August 26th: “God’s House”

Like Solomon we too must be careful not to limit God’s presence to church, but beyond all of life; must not forget that the LORD forgives even non-believers who pray in His name; and heed God’s call to radical obedience.

This Week’s Passage: 1 Kings 8:(1, 6, 10-11) 22-30, 41-43

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Year B for Sunday, August 26th

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

22 – – Solomon’s posture signifies supplication.

23 – – General adorations.

24 – – Specific instance for adoration.

25-26 – Request for continuation of the reign of David’s heirs.

27 – – Acknowledgment that “this house” cannot contain God.

28-29 – Petition for protection of “this house” and the hearing of prayers offered toward “this house.”

30 – – Petition for forgiveness of Israelites who pray toward “this house”.

41 – – Petition to hear the prayers of foreigners made toward “this house”.

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • This is the dedication of the temple that Solomon had built. The ark has been installed and now the prayers.
  • Skips over four specific cases when people might come to the temple to pray. Then lops off two more.
  • The scene ends with Solomon blessing the people, and a festival.

II. Literary Study.

B. What parallel passages exist? How do they differ? How does this author’s intent differ from other authors? Is the text used elsewhere?

1 Chronicles 6 replicates 1 Kings 8:12-52 amplifying Solomon’s posture during his prayer and appending Psalm 132:8-10.

III. Question the text.

B. Are there any unusual details? Un-named characters? ‘Pointless’ description? Meanings of names of characters? What does a literal meaning of natural metaphors imply?

The petitions reflect typical human behavior following a formula of: forgive them when they pray, if x happens to them because they did not do y. These may be interpreted as prophetic or post-exhilic emendations; “See, Solomon said this would happen to us.”

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of gravity: God with us is at the same time presumptive, assuring, and fearsome.
  • Emotional Center: “Hear the plea of your servant … heed and forgive.”

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Choon Leong Seow (“The First and Second Books of Kings,” The New Interpreter’s Bible. Abingdon, 1999.) contrasts this passage with Isaiah’s description of Hezekiah’s prayer (Isa 37:14-46). Here the LORD is clearly present as King! He also notes that the word translated as “dwelling” connotes “enthroning.”

Walter Brueggemann (Knox Preaching Guides: 1 Kings. John Knox Press, 1982.) notes how the text portrays the enthronement of the LORD as presuming upon God presence, assuring God, presence, and threatening God’s presence. Linking to Mark 10:35-50, he cautions about attempts to contain God. Linking to Luke 7:36-50, he recognizes Jesus’ forgiveness. And Linking to Mark 8:34-36, he reminds us of radical obedience.

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

B. Focus Statement: Central, controlling, unifying theme.

Like Solomon we too must be careful not to limit God’s presence to church, but beyond all of life; must not forget that the LORD forgives even non-believers who pray in His name; and heed God’s call to radical obedience.

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