1 KINGS 8:1-66 | ACTS 7:51-8:13 | PSALM 129:1-8 | PROVERBS 17:1
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20 “The LORD has kept the promise he made: I have succeeded David my father and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the LORD promised, and I have built the temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 21 I have provided a place there for the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD that he made with our ancestors when he brought them out of Egypt.”
And in so saying, Solomon begins to dedicate the temple to the Lord. It has taken many years to build, still many years to furnish, and now the time has come to bring the ark into the holiest of places within the temple and to install it therein. The ark, as you will remember, contains the two tablets which Moses received from God on which God’s own finger had written the Ten Commandments. It was evidence of the very first covenant between God and his people.
And so, Solomon speaks these words of dedication: 27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
Furthermore, Solomon ends his long and beautiful prayer of dedication with these words: 56 “Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. 57 May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us. 58 May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors. 59 And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, 60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other. 61 And may your hearts be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.”
Turning now to our reading in the book of Acts regarding the story of Stephen, we see that Stephen has told it like it is. And the righteous folks called the Sanhedrin are not happy to hear it—they are, in fact, outraged at Stephen, so much so, that they rush at him and begin to stone him so as to silence him. Stephen’s blood will remain on their hands—the death of an innocent man who was fearless to speak of the great gospel of Jesus Christ.
And so, Stephen goes down as one of the earliest martyrs to be persecuted and killed for taking the name of Jesus. The text tell us this, 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
Stephen was truly a prototype of Christ where even in his darkest hour he forgives his tormentors.
There is mention now for the very first time of a man by the name of Saul. A zealot in the Temple, perhaps a member of the Sanhedrin himself, he was pleased to hear of Stephen’s stoning, it is said. We must keep a close eye on this man Saul, for he is the one who will be later know as Paul, the apostle, and will become known as one of the greatest believers of all time.
Also within this passage, there is mention of Philip, one of Jesus’ disciples, who is also very active in traveling throughout the regions and in “proclaiming the Messiah.” There is the story of Simon the Sorcerer who hears Philip’s preachings and is convicted of his false powers, turns away from his sorcery, acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah, and follows Philip in his ministry.
Turning now to our psalm of the day, we find one in which the psalmist laments the condition of his people for the long oppression that they have endured. To his enemies, in his great anger and frustration, he wishes that they would not be greeted in the way that would otherwise be the proper way to acknowledge the presence of strangers among you.
To not hear these words spoken to you are equivalent to having a curse heaped upon you. These words are: “The blessing of the LORD be on you; we bless you in the name of the LORD.”
Finally, a verse from the book of Proverbs that is great food for thought. Solomon says:
1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting, with strife.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.