Today’s reading: 1 Kings 8-9.
As Solomon dedicates the temple he prays a prophetic prayer that looks down through the years at all the trials the Israelites will face. The common thread in his requests is the need for forgiveness and God’s faithfulness to provide it if the people repent. Solomon assumes that the calamities to come are due to sin, whether sickness, or drought, or defeat in battle. Our society mocks those who link disasters with our spiritual state; because of Israel’s covenant relationship with God, Solomon accepts it as a foundational fact.
1. A prayer for justice. Disputes required the disagreeing parties to take an oath before God declaring their innocence. Solomon calls on God to protect the innocent and condemn the quilty. (See Numbers 5)
2. For restoration after military defeat. When sin causes defeat that leads to exile, if the people repent, God is asked to restore them.
3. For provision. If God withholds rain in order to discipline the people because of sin, then use it to teach them and draw them back to himself.
4. For rescue. Disasters will come, whether sickness, or famine, or strife, but Solomon asks God to forgive each person, rescue them and use these events to teach them the fear of the LORD.
5. For evangelism. Solomon prays that the foreigners who hear about the mighty acts of Jehovah, and witness the glory of his temple, may call on his name and believe in him.
6. For victory. In times of conflict, give the people victory over their enemies.
7. For mercy. When the people’s sins cause God to abandon them to the enemy, and if they repent, God is called on to forgive them, uphold them, and cause their enemies to have mercy on them.
Solomon claims in his prayer that “there is no one who does not sin” (verse 46). It’s a very New Testament kind of claim. He also sums up his prayer by asking God to bless Israel “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other” (verse 60). Again, it’s a chord that could have come right out of the missionary writings of the New Testament. These are prayers that you and I can still pray with meaning today. We need justice in the courts, and provision of our basic needs, and rescue in times of disaster. We need prayers for our men and women in military conflicts. We need victory over our personal enemies and our national enemies. We need mercy because we are often overwhelmed. The lost people who more and more surround us need to see God in action in our lives so that they will call on his name.
“O God, thank you for answering Solomon’s prayers. Thank you for remaining faithful to your people though they were unfaithful to you. Thank you that by your mercy you restored them so that your Son could live among them and provide for my salvation by his sacrifice. Now, LORD, as one who lives under your covenant of grace, forgive my sins, restore me from my defeats, rescue me when I suffer disaster, provide for my daily needs, give me victory in my striving but have mercy on me when I face defeat, and help others to find Jesus through my actions and words. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”
Image by Maria Kruger on Wikimedia Commons, CC by-sa 2.5