Christianity, Sunday School, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (January 26, 2020) Solomon’s Blessing / Solomon Anticipates Praise 1 Kings 8:54-61

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s lesson Solomon closes his dedication ceremony in much the same way as he opened it – by “blessing” the people.  Solomon is not a priest, he is not the high priest, he is not even a Levite but seemingly he takes on priestly roles by leading the nation in prayer, offering sacrifices, and giving a speech during the dedication ceremony.  Keep in mind that this is a dedication ceremony and the people have just had a worship experience. They have experienced a theophany. They have experienced the presence of God in the thick cloud and they have witnessed Solomon leading the nation in prayer in the presence of God.  Solomon had already reminded the assembly of his father David’s desire to make a permanent home for the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. He has prayed his prayer, he has made his nine pleas and requests known to God and now just as he began this dedication service by blessing the assembly, he closes the dedication service by blessing the assembly also.  One key idea surrounding this week’s text includes the term:  

The Sacrificial System

Background:  

This is the fourth and final lesson from 1 Kings eighth chapter in this quarter.  In this week’s background I give attention to the writer’s concern with faithfulness and the covenant.  In previous lessons (all in the eighth chapter) the unknown prophet who wrote this text mentioned both the Davidic covenant and the Mosaic covenant.  

Just as a refresher, The Lexham Bible Dictionary defines the Mosaic Covenant as “the covenant mediated between God and Israel at Mount Sinai when Israel received the Law (including the ten commandments).  It is also known as the old covenant or the first covenant.” Lexham defines the Davidic Covenant as “the promise made by Yahweh that he would establish for King David a “house” or a dynasty of kings who would perpetually reign over God’s people.”  

Both of these covenants are important to the writer of Kings and he is especially concerned with explaining how and why the nation of Israel and Judah can be blessed if they obey the commands of God.  Nelson’s Bible Handbook explains “the welfare of Israel and Judah depends upon the faithfulness of the people and their king to the covenant.”  In the view of the writer, keeping the covenant and being faithful to the covenant and God is of utmost importance in explaining how the nations had success and failure.  Keep in mind that 1 and 2 Kings covers a 400 year period from before the death of David to the ascension of Solomon on the throne, through Solomon’s death and subsequent dividing of the kingdom, to the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities.  And as I noted last week, this book came about through two editions over the 400 year history it covers.  This is a book of history. The writer is reflecting that history and he wants people to know that faithfulness to God and the covenant is what brings success.  Kings is one of the twelve books of history in the Old Testament and the writer is telling us a portion of the history of the kings of Judah and Israel.  

As I noted last week, previous lesson backgrounds included:

  •  The similarities between 1 and 2 Chronicles and 1 and 2 Kings.
  • How Chronicles uses Kings as a source.
  • How Kings covers almost 400 years of history.
  • When each edition of Kings was written (pre-exilic and during the exile).
  • How Kings is a theological interpretation of the Monarchy and of the kings of Judah and Israel until the reign of Ahaziah.
  • A brief explanation of God’s dwelling places
  • And The major divisions of 1 Kings.  

This eighth chapter of First Kings deals with the dedication of the Temple, Solomon’s speech at the dedication, his prayer of dedication, his blessing of the assembly, and his sacrificial offerings.  The focus of last week’s lesson was Solomon’s dedication prayer. This week our lesson tells the story of how Solomon blesses the assembly after he finishes his dedicatory prayer. An important term to consider about this text is:

The Sacrificial System

Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This Week.    

 In last week’s lesson Solomon continued the Temple dedication service.  I noted how the dedication included worship, prayer, and praise. In Solomon’s dedication prayer he asked for God’s blessings, making nine specific petitions to God.  I also stressed that this event was a worship experience. Solomon and the people experienced a theophany – that is the visible manifestation of God. God made God’s self visible in the thick cloud that filled the Temple.  Solomon faced the Temple raised his hands toward heaven and began to pray his prayer of dedication. He knew exactly who he was praying to. Solomon was praying to the creator of the universe, who already owned all and knows all.  Solomon had no basis upon which to request anything except God’s beloved mercy. As he prayed he made known his nine petitions and led the people in prayer before God’s presence. Townsend and Boyd’s commentary title this week’s lesson “Solomon’s Blessing”.  Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “Solomon Anticipates Praise”. The scripture text comes from 1 Kings 8:54-61.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 8 verse fifty-four with Solomon having concluded his dedicatory prayer.  The people have experienced a theophany. They have experienced the presence of God in the thick cloud and they have witnessed Solomon leading the nation in prayer in the presence of God.  In this dedication they had a worship experience. Solomon has given a speech. He reminded the assembly of his father David’s desire to make a permanent home for the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord.  He has prayed his prayer, he has made his nine pleas and requests known to God and now just as he began this dedication service by blessing the assembly, he closes the dedication service by blessing the assembly also.  This verse notes that Solomon arose from kneeling on his knees.  Townsend Commentary notes that “this is the first mention in scripture of someone kneeling in prayer.”   

