1 Kings 8:22-53 No God like the Lord

Our prayers are often dull and lifeless.  We may perhaps be praying for perfectly proper things, yet the prayers never really touch our hearts.  To encourage ourselves in prayer we can turn to some of the great prayers recorded in Scripture, uttered by the enabling of the Lord.  One fine example is the prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the temple.  We turn now to consider 1 Kings 8:22-53 No God like the Lord.

1. The God who fulfils

The prayer is about the glory of God and Solomon’s requests are meaningful only because of the kind of God he is.  Our prayers must always focus on the Lord.  At the heart of the prayer is the fact that God is incomparable – ‘there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below’ (v23).  He alone is God everywhere in his creation.  In prayer we need a view of God that is as big as he is.  ‘To whom then will you compare God?’ (Isaiah 40:18).  The contrast is often drawn in the OT between idols who can do nothing and the Lord who acts.  In this case, ‘you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way’ (v23).  The Lord is the God who fulfils his covenant.  In particular, he fulfils his covenant promises to David (2 Samuel 7) as Solomon notes in v24.  He looks also to the future regarding the promise of a son of David always on the throne – a promise fulfilled in King Jesus – ‘For all the promises of God find their Yes in him’ (2 Corinthians 1:20).

2. The God who hears

Solomon ponders the transcendence of the Lord (v27), knowing he cannot be confined to a building, but must also consider the immanence of the Lord.  He is near to his people and on that basis Solomon prays ‘give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy’ (v28).  God hears and answers his people’s prayers.  Solomon considers various occasions when a plea for mercy will be needed (v31-45) – the need for justice, various calamities.  These are in fact covenant curses upon a disobedient people (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28) and so are calls for repentance (v24).  They may pray in expectation that God will forgive since he is committed to his people in covenant.  When we sin we can and must cry for mercy to the God who hears, claiming the promise of 1 John 1:7.  There is good news in v41-43 regarding the foreigner who hears of the Lord and prays to the Lord and is answered ‘so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you’.  It is a big vision for the spread of the knowledge of the Lord.

3. The God who restores

Solomon envisages the worst case in v46ff where Israel’s sin leads to exile in ‘the land of their conquerors’ (v47).  Even at the lowest point there is hope – if they repent and plead with the Lord (v47) he will forgive them because they are still ‘your people and your inheritance’ (v51).  It is by grace that the covenant Lord forgives.  That is our hope when we sin and backslide grievously – ‘with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption’ (Psalm 130:7).

Leave a Reply