Christianity, Sunday School, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (January 19, 2020) Solomon’s Dedication Prayer / Solomon Seeks God’s Blessing 1 Kings 8:22-30, 52-53

Solomon’s Dedication Prayer / Solomon Seeks God’s Blessing

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s lesson Solomon may be in a Temple dedication service, but worship, prayer, and praise is the focus.  In Solomon’s dedication prayer he seeks God’s blessings making nine specific petitions to God. I can’t stress enough that this is a worship experience.  Solomon and the people experience a theophany – that is the visible manifestation of God. God has made God’s self visible in the thick cloud that filled the Temple.  Solomon faces the Temple raises his hands toward heaven and begins to pray his prayer of dedication. He knows exactly who he is praying to. Solomon is praying to the creator of the universe, who already owns all and knows all.  Solomon has no basis upon which to request anything except God’s beloved mercy. As he prays he makes known his nine petitions and leads the people in prayer before God’s presence. Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:  

Altar

Dedicate

Background:  

This is the third lesson of four from 1 Kings eighth chapter.  The background of the previous two lessons revolved around:

  • 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
  • And a brief explanation of God’s dwelling places

In this week’s background I focus on the major divisions of 1 Kings and what dedication means.

The New Interpreter’s Study Bible explains “1 and 2 Kings can be divided into three mains sections:  the reign of Solomon (1 Kings 1:1-11:43); the divided monarchy (1 Kings 12:1 – 2 Kings 17:41); and the Kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 18:1-25:30).”  The focus of unit two of our study is dedicating the Temple so I’ll only highlight the first of the three major divisions. 

The reign of Solomon did not start with a smooth transition from his father David.  When King David was old “Adonijah exalted himself saying I will be king” (1 Kings 1:5).  Joab (David’s nephew) and the priest Abiathar supported Adonijah but the priest Zadok, Benaiah, the prophet Nathan, and David’s own warriors did not side with Adonijah (1 Kings 5-8).  Of course high drama ensues between the competing camps. In this struggle for power the winner is not who would ordinarily have succeeded.  After interventions from Nathan the prophet and Bathsheba, Solomon one of the younger sons of David, is anointed King and ascends to the throne.  

Before his death King David gives Solomon instructions, including who to kill and who not to kill (chapter 2).  After David dies, Solomon consolidates his power, prays for wisdom, and becomes famous for his wisdom all before building the Temple.

Solomon builds the Temple according to the instructions given to him.  The NISB notes “the construction began in the month of Ziv (april – may).  The Temple was 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high with three rooms:  The vestibule or entrance was 30 feet by 15 feet, the nave, also known as the holy place was 60 feet long; the inner sanctuary, also known as the Holy of Holies or the Most Holy Place was 30 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 30 feet high, a perfect cube.  I encourage you to watch the “Temple” YouTube video created by The Bible Project.  It does a good job explaining aspects of God’s temple. 

Many years after the death of his father King David, King Solomon is in the process of dedicating this newly built Temple.  Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms define dedicate as “to consecrate or set apart for a specific use or function.  Often used in a religious context to indicate the devoting of life and energies to a specific vocation, task, or service.”  The specific use of this new Temple would be the permanent home of God. It would be the place for God to dwell among and with the nation of promise and covenant. Solomon knows that regardless of how magnificent, grand, and opulent this new Temple is, it is all useless if God does not inhabit the Temple.

The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary explains “in the Old Testament people who were set apart included all israel (Exodus 19:5, 6), the priests (Exodus 29:1-37), the altar in the Tabernacle (Num. 7:10-88), silver and gold (2 Sam. 8:11)” as well as other people and things.  Today we dedicate buildings, people, and things that have been set apart for the service and use of God.  

Our focus last week was how God keeps God’s promises and God honors God’s covenants.  This week Solomon prays a prayer of dedication as we continue in the dedication service surrounded with worship, praise, and prayer.  Some important words to consider from this text include:

Altar

Dedicate

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

In last week’s lesson Solomon spoke to the assembled congregation in the midst of a worship experience.  Solomon gave a speech that reminded the congregation of his father King David’s heart. He reminded them that it was his father’s heart’s desire to build a house for the LORD God of Israel.  God may have made the covenant with King David but Solomon was now the King standing before the nation of Israel to make that dream a reality. Finally, after many years Solomon had secured a permanent place for God to dwell.  Even though it took many years for Solomon to achieve, God keeps God’s promises and God honors God’s covenants. Solomon honored God, acknowledged his father and he blessed (or salutes) the people in this worship experience. God occupied the Temple in the presence of a thick cloud and the dedication continued.  Townsend and Boyd’s commentary title this week’s lesson “Solomon’s Dedication Prayer”. Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “Solomon Seeks God’s Blessing”. The scripture text comes from 1 Kings 8:22-30, 52-53.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 8 verse twenty-two.  Solomon stands as he begins his prayer of dedication.  Keep in mind that Solomon is the King. He is not the high priest, nor a Levite nor a priest.  Yet he is leading the gathered leaders, officials, elders, and people of the nation.  He is standing before the Altar of the LORD which is outside the Temple. Even though he is King, he still has no place inside the Temple.  As Solomon stands, he spreads forth his hands toward heaven. This is a worship experience!  Solomon and all the people have just experienced a theophany – the visible manifestation of God to humans.  They know that God is in their presence.  God has manifested God’s self in the thick cloud and now Solomon stands up, raises his hands toward heaven and begins his prayer of dedication.  

In verse twenty-three Solomon begins his prayer addressing God with words that could never be more true.  He says “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath.”  God is above all, in all, omnipotent and omniscient.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and God’s ways are not our ways.  Truly there is no god and no one, that can compare to the God Solomon has just experienced.  Solomon acknowledges that God keeps God’s covenants and God’s love is steadfast or unchanging.  

In verse twenty-four Solomon’s prayer mentions the Davidic covenant.  He talks about how God made the covenant with God’s servant David and how God promised with God’s own mouth to fulfill the covenant.  Solomon acknowledges that the covenant is fulfilled that day by God’s hand. The NISB explains that “the Davidic covenant declared that the LORD chose David to be king and had chosen David’s city to be the location of the Temple.” 

In verse twenty-five Solomon makes the first of nine petitions in his dedicatory prayer.  He prays that God would honor the Davidic covenant and forever have a descendant of David on the throne of Israel.  But also notice that he says “if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.”  In other words, Solomon recognizes that in order to have this blessing that THEY had to keep God’s commands. In Solomon’s prayer there are obligations and responsibilities that must be adhered to by the people of Israel.

In verse twenty-six Solomon continues by saying “let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant, my father David.”  Solomon is simply saying O LORD God, do what you said you would do. Or let it be the way you said it would be.

Solomon begins verse twenty-seven with a rhetorical question.  He asks “will God indeed dwell on the earth?” Solomon knows who he is praying to.  He knows that God is the creator of the heavens, the earth, and all that dwells therein.  He acknowledges that even with all of its glory, majesty, and opulence, this temple as great as it is can not contain God of all creation.

In verse twenty-eight Solomon pleads the case for another of the nine petitions he mentions through verse fifty-three.  Here, Solomon asks God to hear his prayer. He says “that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house.” In other words, whenever God’s people are praying toward this Temple that God would hear their prayer.  In my own prayers I often ask God to hear my prayer and move on my behalf. I get the same sense from this prayer of Solomon. He wants God to hear not only his prayer but the prayers of all of Israel and be their God protecting and delivering God.  

Verse twenty-nine begins with “that your eyes may be open.”  In previous verses Solomon spoke of God’s hand and God’s mouth.  Now he gives the uncontainable God of creation eyes. This is called anthropomorphism.  Westminster’s define it as “the attribution of a human quality to God, such as “eyes,” “hands,” or “arms.”  It uses analogous and metaphorical language (Gen. 3:8, Ps 18:15).” Again, Solomon knows who he is praying to.  But sometimes, mere words are inadequate to express what God can and should mean to us. He wants God’s “eyes” to be open to the Temple so that God can see the worship and hear the prayers of God’s own people as they pray and worship at the Temple.  Solomon declares this because this is the place where God has set God’s name.  

In verse thirty Solomon again pleads for God to hear his prayer and the prayer of God’s people when they pray toward the Temple.  But note that he continues “hear in heaven your dwelling place.” All of the people of Israel have spent enormous amounts of resources to create this Temple specifically as a symbolic place for God to dwell.  Solomon is not confused. He knows that the God of the universe cannot be contained in a mere building built with human hands. So he asks God to hear their prayers even in God’s dwelling place in heaven.  

