The Word Made Fresh
1Then Solomon announced, “You have said, O LORD, that you would reside in thick darkness. 2I have built a great house for you to reside in forever.”
3Then he turned and pronounced a good word for the whole gathering of Israel while they stood. 4He said, “Highly exalted is the LORD God of Israel, who has done everything promised to my father David. 5For the LORD said, ‘Since the day I brought my people out of Egypt I have not chosen a place in any of Israel’s tribes in which to build a house for my name; and I have chosen no one to rule my people Israel; 6but I have chosen Jerusalem as the place from which my name shall be called upon, and I chose David to rule my people.’
7“My father David wanted to build a house in the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, 8but the LORD told him, ‘It is good that you want to build my house in my name, 9but you shall not build it. Your son is the one who shall build it in my name.’
10“Now the LORD’s wishes have been fulfilled; I have come to the throne after my father David just as the LORD promised, and I have built this house in the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 11I have placed within it the covenant chest of the LORD which contained the agreement made with the people of Israel.”
12Solomon was standing before the altar of the LORD in front of all the Israelites gathered there, arms outspread. 13He was standing in the courtyard on a bronze platform seven and a half feet square and four and a half feet tall. Now he knelt down on his knees in the presence of all the gathered people of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and prayed, 14“O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth, for you have kept the agreement in unwavering love for your servants who have walked with you wholeheartedly. 15And you have done for your servant my father David what you promised you would do. You spoke, and this day your word has been fulfilled. 16Therefore O LORD God of Israel, I ask you to keep the promise you made for your servant my father David, that he shall never fail to have a successor to sit on Israel’s throne, as long as his descendants keep following your direction as he did. 17And so, O LORD God of Israel, let the promise you gave your servant David be fulfilled.
18“And yet, will God really live with mere mortals on earth? You cannot be contained in even the farthest reaches of heaven; how much less this house I have built! 19Hear my prayer, O LORD my God! Hear the plea your servant is raising up to you! 20Watch over this house day and night, for this is where you promised to place your name. Hear the prayer I raise toward this place! 21And hear the prayers your servant and your people Israel pray toward this place. From heaven, hear and forgive.
22“Whenever someone commits a sin against another and is required to swear to their innocence, and then comes to swear before your altar in this place, 23hear from heaven. Judge your servants. Repay the guilty parties by letting their conduct backfire on them. Vindicate those who are honest by rewarding them for their right conduct.
24“When your people Israel are defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, but then turn again to you and call on your name and raise their fervent prayers to you in this house, 25hear from heaven and forgive their wrongdoing, and restore to them the land you gave to them and their ancestors.
26“When the sky is closed and gives no rain because they have disobeyed you; and then they pray toward this place and call on your name and turn from their sinful deeds because you have punished them, 27then hear them from heaven and forgive the sins of your servants, the people of Israel. Teach them how they should live and send rain upon your land which you have given to them as their inheritance.
28“If a famine overtakes the land, or a plague, or blight, or mildew, or locust, or caterpillar; if their enemies attack any of their settlements, then look upon their suffering, their sickness, 29their prayers – from individuals or from all of them when they all are aware of their suffering and sorrows and begin to stretch out their hands toward this house – 30hear them from heaven, your home, and forgive them. Provide for all whose hearts you know because of their behavior; for only you know the human heart. 31In this way may they fear you and walk in your paths as long as they live in the land you gave our ancestors.
32“And when foreigners who are not part of your people Israel come from a distant land because of your greatness and might and protecting arm, and when they come and raise prayers before your house, 33may you hear from your dwelling in heaven, and grant whatever they ask. In that way all the people of the earth will know your name as your people Israel know you, and they will know that your name has been placed upon this house that I have built.
34“If your people must pursue a battle with their enemies by whatever route you send them and they pray to you toward this city, the one you have chosen for the house that I have built in your name, 35then hear their prayer; hear their plea from heaven and uphold them in their cause.
36“If they sin against you – there is no one who does not sin – and you are angry with them and let their enemies defeat them and take them as captives to another land, far or near, 37then if they come to their senses where they have been taken and repent, and plead with you in their captivity and say, ‘We have sinned. We have been wrong and have acted badly;’ 38and if they earnestly repent with heart and soul in their captive land and pray toward this land you gave their ancestors and the city you chose and the house that I have built for you; 39then hear their prayers and hear their pleas from heaven where you dwell; uphold their cause and forgive them even though they have sinned against you.
“Now, O LORD my God, see and listen to prayers raised from this place.41Arise, LORD God, and enter your place of repose, you and your mighty covenant. Let your priests be clothed with safety and let your faithful ones be joyful in your good bounty. 42Do not turn away from your own anointed one. Remember your ongoing love for your servant David.”
1-2: Chapter 6 is essentially the same as 1 Kings 8:12-49. Significant differences will be noted. Solomon declares that he has built a house for God to dwell in forever. We might almost get the impression that he thinks he is containing God.
3-11: For the dedication of the temple Solomon speaks first to the people, recounting the events that led to his building it.
12-17: Then he addresses the LORD, reminding God of the promise that David’s dynasty will last forever and asks God to confirm that promise.
18-21: Solomon asks that God hear the prayers that are prayed toward the temple.
22-23: Then he addresses a number of specific issues that might be brought before the LORD in prayer. This first one has to do with disputes between neighbors when one wrongs the other.
24-25: This part of the prayer seems to anticipate the Babylonian exile that is still hundreds of years in the future but could just as well refer to prisoners of war being returned home after any battle.
26-27: Drought is a constant worry in a climate that does not produce a great deal of rain even in normal years. The interesting thing is that Solomon assumes that if there is a drought it must be the result of some sin of the people.
28-31: Other perils are enumerated. Again, the main emphasis is on confession and forgiveness. I wonder how often we, in praying for our own troubles, stop to consider that perhaps we should confess our sins and ask to be forgiven before we ask that our troubles be taken away.
32-33: Solomon even asks that the prayers of foreigners be heard if they pray toward the temple to the LORD. The reason given for asking God to answer those prayers is so that God (and Solomon’s temple) will become famous beyond the borders of Israel.
34-35: He prays that God will hear the prayers of the army as they prepare for battle.
36-42: This part of the prayer certainly applies to the Babylonian exile, and serves the purpose of fleshing out how it happens that they are allowed to return from their time of exile. Verse 40 here is then the same as 1 Kings 8:52. Verses 40-42 are unique to 2 Chronicles. It is a prayer psalm invoking God’s presence, God’s special care for the priests, and a remembrance of David. It is, in fact, Psalm 132:8-10. Quoting a psalm and asking for a blessing for the priests is certainly in keeping with the sense of the chronicler’s account of Israel’s history.
Verses 26-27 speak of the possibility of a future drought. Remember, it was a drought that resulted in Jacob sending his sons to Egypt to buy grain (Genesis 41:53-42:2). Verse 28 mentions famine and plague, and Israel’s history surely has seen its share of those. Solomon’s prayer is beautiful; he certainly seems to have been a man of great faith. But he says “I” a bit more than necessary – verses 2, 18, 33, 34, and 38 refer to “this house I have built.” The lesson: when you pray, “thee” and “thy” should come from your mouth more often than “me” and “my” and “I.”