In the Presence of God
King Solomon has followed through on fulfilling the directive of the Lord to build the temple that his father, David, had designed but could not build because God didn’t allow it. In the preceding chapter, we are told that all of the final finishing work of the Temple has been completed. The final step is the installation of the ark of the covenant. As a sacred object that symbolizes the presence of the Lord with God's chosen people, the ark contains the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments.
King Solomon gathers the leaders and elders of the kingdom to convey the ark to the Temple in a great, elaborate procession. At the climax of the procession, the ark is carefully and precisely seated in its designated place. The placement of the ark indicates that the Temple is now ready for the dwelling of the Lord.
The apostle Paul refers to our bodies as temples of the Lord. (See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.) But God does not “move in” to dwell in our lives until our lives are properly “furnished” with open and repentant hearts. I have learned from my own Christian experience and from this text that in order for the Lord to come into our lives, we must prepare ourselves by repenting and opening our hearts to God. Our life was constructed by God as a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. When we prepare our hearts and make them ready, as Solomon prepared the Temple, God’s Spirit will come in and take residence.
Dear Lord, please give me the grace to prepare my heart for you to come in and make it your dwelling place. Amen.
God had prevented David from building a temple in Jerusalem but then permitted David’s son Solomon to build it. In First Kings, Solomon places the ark of the covenant in the holiest place, and God’s presence descends. The psalmist rejoices in the Temple and would rather be in its courts than anywhere else because that is where God dwells. The New Testament readings remind us that the people of God have always met with resistance. The author of Ephesians compares living the Christian life to going into battle, so we must be prepared. Jesus also meets with resistance in John. His teachings are too hard for many to accept, so they abandon him. When we face resistance, therefore, we should not be surprised; but we are also not alone.
Read 1 Kings 8:1, 6, 10-11, 22-30, 41-43. How does your faith inform the hospitality you show to friends? To strangers?
Read Psalm 84. How do you find joy in the Lord? Recall a recent time when you felt a deep sense of this joy.
Read Ephesians 6:10-20. How do truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and God’s word help you live boldly as an ambassador of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Read John 6:56-69. How do you respond to Jesus’ question: “Does this offend you?” This teaching was hard for his disciples. Where do you struggle with it?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.