The lesson skips to verses fifty-two and fifty-three where Solomon again anthropomorphizes God by saying “let your eyes be open”.  Solomon has made his requests known to God in prayer.  In this close of his prayer he pleads again that God would hear his prayer and the prayers of the people of Israel.  In the verses before fifty-two he made nine petitions to God. He closes by again asking God to hear his prayer.   

Context

Solomon offers a prayer of dedication.  In his prayer he makes nine petitions but I think Solomon understood that even with all of the magnificence of the Temple and all of the gold and silver and wealth of the Temple and of his own personal wealth, that he still had nothing with which to bargain with God.  Solomon knew who he was praying to. He knew that he could only plead on the basis of God’s beloved mercy. Likewise we can’t bargain with God. We have nothing with which to bargain. God already owns it all. The Temple was a magnificent and beautiful edifice set apart for service to God.  But in all of Solomon’s petitions he still knew that it would be God and only God if any of them came to pass. We can ONLY plead on the basis of God’s beloved mercy.

Key Words (not necessarily in the text, but good for discussion):  

Altar- The raised place on which sacrifices were offered in the Old Testament period.  In many churches, a raised table as the place where the bread and wine of the Eucharist are consecrated.  

Dedicate – To consecrate or set apart for a specific use or function.  Often used in a religious context to indicate the devoting of life and energies to a specific vocation, task, or service.  

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:  

1.  Dedicated to You.      

2.  Laying it all before God.            

Question:  

Solomon makes nine petitions in his prayer of dedication.  On what basis did he believe God would answer his prayer?  

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

Next week, again, we continue in the same chapter and pick up where we left off.  As we study the final lesson of Unit Two with its theme of “Dedicating the Temple of God” we will study Solomon’s blessing.  The lesson is titled “Solomon’s Blessing” and “Solomon Anticipates Praise”.  The text is taken from 1 Kings 8:54-61. 

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Christianity, religion, Sunday School, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (January 12, 2020) Solomon’s Speech / Solomon Speaks To The People 1 Kings 8:14-21

Solomon’s Speech / Solomon Speaks To The People 1 Kings 8

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s lesson Solomon speaks to the people in the midst of a worship experience. Solomon’s speech reminds them of his father King David’s heart.  He reminds them that it was his father’s hearts desire to build a house for the LORD God of Israel. God may have made the covenant with King David but it would be King Solomon that would build the Temple and secure a permanent place for God to dwell.  Even though all of this took many years God keeps God’s promises and God honors God’s covenants. In this worship experience Solomon honors God, acknowledges his father and he blesses (or salutes) the people. God has occupied the Temple in the presence of a thick cloud and now the dedication can proceed.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:  

Omnipresence

First Temple Period

Background:  

This week’s lesson begins where last week’s lesson ended.  The four lessons of Unit Two are focused on dedicating the Temple of God.  Each of these four lessons come from 1 Kings Eighth chapter. So in this week’s  background I will highlight some of the broad background of Kings and then focus on the history of the Temple.

I mentioned last week how the New Interpreter’s Study Bible explains that Kings covers “almost 400 years of Israel’s history, from the ascension of Solomon to the throne, before the death of David, to the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BCE.”  This book containing almost 400 years of history has several editions. The NISB notes that “Kings was composed in different stages. The first edition was finished in the pre-exilic time, probably before the death of Josiah.  A second edition was written when the Jews were in exile, around 550 BCE, a few years after the release of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 25:27-30).”  

The NISB also notes “as a historical book, 1 Kings is a theological interpretation of the monarchy and of the kings of Israel and Judah until the reign of Ahaziah.  The book describes the kingdom under Solomon and gives the religious reasons for the division of the united monarchy (1 Kings 11:1-13).”  You probably remember that King David united the kingdoms of Judah and Israel but under the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam the united kingdom would divide.  The writers of Kings provide theological reasons for why the kingdom divided.  For example, “every king in the Northern Kingdom allowed the religious innovation of Jeroboam to remain and as a result each was judged as having done what was evil.”  In other words, the kings in the Northern Kingdom of Israel did not follow the ways of God like the kings in the Southern Kingdom of Judah and for the writer of Kings, this explains their continuous downfall and evilness.   

Since this unit is focused on dedicating the Temple I provide a brief history of God’s dwelling place also.  In Exodus 25:8 God tells Moses “Have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them”. Moses built a tabernacle (tent).  The NISB notes “The plans for the tabernacle were a pattern of the Lord’s heavenly home. Construction of the tabernacle allowed the LORD to descend to earth; thus it connects heaven and earth.”  So the tabernacle was a temporary home for the presence of God and was a connection point between God’s heavenly abode and earth.  Moses built the temporary tabernacle. About 500 years later King Solomon would dedicate a newly built permanent Temple to God. This Temple is known as the First Temple.  Dr Stephen Breck Reid notes in The Africana Bible Reading Israel’s Scriptures From Africa and the African Diaspora 

“When the northern kingdom, Israel split off, it developed its own temple (922 BCE).  When the colonial Persian Judean regime wanted to consolidate their power, they refurbished the temple (515 BCE).”  What Dr Reid calls the colonial Persian Judean regime is when Zerubbabel returned with the exiles and rebuilt the first Temple.  Zerubbabel’s rebuilt Temple marks the beginning of the Second Temple period and that lasted until 70 CE. Dr Reid continues “Through poor intelligence, the Seleucids believed they could transform the temple into a Greek/Hellenistic temple without any political consequences (168 BCE).  Herod the Great again consolidated his power with the people through an extensive expansion of the temple (20 CE).  The Roman general Titus has his army sack the temple (70 CE).”

So over time the place for God to dwell transitioned from the Tabernacle that Moses built to the Temple that Solomon built.  The Temple that Solomon built would eventually be destroyed and the place for God to dwell would transition to every believer in Jesus Christ.  First Corinthians 3:16 reminds us “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”  

In Acts the 7 chapter before Stephen was stoned to death he reminded his persecutors

44 “Our ancestors had the tent of testimony in the wilderness, as God directed when he spoke to Moses, ordering him to make it according to the pattern he had seen. 45 Our ancestors in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our ancestors. And it was there until the time of David, (Stephen is talking about the tabernacle) 46 who found favor with God and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the house of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him. 48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands;…” 

And that’s Stephen’s record before he is stoned to death reminding us that now, God does not dwell in houses made with human hands. God is omnipresent and now dwells within every believer in Jesus Chirst.  

Our focus last week was how King Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant from Zion to the newly built Temple.  This week Solomon speaks to the people as he continues the dedication of this newly built Temple.  Some important words to consider from this text include:

Omnipresent

First Temple Period

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

In last week’s lesson Solomon finally had a place for the Ark.  Solomon summoned the Ark from Zion to the newly built Temple in Jerusalem.  Cherubim and the shekinah glory of God were highlighted in the text as the entire nation of Israel participated in the dedication of the new Temple.  It was about 40 years earlier when King David dreamed of a great Temple for God’s permanent dwelling place.  David had the dream, but his son Solomon fulfilled the dream.  The hebrew people had worshiped at the non-permanent tabernacle for about 500 years.  Now the elders, the heads of the tribes, and the leaders of the ancestral houses would lead the procession and dedication of this magnificent new permanent Temple.  The tabernacle was the symbol of God’s presence among the Israelites, now that symbol would be the Temple.  This Temple would become the national sanctuary.

Last week, Solomon finally had a place for the permanent Temple.  This week he speaks to the people as he dedicates what God had provided for God’s own dwelling place according to God’s promise.  Solomon recognizes the role God plays in making this dedication possible and he recognizes the people of God who were the hands and feet God used.  Townsend and  Boyd’s commentary title this week’s lesson “Solomon’s Speech”.  Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “Solomon Speaks To The People”.  The scripture text comes from 1 Kings 8:14-21.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 8 verse fourteen.  The writer begins with “then the king turned”  Solomon turned because he had been facing the Temple where the priests could not stand and the shekinah glory of the Lord had filled the Temple.  Keep in mind that this is a worship experience. God manifested God’s self in a thick cloud and filled the house of the LORD. The priests couldn’t stand, the glory of the LORD filled the house, and Solomon along with the people are no doubt in amazement of the presence of God filling the Temple.  

Solomon turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel.  Townsend Commentary notes that “Solomon’s “blessing” of the people is a loose use of the word since it was typically priests, not kings, who were authorized to pronounce a blessing on the people.”   Townsend continues, “Solomon was really expressing a blessing to the LORD.”  

In verse fifteen, Solomon offers praise to God.  Again, this is a worship experience. Solomon declares the LORD God of Israel to be blessed and declares that God with God’s hand (or power) has fulfilled what God promised to his father David.  Solomon knows that God keeps God’s promises. Even though God made the promise to Solomon’s father, and even though it took many years to finally fulfill, God is still a promise keeper.  

