Sunday School, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (February 2, 2020) Single Minded Obedience Matthew 4:1-11

Single Minded Obedience Matthew 4:1-11

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s lesson we get a prime example of single minded obedience as Jesus teaches about true worship.  After being baptised by John the baptist, experiencing God the Father in a voice from the opened heavens, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, Jesus is immediately taken into the wilderness by the Spirit where he fasts for forty days and forty nights.  After fasting forty days and forty nights Jesus was famished. He may be God in the flesh but his flesh desperately needs sustenance. Jesus is no doubt in a weakened state physically and emotionally. It’s at this point when Jesus is vulnerable that the adversary, the accuser, the tempter, the devil tries to short circuit Jesus’ journey to become King of Kings and LORD of Lords.  Jesus is tempted three times by the satan. Each time he combats the devil by quoting holy Scripture. If it’s in you, it will come out of you. Jesus fought the devil with what was inside him – scripture. We would do well, if we could do the same when faced with adversity. Some key ideas surrounding this week’s text includes the terms:  

Temptation

Fasting  

Background:  

Over the next four weeks I will explore how Jesus teaches about true worship.  Three of those lessons come from the early portions of The Gospel According to Matthew.  Matthew is the first book of the New Testament and the first book of what we call the four Gospels.  Nelson’s Bible Handbook explains that “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are placed at the beginning of the New Testament as the theological backdrop for the rest of the New Testament”.  So these four books help form the foundation and basis upon which we learn about the life, work, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Nelson’s also notes that “in Matthew, Jesus is presented as the teacher who is greater than Moses.”  That is significant because Matthew puts Jesus forth with several parallels to Moses. For example Moses gave the Law from Mount Sinai. Jesus begins his major teachings – the Beatitudes – from a place the writer calls a mountain. So Matthew depicts Jesus as a sort of Moses that delivers the people of Israel from their captors in the same way Moses delivered the Israelites from the Pharaoh in Egypt.   

The New Interpreter’s Study Bible also notes that “the time and place of this Gospel’s composition are unclear as well.”  So no one knows for sure when, where, or by whom this Gospel was written. Nelson’s Bible Handbook notes that the author was probably a Palestinian Jew who used the Gospel of Mark plus a Greek translation of Matthew’s Aramaic “oracles” and composed the Gospel in Greek.”  I should note that Townsend’s commentary acknowledges that tradition, various theories, and modern scholars agree that the apostle known as Matthew the tax collector wrote this gospel.”  

The NISB notes that “the Gospel was probably a rewriting of Mark’s Gospel, written around 70 CE.”  The NISB continues “the antagonism toward the synagogue in Matthew suggests a date in the 80s.” This antagonism The Gospel of Matthew contains is a result of the division between what I call the old school traditional Jews (who reject Jesus) and these new Jewish Christians who believe Jesus is the Messiah.  

The fourth chapter of Matthew deals with the temptation of Jesus (our text this week), Jesus beginning his ministry in Galilee, Jesus calling the first disciples, and then Jesus ministering to crowds of people.  So this is Matthew’s account of the story of how Jesus first began in ministry. As we progress through this account of Jesus’ temptation, and the following lessons on piety, prayer, and perseverance we will see Jesus teaching about true worship.

Some important terms to consider about this text include:

Temptation

Fasting

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

In last week’s lesson Solomon closed his dedication ceremony in much the same way as he opened it – by “blessing” the people.  Keep in mind that Solomon was not a high priest, he was not even a priest or a Levite but he seemingly took on priestly roles by leading the nation in prayer, offering sacrifices, and giving a speech during the dedication ceremony.  This was a dedication ceremony and the people had just had a worship experience. They experienced a theophany. They had experienced the presence of God in the thick cloud and they had 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 had prayed his prayer, he had made his nine pleas and requests known to God and now just as Solomon began the dedication service by blessing the assembly, he closed the dedication service by blessing the assembly.   Townsend, Boyd’s, and Standard Lesson Commentaries title this week’s lesson “Single Minded Obedience”.  The scripture text comes from Matthew 4:1-11.  

Keep in mind that this portion of scripture deals with the very beginning of when and how Jesus began his earthly ministry.  The first three chapters of Matthew have already told us about:

  • The genealogy of Jesus.
  • The birth of Jesus as the Messiah.
  • How Mary, Joseph, and Jesus escaped to and returned from Egypt.
  • How Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist at the Jordan river.

