Today’s reading revolves around the glorious beginnings of Solomon’s reign, beginning with God’s glorious acceptance of the Temple built for Him.
When God moves in — The Temple was finished, and Solomon’s prayer had been offered — but would God accept it? The answer was a glorious and awesome “Yes!” Fire fell from heaven to consume the sacrifices and the glory of the Lord filled the Temple. In Exo. 40:35 when the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle, it did so in the form of a cloud, and perhaps we can assume that the glory or the Lord filled the Temple like a cloud, too. When God comes to dwell (Shekinah), His glory fills the house. It’s what happens when God moves in.
Does this still happen? Oh, I know, the Temple’s been gone for almost 2000 years (destroyed in AD 70), and was never rebuilt — but was it really never rebuilt? Paul tells us,
“Do you not know that you [plural, speaking of the church] are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17, NAS95.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22, NAS95.
And possibly you might also have remembered that, because the Holy Spirit indwells each Christian (Acts 2:38), we individually are temples…
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” 1 Corinthians 6:19, NAS95.
The question is “Are you allowing the glory of God to shine through?” The expectation is that God’s Temple will reflect His glory: “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:5, 6, NAS95. Does the glory of holiness, purity, loyalty, obedience, endurance, joy, love, hope, faith, courage, boldness, and humility shine from the church? From you and me? “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20, NAS95. This is supposed to be what happens, when God moves in.
By the way, in vv. 3 and 6 it notes that the people, lying prostrate in awe of God’s glory, and the singing priests were singing “for His lovingkindness is everlasting”. It is possible then, that they may have been singing Psalm 136, the responsive psalm that repeats the praise, “for His lovingkindness is everlasting” for 26 verses like a drum beat.
The possibility of apostasy — I’ll not dwell on this too long, but the end of chapter 7 here (vv. 19-22) is very clear about the possibility that God’s people, Israel, could and did fall away. In a day when we don’t want to hear about the real danger of falling away — largely because of excessive warnings in the past that kept some folks in serious doubt of any security at all — we need to remember that as forgiving as God is, if we continue to sin willfully (Hebrews 6), we can be condemned along with the rest of the world. Israel forgot this, possibly for the same reasons that we sometimes do: too lopsided an emphasis on “We’re saved, God loves us, He’s forgiving, we’re His people.”
Whose throne? — Finally, when Bathsheba comes to visit Solomon and sees his wealth, power, and wisdom, she is so overwhelmed (NASB translates her reaction in 9:4 as “breathless”) that she exclaims the praises of the LORD to Solomon who has blessed him with so much, including “setting you on His throne as king”. The throne was not Solomon’s, it was God’s.
Godly leadership isn’t easy for a number of reasons. Among its challenges is the constant remembrance that the position of leadership that we may occupy is not really ours, after all. It, like everything else we “possess”, is really only a stewardship. Compare this with “Gentile” leadership in which leadership is obtained so that “I can do it my way”. And this applies to every kind of leadership…
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” Romans 13:1, 2, NAS95.
Husbands, parents, employers, government officials, judges, police officers, or whatever your position of leadership, your “throne” is really God’s, where you get the chance to sit for a while. Use the stewardship well and wisely, because you will be judged on how you used it. You know, a lot of the kings of Israel weren’t bad kings in the sense of national security and prosperity. By American standards of “good politicians” they were OK, but God condemned most of them in the end, because they hadn’t used the stewardship of leadership well or wisely in the most important way — leading people back to God. That’s why Paul commanded, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” 1 Timothy 2:1, 2, NAS95.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.