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Solomon Prays to Set the Temple Apart to the Lord

12 Then Solomon stood in front of the Lord’s altar. He stood in front of the whole community of Israel. He spread out his hands to pray. 13 He had made a bronze stage. It was seven and a half feet long and seven and a half feet wide. It was four and a half feet high. He had placed it in the center of the outer courtyard. He stood on the stage. Then he got down on his knees in front of the whole community of Israel. He spread out his hands toward heaven. 14 He said,

Lord, you are the God of Israel. There is no God like you in heaven or on earth. You keep the covenant you made with us. You show us your love. You do that when we follow you with all our hearts. 15 You have kept your promise to my father David. He was your servant. With your mouth you made a promise. With your powerful hand you have made it come true. And today we can see it.

16 Lord, you are the God of Israel. Keep the promises you made to my father David. Do it for him. He was your servant. You said to him, ‘You will always have a son from your family line to sit on Israel’s throne. He will sit in front of the Most Holy Room, where my own throne is. That will be true only if your children after you are careful in everything they do. They must live the way my law tells them to. That is the way you have lived.’ 17 Lord, you are the God of Israel. So let your promise to your servant David come true.

18 “But will God really live on earth with human beings? After all, the heavens can’t hold you. In fact, even the highest heavens can’t hold you. So this temple I’ve built certainly can’t hold you! 19 But please pay attention to my prayer. Lord my God, be ready to help me as I make my appeal to you. Listen to my cry for help. Hear the prayer I’m praying to you. 20 Let your eyes look toward this temple day and night. You said you would put your Name here. Listen to the prayer I’m praying toward this place. 21 Hear me when I ask you to help us. Listen to your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Listen to us from heaven. It’s the place where you live. When you hear us, forgive us.

22 “Suppose someone does something wrong to their neighbor. And the person who has done something wrong is required to give their word. They must tell the truth about what they have done. They must come and do it in front of your altar in this temple. 23 When they do, listen to them from heaven. Take action. Judge between the person and their neighbor. Pay back the guilty one. Do to them what they have done to their neighbor. Deal with the one who isn’t guilty in a way that shows they are free from blame. That will prove they aren’t guilty.

24 “Suppose your people Israel have lost the battle against their enemies. And suppose they’ve sinned against you. But they turn back to you and praise your name. They pray to you in this temple. And they ask you to help them. 25 Then listen to them from heaven. Forgive the sin of your people Israel. Bring them back to the land you gave to them and their people who lived long ago.

26 “Suppose your people have sinned against you. And because of that, the sky is closed up and there isn’t any rain. But your people pray toward this place. They praise you by admitting they’ve sinned. And they turn away from their sin because you have made them suffer. 27 Then listen to them from heaven. Forgive the sin of your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live. Send rain on the land you gave them as their share.

28 “Suppose there isn’t enough food in the land. And a plague strikes the land. The hot winds completely dry up our crops. Or locusts or grasshoppers come and eat them up. Or enemies surround one of our cities and get ready to attack it. Or trouble or sickness comes. 29 But suppose one of your people prays to you. They ask you to help them. They are aware of how much they are suffering. And they spread out their hands toward this temple to pray. 30 Then listen to them from heaven. It’s the place where you live. Forgive them. Deal with everyone in keeping with everything they do. You know their hearts. In fact, you are the only one who knows every human heart. 31 Your people will have respect for you. They will live the way you want them to. They’ll live that way as long as they are in the land you gave our people long ago.

32 “Suppose an outsider who doesn’t belong to your people Israel has come from a land far away. They have come because they’ve heard about your great name. They have heard that you reached out your mighty hand and powerful arm. So they come and pray toward this temple. 33 Then listen to them from heaven. It’s the place where you live. Do what that outsider asks you to do. Then all the nations on earth will know you. They will have respect for you. They’ll respect you just as your own people Israel do. They’ll know that your Name is in this house I’ve built.

34 “Suppose your people go to war against their enemies. It doesn’t matter where you send them. And suppose they pray to you toward this city you have chosen. They pray toward the temple I’ve built for your Name. 35 Then listen to them from heaven. Listen to their prayer. Listen to them when they ask you to help them. Stand up for them.

