May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us. May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors.
1 Kings 8:57-58 (NIV)
Read: 1 Kings 8:54-61
Consider: King David wished to build a temple for God, yet despite his enthusiasm this task would be left to his son, Solomon. We have an account of this in 2 Samuel 7 where we read of David saying to the prophet Nathan: Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent (7:2). God had other ideas about this and we read later in the chapter: The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: when your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever (7:11b-13). David’s desire to build a temple was commendable, yet he was not the person for the task. It is worth noting that this is not about what David could do for God, but what God could do for David and his ancestors.
Today’s passage (1 Kings 8) follows on from what we are told in 1 Kings 7 about the completion of the temple. When it was completed, Solomon called the leaders and the people of Israel together and he prayed for God’s blessing to rest upon them. This culminated in Solomon saying to the people: Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may be never leave us or forsake us (1 Kings 8:56-57). Solomon’s interest was not primarily about prestige for himself and the nation. Later in his speech to the people he gives his reason as: ‘… so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there be no other’ (8:60). Solomon’s temple was built to glorify God, not those who commissioned, designed or built it.
What can we learn from today’s passage? As Christians we have to guard against us thinking that we are the only ones who can do the things God desires. There are many churches where the minister/pastor falls into the trap of thinking that if something needs doing they must do it themselves. This does not leave room for God to decide who is best fitted to undertake the task, nor does it give others the opportunity to develop and use the gifts God has given them.
Additionally, there is not a problem in someone seeking success in their ministry or service for God. However, if this becomes their primary motivation, it will soon become clear that their heart is not right with God. How should we judge success? The world might judge success by things like increased numbers attending church, increased financial giving, etc. These should never be the criteria upon which we decide if a work is successful. When Jesus told the parables of the lost sheet, coin and son, he focused on spiritual outcomes when he said: In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10).
Whatever the aspect of ministry or service in which you are engaged, it should always be done for the glory of God. We should be seeking to lead others to Christ by sharing the good news of the gospel with them.
Pray: Father, forgive us when we fall into the trap of thinking that success is tangible and can be measured by the world’s standards. Refocus our thinking to see that each repentant sinner is valuable to you and causes rejoicing in heaven. Amen
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