Thursday, October 27, 2011

a serious worship leader

"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."
1 Kings 8:56

Any worship leader worth anything ought to take his cues from the celebration of praise that Solomon led at the dedication of the first temple. All of 1 Kings 8 maps out an impressive order of worship. And Solomon leads it masterfully. It all begins with the processional that brought the ark of the covenant out of the old tabernacle and into the new temple. The king, along with all the elders in Israel, led the line of people who followed the ark to the temple. During this procession, numerous sacrifices were made. And God's glory came and overflowed the temple after the ark was set in the holy of holies (1 Kings 8:10-11).

Then Solomon sets a short history of the worship of Yahweh in place. He blesses God, he blesses the nation, he recounts the covenant that the Lord made with his father, David. And in this short opening praise, the focus is clearly on the faithfulness of God.

As Solomon stands in the courtyard before the altar of the Lord, he leads the nation in a magnificent and instructive prayer. He focuses on the faithfulness of God and remarkably, most of the prayer is a plea for God to remain faithful even though Israel does not remain faithful. Solomon knows God can't be limited to one spot in the temple. The temple did not contain all of God within it (1 Kings 8:27). But it was a place where Israel could focus on God.

Then Solomon spends the bulk of his prayer acknowledging the need that sinners have for the justice and mercy of God. God would have to settle lies from the truth in human relationships (1 Kings 8:31-32). God would grant renewal after defeated Israel repented of sin (1 Kings 8:33-34). God would respond to sin-induced catastrophe (i Kings 8:35-36) and forgive a repentant nation. The temple would be a place where Israel acknowledged sin. God would hear their repentance in heaven and act (1 Kings 8:37-40). This cycle of forgiveness would affect gentiles within the borders of Israel (1 Kings 8:41-45).

The complete cycle of confession and forgiveness was the focus of all that was done in worship at the temple (1 Kings 8:46-53). Then Solomon ended with a benediction that reinforced this (1 Kings 8:54-61). Lest anyone doubt his conviction, a massive kingly gift of sacrifices (1 Kings 8:62-66) was begun that must have taken months, if not years to complete. Solomon was serious in what he said, prayed, and did in worship of God.

No comments: