“O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth – you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. You have kept your promise to David my Father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it – as it is today.”
2 Chronicles 6:14-15
The book of second Chronicles begins with a glimpse into the life of King Solomon a man who begins his rule over the people of Israel well. He asks the Lord for Wisdom to be able to rule the people well because the task he is called to is beyond the ability of a mortal man. His request of God at the beginning of this book reminds the reader who is familiar with the New Testament of the words of James who begins his letter with this thought, written to Christians who are facing severe trials in their lives. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:5-6) What both James and Solomon are seeking after is Biblical wisdom which understands and applies the message of Scripture to the real and difficult lives that we are living.
Solomon, in his early rule demonstrates that he has received the answer to his prayer. He therefore becomes a man of prayer who recognises that God has called Israel to be a nation which seeks Him in prayer and which lives by faith in the Promises that God has made. Solomon’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 6:12-42 demonstrates all of this. At the significant occasion of the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem Solomon leads the people in prayer. His attitude is one of humility before the people and the Lord because he recognises that he has been called to something which is really much bigger than he is.
He begins with praise to God for fulfilling the promise that had been made to his father David, a promise recorded in 2 Samuel 7 and 1 Chronicles 17 and which was concerned with the promise that David would always have a descendent ruling on the throne of Israel culminating in one who would rule eternally. God has kept that promise in Solomon’s rule but Solomon looks further ahead trusting God for the eternal ruler to come. Solomon leads us to this with the final phrases of his prayer which are taken from Psalm 132:8-10 which points ahead to the Messiah who is to come. The whole prayer breathes faith in God. Solomon is called to be a man who stands in the promises of God. In doing this he calls us to be people who also make a firm stand in faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How we are to do this is shown in the sevenfold petitions of the rest of the prayer. As Solomon leads in prayer he takes the people of Israel to God’s throne of grace, which was then in the newly dedicated Temple. Here is the place where God’s atoning love which will one day be revealed fully in the cross of Christ is here revealed as the active forgiving force in the nation’s life. Seven times Solomon comes before God with a petition. “When” your people sin, note he does not say “if your people sin”, but when. What follows is a series of covenant punishments and trial of faith that the people will be facing. When they face these things they are to respond they are to go to God at the mercy seat. It is there that grace and forgiveness is received. There is even a clause, in verses 32-33, which shows that Solomon understands that this grace which is given at the mercy seat is not just for the people of Israel. It is for the whole world, for all who will believe. When foreigners come to pray God will hear and answer.
As we saw earlier Solomon brings us to the words of Psalm 132:8-10 as he concludes his prayer.
“Now arise, O Lord God, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. May your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, may your saints rejoice in your goodness. O Lord God, do not reject your anointed one. Remember the great love promised to David your servant.”
Can we ask for anything less for our world today?