1 Kings 8:22-9:9
Solomon stood before the altar of the new temple, in front of the whole assembly of Israel and prayed.
There is no God like ours. He keeps a covenant of love ‘with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way’ (1 Kings 8:23).
Solomon prayed for his descendants that they would continue on the throne if they would faithfully walk before God as King David had done.
Solomon asked: ‘But will God really dwell on earth?’ (1 Kings 8:27). Jesus came to dwell among us after his incarnation. God came to earth to serve and to save us. The temple would meanwhile serve as a place where God would ‘hear the prayer that your servant prays towards this place (1 Kings 8:29). Solomon prayed for God to both hear and forgive.
Solomon asked God to dispense justice, forgive the sin of Israel, teach them the right way to live and send rain on the land.
Solomon also asked God to hear the prayers of foreigners (Gentiles) so that ‘all the peoples of the earth may know your (God’s) name and fear you’ (1 Kings 8:43). He prophesied that because of Israel’s sins, ‘for there is no-one who does not sin’ (1 Kings 8:46), the Israelites would be defeated and exiled. Solomon prayed that in the future, the exiled Jews would be heard and forgiven when they turned back to God with their heart and soul in the land of their enemies.
God had singled out Israel from all the peoples of the world to be His inheritance. Solomon prayed that God’s eyes would also be open to the Israelites when they were in distress and that He would listen when they cried out to Him.
Solomon then blessed the whole assembly of Israel reminding them that not one word of God’s promises had failed. He prayed that God would never leave or forsake them and that He would help by turning their hearts towards him in order to keep his commands, decrees and regulations (1 Kings 8:57-58). Solomon told the Israelites that their hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God. Is our own heart fully committed to God? We should ask this question of ourselves everyday and if the answer is ‘no’ , repent and renounce our failings and pray for more faith and commitment.
The temple was then dedicated with the sacrifice of a massive number of cattle, sheep and goats (1 Kings 8:63). There was a festival that lasted 14 days before the king sent the vast assembly of people home. The people blessed King Solomon and went away joyful and glad in heart (1 Kings 8:66).
The Lord again appeared to Solomon. This must have been Jesus as no-one can see God the Father and live. Jesus said that his eyes and heart would always be at the temple. Jesus again gave a blessing and a curse. If Solomon obeyed all the decrees and laws, his kingdom would be established for ever. But if he, or his sons, turned away from God then disaster would strike. God would cut them off and reject the temple if they embraced ‘other gods, worshipping and serving them’ (1 Kings 9:9).
Israel’s future was entirely down to the behaviour and actions of its king and people. They could choose a wonderful everlasting relationship with God or disaster, if they sinned and turned from God. We know which option they chose. People are so sinful they cannot stick to the path of faith and obedience, which is why Jesus would have to return to earth, become sin and take our punishment so that eternal life became a gift rather than something we could fail to earn.
Paul healed a crippled man in a very similar way to both Peter (Acts 3:6) and Jesus (Mark 2:11). Paul looked directly at the man, saw that he had faith to be healed and ordered him to stand up. Even though the man had been lame from birth and had never walked, the man jumped up and began to walk (Acts 14:9-10). My wife offered to pray for a lady in the street the other day who had confessed to having a medical worry. The lady, after a little thought, asked her not to pray because she had no belief. At least a seed was sown in this lady’s mind about our God being a healing God. We should move on and find people who have the faith to be healed – whilst praying that non-believers find faith, which would enable them to be healed.
When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they wanted to offer sacrifices to the two apostles as gods. Paul and Barnabas were horrified and insisted they were human. They were bringing the crowd the Good News telling them to turn to the living God, who had created everything. They had great difficulty in stopping the crowds from worshipping them.
Jews had followed them from the cities where they had previously preached. They won the fickle crowd over, stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city ‘thinking he was dead’ (Acts 14:19). The disciples gathered around him and he got up and went back into the city. Paul had amazing stamina and the healing power of the Holy Spirit to help him.
The next day, Paul and Barnabas left for Derbe and then returned to the other cities they had already preached in, despite having faced antagonism. They were fearless and prepared to lose their lives for the gospel. They had put their trust in God but expected to face hardships along the way (Acts 14:22).
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in every church and committed them to the Lord ‘with prayer and fasting‘ (Acts 14:23). They travelled back to Antioch to explain how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. They stayed a long time back with their home church. It is wonderful to have a specific congregation to go back to, to give them our testimony and share how their prayers for our missionary work have borne fruit.
The cheerful heart has a continued feast and a happy heart makes the face cheerful.
A patient man calms a quarrel. Upright people live their lives on a highway, whereas lazy people find their paths blocked (Prov.15:19).
We don’t want to be hot-headed as this will stir up dissension. If we resent being corrected and don’t like to ask wise people for advice, we may be proud and mocking. Discerning people seek knowledge (Prov.15:14).
I love sharing a fellowship meal with Christians because you can feel the love in the room. The food does not have to fancy (Prov.15:17).
If we show wisdom, we will bring our parent’s joy. A foolish man despises his mother (Prov.15:20). Jesus cared for his mother so much that he arranged a permanent place for her in John’s house while he was on the cross (John 19:26-27).
Image: National Gallery of Art, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons