“When the priests came out of the holy place, the cloud filled the Lord's temple, and because of the cloud, the priests were not able to continue ministering, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple.” (1 Kings 8:10-11 HCSB)
We use more terms in church freely than we sometimes understand fully. There is often more that we talk about in theory than we actually know about in reality. One such term is, “the glory of God.” If you have been in church for very long at all, you have heard the expression, but have you had the experience? You know that you should desire it, but can you define it? It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In 1 Kings 8, we have a clear, compelling exhibition of the glory of God.
First, we see THE SHEKINAH (v.1-11). The Shekinah was a Hebrew word to describe the presence of the cloud of glory. You will recall that when the children of
God led them through the wilderness by means of the Shekinah—the glory cloud—which
became a pillar of fire by night. When the tabernacle was constructed, the
Shekinah glory cloud filled the Holy of Holies and rested upon the Ark of the Covenant,
extending up above the tabernacle. Now Solomon’s temple has been built and is
being dedicated, when the Shekinah glory invades that sanctuary. There was an encounter with the glory of God. Egypt
So, the glory of God is the manifest presence of God. God had been with them, but now they saw the evidence of His presence. It is an encounter with the Eternal One.
Jesus has promised to be with us always, but we may not always detect His presence. It was in the house of God that the glory of God was experienced. We do not have to be in God’s house to experience His presence, of course. Psalm 19 states that the heavens declare the glory of God, and Isaiah 6 reminds us that the entire earth is full of His glory. That being said, did you know that Jesus has promised that in a special way, He would always be among those—even two or three—that assemble in His name?
When we gather as the people of God in the worship of God, there is an opportunity to experience the glory of God. The opportunity is there. Yet, there are those church meetings which occur each week without the manifestation of God’s glory. Why? There may be several reasons, but one primary one, is that our focus is often on ourselves—it is man-centered—about entertaining the flesh and getting a blessing. What God demands, is that we focus on Him—worship that is Christ-centered—in exalting Him and blessing His name.
This is what is portrayed in 1 Kings 8. Man took a backseat and God took over. The ministers sat down, as God became the focus. Worship cannot be about us, but is about God. Acceptable worship is offered, “in spirit and truth” (see John 4:24). It is oriented toward God. It is all about Him. If we do not encounter God, we haven’t worshipped. If we offer glory to God with our praise, then there is the occasion to know the glory of God in His presence.
We also should recognize that we can encounter the glory of God in THE SCRIPTURE (v.12-21). In this section, we see Solomon sharing Scriptural truth—the glory of God is linked to the Word of God.
“Then Solomon said: ‘The Lord said that He would dwell in thick darkness. … He said:
‘May the Lord God of
The king has taken on the role of a shepherd. He is feeding the flock of God, the Word of God. That is what a pastor does, and that is what he is—a shepherd—for that is the meaning of the term, “pastor.” God’s design was for His leaders to shepherd His people. That included the responsibility to nourish them with the timeless truth.
Solomon’s father, David, had been a prophet and now we find Solomon himself preaching a sermon. In fact, in the book of Ecclesiastes which Solomon authored, he called himself “the Preacher.” Well, here is quite a sermon!
The message is inspired by the glory of God, focuses on the glory of God and results in offering glory to God. The sermon’s theme is the glorious character and faithfulness of the Almighty. He was letting them taste and see that the Lord is good, whetting their appetite for feasting on the riches of God’s grace. When we come together for worship, we must be drawn into a passionate pursuit of God. We see the face of God in the Word of God. Whether that truth is shared in teaching or testimony, communicated in song or sermon, it is the way God speaks to us. The proclamation of the Word of God unleashes the power of God and glorifies Him through the transformation of the congregation. To hear the voice of God is an awe-inspiring thing; when the Scripture speaks, God speaks.
The glory of God is encountered in THE SUPPLICATION (v.22-61). Prayer is the intersection where heaven and earth meet.
“Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the entire congregation of
spread out his hands toward heaven.” (v.22) Israel
God’s plan for His house was that it be a house of prayer, so what better way to dedicate it than with prayer?
So much of this prayer is about prayer. Time and again, Solomon prays that God would hear the prayers offered there. This underscores the centrality of prayer to the worship experience.
We come back to the absolute necessity of God-consciousness to the visitation of God’s glorious presence. The Lord was the obsession of this prayer. Solomon begins by praising God for who He is and thanking Him for what he has done. (v.22-30). Awed by God’s holiness, he confesses the people’s sinfulness. (v.31-40).Then He prays for blessing. He prays for blessing for the Gentiles among them (v.41-43). He prays for victory (v.44-45). He prays for revival (v.46-53). These should all be subjects of our supplications.
There are some valuable insights on true prayer that we can gain here. Note Solomon’s position (v.54) with knees bowed in humility and hands raised in expectancy. He blesses the people, and blesses God, and shares the path to continued blessing—obedience (v.55-61). This is praying that creates the climate for God to exhibit His glory.
God’s glory is also seen in THE SACRIFICES (v.62-66). You can give without experiencing the glory, but you cannot experience the glory without giving.
“The king and all
with him were offering sacrifices in the Lord's presence.” (v.62) Israel
The proper response to God in worship is the offering of sacrifice. Now, we do not offer these kinds of sacrifices, but, instead, what Peter called “spiritual sacrifices” (1 Peter 2:5). The ultimate offering is ourselves—all we are and all we have on the altar, “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) If we have truly encountered God’s glory, we will be moved to serve Him.
Furthermore, the experience of God’s glory led to an expression of great joy (v.66). That’s how they left the house of God that day. Shouldn’t it be the same way with us?
Will you pray that Pole Creek will always be a place where God is the focus? Let us pray that we may experience Him in the Word of God. Help us consecrate this church to be a house of prayer. May we, this very moment, surrender our bodies on the altar to be used of God. Then we can live for His glory with exceeding joy as we sing, “To God be the glory, great things He hath done!”