Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 1 2019 - 1 Kings 8:22-53 – Solomon's prayer of dedication

Solomon knows that God does not actually live in the temple for he says, "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!" (1 Kings 8:27). The temple is a symbol of God's presence among his people; a powerful and necessary symbol until the one arrives in whom God really does dwell on earth.

In his prayer, Solomon begins with praise to God declaring that there is no other god like him (8:22). God has proved faithful to his word, "You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it – as it is today" (8:24). Solomon knows that the welfare of the people is dependent upon the faithfulness of God.

But God's people are often unfaithful. The temple with its sacrifices offers hope for people who frequently fail to live up to all that they should be. This is the theme of the refrain that runs through Solomon's prayer, "When your people Israel ... have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication to you in/toward this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel." He concludes his prayer with the words, "May your eyes be open to your servant’s plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you. For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, Sovereign LORD, brought our ancestors out of Egypt" (8:52-53).

Solomon's prayer focusses on God's promises. He pleads that despite the failings of God's people and their undoubted future failings, God would be gracious to them and use them to fulfil his purpose of working through this people for the blessing of the entire world. His prayers are therefore not for the Israelites alone but also for people of other nations who will hear of God's "great name and … outstretched arm" (8:42) and come in prayer to the God of Israel. Indeed, Solomon prays that, "all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name" (8:43).

We also are a redeemed people; we have been rescued out of slavery to sin and have been brought into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a faithful God who has promised good to us and who will not fail to do as he has promised. But we continually fall short of all that God has called us to be and do not love and serve him with all our heart and mind and strength.

The sacrifice of Christ is our only hope and continual resource. The sacrifice of the Saviour on the cross is to be the constant focus of our repentance and prayer. We do not depend on any sacred places or any other sacred person to whom we can look for cleansing; we look to Christ alone:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 2:1-2; 1:8-9)

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we have sinned in thought and word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ who died for us, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may serve you in newness of life to the glory of your name. May we, for all our faults and failings, be a people through whom the whole world comes to know that you are the living God and that Christ is the atoning sacrifice for their sin.

Peter Misselbrook