In verse sixteen Solomon recalls the words of God spoken to his father David.  Solomon tells the gathered assembly how God had not chosen a city from the tribes of Israel since God brought them out of Egypt.  But when God chose David to be over his people things changed. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures by John Peter Lange et al explains “after He had chosen David to be king, and brought His people by him to the full and quiet possession of the promised land, it was fitting that He, as well as the nation, should have an abiding dwelling-place.”  

In verse seventeen Solomon reminds the assembly how his father David had it in mind to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.  Solomon is reminding them of his father’s hearts desire. King David’s heart was in the right place, he had good intentions to honor and glorify God’s name with a permanent house.  

In verses eighteen and nineteen Solomon recalls how the LORD acknowledged David’s good intentions but nevertheless denied David’s desire.  Solomon is recalling the history that has led them up to that present moment. Solomon wants them to know that this is the LORD’s doing and it didn’t just start with him.  It started many years ago with a King who was a man after God’s own heart.

In verse twenty Solomon declares that the LORD has kept the promise and that he has fulfilled his part to build God’s house.  Solomon has risen in the place of his father, he now sits on the throne of Israel, and he has built the house of the LORD his father desired.  David dreamed the dream and it was David’s heart’s desire, but his son Solomon is the one who completes the dream.  

This lesson closes at verse twenty-one with Solomon proclaiming that he has provided a place for the ark.  It is in fact, a magnificent place. The ark Solomon puts in this magnificent place represents the covenant of the LORD that God made with Solomon’s ancestors.  He is essentially saying this has been a long journey. A journey all the way from when God brought us out of Egypt. But God is here now and this is where God belongs.   

Context

Fidelity is defined as “faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.”  I think the operative term in this definition is “demonstrated by”.  Faithfulness must be demonstrated. Second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day, week, month and year God demonstrates faithfulness to God’s people.  

Solomon understood and recognized God’s fidelity.  God is a promise keeper. The promise may have been made to his father King David, but it was through Solomon that the promise would be kept.  God honors God’s covenants and God keeps God’s promises.  

Key Words:  

Omnipresent – God as an infinite spirit being everywhere present in the cosmos (ps 139:7-10; Jer 23:23-24).  

Temple, Jerusalem –   The structure in Jerusalem that was the center of worship and the national life of Israel from the 10th century B.C when it was built by Solomon, until its destruction by Rome in A.D. 70.  It was rebuilt twice and had three periods, during which the temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod stood.   

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:  

1.  A promise keeping God.    

2.  Complete and wholehearted devotion (dedication).          

Question:  

Solomon dedicates the new Temple to God.  What can we personally dedicate to God?   

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

Next week we continue in the same chapter and pick up where we left off.  As we continue studying Unit Two’s theme of “Dedicating the Temple of God” we see the second part of what Solomon has to say as he addresses the assembly of Israel.  Next week Solomon’s prayer of dedication links the Davidic Covenant and the covenant at Mount Sinai. The lesson is titled “Solomon’s Dedication Prayer” and “Solomon Seeks God’s Blessing”.  The text is taken from 1 Kings 8:22-30, 52-53.    

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Christianity, Sunday School, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (January 05, 2020) A Place For The Ark / Solomon Summons The Ark 1 Kings 8:1-13

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Happy New Year and welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this first lesson of the new decade Solomon finally has a place for the Ark.  Solomon summons the Ark from Zion to the newly built Temple in Jerusalem.  Cherubim and the shekinah glory of God are highlighted in the text as the nation of Israel participates in the dedication of the new Temple.  About 40 years earlier King David dreamed of a great Temple for God’s permanent dwelling place.  David had the dream, but his son Solomon would fulfill the dream.  After worshiping at the non-permanent tabernacle for about 500 years the elders, the heads of the tribes, and the leaders of the ancestral houses lead the procession and dedication of this magnificent new permanent Temple.  The tabernacle was the symbol of God’s presence among the Hebrew people, now that symbol would be the Temple.  This Temple would become the national sanctuary. Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:  

Shekinah

Cherubim

Background:  

In this week’s lesson we remain in the Old Testament moving from First Chronicles to First Kings.  In the same way First and Second Chronicles were originally one book, First and Second Kings were originally one book also.  The New Interpreter’s Study Bible explains, Chronicles like Kings, were divided into two books when the “Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek” by the septuagint.

As I discussed last week, the book of Chronicles comprises two of the twelve books of history in the Old Testament.  Just as in Chronicles, the book of Kings also comprise two of the twelve books of history in the Old Testament. The NISB explains how Kings covers “almost 400 years of Israel’s history, from the ascension of Solomon to the throne, before the death of David, to the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BCE.”  I also noted how the books of Samuel and Kings were sources the Chronicler used to write Chronicles. So in some ways, the Chronicler retells the same stories as Samuel and Kings but the Chronicler is focused on different aspects of those stories.  The Chronicler retells these stories because he wants his listeners to know that this God – the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob and the God of King David and King Solomon is still their God and that they are still God’s people.  

The NISB notes Kings covers almost 400 years of Israel’s history.  To comprise this history, Kings uses several sources. Those sources include “the Book of the Acts of Solomon (I Kings 11:41); The Books of the Annals of the Kings of Israel (mentioned 18 times beginning with 1 Kings 14:19; and the books of the Annals of the Kings of Judah (mentioned 15 times beginning in 1 Kings 14:29).  The NISB also explains “Other unnamed sources were also used, some of which provide information about the prophets Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and other prophets.” Those 400 years of history include familiar stories such as Solomon’s wisdom as he deals with two women and a baby, how the united monarchy divided, Ahab and Jezebel, Elijah Ascending to Heaven, Elisha and the widow’s oil, the fall and captivity of Judah and many others.  

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 our lesson today tells the story of how the Ark of the Covenant was brought up from David’s tent to the completed Temple Solomon prepared. Some important words to consider from this text include:

Shekinah

Cherubim 

Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This WeeK:

In last week’s lesson the Chronicler wrote about King David’s prayer.  As David sat before the Ark of the Covenant, he was probably in awe of what God was doing in his life.  He was probably in awe of what it meant for God to establish an eternal dynasty that would bear his name.  I mentioned how I had a picture in my mind of David entering the tent, sitting down, and simply saying God, you’ve been good to me.  David went into the tent, sat down in front of the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and he prayed his prayer. He began by thanking and praising God for the present, then he looked back on what God had done and where God had brought him and the nation of Israel from.  And then he closed his prayer by looking toward the future. I also mentioned that as this decade draws to a close, David’s prayer is a good model for us. With the new decade on the horizon, entering the new decade in prayer should be a good way to get it started.  

Last week, David sat in the tent and prayed his prayer where the Ark of the Covenant was housed.  This week Solomon, David’s son, brings that same Ark of the Covenant up from his father’s tent to the magnificent temple he has built for the Ark.  What David dreamed of doing, his son now does. Townsend and Boyd’s commentary title this week’s lesson “A Place For The Ark”. Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “Solomon Summons The Ark”.  The scripture text comes from 1 Kings 8:1-13.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 8 verse one with the word “then”.  Then Solomon assembled the elders…  In the verse immediately preceding the eighth chapter the writer tells us in 7:51 “Thus all the work that King Solomon did on the house of the Lord was finished. Solomon brought in the things that his father David had dedicated, the silver, the gold, and the vessels, and stored them in the treasuries of the house of the Lord.”  THEN Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites.  It seems obvious to me that Solomon would call the leaders and the heads of the tribes. What is not so obvious is why he would also call the elders of Israel.  These elders are senior citizens, not persons holding a religious office. I think this is an important recognition. We would be wise to acknowledge the shoulders upon which we stand today.  

Solomon assembles these elders and leaders because this Temple would become the national sanctuary.  All the tribes contributed to building this great Temple with all of its costly magnificence and grandeur.  This was the national sanctuary and it would replace the venerated holy tabernacle the Israelites had used for hundreds of years.  This Temple would replace the tent and become a permanent house for the symbolic presence of God.

Verse two notes that all the people of Israel assembled to Solomon at the festival in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.  Townsend Commentary explains this festival was the “Feast of Booths / Tabernacle and it was a week long celebration remembering the journey from Egypt to a permanent home in Canaan.”  Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms explains that there are three Old Testament or Hebrew annual feasts. They are the feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover), Weeks (First Fruits), and Booths (Tabernacles).  

