In II Chronicles 6:13-42, Solomon humbles himself by kneeling in front of the entire assembly of Israel, and prays a prayer of dedication for the temple that he had just finished building. He starts the prayer with praise for who God is, not for what He has done for him. This is a good reminder for us, and it is the model that Jesus gave us in the Lord’s prayer. (Matthew 6:9-13) God is worthy to be praised because of who is, not because He is a problem solving service for us. And yet, Solomon also asks God to consider the requests of His servants. He prays that God would hear and forgive. (II Chronicles 6:19-21) This implies the necessity on our part to repent.
In II Chronicles 6:18, Solomon states that God is too big to be contained within a physical structure on earth—even the highest heavens cannot contain Him. So why then did he build the temple? II Chronicles 6:20 tells us that God promised He would live there. God wants to make Himself accessible to us. God has established a covenant with His people, and through the temple they had a focal point to worship Him. Even though the temple was often referred to as God’s dwelling place, it was not meant to contain Him, but to provide a place for His people to find Him. That is not to say that today we need to go to a church to find God, for I Corinthians 6:19 tells us that we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. Through the death of Jesus Christ, who became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, we no longer need to go to a temple, but we do still need to humble ourselves before God, praise Him for who He is, and ask His forgiveness. Then He will hear our requests.
Sometimes we do things we regret. That was certainly the case for David before he wrote Psalm 86. In II Samuel 11 we read about David’s regrets…mistakes…sins—adultery, deception and conspiracy to murder. That’s a lot to feel bad about. So, when in Psalm 86:11 David prays that the Lord would teach him how to live, it is an earnest prayer. He wants to be wholeheartedly committed to God. The King James Version uses the term “unite my heart”. In the New International Version, David prays for an “undivided heart”. He realizes that if his heart isn’t entirely focused on God, he will go down the wrong path, but he also sees that he needs God’s help to do it. He knows that what is impossible for humans is possible for God. (Luke 18:27)
His vow, in Psalm 86:12, to praise God forevermore, is also sincere. His reason is shown in Psalm 86:13. David knows that what he has done is deserving of death, but God in His great mercy has forgiven him. God is deserving of our praise simply because He is God, but His love and mercy toward David provided so much more motivation. David vowed not only to praise God, but to do it with enthusiasm, and to do it forever.
It is likely that most of the people reading this have not sinned to the same degree that David did in the case of Bathsheba and Uriah. But even the most noble among us are dependent on God’s grace to save us. We cannot save ourselves. (Ephesians 2:4-9)
God wants us all to be completely devoted to Him. He wants us to ask for His help to live the way we should. He is ready and willing to give it, along with His grace, mercy, love and forgiveness. He has provided His Word so that we can learn more about His ways, but it takes commitment. We need to choose each day to put Him first, to praise Him and to give Him the glory.