for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD. (1 Kings 8:11b)
We sometimes use terms without knowing what they mean and talk about doing a lot of things that we don’t do. Worship is one such thing. What is worship? The term has to do with declaring the worth of God. Jesus said there is only one true kind of worship—that which is in Spirit and truth. But what does that mean? It has been said a picture is worth a thousand words. In 1 Kings 8, there is a picture of true worship.
The Glory of God was manifest in the house of God (v.1-11). When the children of Israel left Egypt, God led them through the wilderness by the glory cloud. When the tabernacle was constructed that cloud filled the sanctuary. Now, Solomon’s temple has been built and God’s glory invades it. The glory of God is the manifest presence of God. God had been with them, but now they saw the evidence. It was in the house of God that the glory of God was experienced. 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? We may not encounter His manifest presence, however, but we need that! It is when man takes a backseat and God takes over. The ministers sat down as God became the focus. That’s where worship begins. It is all about Him. If we do not encounter God we haven’t worshipped.
Solomon shares Scriptural truth (v.12-21). He has taken on the role of a shepherd. That is what a pastor is. God’s design was for His leaders to shepherd His people. That included the responsibility to feed them the Word of God. Solomon’s father, David had been a prophet and now we find the King preaching a sermon. In fact, in the book of Ecclesiastes that Solomon authored, he called himself the Preacher. Well, here is quite a sermon! The theme of his message is the character and faithfulness of God. 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. We hear the voice 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.
God’s plan for His house was that it be a house of prayer, so what better way to dedicate it than with prayer (v.22-61)? This underscores the centrality of prayer to the worship experience. Again, this prayer was God-centered. Solomon begins by praising God for who He is and thanking Him for what he has done (v.22-30). In awe of God’s holiness, he confesses the people’s sinfulness. (v.31-40). Then He prays for blessing (v.22-53). 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).
The proper response to God in worship is the offering of sacrifice (v.62-66). We do not offer animals, but what the writer of Hebrews called spiritual sacrifices. To offer our lives up to Him is the supreme sacrifice we can render. The outcome of the worship was an expression of great joy. That’s how they left the house of God that day. Shouldn’t it be the same with us?