Verses three and four explain that the elders came and the priests carried the Ark.  Solomon remembered the lesson his father learned about who was permitted to carry the Ark.  The priests and the Levites brought up the Ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and the holy vessels that were stored in the tent.  It was the job of the Levites to handle the Ark of the Covenant and all the relics inside it. The Pulpit Commentary notes that the Ark of the Lord “had been nearly 40 years in the tent that David prepared.”  So David may have dreamed the dream of providing a permanent house for the Ark but it would take nearly 40 years between David’s preparation and Solomon’s completion.  

Verse five leaves us with a picture of literally hundreds if not thousands of animals being sacrificed on the move from the tent to the Temple.  Perhaps Solomon sacrifices these animals in an attempt to please God or perhaps it is an attempt to repent for the sins of the nation.  

In verse six the priests bring the Ark of the Lord to its final resting place in the inner sanctuary of the house.  This inner sanctuary is also called the most holy place or the holy of holies. The Ark of the Covenant rests beneath the wings of the Cherubim.  According to Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms, Cherubim is a Hebrew term for supernatural beings associated with sacred contexts in the Bible (Gen. 3:24; Ezekiel 10:3; Heb 9:5).  I encourage you to check out the Angels and Cherubim YouTube video created by The Bible Project.  It does an excellent job explaining what these supernatural creatures are.

Verses seven and eight offer more detail about the construction and function of the Cherubim.  They spread their wings covering the Ark and its poles. Covering the Ark prevents it’s open appearance and/or provides shadow or darkness for the Ark.  

Verse nine tells us there was nothing in the Ark except the tablets of stone Moses placed there on Mount Horeb.  Hebrews 9:1-5 adds additional items. It reads:

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tent was constructed, the first one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of the Presence; this is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a tent called the Holy of Holies. 4 In it stood the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which there were a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat.

Verses ten and eleven describe the Lord’s presence when the priests come out of the holy of holies.  At this point, the Lord has come into the Temple and the Lord’s presence indicates God’s acceptance of the Temple as a permanent dwelling place in the same way God’s presence was represented in the tabernacle.  This filling of the Temple with the glory of the Lord in a cloud is God’s shekinah glory.  

In verses twelve and thirteen King Solomon closes this lesson telling us the Lord has said he will dwell in thick darkness.  This helps us understand that the presence of God is universal. Whether in light or darkness, God can be found and should be sought out.  Solomon closes by acknowledging that he has built an exalted house for God to dwell forever.  

Context

A new year, a new decade and a new YOU!

Many people bring in the new year with new year’s resolutions.  Some people pledge to lose weight, get in shape, budget better, spend more time with loved ones and a host of other meaningful and thoughtful desires.  It’s great when those resolutions are actually achieved. You can and should celebrate.

King David dreamed of a permanent Temple for the house of God.  But it took about forty years for that desire to come to reality and even then it wasn’t David that completed it.  Perhaps, if our dreams and goals are large enough to require family or community effort to achieve them, maybe… perhaps… we might make our world a better place.  

Key Words:  

Shekinah – A term that in the writings of the rabbis came to mean the presence of God.  It occurs as a manifestation (revelation) of God. Though not found in the Old Testament the term may be used in reference to God’s glory filling the Temple.    

Cherubim –   a Hebrew term for supernatural beings associated with sacred contexts in the Bible (Gen. 3:24; Ezekiel 10:3; Heb 9:5).  

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:  

1.  Dedicated to You.    

2.  A new place to meet God.        

Question:  

In the new year and new decade are there new ways for you to dedicate yourself to God? 

Now, for the Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

Next week we continue in the same chapter and pick up where we left off.  As we continue studying Unit Two’s theme of “Dedicating the Temple of God” we will see what Solomon has to say as he addresses the assembly of Israel.   The lesson for January 12th is focused on Solomon’s speech as he and the nation continue dedicating the Temple in Jerusalem. The lesson is titled “Solomon Speaks To The People” and “Solomon’s Speech”.  The text is taken from 1 Kings 8:14-21.    

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Sunday School Lesson (December 29, 2019) David’s Prayer 1 Chronicles 17:16-27

David’s Prayer 1 Chronicles 17:16-27

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this last lesson of the decade the Chronicler writes about King David’s prayer. As David sits down before the Ark of the Covenant, he is probably in awe of what he is realizing.  He is probably in awe of what it means for God to establish an eternal dynasty that would bear his name. I have this picture in my mind of David entering the tent, sitting down, and simply saying God, you’ve been good to me.  David goes into the tent, sits down in front of the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and he prays his prayer. He begins by thanking and praising God for the present, then he looks back on what God had done and where God had brought them from.  And then he closes his prayer looking toward the future. As this decade draws to a close, I think David’s prayer is a good model for us. There is a new decade on the horizon and entering the new decade in prayer is a good way to get it started.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:  

Covenant

Dynasty

As always, we begin with the Background for today’s text:  

This week’s lesson takes us back to First Chronicles in the Old Testament.  This is our fifth lesson in the Winter Quarter and the fourth lesson from First Chronicles.  Just as a refresher, First Chronicles is one of the books of history in the Old Testament. The Old Testament begins with the five Books of Law, then we have the twelve Books of History followed by the five Books of Poetry, then the books of the Major Prophets, and then the Books of the Minor Prophets.  

One of the major points of First Chronicles is the Davidic Covenant which is also recorded in Second Samuel seventh chapter.  As we studied two weeks ago, the Davidic Covenant was established by God and promises that one of David’s descendants would be established in God’s house and in God’s kingdom forever (1 Chronicles 17:14).  As we studied last week, Jesus is that descendant.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.  

So just a quick refresher of the background material we have already covered with First Chronicles.  In this fifth lesson of Unit One of the Winter Quarter we continue to study how David honors God. Some of the highlights from the previous lessons background include 

  • Most scholars agree that First and Second Chronicles were originally one book.
  • This book of history was originally named “The Events of the Days” was later named “The Things Omitted” and then finally named First and Second Chronicles.
  •  I also discussed of the three major themes in this book the concern for continuity with the past is perhaps most important.  In other words, the Chronicler wants them to know that God is still their God and they are still God’s people.
  • Additionally, this book was written after the Israelites had been defeated in battle by the Babylonians, exiled from their homeland, and then returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonians were defeated by the Persians.  

The focus for this week’s lesson is David’s prayer.  It is a continuation of the lesson from two weeks ago when God established the Davidic Covenant in this same chapter in verse fourteen.  God’s covenant with David didn’t require anything from David. David was not required to meet any responsibilities or obligations. This covenant was based on who David was and what God wanted to do through David.  The Davidic Covenant meant that through one of David’s descendants David’s throne would be established forever.

The Ark of the covenant of God is now in Jerusalem, housed in a tent prepared by David.  David’s desire was to build a temple that would honor God but God had other plans. Building a temple would be a job God would assign to David’s son Solomon.  Our lesson this week is about David’s prayer after he realizes how God is establishing an eternal dynasty with one of his descendants. David praises God in his prayer.  Some important words to consider from this text include:

Covenant

Dynasty

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

Last week’s Sunday School Lesson featured Mary the mother of Jesus and her cousin Elizabeth.  We saw a humble Mary who realized the significance and importance of what was about to happen to her.  She had come from little but after the angel Gabriel visits her she knew that she would hold a place in history.  Mary had a song in her heart and she sang the praise of a gracious and merciful God. Luke’s record of Mary’s praise helped us understand how the Lord is with us.  Emmanuel means God with us. Mary and Elizabeth experienced a miraculous intervention by God for the children they would birth. An old married woman beyond childbearing age and a very young unmarried, and at best teenage, Mary both conceived their children by the power of the Holy Spirit.  These two women had a Spirit filled encounter. Mary’s song described God as “a warrior and as a God who was merciful, who remembered the lowly, and cared for the needy.” In her patriarchal society Elizabeth was certainly needy and Mary was certainly lowly. Townsend, Boyd’s, and Standard Lesson Commentary title this week’s lesson “David’s Prayer”.  The scripture text comes from 1 Chronicles 17:16-27.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 17 verse sixteen at the beginning of David’s prayer.  David had sought to honor God but it turns out that for some reason, God has decided to honor David.  God establishes this eternal dynasty in David’s name and with this covenant David has no responsibilities or obligations that he has to fulfill.  God is just good to David and God has decided to bless David. David’s prayer is that God’s promise will be established forever.  

In verse sixteen David sits down before the Ark of the Covenant, probably in awe of what he is realizing.  He is probably in awe of what it means for God to establish an eternal dynasty that would bear his name. When David says “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far” David knows he isn’t worthy of this great blessing. He knows that this is God’s doing and this admission of “who am I” at least demonstrates some humility on David’s part.