36 “Suppose they sin against you. After all, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t sin. And suppose you get angry with them. You hand them over to their enemies. They take them as prisoners to another land. It doesn’t matter whether that land is near or far away. 37 But suppose your people change their ways in the land where they are held as prisoners. They turn away from their sins. They beg you to help them in the land where they are prisoners. They say, ‘We have sinned. We’ve done what is wrong. We’ve done what is evil.’ 38 And they turn back to you with all their heart and soul. Suppose it happens in the land where they were taken as prisoners. There they pray toward the land you gave their people long ago. They pray toward the city you have chosen. And they pray toward the temple I’ve built for your Name. 39 Then listen to them from heaven. It’s the place where you live. Listen to their prayer. Listen to them when they ask you to help them. Stand up for them. Your people have sinned against you. Please forgive them.

40 “My God, let your eyes see us. Let your ears pay attention to the prayers offered in this place.

41 Lord God, rise up and come to your resting place.
    Come in together with the ark.
    It’s the sign of your power.
Lord God, may your priests put on salvation as if it were their clothes.
    May your faithful people be glad because you are so good.
42 Lord God, don’t turn your back on your anointed king.
    Remember the great love you promised to your servant David.”

The Temple Is Set Apart to the Lord

Solomon finished praying. Then fire came down from heaven. It burned up the burnt offering and the sacrifices. The glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests couldn’t enter the temple of the Lord because his glory filled it. All the Israelites saw the fire coming down. They saw the glory of the Lord above the temple. So they got down on their knees in the courtyard with their faces toward the ground. They worshiped the Lord. They gave thanks to him and said,

“The Lord is good.
    His faithful love continues forever.”

Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices to the Lord. King Solomon sacrificed 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep and goats. So the king and all the people set the temple of God apart. The priests and Levites took their positions. The Levites played the Lord’s musical instruments. King David had made them for praising the Lord. They were used when he gave thanks to the Lord. He said, “His faithful love continues forever.” Across from where the Levites were, the priests blew their trumpets. All the people of Israel were standing.

Solomon set the middle area of the courtyard apart to the Lord. It was in front of the Lord’s temple. There Solomon sacrificed burnt offerings. He also sacrificed the fat of the friendship offerings there. He did it there because the bronze altar he had made couldn’t hold it all. It couldn’t hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat parts.

At that time Solomon celebrated the Feast of Booths for seven days. The whole community of Israel was with him. It was a huge crowd. People came from as far away as Lebo Hamath and the Wadi of Egypt. On the eighth day they held a special service. For seven days they had celebrated by setting the altar apart to honor God. The feast continued for seven more days. 10 Then Solomon sent the people home. It was the 23rd day of the seventh month. The people were glad. Their hearts were full of joy. That’s because the Lord had done good things for David and Solomon and his people Israel.

The Lord Appears to Solomon

11 Solomon finished the Lord’s temple and the royal palace. He had done everything he had planned to do in the Lord’s temple and his own palace. 12 The Lord appeared to him at night. The Lord said,

“I have heard your prayer. I have chosen this place for myself. It is a temple where sacrifices will be offered.

13 “Suppose I close up the sky and there isn’t any rain. Suppose I command locusts to eat up the crops. And I send a plague among my people. 14 But they make themselves humble in my sight. They pray and look to me. And they turn from their evil ways. Then I will listen to them from heaven. I will forgive their sin. And I will heal their land. After all, they are my people. 15 Now my eyes will see them. My ears will pay attention to the prayers they offer in this place. 16 I have chosen this temple. I have set it apart for myself. My Name will be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

17 “But you must walk faithfully with me, just as your father David did. Do everything I command you to do. Obey my rules and laws. 18 Then I will set up your royal throne. I made a covenant with your father David to do that. I said to him, ‘You will always have a son from your family line to rule over Israel.’

19 “But suppose all of you turn away from me. You refuse to obey the rules and commands I have given you. And you go off to serve other gods and worship them. 20 Then I will remove Israel from my land. It is the land I gave them. I will turn my back on this temple. I will do it even though I have set it apart for my Name to be there. I will make all the nations hate it. They will laugh and joke about it. 21 This temple will become a pile of stones. All those who pass by it will be shocked. They will say, ‘Why has the Lord done a thing like this to this land and temple?’ 22 People will answer, ‘Because they have deserted the Lord. He is the God of their people who lived long ago. He brought them out of Egypt. But they have been holding on to other gods. They’ve been worshiping them. They’ve been serving them. That’s why the Lord has brought all this horrible trouble on them.’ ”

Other Things Solomon Did

Solomon built the Lord’s temple and his own palace. It took him 20 years to build them. After that, Solomon rebuilt the villages Hiram had given him. Solomon had Israelites make their homes in them. Then Solomon went to Hamath Zobah. He captured it. He also built up Tadmor in the desert. He built up all the cities in Hamath where he could store things. He rebuilt Upper Beth Horon and Lower Beth Horon. He put up high walls around them. He made their city gates secure with heavy metal bars. He rebuilt Baalath and all the cities where he could store things. He also rebuilt all the cities for his chariots and horses. Solomon built anything he wanted in Jerusalem, Lebanon and all the territory he ruled.

