Our text (the Uniform Series text) for Sunday, March 11 is 2 Chronicles 6:12-21, the first part of Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the newly-built Temple. Here are a few questions that might be worth considering before or during class:
This text from 2 Chronicles is a historical memory from the life of ancient Israel. What’s the value of such a text today, for people like us, who are so far removed from that time and place? What is a helpful way, or what are helpful ways, for us to receive this text? Why? Can we, how can we, and should we treat this as a “story with a moral”? Why or why not?
The text presents an exceptional occasion of national worship in a new worship space, featuring splendid and elaborate ritual. Does this worship provide us a model for our own worship? In what way or ways? Why? Are there any ways in which it doesn’t provide us a model for our own worship? What way or ways? Why?
In particular, Solomon, the king of Israel, presides over this part of the worship occasion, offering a prayer of dedication. What does it mean that Solomon leads the people in worship? We don’t have many kings in our world, and do not have a king in the United States; do we have any figures that are similar in any way to Solomon in ancient Israel? What figures do we have that are in a position to lead assembled people in worship? How might this affect the way we understand what is going on in this text?
Why does Solomon kneel? What does this tell us about Solomon’s relationship to God? What does this imply about the people’s relationship to God? What do we learn from this about our own relationship to God? Why?
What image of God do we get from Solomon’s prayer? How does Solomon regard God? How does that compare with the way we usually regard God? What might lie behind that pattern or differences and similarities? What can we learn from the way Solomon regards God?
Solomon’s prayer emphasizes God’s keeping of promises. How important is this specific divine characteristic in worship on this occasion? How important is it for worship in general? How aware are we of God as a keeper of promises in our own worship? Why, or why not?
Solomon specifically asks God to “hear” cries and prayers that are made in the Temple; there seems to have been a sense that the Temple was a place where prayers would be especially noticeable to God. How confident are we that God hears prayers, and do we think prayers offered in particular places or in particular ways attract more attention? Why, or why not? Why do we think that, or not? Does this text affect our thinking about this in any way? Why, or why not?