Friday, October 5, 2012

1 Kings 8: Elements of Worship


1 Kings 8:6 The priests then brought the ark of the Lord's covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim.
1 Kings 8:10-14 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple. Then Solomon said, "The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever." While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them.
1 Kings 8:22-23 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven.
1 Kings 8:54-55 When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the Lord, he rose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven. He stood and blessed the whole assembly of Israel in a loud voice
1 Kings 8:62-63 Then the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices before the Lord. Solomon offered a sacrifice of fellowship offerings to the Lord: twenty-two thousand cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the Lord.
1 Kings 8:66 On the following day he sent the people away. They blessed the king and then went home, joyful and glad in heart for all the good things the Lord had done for his servant David and his people Israel.

The dedication of Solomon's Temple is a picture of the worship experience. It describes the elements of true worship:

  • The God's Presence (v6): Worship begins with the ark of the Presence being carried by the priests into the temple of worship. This act suggests that worship can only take place when God is present in the place of worship. This is done by priests who are carriers of God's presence. If we want God to be present with us, we must be priests unto God--carriers of His presence wherever we go. When we enter the place of worship, we carry God's presence into that place. God does not reside in the church premise - we have to bring Him along with us to church. When carriers of God's presence come together, we attract His Glory into that place and that encounter can be overwhelming: "When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple" (v.10-11)..
  • The Word of Exhortation (v.14): When God manifests His Presence, the Word of God flows. After the priests withdraw from the manifested glory, Solomon turns around to face the assembly to bless them with a Word of exhortation: "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his own hand has fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth to my father David" (v.15ff). The preacher speaks out of the glory of God. He must first of all be in the King's presence before he can be a spokesman for the King. A preacher who does not dwell in God's presence in worship has no prophetic word, only his own ideas. Preaching needs to be not only biblical but also prophetic--and this prophetic element comes from practising the Presence of God. Where the Spirit of God is not present, we only hear man speaking. But where the Spirit of God is present, we hear God speaking.
  • Intercessory Prayer (22): Solomon now turns to face the altar because he is offering prayers on behalf of the people. First, Solomon speaks to the people on behalf of God. Now he speaks to God on behalf of his people. Intercession completes the worship experience with God that begins with the Presence of God and the Prophetic Word of God. Worship is not just a one-way, top-down experience; it must return to God in intercessory prayers by the worshipers for the world. Solomon prays for God's promises to be fulfilled, for mercy towards sinners, for justice in disputes, for spiritual restoration of backsliders, for the environment, for protection from natural calamities and human enemies, for prebelievers, and for victory in battles. In intercession, we do not just ask God to bless us and make us prosperous but also ask Him to extend His beneficent rule over the world.  
  • Offerings (v.62): Offering is not limited to giving money. More importantly, it is offering of ourselves to God. This is symbolised by the different kinds of sacrifices commanded by Moses: burnt offerings, grain offerings, fellowship offerings, The effect of all these offerings of ourselves to God is the release of celebration and joy: "On the following day he sent the people away. They blessed the king and then went home, joyful and glad in heart for all the good things the Lord had done for his servant David and his people Israel" (v.66). The success of a worship experience is what it does to the people after it is over. Worship is an encounter with God and that experience leaves us rejoicing: "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand" (Psalm 16:11).
Father, what a privilege and joy to be in Your presence in congregational worship. May Your Presence be the only Reason for Your people coming together. May You make us God-chasers, not Speaker-chasers. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave your comments.