Read 1 Kings 8: 31-53
· Recall that Solomon is praying in front of the elders of the people, dedicating the newly built Temple after the Ark of the Covenant has been carried in.
· VV. 31ff - Solomon envisages various scenarios down the road, where in all but one things have gone wrong – a legal dispute (31), military defeat (33), drought (35), miscellaneous calamities (37), a foreigner (41), preparation for battle (44), exile (46). Solomon asks God to be merciful in each of these scenarios as Israel repents and prays and otherwise directs themselves to God in this Temple. In other words, their taking God seriously will be evidenced by taking the Temple seriously. From now on, their dealings with God will be mediated through this Temple. You can’t overestimate its importance.
· Of course, when we say “Temple” we don’t merely mean the building but the activity inside, the attached symbolism etc.
· A big point for us today is that God is a God for the one in trouble. Please, brothers and sisters, bring your cares to Him today.
Read 1 Kings 8: 54-66
· V. 54 – There are several different postures assumed in various prayers throughout Scripture. Here’s a good one: what do you think it represents?
Though God doesn’t listen or not based on our prayer postures, they can reflect the truth of our attitude toward Him. Reflect…or even regulate! Lesson: we should probably be more thoughtful about our bodily posture in prayer.
· V. 60 – As God is faithful to Israel, “maintaining their cause,” the surrounding peoples will look on and come to know the truth: that there is no one like Israel’s God. People understand God through His people. The ultimate intention was that “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11: 15-17).
· V. 62, 63 – Wow, that’s a lot of bloodshed. “Peace offerings.” Romans 5:1.
· V. 66 – The “goodness” of Jehovah was wrapped up with the Temple and all that it meant: God fulfills His promise to dwell with His people and bless them.
Can we honestly say that we’re now even more conscious of God’s goodness when the Temple is situated not in one place but in the bodies of local congregations and even individual Christians throughout the world?
Read 1 Kings 9: 1 - 9
· V.3 – These little details: Jehovah promises to “put His name in the Temple,” not because it was built for that reason, but because Solomon has prayed for that.
· V. 3 – Also note the three expressions of God’s commitment to the Temple: 1) He consecrated it; 2) He will put His name there forever; 3) His eyes and His heart will be there for all time. The Temple has become God’s space; God will uniquely reveal Himself to people through the Temple – the rites and the prayers toward it; His attention will never stray from it.
God works through agents and institutions – always. There’s so many implications of that great truth!
· VV. 4-9 – God’s commitment to and through the Temple, however, doesn’t nullify the need for an answering faithfulness of the King. The Davidic covenant was premised on the obedience of Israel’s kings.
· V. 8 – Truth can be such a kill-joy. No sooner is the Temple completed than God imagines it destroyed! Not only does God put forward the possibility of that beautiful, seven-year project becoming a pile of rubble, He even imagines some grim conversations of passersby. God is never taken in by the current mood, but “knows the end from the beginning.”
THE END OF A LONG-AWAITED ACHIEVEMENT (V.1) IS NO TIME TO BE CARELESS.
· V. 8 – So, yes, even though God has put His name at the Temple “forever” (v.3), this is actually a “forever assuming…”. Assuming that Israel’s kings keep their end of the bargain. But on the other hand, this is actually a “forever period,” because…. Well, because what?
Hey, It’s Easter morning. Take a break from the book of the Kings, and read 1 Corinthians 15. Our work for the Lord in this body is worth it, because the Lord has risen bodily.
Read 1 Kings 9: 10-23
· Read these verses and recall Israel’s condition just a couple of generations ago (the beginning of Samuel). As one commentator says, in this light “the work of Solomon must necessarily be received as exotic and astonishing.”
· V. 12 – we can’t say if Hiram is being too picky or if Solomon bears any blame here, but Hiram’s complaint does fall as a shadow onto the rather sunny account so far of Solomon’s reign.
· VV, 20, 21 – Remember the book of Joshua’s account of Israel not driving out all the inhabitants of the Promised Land? They’ve been around all this time, and now we hear they were conscripted to build the Temple. So the Temple was built with Gentile materials and with Gentile labor, though it was exclusively for Israel. What do you say about this?
· V. 24 – Twice now in the second half of this chapter – after the first half’s warning about the faithfulness of Israel’s kings – we read about Pharaoh’s daughter. The narrator doesn’t make any moral comments on this, but the lavishness + all the success + the influence of a spouse with her history of worshiping foreign gods…. it all strikes the reader as a little ominous.
· V. 25 – Same kind of observation: Yes, Solomon is assiduous in His worship, but the narrator couches that positive between a mention of Pharaoh’s daughter and building a fleet to carry gold. Again, no wrong necessarily being done, but we know how really hard it is to stay humble and focused. Read Proverbs 30: 7-9 and Proverbs 31: 3.
Are your relationships helping you toward God? No matter how much or little you have, can you honestly say that you’ve kept yourself from the love of money?
Read 1 Kings 10: 1-13
· Jesus mentions this visit from the Queen of Sheba – do you recall His point? See Matthew 12:42.
· Sheba is likely modern-day Yemen. Recalling the long tension between Arabs and Israel before and after this visit highlights how extraordinary it was. It’s perhaps the closest Israel came to fulfilling the intention of 1 Kings 8: 60.
· V. 4 – It is significant that the offerings to the LORD are the last in the list of Solomon’s splendors? Or am I being characteristically judgmental?
· V. 5 – No more breath in her – The continual aspiration held out by Scripture to the people of God is that the surrounding unbelievers will to some measure be fascinated…attracted by something they see in us. And then, as Sheba’s queen does in our passage, associate the good of our lives with the blessing of God.
Give us this, our God.
Read 1 Kings 10: 14-29
· Remember our King’s perspective on the splendor of Solomon: Matthew 6:29
· Again, an aspect of the wonder of Solomon’s wealth is recalling what a fragile position Israel was in just a few decades before.
· V. 20 – One guesses that the 12 lions represented the tribes of Israel. In one generation this symbolism would become obsolete. Things can change – go up and down – really fast!
· VV. 23-25 – Remember the vision of 8: 60!
· At the end of a passage like this, it’s helpful to mull over 1 Timothy 6:6-10 and 17-19. Wealth is a gift of God not to be sought but enjoyed. Be grateful for what you have. Be content. Never forget that wealth is a dangerous good. We can use it to lay hold of eternal life or it can plunge us into ruin and destruction. Set your hope on God and enjoy what you’re able to for as long as you can.