In verse fifty-five as he faces the Altar of the LORD, Solomon stands up and with a loud voice blesses the assembly of Israel.  Townsend Commentary notes that “to “bless the people” was the exclusive privilege of the priests (Numbers 6:23-27). Solomon’s “blessing” here was actually a prayer of blessing and praise to God.”  So it may seem as if Solomon is taking on priestly roles by leading the nation in prayer and seemingly blessing the people but he is not a priest and he performs all his acts of dedication and worship outside this newly built temple.  

In verse fifty-six Solomon declares “Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel.”  When Solomon speaks of this rest that the LORD has given, he is talking about peace in the land.  Solomon is praying that the unified nation would now enjoy a time of rest from war with its neighboring nations.  The Pulpit Commentary notes that “only under Solomon were the Philistines brought into complete subjection.”  This should be a time of peace and prosperity.  There is no need for a mobile tabernacle housed in a tent that can be moved from place to place.  If the nation is at peace they can have a permanent Temple – a building that doesn’t need to be moved.  Solomon continues – “not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke through his servant Moses.”  Solomon is once again reminding the people that God is a covenant keeper.  God keeps God’s promises. 

In verse fifty-seven Solomon asks God to be with them as God was with his ancestors.  In other words, Solomon wants God to be the God that parted the Red Sea, he wants God to be the God that defeated Pharaoh’s Army, he wants God to be the God that blessed a young David to kill a giant named Goliath.  Solomon wants God to be with them the way God was with his ancestors.  He knows God is a miracle working God, a way-making God, and an omnipotent God.  Solomon continues, “may God not leave us nor forsake us”. Again, Solomon knows that if the people of Israel are to enjoy this rest, the presence, the power, and the protection of God must be with them.  

In verse fifty-eight Solomon says “that God may incline our hearts to God”.  He knows that they must be committed to God. Their hearts must be inclined to God not just in word and deed but in spirit also.  When their heart is inclined unto God and not unto their own ways and not unto the ways of the neighboring nations, then God will be their God and God will be their deliverer.  

In verse fifty-nine Solomon essentially says, let these words, these prayers I’ve prayed, these supplications I’ve made, let these words be close to you oh God.  He says this so that God might keep the cause or give success to Solomon and to the people of Israel.  

In verse sixty Solomon says “that all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God.”  Solomon is standing before a newly built Temple. He has had a worship experience in the presence of God.  Solomon knows that God is the God of this universe and not just the God for Israel. In verse forty-three he said “43 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.”  Solomon wants God to show God’s self as not just the God of Israel but the God of all who will call upon God’s name.  

In verse sixty-one Solomon closes his blessing with a plea to the people to be completely devoted to God, keeping God’s statutes and commandments.  Solomon knows that if his people are to be blessed, that they will have to keep the covenant, to remain faithful, and to keep the commands of God.

Context

Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms defines “bless/blessing” as “to praise, petition for Divine favor, wish someone well, or convey favor.  Used biblically to describe God’s actions, as in the frequent blessings that Jesus conferred on people. A closing blessing or benediction has traditionally been a feature of Christian worship.”  

Our text today highlights Solomon offering a blessing that is really directed to God.  In what ways do we petition God for favor, to wish someone well or to convey favor? Are we blessing others also?  Or are we focused on requesting blessings only for ourselves? 

Key Word

The Sacrificial System – Scott Langston and E. Ray Clendenen write in The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary that Leviticus 1-7 gives the most detailed description of Israel’s sacrificial system, including five types of sacrifices.  The sacrifices and offerings that were brought by the people were to be the physical expression of their inward devotion. Those five types of sacrifice include 1) Burnt offering, 2) Grain offering, 3) Peace Offering, 4) Sin Offering, and 5) Guilt or Reparation Offering.  They continue noting that “the prophets spoke harshly about the people’s concept of sacrifice. They tended to ignore faith, confession, and devotion thinking the mere act of sacrifice ensured forgiveness.” 

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:  

1.  When the LORD gives you rest.   

2.  Obedience and sacrifice.  

Question:  

Solomon made over 140,000 sacrifices at this dedication ceremony (vs 63).  Is there a sacrificial system in use for Christians today?  

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

Next week, is the first lesson of Unit Three in the Winter Quarter.  The title of Unit Three is Jesus Teaches About True Worship. There are four lessons in Unit Three and three of those lessons will come from The Gospel According to Matthew.  Next week’s lesson is titled Single Minded Obedience and comes from Matthew 4:1-11.  

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