the dedication of the temple ends where the story of the temple began-with David, not Solomon. The writer remembers that it was David's heart and vision that started the work of the temple 2 Samuel and following. But alas! Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.
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Seven Habits of an Effective Prayer Life. But such reflection is never merely nostalgic. The lessons of experience must guide and exhort the present generation to remain faithful to the Lord through new challenges. The building of the temple in Jerusalem certainly qualifies 1 Kings 8 as a watershed moment in Israel's history.
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After the bloody expansionist wars of David, the borders stand secure. The nation is unified, and the Solomon rules as the second monarch of a historically astonishing four centuries of rule. Most significantly, the completion of the great temple provides a lasting place of prayer and sacrifice.
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After much planning and execution, the temple is completed, the ark enters the sanctuary and the glory of the Lord fills the house. The physical presence of this great new building, as well as the promise of peace motivates a heartfelt prayer of praise. Despite all of the success that Solomon has witnessed with his ascension to the throne and economic prosperity, Solomon does not draw the prayer to himself nor the temple.
The temple dedication prayer centers on God: his great actions, his character, and most importantly his commitment to the covenant of David. Perhaps this prayerful reminder of the covenant to David prompted Solomon to reflect on the limitations of the earthly temple, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less in this house that I have built! At first glance, this verse is puzzling for a temple dedication prayer. The construction of the temple came at the cost of much labor and the sacrifice of many resources over years.
Why not highlight this accomplishment? But as a chapter of reflection, the question about the overwhelming presence of God and the inadequacy of an earthly house is actually a much more appropriate reflection. Solomon is praying through the question of the divine transcendence and immanence. God is vast, majestic, and often beyond human cognition.