This text deals with the events that occur immediately following Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at chapter four verse one with Jesus being led by the Spirit into the wilderness.  Immediately before this text, Jesus had been baptised by John the Baptist and approved by God as the heavens opened, the voice of God spoke from heaven, and the Spirit of God descends like a dove.  I should note that the baptism of Jesus is the only place in scripture that specifically mentions God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as three separate entities located in the same place.  This is the very beginning of Jesus’ road to calvary and kingship and sovereignty over all humanity. Jesus will become King of Kings, but the journey begins in the wilderness with temptations.

In this wilderness experience Jesus will be tempted three times by what Matthew calls the devil, the tempter, and the satan.  The NISB explains that “the central issue in the three temptations concerns who will determine Jesus’ actions. Does God or does Satan?”  I think that question remains relevant to all of us today. Who will determine our actions? Will we follow the ways of God’s righteousness or will we follow the evil ways of the adversary.  Just as Jesus had a choice even in his physically weakened state, we also have a choice. Temptations, adversity, and opposition will come our way; it’s up to us how we respond.

The NISB notes that “Jesus is led away into the wilderness.  This location, away from the center of power, recalls the testing of Israel (forty years [in the wilderness]).”  So just as Moses was forty years in the wilderness, away from the center of power in Egypt, Jesus will spend forty days and nights in the wilderness away from the center of religious power in Jerusalem.  The NISB also notes that the wilderness “was a traditional place for demons. And that the devil, a powerful, non-human figure, resists God’s purposes.” The adversary, the satan, the tempter, the devil is opposed to God’s purposes and opposed to Jesus becoming King of Kings and LORD of Lords.  

In verse two Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights.  Through the Bible there is significance in the number forty.  

  1. It rained forty days and forty nights during the flood (Gen 7:4).
  2. Moses spent forty years in the wilderness (Exodus 3).
  3. Israel spied out the land forty days (Numbers 13:25).
  4. Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:18).
  5. Israel wandered forty years in the desert (Numbers 14:33).
  6. Goliath taunted Israel forty days (1 Samuel 17:16).
  7. Jonah preached repentance to Nineveh forty days (Jonah 3:4).
  8. Jesus fasted forty days and nights in the wilderness before being tempted (Matthew 4:2).
  9. There were forty days between the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:3).  

So throughout scripture the number forty appears at significant and important times.  

Westminister’s Dictionary of Theological Terms defines “fasting” as “abstinence from food for the purposes of religious devotion and spiritual discipline.”  Jesus was all God and all man in flesh so his physical body required sustenance. After forty days and forty nights Jesus was famished. He would have no doubt been desperately hungry.  

In verse three the tempter came to Jesus with the first temptation.  The tempter asks Jesus – “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”    The tempter begins by questioning Jesus as if Jesus did not fully know he was the Son of God. The tempter’s trick doesn’t work.  Even in his weakened state, Jesus is not swayed, convinced, or tricked by the tempter. He knows who he is and after forty days and forty nights without food Jesus can not be tricked into thinking he is less than the Son of God.  

In verse four Jesus answers the tempter with scripture.  “It is written, one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” is a quote from Deuteronomy 8:3.  It reads “3 He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”  In the eighth chapter of Deuteronomy the writer is providing instructions for the Israelites.  He provides a warning not to forget God in their prosperity. They had spent forty years in the wilderness and now they were about to enter the promised land.  Jesus remembered this verse in Deuteronomy with the Israelites forty year journey in the wilderness and his own forty days and nights in the wilderness. Notice also that “Man” in the KJV and NIV is capitalized.  The NRSV capitalizes “One” in “it is written, One does not live by bread alone.”  Jesus is referencing himself. Again, Jesus is letting the tempter know that he is the Son of God.    

In verse five the devil took Jesus to the holy city and placed him on a pinnacle of the temple.  Keep in mind that the devil is a spirit being. The devil is not a human. So this travel from the wilderness to the holy city is achieved in some way that is not told in the story.  

The Pulpit Commentary explains that the “pinnacle” of the temple is not known.  No one precisely knows what is meant by the term pinnacle. Also, I should note that this temple is not the same temple built by Solomon as we have studied in previous weeks.  This temptation of Jesus would have happened when Jesus was about thirty years old.  

