There is No God Like You - 2 Chronicles 6:12-21
When someone who has been in a leadership position steps down after many years, the next person in the position often faces a daunting task. Consider the position that Solomon was in when he became king of Israel. David, his father, was a man after God’s own heart (). This is not to say that David was perfect. But the general direction of David’s life was one well pleasing to God, and he had gained the admiration and respect of the entire nation. How does one follow such an individual who has set the bar so high?
It is certainly to Solomon’s credit that he possessed a sense of unworthiness to fill his father’s shoes (or sandals): “I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties” (). Then came Solomon’s request of the Lord for “a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong” (3:9). Thus Solomon recognized an important truth: the key to following in his father’s footsteps was to follow his father’s God.
One of Solomon’s primary tasks as king of Israel was to finish a project his father had prepared for: building a temple to the Lord. This was something that David himself had sincerely desired to accomplish. But God did not permit David to fulfill his desire, telling him in , “You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight.” David did, however, provide valuable assistance and resources so that Solomon would have a head start in completing the massive building project (22:5).
Today’s lesson from records a portion of the dedication ceremony for the finished temple over which Solomon presided. As the ceremony began, “while the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them” (). He then called attention to the Lord’s fulfillment of his promises to David that his son, Solomon, would reign in his place and would build a house for the Lord (6:10). The Lord acknowledged David “did well to have it in your heart to build a temple for my Name” (6:8), but that was not the Lord’s intention.
Solomon understood that the completed temple was not a person accomplishment for him as much as it was the keeping of a divine promise. The king was merely an instrument in the hands of the master builder.
Solomon’s Preparation - ,
Solomon’s Preparation - ,
Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands. Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the court; and he stood on it. Then he knelt on his knees in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven.
Here Solomon is standing at the altar of sacrifice, before the whole assembly of Israel, with his hands outstretched. The gesture is a posture resembling that of a young child raising his or her arms to a parent. Solomon may be king of Israel, but he still seems to recognize his status as a “little child” in need of his Father’s guidance.
In verse 13 we see that a platform is build to assist the visibility of the king before the people. Solomon adopts a posture of obeisance as he prepares to address the Lord in prayer. This position for prayer we see here is also found elsewhere in Scripture; one instance is in : “Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” It should be noted that this psalm is attributed to David, according to the quotation found in . Perhaps Solomon can think of no better way to approach God in prayer than that which David recommended!
In what ways might one’s physical posture in prayer reflect one’s attitude toward God? Considering looking up vs. looking down; considering lying prostrate vs. kneeling vs. standing
Solomon’s Prayer - 2 Chronicles 6:14-21
Solomon’s Prayer - 2 Chronicles 6:14-21
He said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant in steadfast love with your servants who walk before you with all their heart— you who have kept for your servant, my father David, what you promised to him. Indeed, you promised with your mouth and this day have fulfilled with your hand. Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant, my father David, that which you promised him, saying, ‘There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children keep to their way, to walk in my law as you have walked before me.’ Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant David. “But will God indeed reside with mortals on earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built! Regard your servant’s prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you. May your eyes be open day and night toward this house, the place where you promised to set your name, and may you heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place. And hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; may you hear from heaven your dwelling place; hear and forgive.
Solomon begins his prayer with an acknowledgement of the Lord’s uniqueness. Those outside of God’s covenant people worship many gods in Solomon’s time and continue to do so today. But the king’s declaration remains just as true today as when originally uttered: there is no God like you.
One way the Lord demonstrates his uniqueness is by dealing with people on the basis of covenant. That the Lord God of Israel desires a close covenant relationship with people is foreign to other religious mind-sets. Solomon has already recognized the covenant God made with Israel.
What decisions do Christians make differently when their belief that God keeps his covenant promises grows? Regarding financial priorities; regarding witness to unbelievers; and regarding changes in what is viewed as risky
The latter part of verse 14 highlights an important part of covenant relationship. The covenants that God makes with individuals require certain conditions to be met by the parties to the covenant. God’s part is to show love; the people’s part is to obey God wholeheartedly as they do as God commands.
Verse 15 shows the example of God’s faithfulness that hits closest to home for Solomon concerns David, his father. Imperfect King David faced severe consequences for his adultery and related sins. Nevertheless the Lord continued to honor his covenant with David. A key reason God did so with David and not with David’s predecessor on the throne, Saul, was because David’s repentant was deeply sincere (; ) while Saul’s repentance seemed hollow (, ).
