Lectionary Reflection for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 1 & 2 Kings (BTCB) by Peter J. Leithart, commenting on 1 Kings 8: (1, 6, 10, 11) 22-30, 41-43:

First Kings 8 is the climax of the Solomonic narratives in 1-2 Kings and stands out as an event of world-historical importance.

Yahweh, the creator of heaven and earth, settles in Jerusalem, in the nation of Israel, and the seven petitions at the center of the passage offer a rough preview of the trials that Israel will face in the subsequent centuries:

oath before altar reign of Solomon
defeat by enemies division of the kingdom
no rain Elijah and Omrides
famine, siege, plagues siege and famine in Samaria
foreigner prays fall of northern kingdom
sent out to battle last days of Judah
exile exile of Judah

Though many of the plagues that Solomon mentions in the prayer happen in the course of 1-2 Kings, few kings ever resort to prayer or the temple for forgiveness and healing.

Occasionally kings prayer or ask for prayer, and Hezekiah actually goes into the temple during the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem (2 Kgs. 19), but such example are few and far between. More often, kings plunder the temple for gold and silver to pay off Gentile invaders. When the Babylonians comes to destroy the temple, the Jews treat it as a talisman whose mere physical presence will save them from national destruction (Jer. 7).

Yahweh establishes his house at the center of Israel and stretches his arms out in invitation to a stubborn people, who refuse to turn to him and be healed. This too is christologically significant, for when the human temple appears, the Jews refuse to turn toward him as well.

The story of 1-2 Kings is a story of a rejected temple, a rejected and suffering Messiah and mediator, a temple destroyed but destined to be raised on the third day. A temple Christology thus works out in a narrative of cross and empty tomb.


©2006 by Peter J. Leithart. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.