These were my notes from an adult Sunday school lesson I taught on the prayer of Solomon in 2 Chronicles 6. These are literally my notes, therefore this will not read like a typical blog post. Rather, you will see a blend of info I taught, questions for the class, and asking people to read Scripture. This particular class was a chatty one, with interesting thoughts/ideas no matter the question (or even sharing thoughts in the absence of a question – haha). I never had to worry about silence. The questions about how we approach God in prayer created good conversation. If I knew I had a quiet class, I’d have worked harder to come up with ways to engage the class.
2 Chronicles 6: Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the new Temple,
Hear and Forgive
Longest recorded prayer in the Bible
When the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, they had the portable tabernacle or tent that housed the Ark of the Covenant. When they became established in the land of Israel, the Ark of the Covenant was here and there (even got captured by the Philistines), but under King David it was brought to Jerusalem.
It was David’s heart desire to build a Temple – a permanent structure – for the Ark of the Covenant and to worship God. While God honored David’s desire to do this, God did not want David to build it because he was a man of war and bloodshed. And his son Solomon would build it instead. David did plan and prepare so the building project would be a bit easier for Solomon.
2 Chronicles chapter 6:1-11 we will not read together, but it sets the scene for us. It is the dedication of the completed Temple, the people are gathered, and Solomon begins with a brief speech reminding the people of some historical things such as King David’s heart to build the Temple.
Would someone read verses 12-13? – Solomon prepares to pray.
What do you note about Solomon’s body language? And what attitude toward God does it convey?
– He spread out his hands and knelt on his knees.
– Conveys humility, respect, submission
The prayer begins in verse 14. Would someone read verse 14.
What does Solomon affirm about God as he begins his prayer?
– God’s uniqueness and faithfulness. God keeps the Covenant
This prayer is long, I’m just going to hit highlights.
In verse 18, Solomon asks a question and then answers it.
Someone read verse 18.
How does Solomon answer the question? What attribute of God is introduced?
– God was especially present in the Temple, but not limited to it.
– God is omnipresent and transcendent.
Brief interval – But will God really dwell on earth with humans?
What a question. While this is referring to the Temple, consider that God would one day literally dwell with humans on earth in the person of Jesus Christ. God became one of us eventually. But I want to step back and consider this from a broader perspective.
Originally, God was with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 1& 2, God would visit with them in the Garden. But Adam and Eve fell into sin, they were expelled from the Garden, and this commune with God ended.
Eventually there was a tabernacle and temple where God was present in a special way, but not in that same physical way. Well, let’s skip to John chapter 2. Jesus was at the Temple for Passover, and said in verse 19: “Destroy this temple and in 3 days I will raise it up.” This confused the people, as the Temple could not be rebuilt in 3 days.
But the text clarifies for us what Jesus meant. Verse 21 says that Jesus was speaking of the temple of his body, and how he would die and rise again.
Jesus became the Temple. He became the meeting place or mediator between God and sinners. Jesus met our need to be reconciled to God, and the sacrificial temple system was over. And the Temple was destroyed in AD 70.
After his resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven, and we wait for his return. And on that future day after Christ returns, when we enter into the eternal state, God will once again dwell with us on earth as he did in the Garden of Eden. Read Revelation 21:1-3 (me)
That question from Solomon – But will God really dwell on earth with humans? Yes, he will!
But we need to get back to Solomon’s prayer.
Would someone read 2 Chronicles 6: 19-21? (As you listen to it being read, listen for the different expressions Solomon uses to appeal to God.)
What expressions of appeal did you hear?
– Regard or give attention to the prayer of your servant
– Listen to the cry of your servant
– Hear the prayer which your servant prays
**Hear is said 5 times in these verses. And note verse 21 says hear and forgive – Hear and forgive is a theme of the prayer. It will continue to be repeated.
Do you typically approach God in prayer this way? In essence, pleading to be heard? Or do you assume God will hear?
How does Jesus come into this for us?
Because of Jesus, we can come boldly or confidentially to the throne of God.
Do you think that we, as New Testament believers, can perhaps become a bit presumptuous, impertinent, or irreverent in our approach to God?
– Maybe instead of taking it for granted that God hears us, we should express gratitude and humility that he does.
In Verses 22-39 Solomon describes 7 different types of situations where the people would need God’s help. They are introduced by the word when. We will look at an example of two.
Would someone read verses 24-27? (As you listen, there is a pattern. The people respond to God in a certain way due to their sin, and then God is asked to do something in response. This, then that.)
What are the people to do after they sin in these verses?
– Turn from their sin, give praise to God’s name, pray, make supplication.
Supplication is an old-fashioned word. Do we know what it means?
– A humble request. A respectful appeal. A petition but with a sense of awe or adoration.
And God is asked to hear and forgive. Just like back in verse 21.
- This would have been particularly encouraging to the original audience reading Chronicles. Chronicles was written post-exile. It reiterates some of the same history found in Samuel and Kings, but it also leaves some things out and has additional info. The Chronicler is writing the history with a different purpose or perspective. The emphasis that God would hear and forgive would be encouraging to those coming out of exile. They could move forward in their faith.
Solomon brings this prayer to a close with verses 40-42. Someone read those last 3 verses? And verses 41-42 are from Psalm 132.
We live in a different time and situation today, but we also need God to hear and forgive – in our personal lives and world.