1 Kings 8:22-66
Before the entire congregation of Israel, Solomon took a position before the Altar, spread his hands out before heaven, and prayed,
O God, God of Israel, there is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below who unswervingly keeps covenant with his servants and relentlessly loves them as they sincerely live in obedience to your way. You kept your word to David my father, your personal word. You did exactly what you promised—every detail. The proof is before us today!
Keep it up, God, O God of Israel! Continue to keep the promises you made to David my father when you said, “You’ll always have a descendant to represent my rule on Israel’s throne, on the condition that your sons are as careful to live obediently in my presence as you have.”
O God of Israel, let this all happen;
confirm and establish it!
Can it be that God will actually move into our neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn’t large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I’ve built. Even so, I’m bold to ask: Pay attention to these my prayers, both intercessory and personal, O God, my God. Listen to my prayers, energetic and devout, that I’m setting before you right now. Keep your eyes open to this Temple night and day, this place of which you said, “My Name will be honored there,” and listen to the prayers that I pray at this place.
Listen from your home in heaven and when you hear, forgive.
When someone hurts a neighbor and promises to make things right, and then comes and repeats the promise before your Altar in this Temple, listen from heaven and act accordingly: Judge your servants, making the offender pay for his offense and setting the offended free of any charges.
When your people Israel are beaten by an enemy because they’ve sinned against you, but then turn to you and acknowledge your rule in prayers desperate and devout in this Temple,
Listen from your home in heaven, forgive the sin of your people Israel, return them to the land you gave their ancestors.
When the skies shrivel up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, but then they pray at this place, acknowledging your rule and quitting their sins because you have scourged them,
Listen from your home in heaven, forgive the sins of your servants, your people Israel.
Then start over with them: Train them to live right and well; send rain on the land you gave your people as an inheritance.
When disasters strike, famine or catastrophe, crop failure or disease, locust or beetle, or when an enemy attacks their defenses—calamity of any sort—any prayer that’s prayed from anyone at all among your people Israel, hearts penetrated by the disaster, hands and arms thrown out to this Temple for help,
Listen from your home in heaven.
Forgive and go to work on us. Give what each deserves, for you know each life from the inside (you’re the only one with such “inside knowledge”!) so that they’ll live before you in lifelong reverent and believing obedience on this land you gave our ancestors.
And don’t forget the foreigner who is not a member of your people Israel but has come from a far country because of your reputation. People are going to be attracted here by your great reputation, your wonder-working power, who come to pray at this Temple.
Listen from your home in heaven.
Honor the prayers of the foreigner so that people all over the world will know who you are and what you’re like and will live in reverent obedience before you, just as your own people Israel do; so they’ll know that you personally make this Temple that I’ve built what it is.
When your people go to war against their enemies at the time and place you send them and they pray to God toward the city you chose and this Temple I’ve built to honor your Name,
Listen from heaven to what they pray and ask for,
and do what’s right for them.
When they sin against you—and they certainly will; there’s no one without sin!—and in anger you turn them over to the enemy and they are taken captive to the enemy’s land, whether far or near, but repent in the country of their captivity and pray with changed hearts in their exile, “We’ve sinned; we’ve done wrong; we’ve been most wicked,” and turn back to you heart and soul in the land of the enemy who conquered them, and pray to you toward their homeland, the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you chose, and this Temple I have built to the honor of your Name,
Listen from your home in heaven to their prayers desperate and devout and do what is best for them.
Forgive your people who have sinned against you; forgive their gross rebellions and move their captors to treat them with compassion. They are, after all, your people and your precious inheritance whom you rescued from the heart of that iron-smelting furnace, Egypt!
O be alert and attentive to the needy prayers of me, your servant, and your dear people Israel; listen every time they cry out to you! You handpicked them from all the peoples on earth to be your very own people, as you announced through your servant Moses when you, O God, in your masterful rule, delivered our ancestors from Egypt.
Having finished praying to God—all these bold and passionate prayers—Solomon stood up before God’s Altar where he had been kneeling all this time, his arms stretched upward to heaven. Standing, he blessed the whole congregation of Israel, blessing them at the top of his lungs:
“Blessed be God, who has given peace to his people Israel just as he said he’d do. Not one of all those good and wonderful words that he spoke through Moses has misfired. May God, our very own God, continue to be with us just as he was with our ancestors—may he never give up and walk out on us. May he keep us centered and devoted to him, following the life path he has cleared, watching the signposts, walking at the pace and rhythms he laid down for our ancestors.
“And let these words that I’ve prayed in the presence of God be always right there before him, day and night, so that he’ll do what is right for me, to guarantee justice for his people Israel day after day after day. Then all the people on earth will know God is the true God; there is no other God. And you, your lives must be totally obedient to God, our personal God, following the life path he has cleared, alert and attentive to everything he has made plain this day.”
The king and all Israel with him then worshiped, offering sacrifices to God. Solomon offered Peace-Offerings, sacrificing to God 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep. This is how the king and all Israel dedicated The Temple of God.
That same day, the king set apart the central area of the Courtyard in front of God’s Temple for sacred use and there sacrificed the Whole-Burnt-Offerings, Grain-Offerings, and fat from the Peace-Offerings—the bronze Altar was too small to handle all these offerings.
This is how Solomon kept the great autumn feast, and all Israel with him, people there all the way from the far northeast (the Entrance to Hamath) to the far southwest (the Brook of Egypt)—a huge congregation. They started out celebrating for seven days—and then did it another seven days! Two solid weeks of celebration! Then he dismissed them. They blessed the king and went home, exuberant with heartfelt gratitude for all the good God had done for his servant David and for his people Israel.
1 Kings 9:1-9
After Solomon had completed building The Temple of God and his own palace, all the projects he had set his heart on doing, God appeared to Solomon again, just as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.
And God said to him, “I’ve listened to and received all your prayers, your ever-so-passionate prayers. I’ve sanctified this Temple that you have built: My Name is stamped on it forever; my eyes are on it and my heart in it always. As for you, if you live in my presence as your father David lived, pure in heart and action, living the life I’ve set out for you, attentively obedient to my guidance and judgments, then I’ll back your kingly rule over Israel, make it a sure thing on a solid foundation. The same guarantee I gave David your father I’m giving you: ‘You can count on always having a descendant on Israel’s throne.’
“But if you or your sons betray me, ignoring my guidance and judgments, taking up with alien gods by serving and worshiping them, then the guarantee is off: I’ll wipe Israel right off the map and repudiate this Temple I’ve just sanctified to honor my Name. And Israel will become nothing but a bad joke among the peoples of the world. And this Temple, splendid as it now is, will become an object of contempt; visitors will shake their heads, saying, ‘Whatever happened here? What’s the story behind these ruins?’ Then they’ll be told, ‘The people who used to live here betrayed their God, the very God who rescued their ancestors from Egypt; they took up with alien gods, worshiping and serving them. That’s what’s behind this God-visited devastation.’”