1 Kings 8:22–26
At the start of 2018, we took a week to settle into the new year by looking together at a passage from the Old Testament where Solomon prays a prayer of dedication at the celebration for the newly-completed temple. To help you go deeper into everything we looked at together, we’ve put together some notes and discussion questions for use individually or with a small group. You can use the embedded player below to listen to the talk, or click here to download it on a PC.
To dedicate ourselves to something is to give it over entirely (like when we dedicate a child and give them over to God) and to pursue it wholeheartedly (like an athlete dedicating themselves to the goal of Olympic glory). As we start this new year, the call is for us to dedicate ourselves to God afresh — and yet, this is only possible because of the lengths to which he has already dedicated himself to us. We see this revealed to us throughout Scripture, as God shows himself to be the God who…
Verse 22: “Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven”
As a community, we’re defined by our shared union to Christ and by God’s presence with us. That’s our foundation as we start the new year together — that who we are is not based on what we have done or what we will do, but on who God is and what he’s done. We therefore get to live together free from fear, shame and the need to prove ourselves, as we build a home where everyone is welcome.
Verse 23: “Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below — you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.”
God, the indescribable one who is unlike any other, chooses to define himself by the love he shows to his people — a love expressed in a covenant of commitment that we can trace right the way through the Bible. This covenant is remade in Christ by his death on the cross (Hebrews 9:14–15) — the ultimate way in which God chooses to make himself known by his love.
Verse 24: “You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it — as it is today.”
Jesus is the word of God who both speaks the promises given to us in Scripture and acts with his hand to fulfil them in himself. The Bible is full of promises that we are invited to take hold of and present back to God, asking him to bring them to fullness in our own lives. 2 Corinthians 1:20 puts it perfectly: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
Verse 25: “Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’”
Solomon’s prayer that his descendants would walk faithfully before God rings hollow when we see how far he himself drifts from God by the end of his life, and yet God remains faithful to the House of David — firstly in the generations that come after Solomon and finally in putting a man from the line of David on the throne to reign eternally. This is just another example of how much God desires to show grace to his people, and is a tremendous source of comfort to us that no matter how far we have fallen, God will be faithful in restoring us to relationship with him when we turn back to him.
Verse 26: “And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.”
It can be easy to find ourselves living with a word over our lives that has come to define us — that might be a word spoken by ourselves or others, verbalised or left unsaid, that lifts us up or pushes us down. The good news this year is that no word spoken over us is better than the word of truth God has already spoken when he called us to himself; when he named us as his dearly loved children and united us to Christ. We don’t need to go searching for a new identity — in Christ we have all we could ever need.
This year, we get to stand firm in the knowledge that the God who defines community, who defies explanation, who delivers always, who demonstrates grace, who declares truth so desires intimacy with us that he descends humbly, defeating death that we might delight eternally in Him.
- What aspect of Sunday’s talk particularly spoke to you?
- What promises of God can you think of? You might want to try working through a passage like Psalm 23 and considering each of the promises contained within, and praying into that for one another.
- What does it mean that God is a God of grace? How is this good news for us? What does it look like to live more in this grace?
- How are you seeking to dedicate yourself to God this year — both in the giving over and in the pursuing? What ways are you asking God to reveal himself to you this year?
- What does it mean for us to build a home together as a community where everyone is welcome? What practical costs might this involve? Why is this important for us to do?
- What words are you living with over your life? Are these words from God, or words from others? How can you be seeking to live more in the truth of the finished word spoken over you by God in Christ?
About the World
- We get the privilege of revealing the God who ‘defies explanation’ in the same way that he has revealed himself: through how we show love to others. How are you seeking to do that this year in your home / workplace / school / rest / daily life?