1 Kings 8:54-61
Now as Solomon finished offering all this prayer and plea to the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had knelt with hands outstretched toward heaven. And he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying, "Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant. The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers. Let these words of mine, with which I have pleaded before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other. Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day."
What if in heaven there was loads of money, and comfort and happiness but without God, will that be heaven? Heaven would only be heaven because of the presence of God. It is God Himself who is the blessing. There is a strong delusion of the devil today for the world to embrace materialism as the greatest blessing. Christians are made to believe that what they need is things that they can see, touch and handle. But the true blessing is God.
- God gives the true blessing of rest (v.56)
Because God is blessed, Solomon began by blessing the people. He told them that they already had blessing from God of rest from battles but also in the Son of David, the Prince of Peace. Solomon was only a type of Christ as his name suggests ‘shalom’.
Solomon recognizes that the peace and rest they had in the Promised Land was a direct action of God. In giving them rest from their enemies the Lord was only showing in a picture form the token that He has for His people in glory. When you become a Christian you are granted a measure of rest from the condemnation and misery of sin. But it is not until it will be provided for you that rich entrance into the eternal kingdom in glory that you will finally enjoy the full realization of rest, peace and joy in the Beloved.
It is in glory that we will be absolutely free from sin and its misery. Then there will be no sin, no tear, no pain, no sickness, no scorching heat of the sun, or coldness of winter to bring discomfort to us. This is what the Lord has for those who are in Christ – rest from sin, rest from misery, rest from death, and rest from all weary.
The rest that is true rest is not inactivity and inertia. It is not promotion of laziness. Rather it is the state of laying every human activity and effort to fully capitulate oneself to God. It is the absolute surrender and worship offered to God. This is why the Sabbath rest is for private and public worship. This is why the Sabbath rest that remains is to offer acceptable and pleasing worship to God in all eternity with all heavenly hosts. The eternity will be spent in rest that involves worship!
I believe that there is no better rest on this earth than communion with God in prayer. We should look at the time of prayer as a time when we enjoy rest that God gives us in Christ. That there is no enmity between us and God because Christ has destroyed the wall of hostility and has made us acceptable before God.
- God keeps all His promises faithfully (v.56)
God is faithful and so fully dependable and trustworthy. Just as He promised the patriarchs and Moses, He had given rest to Israelites. He does everything “according to all that He promised. Not one word has failed of all His good promise.” This is the most comforting thing on earth – in a broken and fallen world, the Lord has given promises that He will keep faithfully. It is most reassuring that the Lord will not be unfaithful. His faithfulness does not depend on any factors outside of Himself. His faithfulness is unchanging because He is the one who was and is and is to be. He is the same yesterday and today and forever more. He is God who is immutably faithful so that He will remain faithful even when we are faithless – for He cannot deny Himself (2Tim. :13). Christ is the anchor upon which the promises of God rests and the Spirit is the tray upon which these promises are appropriated.
Solomon makes reference to the promises given by the hand of Moses just as he had earlier on (cf. v.15, 24), reminded them of the promises made to David. You must not just think that God gave Moses only commandments. Clearly He gave him promises too.
Those who put their faith in God enjoy the blessings promised by God. The Lord never makes an idle or empty promise. When He promised that the seed of a woman who will crush the head of the serpent, He delivered and sent His Son who triumphed over the devil and made a public spectacle of the devil and principalities, delivering the seed of Adam from the curse and misery of sin.
This then shows that the Lord will fulfil all His promises which we should know so that our prayers are informed by them. Unless your prayers are an appropriation of the promises of God, you can know that they are not in accordance to the will of God. If your prayers be not according to the will of God, then will not be answered.
- God’s presence is what we must always desire (vv.57-58)
Solomon’s plea then is just like our plea today. He felt like their forefathers had enjoyed a closer fellowship with God than they had. And so He prayed here saying, The Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Him, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His rules, which He commanded our fathers.
There is no question that God has not set a machine that will automatically work outside of Him. God is a very personable Person so that He designed a way of salvation that brought Him to His people so that He became Immanuel, God with us. In this we see a display of His grace and glory. We would be wise if our greatest need becomes the presence of God. I don’t hear enough of, Lord please make me more aware of your presence in my life in this church.
However, we are not often conscious of God’s presence because of our sinfulness as well as our finiteness. This is the reason why the author of Psalm 139 is so deliberate in reminding himself that the Lord is everywhere – where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
Would it not be terrible if we prayed to a god who is away, or sleeping or dead? God who cannot hear is no god at all, he no more than man’s folly and depravity. The Lord that we have trusted has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us and we can confidently say that the Lord is my helper I will not be afraid – for what can man do to us? His presence has been the blessing of men for all time. But this relationship was so impaired by the fall into sin – God is light and there is no shadow of turning with Him - too holy to behold evil. Therefore, though He has revealed Himself to those who have found favour in Him, yet He has particularly made Himself known to men by His Son. It is by being in Christ that we will enjoy the full benefits of this wonderful promise of God’s presence. All eternity await those who are in Christ.
That God is near or rather that God has brought us near to Himself, is the greatest encouragement to prayer.
4. God’s listens to the prayers of His people (vv.59-61)
The greatest encouragement to prayer is that God will listen. Why should a holy God listen to the prayers of sinful men? First because it is upon His own invitation that we pray. Secondly because He has provided us with the confidence based on:
1) His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ who has provided us with the access by His death and His perpetual high priestly work on the right hand of God where He intercedes for us,
2) His Spirit, who helps us in our weaknesses so that although we do not know what to pray for, yet He aids us by searching the mind of God and indwelling us and giving us the mode of prayer
3) His word, that gives us not only the will of God but also the content of prayer, and
4) His help in the time past. He heard the Christians of the last centuries and we would be wise to go to Him as well.
Solomon is very thankful that God listens to people – His own people Israelites as well as the Gentiles. God has His people in all generations from every nation, every language, every race and every people. And our delight is that our God is not deaf, nor mute, nor incapacitated like the idols of men. He is God who hears, and answers our prayers.
Solomon’s petition was, Let these words of mine, with which I have pleaded before the Lord be near to the Lord our God day and night, and may He maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.
Solomon’s petition is for the Lord to bless His people and to keep the flow of the blessings be in constant supply. His petition is not just for the Israelites, it is also for all the peoples of the earth – Gentiles. He well understood that the blessing promised to Abraham was to make him a father of many nations. The Lord God reigns on all the earth and His gospel commission to His disciples is to go to the end of the world. Many times you will notice, your prayers are just too confined to the to the people that you know, the circumstances that you know, so that you fail to acknowledge the purposes of God in all the earth and time – God is not under the limitations of space and time.
Unless you are committed to being wholly true to the Lord our God, by walking in His statutes and keeping all His commandments, you cannot enjoy and realize the blessings that the Lord has promised.