We start today a new series: prayers of kings and priests (and prophets), starting with Solomon’s famous prayer when dedicating the temple. His knowledgeable prayers were impressive, and the temple he built for God was magnificent, but they did not make him spiritual and transform his inner character (soul) and he continued to live a carnal life driven by his five senses.
First we read a bit of his background in 1 Kings. Born in 848 BC, Solomon dies at age 52 in 796 BC, ruling as king for 40 years (of peace and prosperity). He is known as “wisest of all the men.” Before David dies, he appoints as king his son Solomon, who is 12 years old at the time, with these words:
““I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.” (1 King 2:2-3) (This classic blessing is often quoted by fathers to their sons on the day of their Bar Mitzvah.)
The foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid in midspring, in the month of Ziv, during the fourth year of Solomon’s reign (480 years after the people of Israel were rescued from their slavery in the land of Egypt). The entire building was completed in every detail by midautumn, in the month of Bul, during the eleventh year of his reign. So it took seven years to build the Temple. (6:1,37-38) (Hebrew lunar calendar ‘Ziv’, is the second month, usually occurs within April and May; ‘Bul’, is the eighth month, usually occurs within October and November.)
The most famous part of his prayers is quoted below: (boldness added)
“But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! Nevertheless, listen to my prayer and my plea, O Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you today. May you watch over this Temple night and day, this place where you have said, ‘My name will be there.’ May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place. (8:27-29)
God answered his prayer and accepted the temple, prayers, petitions, and sacrifices offerings on the dedication day. The glorious presence of the Lord filled the temple even before Solomon’s prayers and sacrifices. (8:11)
Solomon built the temple when he was only 12-19 years old. Not only that he also built his palace (7:1), and living quarters for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had married (3:1;7:8). Solomon was very knowledgeable and wise by human standard and did great exploits during his lifetime, but he failed big time too. In violation of the Torah’s (Moses’ laws) prohibition He takes too many wives. In fact, he has 700 wives and 300 concubines. For a wife of King Solomon, prophet, wisest of all men, King of Israel, to worship idols is an inexcusable mistake that Solomon is held directly accountable for.
In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been. Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. (11:4-5)
Every believer of Jesus Christ is a temple of the Holy Spirit. We are to keep this temple holy and acceptable to God just as from the beginning and as typified by the temple that Solomon was taught to build by his father David who received the whole temple plan from the Holy Spirit (1 Chronicles 28:11-19).
God has a perfect pattern of each life. Every Spirit and Word born again (John 3:5; 1 Peter 1:23), Bible believing, Spirit-led child-of-God (Romans 8:14), made holy by the Holy Spirit and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:2), can live this super-abundant life (John 10:10), living in prosperity (1 John 3:2), as God has given us all the resources for living a godly and victorious life (Ephesians 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3). This is the kind of temple that is filled by “the glorious presence of the Lord “.
The original temple was meant to be a house of prayers. King Hezekiah “instead of plundering the temple treasuries… now uses the temple the way it is designed to be—as a house of prayer (2 Kings 19:1–14)
Word of caution: do not merely emulate the human prayers, emulate God.
Prayers of Solomon: 1 Kings 8 New Living Translation (NLT) (quoted in parts below)
12 Then Solomon prayed, “O Lord, you have said that you would live in a thick cloud of darkness. 13 Now I have built a glorious Temple for you, a place where you can live forever![d]”
22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the entire community of Israel. He lifted his hands toward heaven, 23 and he prayed,
“O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven above or on the earth below. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion. 24 You have kept your promise to your servant David, my father. You made that promise with your own mouth, and with your own hands you have fulfilled it today.
25 “And now, O Lord, God of Israel, carry out the additional promise you made to your servant David, my father…30 May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.
(this blogger’s note: Solomon’s prayers cover God’s people, foreigners, and all who turn to God, repent and ask for forgiveness even though he made mention of the Israelite specifically)
48 If they turn to you with their whole heart and soul in the land of their enemies and pray toward the land you gave to their ancestors—toward this city you have chosen, and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name— 49 then hear their prayers and their petition from heaven where you live, and uphold their cause. 50 Forgive your people who have sinned against you. Forgive all the offenses they have committed against you. Make their captors merciful to them, 51 for they are your people—your special possession—whom you brought out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt.
52 “May your eyes be open to my requests and to the requests of your people Israel. May you hear and answer them whenever they cry out to you. 53 For when you brought our ancestors out of Egypt, O Sovereign Lord, you told your servant Moses that you had set Israel apart from all the nations of the earth to be your own special possession.”