Solomon’s description of God’s commitment to keeping his word is noteworthy. The one true God both speaks and acts. The gods of other people and nations can do neither .
What can we do to be more mindful of the long history of God’s faithfulness? Why is it important to do so? In worship contexts; in small group contexts; in family contexts; and during alone times.
In verse 16 we see again the combination of the Lord’s covenant faithfulness and the expected response of obedience. Regarding the former, Solomon reiterates the Lord’s intent to keep his promise to David of a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel. Ultimately that covenant promise if fulfilled in Jesus, a descendant of David.
But participation in that promise by individual descendants of David is dependent on their living in obedience to the law of the Lord as David himself had done. If they fail to do so, they will be subject to the Lord’s discipline. This is exactly what will happen to Solomon himself. When he grows old, he will allow his many wives to lure him into worshipping their gods. As a consequence, the Lord will inform him that his kingdom will be divided (). But the promise made to David will remain intact.
Solomon recognizes that the primary impetus in God’s word coming true is God himself. People do serve as instruments in carrying out his plans and purposes, but ultimately it is God who must see to it that those plans and purposes are accomplished.
If God were to remind you to bring to fruition a promise that you have made, what promise would that be? Why? Regarding a promise to him; regarding a promise to someone else; and regarding a promise made to yourself.
Verse 18 helps us to understand that it is absurd to think that the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all the vastness that exists within them could ever be confined to any earthly dwelling. He will put his name there, which is another way of stating that his presence will dwell in the temple. This is represented by the presence of the ark of the covenant.
Sadly, God’s people will eventually associate his presence with the temple to the degree that it will become a kind of good-luck charm (). They will come to trust in it more than in the Lord himself. Isaiah will remind the people of his day that the place where God truly desires to dwell is with the person “who is contrite and lowly in spirit” (). That is no less true today.
What steps can we take to maintain a sense of humility before God?
In verse 19 Solomon confesses his status as a mere servant (twice) and asks that the Lord give attention to his prayer and to his plea for mercy and hear his cry. Solomon knows who the real king of Israel is and how dependent even he is on his provision.
Verse 20 reveals that Solomon recognizes that his own need for the Lord’s help and mercy can occur any time day or night. He asks that the Lord’s eyes may be open and that he hear the prayer that Solomon offers toward this temple. Solomon knows that his allegiance must not be to a building, but only to the God who has placed his Name there and is committed to his covenant people.
In pleading not only that his prayers be heard but also those of God’s people Israel, Solomon contrasts this place (the temple) with heaven, the Lord’s dwelling place. In doing so, he again affirms that the true residence of the Lord is in Heaven. It can never be in a temple such as the one Solomon is dedicating, as magnificent as it may be.
Solomon reiterates that God of Israel must not be treated as though he were some hind of genie who automatically provides whatever his people demand. He is the holy God of Heaven, the one whose splendor and majesty have earlier filled the temple to the degree that the priests were unable to enter and render their service.
As we consider the portion of Solomon’s prayer recorded in today’s text, we have noted its primary themes. These are (1) God’s fulfillment of his covenant promises to David and (2) Solomon’s acknowledgement of the temple in Jersualem as the place where he would put his name. It was a visual reminder of God’s desire to hear the prayers of his covenant people Israel. But how does such a prayer apply to Christians?
It is important to note the manner in which Solomon begins his prayer: “Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth” (). Those words can be prayer with the utmost confidence by any follower of Jesus today. The enduring truth is that there is no god like the God of the Bible.
God is still in the covenant-keeping business. The covenant Solomon alluded to in his prayer was mainly the covenant God made with David; the new covenant established by Jesus fulfills that promise to David. God still requires of us, as he did of those under previous covenants, that we walk before the Lord “wholeheartedly” ().
We can also be certain that God will keep his promises to us as he did with David, a point noted by Solomon in his prayer (). What God has spoken by his mouth he will carry out with his hand, as Solomon affirmed in . God continues to speak throughout the rest of Scripture, and his words and actions are as dependable for us as they were for Solomon. His God is indeed our God.
Father, we praise you as the covenant-keeping God of mercy. We thank you for the mercy offered through the new covenant established by Jesus’ blood. May we walk before you daily with all our hearts. We pray in Jesus’ name . Amen.