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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Prayers in the Bible: Solomon prays at the dedication of the Temple

1 Kings 8:22 Solomon stood before the altar of Yahweh in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven; 23 and he said, “Yahweh, the God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above, or on earth beneath; who keep covenant and loving kindness with your servants, who walk before you with all their heart; 24 who have kept with your servant David my father that which you promised him. Yes, you spoke with your mouth, and have fulfilled it with your hand, as it is this day. 25 Now therefore, may Yahweh, the God of Israel, keep with your servant David my father that which you have promised him, saying, ‘There shall not fail you a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children take heed to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’
26 “Now therefore, God of Israel, please let your word be verified, which you spoke to your servant David my father. 27 But will God in very deed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens can’t contain you; how much less this house that I have built! 28 Yet have respect for the prayer of your servant, and for his supplication, Yahweh my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which your servant prays before you this day; 29 that your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there;’ to listen to the prayer which your servant shall pray toward this place. 30 Listen to the supplication of your servant, and of your people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place. Yes, hear in heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive.
31 “If a man sins against his neighbor, and an oath is laid on him to cause him to swear, and he comes and swear before your altar in this house; 32 then hear in heaven, and do, and judge your servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way on his own head, and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.
33 “When your people Israel are struck down before the enemy, because they have sinned against you; if they turn again to you, and confess your name, and pray and make supplication to you in this house: 34 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them again to the land which you gave to their fathers.
35 “When the sky is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against you; if they pray toward this place, and confess your name, and turn from their sin, when you afflict them: 36 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of your servants, and of your people Israel, when you teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on your land, which you have given to your people for an inheritance.
37 “If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence, if there is blight, mildew, locust or caterpillar; if their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities; whatever plague, whatever sickness there is; 38 whatever prayer and supplication is made by any man, or by all your people Israel, who shall each know the plague of his own heart, and spread out his hands toward this house: 39 then hear in heaven, your dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and render to every man according to all his ways, whose heart you know; (for you, even you only, know the hearts of all the children of men;) 40 that they may fear you all the days that they live in the land which you gave to our fathers.
41 “Moreover concerning the foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, when he shall come out of a far country for your name’s sake 42 (for they shall hear of your great name, and of your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm); when he shall come and pray toward this house; 43 hear in heaven, your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you for; that all the peoples of the earth may know your name, to fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by your name.
44 “If your people go out to battle against their enemy, by whatever way you shall send them, and they pray to Yahweh toward the city which you have chosen, and toward the house which I have built for your name; 45 then hear in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause. 46 If they sin against you (for there is no man who doesn’t sin), and you are angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near; 47 yet if they shall repent in the land where they are carried captive, and turn again, and make supplication to you in the land of those who carried them captive, saying, ‘We have sinned, and have done perversely; we have dealt wickedly;’ 48 if they return to you with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies, who carried them captive, and pray to you toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city which you have chosen, and the house which I have built for your name: 49 then hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven, your dwelling place, and maintain their cause; 50 and forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions in which they have transgressed against you; and give them compassion before those who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them 51 (for they are your people, and your inheritance, which you brought out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron); 52 that your eyes may be open to the supplication of your servant, and to the supplication of your people Israel, to listen to them whenever they cry to you. 53 For you separated them from among all the peoples of the earth, to be your inheritance, as you spoke by Moses your servant, when you brought our fathers out of Egypt, Lord Yahweh.”
54 It was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication to Yahweh, he arose from before the altar of Yahweh, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread out toward heaven. 55 He stood, and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying, 56 “Blessed be Yahweh, 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 by Moses his servant. 57 May Yahweh our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. Let him not leave us, nor forsake us; 58 that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his ordinances, which he commanded our fathers. 59 Let these my words, with which I have made supplication before Yahweh, be near to Yahweh our God day and night, that he may maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel, as every day shall require; 60 that all the peoples of the earth may know that Yahweh, he is God. There is no one else.
61 “Let your heart therefore be perfect with Yahweh our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.”
62 The king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before Yahweh. 63 Solomon offered for the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to Yahweh, two and twenty thousand head of cattle, and one hundred twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of Yahweh. 64 The same day the king made the middle of the court holy that was before the house of Yahweh; for there he offered the burnt offering, and the meal offering, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar that was before Yahweh was too little to receive the burnt offering, and the meal offering, and the fat of the peace offerings. 65 So Solomon held the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly, from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt, before Yahweh our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days. 66 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 goodness that Yahweh had shown to David his servant, and to Israel his people. (World English Bible, public domain)

Solomon was wise, and used good judgement, at least in the beginning. This prayer is one of the most remarkable ever recorded, as Solomon acknowledges, as the spokesman of his people, the goodness and sovereignty of God.

This is one of a series of posts on prayers in the Bible. The previous post is here. Thanks for reading.

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