There were still many people left in the land who weren’t Israelites. They included Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. They were children of the people who had lived in the land before the Israelites came. The people of Israel hadn’t destroyed them. Solomon forced them to work very hard as his slaves. And they still work for Israel to this day. But Solomon didn’t force the Israelites to work as his slaves. Instead, some were his fighting men. Others were commanders of his captains, chariots and chariot drivers. 10 Still others were King Solomon’s chief officials. There were 250 officials in charge of the other men.

14 We know that the law is holy. But I am not. I have been sold to be a slave of sin. 15 I don’t understand what I do. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate to do. 16 I do what I don’t want to do. So I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, I am no longer the one who does these things. It is sin living in me that does them. 18 I know there is nothing good in my desires controlled by sin. I want to do what is good, but I can’t. 19 I don’t do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don’t want to do. 20 I do what I don’t want to do. But I am not really the one who is doing it. It is sin living in me that does it.

21 Here is the law I find working in me. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 Deep inside me I find joy in God’s law. 23 But I see another law working in me. It fights against the law of my mind. It makes me a prisoner of the law of sin. That law controls me. 24 What a terrible failure I am! Who will save me from this sin that brings death to my body? 25 I give thanks to God who saves me. He saves me through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So in my mind I am a slave to God’s law. But sin controls my desires. So I am a slave to the law of sin.

The Holy Spirit Gives Life

Those who belong to Christ Jesus are no longer under God’s judgment. Because of what Christ Jesus has done, you are free. You are now controlled by the law of the Holy Spirit who gives you life. The law of the Spirit frees you from the law of sin that brings death. The written law was made weak by the power of sin. But God did what the written law could not do. He made his Son to be like those who live under the power of sin. God sent him to be an offering for sin. Jesus suffered God’s judgment against our sin. Jesus does for us everything the holy law requires. The power of sin should no longer control the way we live. The Holy Spirit should control the way we live.

So don’t live under the control of sin. If you do, you will think about what sin wants. Live under the control of the Holy Spirit. If you do, you will think about what the Spirit wants. The thoughts of a person ruled by sin bring death. But the mind ruled by the Spirit brings life and peace. The mind ruled by the power of sin is at war with God. It does not obey God’s law. It can’t. Those who are under the power of sin can’t please God.

Psalm 18

For the director of music. A psalm of David, the servant of the Lord. He sang the words of this song to the Lord. He sang them when the Lord saved him. He saved him from the power of all his enemies and of Saul. David said,

I love you, Lord.
    You give me strength.

The Lord is my rock and my place of safety. He is the God who saves me.
    My God is my rock. I go to him for safety.
    He is like a shield to me. He’s the power that saves me. He’s my place of safety.
I called out to the Lord. He is worthy of praise.
    He saved me from my enemies.

The ropes of death were almost wrapped around me.
    A destroying flood swept over me.
The ropes of the grave were tight around me.
    Death set its trap in front of me.
When I was in trouble, I called out to the Lord.
    I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice.
    My cry for help reached his ears.

The earth trembled and shook.
    The base of the mountains rocked back and forth.
    It trembled because the Lord was angry.
Smoke came out of his nose.
    Flames of fire came out of his mouth.
    Burning coals blazed out of it.
He opened the heavens and came down.
    Dark clouds were under his feet.
10 He stood on the cherubim and flew.
    The wings of the wind lifted him up.
11 He covered himself with darkness.
    The dark rain clouds of the sky were like a tent around him.
12 Clouds came out of the brightness that was all around him.
    They came with hailstones and flashes of lightning.
13 The Lord thundered from heaven.
    The voice of the Most High God was heard.
14 He shot his arrows and scattered our enemies.
    He sent great flashes of lightning and chased the enemies away.
15 The bottom of the sea could be seen.
    The foundations of the earth were uncovered.
Lord, it happened when your anger blazed out.
    It came like a blast of breath from your nose.

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24 A person who doesn’t want to work leaves his hand in the dish.
    He won’t even bring it back up to his mouth!

25 If you whip a person who makes fun of others,
    childish people will learn to be wise.
If you warn those who already understand what is right,
    they will gain even more knowledge.

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