In verse seventeen when David says “even this was a small thing in your sight O God” he’s talking about all that God had already done for him. David knows where God has brought him from.  He had to wait about 15 years from the time he was first anointed by Samuel to the time he became king over Judah. And then it was another seven years before David was anointed king over all Israel. So this journey to King over all Israel and establishing his throne in Jerusalem has been well over 20 years.  This wasn’t an overnight success for David.  He has worked long and hard to get where he is.  When David says “You regard me as someone of high rank, O Lord God!”.  I feel like he is saying God, you treat me so good.  David appreciates what God is doing in his life.

In verse eighteen when David says “you know your servant” he knows that God has been with him down through the years.  God was there in the heat of the day and in the cold dark nights. David gives thanks that God has honored him by blessing him with this dynasty.  

In verse nineteen when David says “all these great deeds and all these great things” he is acknowledging the greatness of this dynasty God has blessed him with.  He knows God has been and is a great God and does great things.  Keep in mind that this is David’s prayer.  In his prayer he tells God how great God is.  I think that’s a good example for us today. Not that God needs to know how great God is, but more so to help us keep our own lives in perspective.

Verse twenty begins with “There is no one like you O Lord”.  All I can really say about that is ain’t that the truth! There is no one like our God.  David continues by saying “according to all that we have heard with our ears.”  In other words, David is essentially saying I’ve never heard of anybody as good as my God is.  

In verse twenty-one as David sits before the Ark of the Covenant praying his prayer, he remembers the past of the nation of Israel and how God delivered Israel.  He remembers how God brought him from a small shepherd boy, and how God has brought this people from 12 brothers to this great nation that is now unified under him as their king.  

In verse twenty-two David declares God made Israel God’s people.  He praises God that since Israel is God’s people, God will be their God forever and if God is the God of Israel forever, David’s dynasty will last forever.  

In verse twenty-three David continues to give thanks.  In the previous verses David gave thanks for things in the present and things in the past; now in these last verses David looks to the future.  In this twenty-third verse he essentially says as far as what you have said about me and my house, do it Lord, just like you said you would. David knows that if his name will be a great name, it will be great because God made it great.  

In verse 24 David looks again to the future.  He calls God the Lord of Hosts which is a title for God that emphasizes God’s sovereignty over all creation and all creatures as well as God’s rule in history.  In other words, God is the God who rules over heaven and earth and has done these great things through Israel’s past. God has brought them to this present and God will see them through the future.  

In verse twenty-five as David says he has “found it possible to pray before God” he is essentially saying God, this is why I’m here.  David went in and sat down before the Lord. Today we might say something like “I’ve come with my head bowed and heart turned to you oh God.”  

Verses twenty six and twenty seven close the lesson with David closing his prayer essentially saying to God that it was God’s idea to give him this good thing.  He closes by essentially saying “I pray God that it pleases you, to bless me like this. And I pray that it will forever please you because you have blessed me and you are blessed forever.  

Context

You treat me so good!  

I think everybody wants somebody to treat them good.  When someone treats you good, it’s only right to at least try to show your appreciation.  Sometimes mere words don’t seem to be enough.  And when somebody is really, I mean really, good to you, all you can do, at least all I can do is thank God for them.  I hope somebody has been good to you.

When David walked into the tent to pray his prayer it was with the full knowledge of how good God had been to him and to his people.  I can imagine David sat in awe of the goodness of God.  I can imagine him thinking how good God had been to him down through the years.  At this point, all he could really do was thank God and give God praise.  

Key Words:  

Covenant– A formal agreement or treaty between two parties that establishes a relationship and in which obligations and mutual responsibilities may be enacted.  

Dynasty–   a line of hereditary rulers of a country.  

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:  

1.  You’re so good to me.  

2.  Pray your prayer        

Question:  

Christmas was a few days ago.  How can you show appreciation for gifts from friends and family and how can you show appreciation for the gift of Jesus Christ?        

I want to encourage you to go back to the December 1st lesson and read or watch it again.  I think it will really sharpen the focus of this final lesson in Chronicles.  

Now, for the Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

In the first lesson of the new decade we begin unit two.  In this unit we study dedicating the Temple of God. We’ve studied how David honored God with the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle, and now we continue with how God will be represented in this Temple made with human hands.  The lesson for January 5th is focused on King Solomon dedicating the Temple in Jerusalem.  The lesson is titled “A Place for the Ark” and “Solomon Summons the Ark”.  The text is taken from 1 Kings 8:1-13.    

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Sunday School Lesson (December 22, 2019) The Lord Is With You / Mary’s Praise Luke 1:39-56

Mary’s Praise / The Lord is With You – Luke 1:39-56

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  This week’s Sunday School Lesson features Mary the mother of Jesus and her cousin Elizabeth. We see an humble Mary who realizes the significance and importance of what is about to happen to her.  She has come from little but knows now that she will hold a place in history. Mary has a song in her heart and she sings the praise of a gracious and merciful God. In this encounter Luke records Mary’s praise and helps us understand how the Lord is with us.  These two women experience a miraculous intervention by God for the children they would birth. An old married woman beyond childbearing age and a very young unmarried, and at best teenage, Mary would both conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit. These two women are about to have a Spirit filled encounter.  Mary’s song describes God as “a warrior and as a God who is merciful, who remembers the lowly, and cares for the needy.” I imagine both Mary and Elizabeth agree that God does indeed care for the needy.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:  

Emmanuel

Praise

Background:  

This week’s lesson comes from the Gospel according to Luke.  Luke was a Gentile physician so he does not have Jewish heritage.  His perspective is unique. The New Interpreter’s Study Bible notes “The Gospel of Luke is most noteworthy for its length and the narrative of the birth of Jesus”.  

  • Luke is the longest book in the New Testament.  It has fewer chapters than Matthew and Acts but contains more verses and words.  
  • It’s narrative of the birth of Jesus is the most detailed of the four Gospels.
  •   The NISB also notes “its unrelenting interest in the marginalized and the dispossessed”.  
  • The NISB notes that “Although the other Gospels report many of the same events, more than half of Luke contains information that is found nowhere else.  Without Luke, certain periods of Christ’s life and ministry would be unknown to us”.  

So Luke is especially important because of its detail of certain events not covered elsewhere and its length.  

It’s important to know how Luke tells his story.  The NISB notes “The real beginning of the story of Jesus lies not with Jesus’ birth but in the ancient past, God’s ancient plan to bless the nations.  Luke as a Gentile picks up the scriptural story from Abraham and brings the scripture forward to his present day. The birth of John and Jesus is just the latest development in God’s plan” (NISB).  So in other words, Luke is making it real and present day for his listeners. He wants both the Jewish and Gentile community he is addressing to know that the life of Jesus is applicable and relevant to them.  And he ties it all to the crux of the Abrahamic covenant.  

       The author of the Gospel according to Luke is not named in the book.  Luke is likely written about 70AD. Additionally, Luke is a Gentile and not necessarily concerned with Jewish traditions.  Instead Luke is concerned with Gentiles. Notice that the angel Gabriel finds Mary in Nazareth of Galilee. “This was Gentile territory and neatly coincides with Luke’s birth scene, where Jesus is born among the common people” (Boyd’s Commentary).  Furthermore, Luke ties the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus to the Hebrew Scripture so that all may understand Jesus as the Savior of the world (not just Israel). The NISB notes that Luke is the most socially minded of the gospels. Jesus cares for the poor, the hungry, and those who weep.  For Luke, the story of Jesus is absolutely connected to God’s ultimate and ancient plan to save the world through Jesus. Luke is telling us, this was God’s plan all along.     

Some important words to consider from this text include:

Emmanuel 

Praise

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

Last week’s lesson considered the roles King David, the Prophet Natan, and the Angel of the LORD played in building God’s house.  I noted how God had been good to David across the years and how David wanted to honor God by building a house for the Ark of the Covenant.  But David soon found out that God had other plans. Instead of David building God a house, God would build an eternal house for the dynasty of David.  David meant well, and he was well capable of building a house for the Ark. But just because you can doesn’t mean that you should. This week’s lesson takes us to the New Testament for the Gospel According to Luke’s account of Mary’s praise.  We see an humble Mary who realizes the significance and importance of what is about to happen to her. She has come from little but knows now that she will hold a place in history. Mary has a song in her heart and she sings the praise of a gracious and merciful God.  In this way, Mary honors God and she honors God with her belief. Townsend and Boyd’s Commentaries title this week’s lesson “The Lord is With You”. Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “Mary’s Praise”. The scripture text comes from Luke 1:39-56.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 1 with verse thirty-nine.  In verses one through thirty-eight Luke addresses how the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of Jesus was foretold.  Here, at verse thirty-nine he describes Mary leaving with haste to visit a Judean town where she would find Elizabeth. Verse twenty-six notes that Mary is in Galilee.  So she travelled from Galilee to a Judean town in the hill country to visit Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah. (just out of curiosity, I wonder if anyone knows how many miles that is)

In verse forty-one and when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, John the Baptist leaped in Eliazbeth’s womb.  Verse six told us that Elizabeth was already a righteous woman. Now, at the sound of Mary’s voice John the Baptist leaps in his mother’s womb and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit.  You can only imagine that these two women, who both share special miracles are about to have a grand and glorious time in the LORD. It took divine intervention for Elizabeth to conceive in her old age and it took divine intervention for Mary to conceive by the Holy Spirit.  In verse fifteen the angel Gabriel told Zechariah that Elizabeth’s baby would be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth. So not only was Elizabeth and Mary filled with the Holy Spirit, that holy child, John the Baptist was also.  

