King Solomon built a wondrous house for himself; he also built a wondrous house for his wife who, I understand, was just of his wife. He also built a wondrous house of worship for the Lord. Chapter sever of I Kings talks about all the building and ornamentation that was used. Once the house of worship was built, he placed within it all the items and fittings that had been stored up for that purpose. Chapter eight starts by recounting . . .
“Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion.” (I Kings 8:1)
The RCL does not formally use first section of chapter eight, although it notes some of the introductory/orienting portions of the chapter.
“Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim.” (Verse 6)
The first section of chapter eight also recounts on of the events during the inaugurating of the house of worship.
“And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.” (Verses 10-11)
What the Revised Common Lectionary does point the reader to is what Solomon did and said at the first worship service in the new house of the Lord.
“Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands to heaven. He said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart, the covenant that you kept for your servant my father David as you declared to him; you promised with your mouth and have this day fulfilled with your hand. Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant my father David that which you promised him, saying, ‘There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’ Therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant my father David.” (Verses 22-26)
Please note Solomon’s part of the covenant – that he and his household will follow God faithfully. It is the same covenant we make with God – not that we will sit on a throne but that God will be with us if we pledge and uphold the pledge to follow God. If we want God to be with us, we must be with God. Solomon also said . . .
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built! Regard your servant’s prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today; that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place. Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling place; heed and forgive.” (Verses 27-30)
Solomon seemed to know that his people would need forgiving, as we need forgiving. There is not one specific or centralized place that we expect God to be based at; God is all around us and in all the world. Wherever we might look or journey, God will be there. So it makes sense, and stands to reason, that we need to follow God wherever we might be and whatever we do. Solomon goes on to say . . .
“Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land because of your name —for they shall hear of your great name, your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm—when a foreigner comes and prays toward this house, then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and so that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.” (Verses 41-43)
In other word, be the God that was known by Solomon to all the people who come to worship. Do not be a different God because the person coming to worship is not like the “home folk.” That sounds to me an awful lot like a person to accept all people who call on the same God that we do, to be treated by God and by us the same way we would treat those who are familiar and known to us. Hmmm . . . as Solomon said, this covenant stuff has heavy obligations on both sides. It is not just our expecting God to be God-like, but that we need to act and interact with each other in God-like/Christian ways.
Other times when I have looked at and considered Solomon’s words at the consecration of temple, I have been impressed with his faith and the boldness of his actions. But this time I was made more aware of what is expected of us. The time after Pentecost is a learning of what it means to walk with God and recommit ourselves to walk with God. May the boldness of Solomon’s pray inspire you to recommit yourself to walk with the Lord. Selah!