Another biblical prayer

Today’s morning devotions bring us Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of his new Temple in Jerusalem. It’s taken from 2 Chronicles which is very clearly a re-write, with a very strong agenda of its own, and the whole historicity of the biblical narratives of David and Solomon is highly contested, so it isn’t really wise to imagine this as another time-travelling tape-recorder. But it does still represent at least what the editors of the Chronicles thought a royal prayer of dedication might have sounded like – and it’s fascinating. Would you have expected those notes of penitence and of acknowledging that in sone sense God can hardly be conceived as properly living in a human building, however grand?

‘O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant in steadfast love with your servants who walk before you with all their heart—you who have kept for your servant, my father David, what you promised to him. Indeed, you promised with your mouth and this day have fulfilled with your hand. Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant, my father David, that which you promised him, saying, “There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children keep to their way, to walk in my law as you have walked before me.”Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant David.

‘But will God indeed reside with mortals on earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built! Have regard to your servant’s prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you. May your eyes be open day and night towards this house, the place where you promised to set your name, and may you heed the prayer that your servant prays towards this place. And hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray towards this place; may you hear from heaven your dwelling-place; hear and forgive.