In verse forty-two Elizabeth exclaimed how greatly Mary has been blessed.  Elizabeth especially knows how great this blessing is since she had been barren for many years.  In Elizabeth’s patriarchal society, giving birth was one of the most important roles of women.  After all these years, Elizabeth now knows the blessing of being with child and she can share this joy with her young relative Mary.  The New Interpreter’s Study Bible One Volume Commentary notes “it is especially remarkable the part played by two women and their conversation at the start of the narrative and anticipation of the end of the story, when women will be the first to proclaim Jesus’s resurrection (24:1-11).”  But in reality, women play an important role in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.   

In verses forty-three and forty-four Elizabeth asks Mary “why has the mother of my Lord come to me, for as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting the child in my womb leaped for joy.”  So, we don’t know how she knows, but Elizabeth already knows that Mary carries the Savior in her womb.  

In verse forty-five Elizabeth continues with how blessed Mary is.  Elizabeth is describing Mary’s faith. She calls Mary blessed because unlike Elizabeth’s husband, when the Angel Gabriel came to Mary she believed immediately.  

Verses forty-six through fifty-three record Mary’s song.  This song is “known as the Magnificat and grounds her praise and God’s present activity in God’s faithfulness and ancient promise.”  In other words, this song of praise knows that Jesus is the fulfillment of the covenant.  As we discussed in last week’s lesson, a descendant of David would sit on the throne for eternity.  Jesus Christ is that descendant.   

In verses forty-seven, forty-eight, and forty-nine, Mary declares that her soul magnifies the Lord and her spirit rejoices in God.  Mary is only a young woman. The NISB notes that “In Roman law the minimum age of marriage for girls was ten, and Jewish practices were similar.  Marriage generally took place before a girl reached twelve and a half.”  So while Mary might be a very young girl, she knows enough for her soul to magnify the Lord and her spirit to rejoice in God her Savior.  Not only that, but Mary is humble. Mary notes how God has looked with favor upon the lowliness of God’s servant. Luke helps us to know that God loves and cares for the humble and lowly people also.  This unmarried, at best teenage, young girl would become the mother of the Savior of the world.  

In verses fifty and fifty-one Mary’s song describes the mercy of God.  She knows that God has been merciful from generation to generation. As Elizabeth is now with child I can imagine that she could testify to the goodness and mercy of God. Elizabeth would especially agree with how God has “scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts” after many years of being looked down upon by others for being barren.  

In verses fifty-two and fifty-three Mary’s song describes how God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, lifted up the lowly, filled the hungry, and sent the rich away empty.  The NISB notes that Mary’s song describes God as “a warrior who engages in battle on behalf of God’s people and brings to them deliverance and as a God who is merciful, who remembers the lowly, and cares for the needy.”  I imagine both Mary and Elizabeth would agree that God is indeed a God who remembers the lowly and cares for the needy.  

In verses fifty-four and fifty-five her song describes how God helped Israel according to the promise made to their ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.  Mary is referring to the Arbrahamic covenant. God promised Abraham to make a great nation of him, and from him all the nations of the world would be blessed. Mary knows that the fulfillment of that covenant would be through her.  This unwed teenage girl has good reason to rejoice and for her soul to magnify God.  

Verse fifty-six closes the lesson noting that Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months before returning home.  Verse twenty-six noted the Angel Gabriel came to Mary in Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy. So soon after Mary departs, Elizabeth would give birth to John the Baptist.

Context:

Westmeinster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms define Emmanuel as a child in Isaiah’s writings, so named, as a sign of God’s presence and protection (Isa. 7:14, 8:8).  It is seen in the Gospel of Matthew as a prophecy of the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ, who will be called “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). The conception and birth of Jesus Christ is a story of how God came to be with us.  Some call him Emmanuel. Others call him the Light of the World, the Good Shepherd, the King of Glory, or the Prince of Peace. I like to call him Jehovah Jireh. I’ve known him to be a provider. Whether he is your provider, or healer, or way maker he is with us and we ought to do like Mary and give him praise.

Key Characters in the text: 

The Angel Gabriel – One of only two named angels in the protestant Bible.  The other is Michael. In the Gospel of Luke Gabriel twice announces the birth of a son; first for the arrival of John the Baptist and secondly to the virgin Mary. 

 Mary – She is the young girl who conceives Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  She is considered an ideal believer because she did not doubt the Holy Spirit’s announcement of the conception of Jesus; she is obedient, believing, and faithful.  She is betrothed to Joseph.

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Christianity, religion, Sunday School, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (December 15, 2019) Building God’s House / David’s House 1 Chronicles 17:1, 3, 4, 11-14; 21:18, 21-27

David’s House / Building God’s House 1 Chronicles 17 and 21

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  This week’s Sunday School Lesson features the roles King David, the Prophet Natan, and the Angle of the LORD play in building God’s house.  Across the years God had been good to David and now David wants to honor God by building a house for the Ark of the Covenant. David soon finds out that God has other plans.  Instead of David building God a house, God would build an eternal house for the dynasty of David. David meant well, and he was well capable of building a house for the Ark. But just because you can doesn’t always mean that you should.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:  

Covenant

Prophet

Background:  

This is the third lesson in Unit Three where we are considering how David honors God.  It is also our third lesson in 1 Chronicles. The background highlights from the previous two lessons include how 

  • Most scholars agree that First and Second Chronicles were originally one book.
  • This book was originally named “The Events of the Days” was later named “The Things Omitted” and then finally named First and Second Chronicles.
  •   I also discussed of the three major themes in this book the concern for continuity with the past is perhaps most important.  

The focus for this week’s lesson is building God’s house.  What would eventually become the central place for the presence and worship of God started out in the tabernacle built by Moses.  The Ark of the covenant of God was then housed in a tent made by David. As we see in this week’s lesson David desires to build a temple that honors God but God had other plans.  God’s other plans are related to one of the three theological themes that continually appear in 1 Chronicles (NISB).

The concept of retribution or retributive justice is the third theological theme in 1 Chronicles and is related to this week’s text also.  Retribution or retributive justice is the idea that good will be rewarded and evil will be punished. However, the NISB notes that this concept is “neither as mechanical nor as simplistically applied as previously thought”.  For example, when Satan incited David to conduct a census it displeased God and God struck Israel with a plague. God’s retribution for David’s sin was the plague. But note also that God is concerned with repentance and restoration.  When David repented of his sin God stayed the hand of the destroying angel. Note also that although David is called a man after God’s own heart, he would not be allowed to build a Temple to house the Ark of the Covenant of God.  That would be a job God would assign to David’s son. David’s life was known for bloodshed and war (1 Chronicles 22:8).

The portions of our lesson in the seventeenth and twenty-first chapters of First Chronicles deal with God’s Covenant with David, and David’s Altar and Sacrifice.  Keep in mind the Chronicler is giving his listeners a history lesson. This text closely follows 2 Samuel 7:1-29. The Chronicler is reminding them of how God used David and Solomon to build what was a magnificent Temple.  The people the Chronicler is talking to no longer have the tabernacle and they no longer have the Ark of the covenant of God. But they do have what remains of the Temple and they can come together to rebuild it to its former glory.  

God’s covenant with David promises him an eternal dynasty.  After David’s death God will raise up and establish one of David’s descendants to rule on the throne forever.  David’s selection and payment for the altar and his sacrifice of burnt offerings and offerings of well-being “concludes the first half of his preparations for the construction of the Temple.  

 Some important words to consider from this text include:

Covenant

Prophet

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

Last week I noted how the Chronicler wrote to show David’s gratitude.  I noted how it was important for the Chronicler to help this nation understand that even though they had been defeated and taken captive in the past, that the future was still bright with God on their side.  The Chronicler wanted the Hebrew nation to know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God of King David and King Solomon was their God and they were God’s people.  He wanted them to know that even though their forebears fell into sin and were punished; God had not forsaken them.  They had been through great pain and distress and they wanted to know their place in the universe. They were back in Jerusalem and they wanted to know if the same God that brought King David to power and King Solomon to great splendor was still their God.  

Last week’s lesson opened at verse eight of 1 Chronicles 16 with David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving.  Verse eight began by exhorting the recently returned people to give thanks, to call on God’s name, and to make known God’s deeds among the people.  After going through what they had gone through the Chronicler reminded them of how King David gave thanks and called on God. I noted how the point for us was to know that when God has been good to you, you ought to tell somebody.  The Israelites had been hurt and defeated but now they were back in Jerusalem and the Chronicler wanted them to know that somebody ought to praise God for it.  

In verse nine I noted how Praising God is active whether singing with a loud voice or a quite praise.  But more so when we begin to talk about the wondrous works that God has done for us, praise just happens.  

Verse twelve told us to remember God’s marvelous works, God’s wonders and the judgements of God’s mouth.  I noted how It’s good to remember. It’s good to remember what God has done for you. It’s good to remember how God brought you through.  It’s good to remember when and where God delivered you.  Remembering the mighty and marvelous works of God in our own lives leads us to a grateful heart and a thankful praise.  

I noted how verse twenty-one is a verse I’ve often heard quoted referring to preachers and other ministers of God.  Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm does not mean every preacher or minister is above criticism or even condemnation whey they are outside God’s will.  In other words, it’s not a get out of jail free card for preachers or ministers who are in the wrong.

Verses twenty-four and twenty-five declare that God is great and greatly to be praised.  I noted how a great God deserves a great praise. And a great praise will tell the saints and sinners what God has done.   

Verses twenty-six and twenty-seven closed the Townsend Commentary lesson with David’s psalm reminding the people that idol gods are essentially useless.  Idol worshipers can talk, but God worshipers can point to the heavens and the earth to declare that their God made the heavens and the earth and this God deserves all the glory and all the honor.  

This week’s lesson continues the story of how the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD came to have a house.  The plans for what would eventually become the Temple begin with King David. But King David would not be the one to build the place to house the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD.  Townsend and Boyd’s Commentaries title this week’s lesson “Building God’s House”. Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “David’s House”. The scripture text comes from 1 Chronicles 17:1,3,4 11-14; 21:18, 21-27.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 17 with verses one, three, and four.  In verse one after David is settled in his luxurious house he tells the prophet Nathan about his desire to build a house for the Ark.  David knows how good God has been to him. He is living in luxury and the Ark is in a tent. God has brought David from the fields as a young shepherd boy and now that David has arisen to King and made his throne in Jerusalem he wants to honor God with a house he believes suitable for the Ark.  Even though David has good intentions, he means well, and he is well capable of building a Temple, God does not approve of his plans. I think that helps us to understand that sometimes, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. There are things we are well capable of doing, but we need to make sure it’s in God’s will for our lives.  

The lesson picks up at verses eleven and twelve with David learning that after he has joined the ancestors, God will raise up from his descendants a dynasty.  A son that will rule on the throne. David meant well, he had good intentions and was well capable of providing a house for God but it turns out that God would be the one providing a “house” for David.  In Verse twelve the Chronicler recounts David learning that it will be one of his sons that will build a house for God and that God will establish his throne forever.  

In verses thirteen and fourteen the Chronicler recounts the prophet Nathan saying how God will be a father to David’s son and how God will not take his love from him, as God did with Saul.  He also recounts God establishing the covenant with David. How David’s dynasty will be established forever. God’s covenant with David didn’t require anything from David. David is not required to meet any responsibilities or obligations.  This covenant is simply based on who David is and what God wants to do through David.  

The lesson then moves to chapter twenty one, verse eighteen where the angel of the Lord tells Gad to tell David that he should erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Or’nan.  The Angel of the Lord is a messenger of God. Altar is defined as “The raised place on which sacrifices were offered in the Old Testament”. So while the tabernacle and the Ark of the covenant is significant, so is the altar upon which sacrifices are made to God.  The location of this altar is divinely chosen.

In verses twenty-one and twenty-two David meets Or’nan and asks for the site to build the altar.  He offers to pay full price and adds “so that the plague may be averted from the people”. This plague was retribution from God for David’s sin.  See verses one through seventeen concerning David’s census and the plague.  

In verse twenty-three Or’nan tells David to take it.  But not only does Or’nan offer the threshing floor, he offers the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for a grain offering.  Or’nan has already seen the Angel of the Lord and he knows this is important. When King David shows up Or’nan freely and willingly offers anything and everything that might be helpful for God’s purposes.  Or’nan doesn’t hesitate or equivocate, he gives for the purpose of God. In verse twenty-four King David tells Or’nan he will buy all of it for full price. David doesn’t want to offer a cheap sacrifice to God.  He knows how good God has been to him and he knows he can afford to bless Or’nan with the full price and much more.  

In verses twenty-five, twenty-six, and twenty-seven David paid Or’nan six hundred shekels of gold by weight.  This was not just for the threshing floor but for the whole site on which the temple will be built. Note Second Samuel 24:24 to compare and contrast the two payments made.  David builds the altar, he presents burnt offerings and he presents offerings of well-being. God responds with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. In some cases fire from heaven is a purifying force.  David has repented of his sin, God has accepted his repentance and God stays the hand of the angel.   

Context:

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  Although David had good intentions it was not David’s destiny to build a Temple for the Ark of the Covenant of God.  Sometimes having good intentions just isn’t good enough. David desired to honor and bless God with a house he thought was more suitable but God wasn’t having it.  That’s the point. It may not be our place to do every good thing that crosses our mind. We should first prayerfully seek God and then seek the counsel of wise saints of God.  If you believe God is saying yes and saints filled with wisdom are in agreement then you’re off to a good start. 

Key Characters in the text: 

King David – The central figure as he conquers the City of Jerusalem and builds a place to keep the Ark of the Covenant (Townsend).  

Nathan the Prophet – A prophet in the court of David.  David informs Nathan of his plans to build a house for the Ark of the Covenant.  Later, Nathan informs David that God would not accept his plans but would instead build a house (dynasty) for David.    

Key Words:  

Covenant– A formal agreement or treaty between two parties that establishes a relationship and in which obligations and mutual responsibilities may be enacted.  

Prophet –   One who speaks on behalf of God to God’s people, most prominently the Hebrew prophets whose writings are found in the Old Testament.  

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:  

When God changes your plans.        

Question:  

David refused to take Or’nan’s gift without payment.  Do all sacrifices cost us something?      

Concluding Thought:

The Chronicler is writing to people who no longer have the tabernacle nor do they have the Ark of the Covenant.  But they do have what remains of the Temple. He writes to give them purpose and a mission to both recall the former glory and to strive for the restored and future glory of God’s place and presence among them in a rebuilt and restored Temple.    

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Sunday School Lesson (December 8, 2019) A Heart Filled With Gratitude / David’s Gratitude 1 Chronicles 16:8-12, 19-27

A Heart Filled With Gratitude / David’s Gratitude

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s Sunday School Lesson The Chronicler writes to show us David’s gratitude and how we can have a heart filled with gratitude.  The Chronicler writes an encouragement for the children of Israel to keep hope alive.  It’s important for the Chronicler to help this nation understand that even though they have been defeated and taken captive in the past, that the future is still bright with God on their side.  The Chronicler wants the Hebrew nation to know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God of King David and King Solomon is their God and they are God’s people.  He wants them to know that even though their forbears fell into sin and were punished; God has not forsaken them.  They have been through great pain and distress and now they want to know their place in the universe.  Now that they are back in Jerusalem they want to know if the same God that brought King David to power and King Solomon to great splendor is still their God.  The Chronicler gives them a history lesson that shows the greatness of God and the great blessings of God when God’s people live in obedience.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms: 

Gratitude

Psalm

Background: 

As I noted last week most scholars agree that First and Second Chronicles were originally one book.  Last week I explained how this book was originally named “The Events of the Days” was later named “The Things Omitted” and then finally named First and Second Chronicles by the translator of the fourth century Latin Vulgate.  What I did not mention last week are the theological themes that continually reappear in this text.  The New Interpreter’s Study Bible notes these three themes as

“The concern for continuity with the past.”

“A concern for “all Israel.””

“The chronicler retains from Samuel and Kings the concept of retributive justice.”