Solomon built the first temple and it was destroyed.  Zerubbal rebuilt the first temple and that temple became the second temple.  The Lexham Bible dictionary explains that Herod the Great made significant renovations to the second temple in about 20 CE.  So at this point the devil is taking Jesus to the temple that Herod renovated.  

In verse six the devil challenges Jesus to throw himself down from the pinnacle.  He continues by quoting scripture “for it is written, He will command his angels concerning you and on their hands they will bear you up , so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”  Psalms 91:11-12 is the scripture the devil quotes.  

That seems like it makes sense.  It seems logical that God will protect the Son of God from hurt, harm, and danger.  But that’s exactly how scripture gets misappropriated and misused. At this point, after forty days and forty nights without food Jesus is no doubt in pain and in a weakened state physically, mentally, and emotionally.  But Jesus knows, just because it seems like it makes sense, doesn’t make it right.  I want to stress that this is a REAL temptation.  This is not a spiritual exercise that we can simply say that Jesus was God so he just sailed through this.  No, Jesus is tempted and he chooses to overcome the temptation.

In verse seven Jesus responds with a quote from Deuteronomy 6:16.  “16 Do not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.”  The NISB explains that “the incident at Massah reflects the people’s unwillingness to trust that God could take care of their needs.”  Jesus quotes this passage to let the devil know that he has complete faith, trust, and confidence in God. He doesn’t need to put God to the test to see if God will come rescue him.  

In verses eight and nine, again the devil takes Jesus to a very high mountain for his third temptation.  On this high mountain the devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. Then he tells Jesus “all these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Only forty days ago Jesus began his earthly journey to become King of Kings and LORD of Lords. The devil is offering him a short cut, a get rich quick scheme, the easy way to have everything he was supposed to have.  

The truth is, God already owns everything.  Jesus knows he is the Son of God and there is nothing that God does not already own.  So this promise from the devil to give Jesus the kingdoms of the world is an empty promise that he could not fulfil even if he wanted to.  Even in Jesus’ weakened state, he has single minded obedience to God and God alone.  

In verses ten and eleven Jesus tells the tempter (who Matthew now calls the satan) “away with you, Satan! For it is written, Worship the LORD your God, and serve only him.”  Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:13. This time not only does Jesus quote scripture but he demands the satan to leave. Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms define “Worship” as the service of praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and petition directed toward God through actions and attitudes.”  That’s what the satan wanted from Jesus. At this point Jesus has had enough of the satans temptations and commands the adversary to leave.  

Additionally, Westminster’s notes that “Satan” in its Hebrew means accuser, or adversary.  Satan is defined as “the devil, who represents the most diabolical evil in opposition to God and God’s purposes (Matthew 4:10, Luke 10:18; 2 Cor. 2:11).

The lesson closes with this accuser, this adversary leaving Jesus and suddenly angels came and waited on him.  It’s important to note that after the temptations are complete and Jesus has successfully passed through the temptations that it was then that God suddenly sends angels to minister to Jesus.  

Context

The Hebrew word for the satan is the adversary or the accuser.  It isn’t a name, it’s a descriptor. That’s just some of what the evil one does.  As we face temptations, accusations, oppositions, and adversaries we should remember how Jesus handled them.  Even in his physically, and emotionally weakened state Jesus used the Word of God to deal with his temptations.  If it’s in you, it will come out of you. Let’s hope and pray that the word of God is in us enough to come out of us in our time of need.  

Key Words:  

Temptation – Enticement to evil and sin.  Biblically it is “proving by testing” to show someone’s commitment to God (Job 1-2), as well as the inducement to sin.  God does not tempt (James 1:12-15). Jesus was tempted but did not sin (Heb 4:15).  

Fasting – Abstinence from food for the purposes of religious devotion and spiritual discipline.  

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:  

1.  If it’s in you, It will come out of you.

2.  Focused on Jesus. 

Question:  

It would have made sense and been logical for Jesus to turn the stones to bread.  Why didn’t he?    

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

Next week, we continue in the Gospel According to Matthew, moving to Chapter six.  The lesson for February 9, 2020 comes from Matthew 6:1-8 and is titled Piety that Honors God and God Honoring Piety.   

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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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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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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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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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1590 Jonesboro Rd SE

Box 150032

Atlanta, GA  30315

Christianity, Sunday School, Sunday School Lesson

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, Sunday School Lesson

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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1590 Jonesboro Rd SE

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