Sunday, May 1, 2011

1 Kings 7,8,9 Solomon's Prayer

A look inside the Ark of the Covenant, in a fu...Image via Wikipedia
At long last, Solomon completed building the temple and brought the ark of the covenant into the Holy of Holies, the innermost sanctuary of the temple.  While dedicating the temple, Solomon prayed that God would keep His covenant of mercy (Hebrew חֶסֶד (hesed)) with Israel, His people; that God would always keep His eyes on the temple and hear the prayers of Israel; that God would hear Israel when they repented of sin, turned to Him by turning away from their sin; that God would forgive Israel of sin.  To be forgiven of sin is to be restored into a relationship of blessing.

In alluding to the covenant of mercy, Solomon reaffirmed God's goodness, faithfulness, kindness, grace , and favor towards Israel.  In this same prayer, the word "forgive" was used five times.  In Hebrew, forgive,  which is  סָלַח (calach),  means to pardon, to give up any right to exact revenge or punishment, to cancel the liability.  As in English, it means to extend mercy instead of judgement.  Solomon prayed that God would be merciful to His people Israel when they confessed their sin and repented of it.  What can better demonstrate God's covenant of love, than to forgive sin which ordinarily would warrant judgement and exact the price of punishment.

In 1 Kings 9: 1 -9, God's recorded response to Solomon's prayer is so amazing that it bears highlighting.  

1 Kings 9:3  And the Lord said unto him, "I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put My Name there for ever."  God  consecrated  Solomon's temple by putting His Name there forever.  Forever, in Hebrew עוֹלָם (`owlam),  means always, extending into eternity, without a time limit, without temporal limitations, perpetual, to exist continuously, eternal, unending future, everlasting.  Nothing about the word forever is conditional or temporary. Since it was the first statement, it is the umbrella under which the following qualifying statements made by God,  find their place.

By sanctifying the temple, God has put His seal, as it were, on the temple and on the relationship it symbolized between Him and Israel.  Because God's relationship and the underlying covenant with Israel remain eternal, the clauses delineating the consequences of disobedience also remain inviolate.  Bt God's declaration, Israel's inevitable sin could never alter God's act of sanctifying the temple and of putting His Name there forever.  

Though God confirmed that Israel's sin would  force Him to cast the temple out of His sight and, as per the covenant, force Israel into exile, in Hebrew cut off  כָּרַת (karath), He also assured Solomon that He would extend forgiveness to those who repented of evil.  The covenant consequence of Israel's sin was exile from the land but never rejection from God's covenant.  Israel was to be exiled and separated from the land, but not annihilated as a nation nor excluded from God's covenant of mercy.

Solomon's prayer was God's will for Israel, that no matter what the circumstances, Israel would always pray towards the temple where God placed His Name.  Solomon effectively prayed that Israel would never forget who they are before God no matter what their relationships  are with the nations.  The only significant treaty Israel has is the covenant of mercy made with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who placed His Name in Jerusalem forever.

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for calach (Strong's 5545)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 1 May 2011. < http://
Strongs=H5545&t=KJV >

forgive. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: May 01, 2011).

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for `owlam (Strong's 5769)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 1 May 2011. < http://
Strongs=H5769&t=KJV >

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for karath (Strong's 3772)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 1 May 2011. < http://
Strongs=H3772&t=KJV >

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for checed (Strong's 2617)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 1 May 2011. < http://
Strongs=H2617&t=KJV >
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