The concern for continuity is perhaps the most important of these three themes.  Chronicles is written after the children of Israel have been defeated, exiled, and then returned to Jerusalem.  Chronicles is written to the post-exilic community (those who remain or have come back after the exile to Babylon).  The NISB notes “following the Persian defeat of the Babylonians under Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE, [the Israelites have] returned from Babylon to live under Persian rule in Jerusalem and worship in the rebuilt Temple.”  Dr. Renita J. Weems writes in The Africana Bible Reading Israel’s Scriptures From Africa and the African Diaspora “the writer [creates] a narrative that instilled a sense of mission, national pride, and divine purpose in a people that had once been displaced from their homeland and robed of their cultural memories.”  Dr. Weems continues “the Chronicler was eager to inspire the inhabitants of Judah to hope again and to throw themselves behind a national effort to rebuild and to restore order to their homeland.”  So it’s important for the Chronicler to help this nation understand that even though they have been defeated and taken captive in the past, that the future is still bright with God on their side.

  I think the one verse that captures that image more than any other in this text 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  The Chronicler wants the Hebrew nation to know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God of King David and King Solomon is their God and they are God’s people.  The Chronicler wants them to know that even though their forbears fell into sin and were punished; God is still their God. 

The NISB explains “instead of asking “Why did this happen to us?” they want to know about their relationship with the past:  “Who are we?” “Are we still the people of God?” “What do God’s promises to David and Solomon mean for us today?””  So, these are a people who have suffered and endured great pain and distress.  They no longer rule themselves; they have been ruled by the Babylonians and now they are ruled by Persians.  They need answers about their place in the universe and the Chronicler writes to help them understand their relationship with their painful past and their present God.  This sixteenth chapter of First Chronicles deals with the Ark of the Covenant of God placed in the tent David prepared for it and David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving.  This chapter is the “conclusion to the Chronicler’s Ark narrative and it institutes public worship (NISB).”  Additionally, the NISB notes that David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving quotes portions of Psalm 105 and Psalm 106. 

Some important words to consider from this text include:

Gratitude

Psalm

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

In Last week’s Lesson King David worshiped God in Jerusalem in ways that had never been done before.  David’s worship was heartfelt and sincere.  He had built luxurious houses for himself and the city of Jerusalem.  And he wanted the Ark of God in Jerusalem also.  David wanted to honor God.  He was determined to get the ark of God in Jerusalem so all Israel could worship God with the symbolic presence of God in their midst them.  David gave the Levites specific instructions; he told them to bring singers, musicians, trumpets, harps, lyres, and cymbals.  David was going to have a grand celebration, he was going to honor God and he was going to worship God with all Israel joining him in a great and grand celebration of thanksgiving and praise. 

Last week I also quoted Townsend commentary and Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms noting that “the city of David was originally known as Zion or Jerusalem” and that Zion is “used in the Old Testament for all or part of Jerusalem. 

I noted how carrying the ark of God was the responsibility of the Levites and David had already learned from his first attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem that the rules had not changed.  God had not changed God’s mind about who was to minister to God. 

Verse sixteen gave us an idea of the kinds of instruments that would be used along with singers all from the Levites.  There would be singers playing on musical instruments, there would be harps, lyres, and cymbals to raise loud sounds of joy.  This was going to be a grand celebration worthy of the occasion.  The lesson then skipped to verse twenty-five.

In verse twenty-five David and the elders of Israel, and the commanders of thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the house of Obed-Edom with rejoicing.  I noted how David included the elders of Israel.  He was king and he had absolute authority, but he did not neglect the elders nor did he neglect the leaders of his military.  This was a celebration for all of Israel.

This week’s lesson continues last week’s with the Ark of the Covenant of God now placed in the tent David had prepared.   

Townsend and Boyd’s Commentaries title this week’s lesson “A Heart Filled With Gratitude”.  Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “David’s Gratitude”.  The scripture text comes from 1 Chronicles 16:8-12, 19-27. 

What Takes Place in This Passage: 

The Lesson opens at verse eight with David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving.  Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms define psalm as “A hymn, sacred song, or poem.  The Book of Psalms (the Psalter) is composed of 150 religious poems of prayer and praise of ancient Israel, arranged in five books.” 

Verse eight begins by exhorting these recently returned people to give thanks, to call on God’s name, and to make known God’s deeds among the peoples.  After going through what they have gone through the Chronicler reminds them of how King David gave thanks and called on God.  The point for us to know is that when God has been good to you, you ought to tell somebody.  These people had been hurt and defeated but now they are brought back to Jerusalem and somebody ought to praise God for it. 

Verse nine continues with “sing, sing psalms unto God, talk of all God’s wondrous works.  These are action words.  Praising God is active whether singing loud voice or a quite praise.  But more so when we begin to talk about the wondrous works that God has done for us, praise just happens. 

Verses ten and eleven tell us to glory in God’s name, to rejoice, and to seek the LORD.  In these first four verses I see a lot of glory, a lot or rejoicing, a lot of seeking God.  This is a clear example of a grateful heart.  David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving flows from a grateful heart. 

Verse twelve tells us to remember God’s marvelous works, God’s wonders and the judgements of God’s mouth.  It’s good to remember.  It’s good to remember what God has done for you.  It’s good to remember how God brought you through.  It’s good to remember when and where God delivered you.  Remembering the mighty and marvelous works of God in our own lives leads us to a grateful heart and a thankful praise. 

In verses nineteen, twenty and twenty-one, David’s psalm reminds the people that the children of Israel didn’t start out as a mighty and strong nation.  They came from humble beginnings.  From those humble beginnings with the help of God they grew into the mighty nation that King David once ruled.  In verse twelve the psalm told them to remember.  Now, in these verses the psalm tells them what to remember. 

Verse twenty-two just like verses nineteen through twenty-one is a word for word quote from Psalm 105: 12-15.  Twenty-one is a verse I’ve often heard quoted referring to preachers and other ministers of God.  Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm does not mean every preacher or minister is above criticism or even condemnation whey they are outside God’s will.  In other words, it’s not a get out jail free card for preachers or ministers who are in the wrong.

Verse twenty-three elevates the praise from personal to all the earth.  Psalm 24:1 reminds us “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”  It tells us to proclaim God’s salvation day after day.  In other words, never forget how God delivered you. 

Verses twenty-four and twenty-five declare that God is great and greatly to be praised.  In other words, a great God deserves a great praise.  And a great praise will tell the saints and the sinners what God has done.  Everybody ought to know that God has been good, that God has delivered and that God is great above all other gods. 

Verses twenty-six and twenty-seven close the lesson with David’s psalm reminding the people that idol gods are essentially useless.  Idol worshipers can talk, but God worshipers can point to the heavens and the earth to declare that their God is the one true God.  It is their God who has made the heavens and the earth and this God deserves all the glory and all the honor. 

Context:

Townsend commentary defines the Hebrew word for rejoice as “being glad; associated with dancing, singing, clapping, playing, and external movement consistent with festival celebrations.  In other words, rejoice is party language.”  At first glance I found the description of party language a bit amusing.  But I had to ask myself why?  Parties aren’t inherently bad and it’s great that God’s people know how to party in the Lord.  A heart filled with gratitude and should lead us to want to party for the LORD.

Key Characters in the text:

King David – The central figure as he conquers the City of Jerusalem and builds a place to keep the Ark of the Covenant (Townsend). 

Key Words (not necessarily in the text, but good for discussion): 

Gratitude – The response to God and God’s blessings that is an expression of praise and devotion.  In the Christian context, believers respond in gratitude for the “indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:19) of Jesus Christ, who is the supreme expression of God’s grace. 

Psalm – A hymn, sacred song, or poem.  The book of Psalms is composed of 150 religious poems of prayer and praise of ancient Israel, arranged in five books.    

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas: 

1.  A great God deserves a great praise.      

Question: 

1.  Remembering what God has done for you is important.  Do you remember a time when mother or father couldn’t do it?  But God did.    

Concluding Thought:

The Chronicler writes to encourage the children of Israel to keep hope alive.  They have been through great pain and distress and now they want to know if God is still on their side.  Now that they are back in Jerusalem they want to know if the same God that brought King David to power and King Solomon to great splendor is still their God.  The Chronicler gives them a history lesson that shows the greatness of God and the great blessings of God when God’s people live in obedience.  The same God who reassured the broken and defeated people of Israel back then is here to reassure us today.

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

The lesson for December 15th continues just as last week’s lesson by going to the very next chapter in Chronicles.  Next week in chapter 17 and chapter 21 I will consider the Chronicler’s description of the roles of The Prophet Nathan and King David as David desires to build a Temple for God.  Public worship has been instituted and now David believes the people need a Temple to worship God that’s worthy of God’s greatness.  The lesson is titled “Building God’s House” and “David’s House”.  The text is taken from 1 Chronicles 17:1, 3-4, 11-14; 21:18, 21-27.    

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